EU ministers held a policy debate on the role of cohesion policy in the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ministers were invited to exchange views on the best way to ensure the right balance between
-immediate crisis-response measures and long-term cohesion objectives
-flexibility at national level and targeted support to the least developed regions and most impacted sectors
The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic puts cohesion policy at the forefront of recovery measures as the key EU policy best able to prevent widening inequalities. The coronavirus outbreak may lead to increased regional disparities which, if not tackled urgently, can undermine the functioning of the single market. Cohesion policy is largely designed to provide additional support to all member states and regions, especially those whose economies have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and have the least capacity to bounce back.
Marko Pavić, Croatian Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds
In their discussion, ministers stressed the importance of stronger support for the health sector, as well as the need to fully harness the economic potential of the sectors most negatively affected, such as tourism and culture.
In view of the crisis, member states considered the possibility of increasing the flexibility of transfers between the structural and investment funds. The aim would be to enhance preparedness for emergencies and to further promote job creation in small and medium-sized enterprises.
Some member states expressed the view that further reflection was needed on the possibility of including rapid response measures, which could be triggered in exceptional and unusual circumstances, in the framework of cohesion policy.
Finally, ministers agreed to work towards reinforcing cohesion policy tools in order to help societies manage the current situation and lay the basis for a swift and sustainable recovery of their economies.
The video conference was chaired by Marko Pavić, Croatian Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds. The European Commission was represented by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira.
At the end, the Croatian presidency issued a press release.
-15 June 2020