Brussels (B), 7 December 2010.
Although broadly satisfied with the conclusions of the fifth report of the European Commission on economic, social and territorial cohesion, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) deeply regrets the failure to include regions as full partners alongside the European Union and its Member States. In view of the forthcoming reform, AER and Brussels Capital Region (B) collected over 250 actors and experts involved in European cohesion policy. The discussions were enriched by the presence of the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn.
If the regions welcome the objective of maintaining competitiveness and innovation open to every region, some of the modalities of implementation proposed are still not satisfactory. "We are concerned about the EC proposals that would seek to penalize regions by depriving them of their structural funds if states do not implement structural reforms unrelated to cohesion policy. " Said Mr. Jean-Claude Gayssot, a member of the AER Bureau and Vice-Chairman of the Regional Council of Languedoc-Roussillon (F).
Presentation of White Paper on Cohesion
The AER has presented its white paper on cohesion policy in particular highlighting the importance of safeguarding the convergence objective. For the AER, the convergence objective, the symbol of European solidarity, cannot see its budget reduced. Taking into account the long term, the EU can learn about other memberships and therefore it would be foolish to follow such a policy should be reviewed if new membership.
Thomas Andersson, Chairman of the AER Cohesion Policy and Regional Councillor of Jämtland (S) said that "Only true multi-level governance and effective cohesion policy involving all regions can contribute the best use of territories as assets. We must focus on the potential of each of them, including those who suffer from structural disadvantages, be they geographical, climatic or social. "
AER also proposes:
- Streamlining of rules governing the granting and operation of funds.
- The GDP per capita is not the only criterion for measuring the status and needs of a territory. Criteria such as the degree of innovation, the region's attractiveness and well being of the population can also be taken into account.
- A substantial revision of the preparatory phase of territorial cooperation projects to improve strategic integration within regional policies.
AER White Paper on future of Cohesion Policy:
Europe 2020 and the cohesion policy
Cohesion Policy and Europe 2020 are complementary. As pointed out by Mr. Jean Luc Vanraes, Minister charge of External Relations in Brussels-Capital, "Europe 2020 is an ambitious project and this report calls for the linking of between it and Cohesion Policy. The last informal meeting of Ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy reaffirmed ties with Europe 2020, while insisting on conditionality and a policy of cohesion for all. If the cohesion policy must keep its specificity and maintain a certain flexibility in order to take into account the specific needs of each region, it is equally an ideal instrument for the implementation of Europe 2020, thanks to its horizontal nature”.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.