Anna Lisa Boni presented EUROCITIES cohesion policy position at an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development on 1 February 2018.
Ms Boni remarked that “cohesion policy is the glue for building a stronger Europe". Cities are essential partners in the future of Europe because they can provide a reality check to other policy making levels and have the capacity to innovate and reach people locally.
If cities are not involved in the design and implementation of policy, Ms Boni pointed out that, "a lot of things can go wrong". A lack of dialogue that includes a variety of voices during the design phase will likely lead to unrealistic objectives and priorities. During the implementation phase, if the specific needs on the ground have not been well understood, new problems may instead be created.
Cities work on many different issues and so we need to be able to combine funds locally. This is one of the suggestions of the High Level Group on the Simplification of Structural Funds, of which Ms Boni is a member.
A more targeted cohesion policy, based on cooperation at the functional area, with stronger local ownership, will create more balanced and longer term solutions.
The current discussions on the next round of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework are proving much tougher than in previous years, coming up against challenges such as Brexit and how best to tackle a lack of trust in our political institutions. As part of the #CohesionAlliance EUROCITIES is asserting the need to maintain the current share of the EU budget apportioned to cohesion policy, while ensuring that it continues to cover all regions with a stronger urban dimension and simplified delivery.
Despite this, not knowing which way the cohesion debate will turn is making planning difficult for cities and regions. For example, as Ms Boni remarked, many cities’ smart specialisation strategies are linked to structural funds, which they use to integrate work across different sectors. Without a clear direction from the European Commission on the direction of future funding, planning of this kind becomes increasingly difficult.
You can read EUROCITIES cohesion policy position paper here: