Today, Members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) discussed the proposal of the Finnish presidency of the Council for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU’s long term budget, which was published 19 months after the European Commission’s proposal and 14 months after the adoption of the CoR’s position on the MFF. The CoR members urged the Council, made up of Head of States and Governments, to urgently speed up the negotiations on the next MFF with the aim of reaching a final agreement as soon as possible.
“The effects of EU investments are most visible and tangible at local level. Many ongoing EU projects in regions and cities will be hampered and the credibility of the EU decision-makers will be damaged, if the adoption of the MFF with a sufficient budget is delayed any further,” warned Nikola Dobroslavić (EPP/HR), President of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County and Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on the MFF.
The Council failed to reach substantial progress on the MFF at its meeting on 12 December. The Finnish presidency had put forward a proposal for an MFF 21-27 equivalent to 1,07 per cent of the EU GNI (representing an overall level of €1,087 billion), which is much below the CoR’s expectations. Both the CoR and the European Parliament have called for a long-term EU budget of 1,3 per cent of GNI that would enable regions and cities to continue investing in key European priorities for the benefit of the citizens such as job creation, climate, security, research and innovation.
Furthermore, the Council’s proposal for the period 2021-2027 envisages further cuts to Cohesion Policy by 15% as well as maintaining a significant cut for the Common Agricultural Policy by 19% compared to the current MFF, which is unacceptable from the CoR’s point of view: “The financing of Cohesion Policy and CAP must remain at least at level of the current MFF 2014-2020 if the EU to reach its goals for balanced and steady development” Nikola Dobroslavić underlined.
During today’s debate at the COTER Commission, Emil Boc (EPP/RO), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, warned against cutting the budget for Cohesion policy: “There are still major development disparities between EU’s regions. Therefore, we cannot afford to deprive EU citizens of their right for a better quality of life. Strong cohesion policy is the glue that keeps Europe together.”
EPP-CoR COTER Coordinator Ivan Žagar (EPP/SL), Mayor of the Municipality of Slovenska Bistrica, said: “The solutions put forward by the Finnish presidency would only increase centralisation and put pressure specifically on cohesion policy, increasing the challenges for regions and Member States.”
“Cohesion policy is important also for countries that are not facing particular economic problems. In Denmark, we have thousands of jobs thanks to cohesion funding, which must be further maintained”, concluded Søren Windell (EPP/DK), Councillor of the municipality of Odense.