A strong Cohesion policy for all European regions build on solidarity, partnership and a place-based approach are the key objectives for the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) for the post 2020 period. During his visit to Bavaria, CoR President Markku Markkula met with Beate Merk, Bavarian State Minister of European Affairs and International relations, and Barbara Stamm, President of the Bavarian Landtag. He also visited the business incubation centre of the European Space Agency.
President Markkula stressed the need to ensure that Cohesion policy supports all EU regions during the debate with the Bavarian Landtag on 7 July: "We need to boost growth in the weakest areas and simultaneously to empower pioneering regions in leading the way to a more competitive, sustainable and inclusive development model . The acceleration of weaker economies will benefit the whole Union's economic and social growth, while the knowledge and strategies developed by our strongest regions can be a key resource for the others".
Beate Merk, Bavarian State Minister of European Affairs and International Relations, added, " European Structural and Investment funding is essential for maintaining prosperity, competitiveness and social structures across Europe. Other than ad-hoc crisis intervention measures, it supports those goals of the European Union that need to be pursued persistently for several years beyond the current legislative period, and it must also include more developed regions, so that they can fulfil their role as engines of growth also for the benefit of less developed areas. Therefore, Bavaria advocates for the new European structural and investment policy post 2020 to encompass all European regions in a coherent, differentiated, and needs-oriented manner".
"Europe is much more than an economic union - Europe is a union of values, and we have to make this clear again. The regions play an important role here: The Bavarian Parliament is for example the mediator for EU policy here in the Free State. Our members are close to the people and know about their concerns and fears. Therefore we need regular exchanges with the institutions and representatives of the European Union. The future of Europe lies in putting the diversity of European regions once more in the centre of attention. If we succeed here, then we will also succeed in inspiring the citizens again for the European ideas and ideals", said Barbara Stamm, President of the Bavarian Landtag.
President Markkula agreed with the Bavarian leaders that all regions share the need for more simplified eligibility rules, avoiding gold plating and focusing on results. These priorities clearly emerged in the first phases of the work undertaken by the CoR to shape its position on the "Future of Cohesion policy beyond 2020", that will be elaborated in an opinion by Michael Schneider, State Secretary and representative of the Land of Saxony-Anhalt to the Federal Government, to be adopted in May 2017.
Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 is worth €351.8 billion - almost a third of the total EU budget - targeting all regions and cities in the EU in order to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, inclusive and sustainable development and improve the quality of live. It is delivered through three main funds: The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund (CF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The European Commission is expected to issue their first policy orientations for the cycle post 2020 with the 7th cohesion report in early 2018.
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