The delivery of European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds is accelerating sharply with 20% of total resources allocated to projects identified at national and regional level, according to a European Commission report just published. The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) stresses the unique impact of cohesion policy on the lives of EU citizens and encourages the Commission and Member States proactively to support the implementation of 533 operational programmes.
Reacting to the publication of a report on ESI Funds implementation on 20 December, CoR President Markku Markkula stressed that: "The rules for the new generation of structural and investment funds are very demanding for regions and member states. But delivering growth through ESI Funds must continue to be a priority because they offer us the possibility to respond to Europe's major challenges ranging from migration and human capital to energy, innovation and building up our infrastructures. What makes cohesion policy so unique and irreplaceable is not only its size: €638bn until 2020 – together with national co-financing – but also because, thanks to regions’ effort and innovative approaches, it addresses real needs and opportunities on the ground. That is why we are in favour of decentralised EU support and encourage the mobilisation of all levels of management and the smart use of available resources."
Michael Schneider (EPP/DE), Saxony-Anhalt Secretary of State for EU Affairs and CoR rapporteur on the future of cohesion policy after 2020, pointed out that: "Considering the complexity of the regulation and the late adoption of the legal acts for the period 2014-2020, the acceleration in the project selection is good news. The experience developed in this phase will help to improve and simplify Cohesion Policy after 2020, striking a better balance between the need to achieve common goals and the flexibility to tap the specific potential of each region ".
The CoR's opinion on the future of cohesion policy after 2020 will be discussed by the CoR Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) in the external meeting scheduled on 2 March in Warsaw and adopted in May.