Vilnius, November 26. EU Ministers for Cohesion Policy discussed innovations designed at improving the effectiveness of investments by the European Structural and Investment Funds (hereinafter - ESI funds) during an Informal Meeting today in Vilnius.
“We need to start investing the 2014-2020 period funds as soon as possible. This is important both to encourage growth and ensure a smooth transition from the 2007-2013 programming period. Proper preparation, clear priorities, result orientation and the coordination of investments are the cornerstones to ensure the effective investment of ESI funds,” said Rimantas Šadžius, the Lithuanian Finance Minister and chair of the Meeting.
The Lithuanian Presidency continued the work of previous Presidencies, and has put all its efforts concluding the negotiations with the European Parliament on the Cohesion Policy Legislative Package. The agreement between co-legislators was validated by the European Parliament last week and unlocked more than EUR 300 billion for investment over the next seven years. These funds can be used from 2014.
In the Informal meeting the Ministers for Cohesion Policy exchanged views on the practical aspects of the preparation, as national governments have already started preparing the necessary programming documents.
The Ministers concentrated on four main topics during the discussion on Cohesion Policy innovations and solutions, which were aimed at improving the effectiveness and quality of implementation. They exchanged views on the stronger concentration of Funds in priority areas (such as innovation and research, support for SMEs, IT, environment protection, energy eficiency and other). The Ministers addressed the ex-ante conditionalities (such as foreseen national reforms) to be met by Member States to improve the effectiveness of investments. They emphasized the importance of result orientation (reaching specific criteria) and discussed better investment coordination among various funding sources.
“Cohesion policy lies at the heart of the growth and jobs agenda of the EU. The objective of the discussion was how to make implementation of the Policy more efficient, as well as to increase the added value of available resources. It is especially important in the current challenging times to cope with the consequences of the economic and financial crisis,” concluded Lithuanian Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius.
The Informal Meeting was an event of the Lithuanian Presidency. It was attended by the Ministers for Cohesion and other high ranking officials from all EU countries, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, and the Chair of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament Danuta Hübner.
Resources for Cohesion Policy are one of the most important parts of the EU multiannual budget. The aim of this policy is to stimulate the social and economic development of EU Member States and regions by concentrating resources on less developed countries, thus contributing to decreasing variations in development across the EU.