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New Challenges ahead for the Italian Presidency with EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020

Met dank overgenomen van Comité van de Regio's (CvdR), gepubliceerd op vrijdag 26 september 2014.

President of the Polish Wielkopolska Region and Chair of the COTER, Marek Woźniak discusses the need for a white paper on territorial cohesion to analyse the interaction between the Territorial Agenda 2020 and the Europe 2020 strategy.

After a long, difficult but fruitful debate the new Cohesion Policy is now in place for the 2014-2020 period. Partnership agreements and Operational Programmes will be approved in the coming months and through these documents the new Cohesion Policy will take a concrete shape.

The Common Strategic Framework (CSF) Regulations and the European Code of Conduct on Partnership require an involvement of local and regional authorities (LRAs) in the programming, implementation and possible re-programming of the partnership agreements and operational programmes. This role of LcoterRAs should not be overlooked in the coming months and we, members of the CoR's COTER Commission, will monitor the implementation of these provisions.

The main challenge that the new European Regional Policy has to face is the strained economic context in which the new programmes will kick off. The priority is to take the necessary step to counter the increasing regional disparities across the EU, in order to challenge the threat to territorial cohesion posed by the crisis. In this respect, a White Paper on Territorial Cohesion based on an analysis of the interplay between the Territorial Agenda 2020 and the Europe 2020 strategy is needed. The main objective of this White Paper should be to identify the Union's territorial policies that may tackle the current economic and social challenges in a comprehensive way that includes but also goes beyond the structural and investment funds.

The place-based approach should be promoted as one of the main objectives of cohesion policy for 2014-2020 and we should also reflect on a more meaningful way to measure prosperity and quality of life in Europe: we have to go beyond the current GDP-based approach to assess regional development.

Another main challenge is to simplify the procedure and coordination between the structural and investment funds and other thematic funds. As we recalled in many of our opinions, simplification and coordination are essential to guaranteeing a better absorption of funds and to ensure that every euro goes where it matters the most.

Urban policy has also become more and more important in the framework of regional policy; we believe that a White Paper on an EU urban agenda outlining the future of EU urban policy is a necessary step and one of the next priorities to be dealt with.

We welcome the upcoming Italian Presidency's prioritisation wanting to ensure to growth and jobs. A focus on employment and boosting economic development is indeed much needed after a five years crisis.

Finally, we look with interest at the work the Italian government is making to improve the accessibility to basic services in remote areas. As the COTER Commission we are working on an own-initiative opinion that deals with the mobility issues for demographically and geographically-challenged regions. Solving this problem could lead these regions to fully exploit their potential and improve the quality of life for their inhabitants. We hope that the Italian Presidency will bring up the debate on this topic at EU level.


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