Following the video conference of the members of the European Council on 23 April the Cohesion Alliance – an EU-wide alliance calling for a stronger cohesion policy after 2020 – calls for cohesion policy to remain a priority amid talks about the Covid-19 recovery strategy taking regions and cities needs and experience on board.
The fight against the COVID19 pandemic and the relaunch of Europe’s economy are a race against time. Any further delay in securing an adequate EU recovery plan, based on a bold EU budget, will undermine our capacity to protect citizens’ health and social rights, preserve Europe’s productive capacity help businesses survive the emergency and invest in a sustainable future.
We need Member States to take a crucial step ahead for Europe by:
- securing the continuity of emergency measures backed by cohesion policy in the worse hit countries and territories, with adequate funding and special rules.
- strengthening the planned investment for cohesion policy 2021-2027 to speed up the recovery and deliver a resilient, more just and sustainable Europe in the longer term.
- make sure that extraordinary financial initiatives contribute to social, territorial and economic cohesion by addressing local tax losses and revenues and supporting local and regional authorities – and related public-owned companies – in running local services for citizens in the pandemic and post-pandemic scenario.
- bringing the negotiations on the future cohesion policy to a successful end to allow for the timely start of the funding period in 2021 and ensure that cohesion policy can be carried forward in the following years.
- bringing together all levels of government to invest on improved health services across the Union both by increasing the funding for health under cohesion policy and establishing a specialised Health Mechanism. acknowledging the good examples of cross-border and transnational cooperation during the current crisis and actively involving EGTCs, Euroregions and all EU’s border regions in fighting against the virus, as well as in the future economic recovery.
We demand that both the “core” EU budget and the extraordinary financial investment initiatives rely on the experience and knowledge developed by local actors dealing with the pandemic and its consequences. EU investment must benefit from flexibility and simplification but any over-centralisation would seriously undermine its effectiveness.-Cohesion Policy is EU’s best tool to structurally strengthen regions’ and cities’ social and economic development (including health and climate action). It must be strengthened and fully mobilised to enhance the resilience of all local and regional authorities in the long term to ensure they are sufficiently prepared for the economic consequences of the current crisis as well as any future crises and thus complement existing and future emergency reaction instruments.
With regards to the potential reinforcement of the Reform Support Programme, a real involvement of regions and cities in the needs’ assessment and in the shaping of interventions, in close coordination with cohesion policy plans, will be decisive to ensure that no place is left behind and the territorial asymmetric impact of reforms is effectively managed. Furthermore, regions and cities should participate in the debate on how to strengthen the resilience of European societies in dealing with the pandemic crisis and its economic and social effects from a territorial point of view.
It is vital now that EU institutions go ahead in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility. The final outcome of the negotiations cannot be a set of over-centralised funds and uncertain financial instruments, relying only on private markets’ reactiveness. We must provide Europe with an effective mix of tools, where grants and loans are properly balanced, and the partnership principle is fully implemented to better respond to EU citizens’ needs.
Only by finding the courage and the mutual confidence to act together can we lead Europe out of this emergency.