The consequences of the ongoing climate emergency, the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s war against Ukraine and the current record inflation rates triggered by increased food and energy prices make strengthening cohesion as a fundamental value of the European Union more pressing than ever.
For this reason, the partners of the #CohesionAlliance – the EU-wide coalition of 12,000 signatories advocating for a stronger Cohesion Policy – gathered in Brussels during the 20th edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities to reaffirm their commitment to reinforce Cohesion Policy and increase the territorial impact of all EU investments in order to make them fit for Europe’s long-term challenges.
Through a joint declaration signed today, in the presence of the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, and the Chair of the European Parliament’s committee for regional development, Younous Omarjee, the European Committee of the Regions together with the leading European associations of cities and regions, including Eurocities, shared a common will to keep Cohesion Policy, often referred to as the EU’s main investment policy in places and people, as:
- the EU’s most visible instrument at local and regional level;
- a long-term development policy based on principles of shared management, partnership and multilevel governance;
- a policy that follows a place-based approach and addresses the territorial diversity of the Union;
- a key tool to supports territorial cooperation and promote solidarity and integration.
“Let us remind all EU and national decision-makers of the indispensable role that Cohesion Policy plays in the European integration process!” states the declaration, with which the #CohesionAlliance wants to start a forward-looking work to make Cohesion Policy stronger, simpler, more effective and result-oriented now and in the future.
The Alliance also calls to ensure that cohesion remains an overall value for the European Union by ensuring that all relevant EU policies contribute to reduce disparities among and within Member States.
Dario Nardella, President of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence, who represents Eurocities in the Alliance, said: “Cohesion Policy is crucial to accelerating urban transformations. As cities, we reiterate our strong support for the renewal of the Cohesion Alliance. With the energy crisis looming in our cities, cohesion funds are once again demonstrating their strategic value. Investments in energy efficiency renovations and clean urban transport infrastructure are already promoting the energy transition in cities. With a strong Cohesion Policy we can reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas faster.”
Commissioner Ferreira welcomed the signature of the new joint declaration saying: “I am very happy with the relaunch of the Cohesion Alliance. It could not be timelier in these extremely challenging times. You have been a very important partner in shaping Cohesion Policy and keeping regional and local communities at its heart, and you will remain so in the future. We need a strong Cohesion Alliance to advocate the place-based approach for all policies under the “do no harm to cohesion” principle. And we need your testimonies and experience to speak up for Cohesion and remain engaged in the discussion on the future of the policy.”
The Chair of the REGI committee Younous Omarjee praised the renewed mobilisation of the Alliance, and stated: “Europe needs a strong and ambitious Cohesion Policy to tackle the multiple crises that it is facing. Cohesion Policy is the main EU policy for structural investment and solidarity. It allows us to respond to urgent, medium and long-term challenges by guaranteeing strategic and much needed investments in every region, in order to leave no one behind. Cohesion Policy deserves to be defended and supported, because it is one of the pillars of the European Union.”