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EU ministers underline importance of cohesion policy in achieving key EU objectives

Met dank overgenomen van Sloveens voorzitterschap Europese Unie 2e helft 2021, gepubliceerd op donderdag 18 november 2021.

At the General Affairs Council, the ministers responsible for cohesion policy underlined the contribution of cohesion policy to reducing and eliminating development disparities, to the green transformation, to the digital transition and to economic, social and territorial cohesion. They also supported the integration of San Marino in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR).

Among other things, the minister chairing the event, Zvone Černač, said: "Cohesion policy is one of the most important policies of the European Union, not only in terms of eliminating development disparities between regions, but also in supporting other policies, as demonstrated by the support for the measures to tackle the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. European cohesion funds make an important contribution to eliminating development disparities within member states and individual regions. In the coming years, cohesion policy funds should also be combined in a smart and cost-effective way with funds from other mechanisms, with the aim of strengthening the resilience of individual systems and ensuring synergies in support of the green transformation and the digital transition. In so doing, we must remember that these are funds that come from the people and need to be returned to the people in a variety of ways. This is the only way to really bring cohesion policy closer to the people."

The ministers agreed that the economic and social consequences of the pandemic pose a major challenge to the EU's territorial cohesion. Given the differences in development between regions, the recovery from the pandemic and the revival of economic growth will also take place at different rates in different countries and regions. However, smart and the regionally-tailored use of cohesion policy instruments is needed to boost economic growth again in all regions and to ensure greater resilience in the future.

The discussions highlighted the various challenges and opportunities presented by cohesion policy instruments and their integration with other instruments to promote development and bridge development gaps. Particular emphasis was placed on additional funding under the REACT-EU programme, the European common agricultural policy and the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism.

The resilience, recovery and strategic autonomy of the European Union is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. A simplified, effective and result-oriented cohesion policy can make a major contribution to recovery and to building a resilient, green and digital Europe where no one is left behind. The discussions therefore focused on strengthening efforts to finalise the preparation and approval of programme documents for the next seven-year period and on combining the implementation of the 2021-27 cohesion policy with the instruments of other policies. Activities are ongoing and their completion in the coming year will make an important contribution to complementing the implementation of the other mechanisms adopted in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

Ministers on the integration of San Marino in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR)

By adopting the Council conclusions, ministers supported the inclusion of the Republic of San Marino in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region (EUSAIR). The European Commission will amend the strategy to include San Marino. The Strategy will now include 10 countries: Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and San Marino.

General Affairs Council (Cohesion), 18 November 2021

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