The Cypriot Presidency of the Union European wishes to reduce the budget proposed by the European commission. However, the reviewed proposal of the Commission represents already a reduction of 5.5 billion euros for the budget of Cohesion Policy.
This budget represents more than one-third of the EU budget. Cohesion is not only a repartition tool but a lever to boost European growth, innovation, thus creating jobs. Such measure would go against the European growth pact wanted by the European Council of June 2012, and would weaken the projects of regions and cities.
Thus, the CAAC pleads for a large-scale budget for cohesion policy and would like to express its stance on the matter, based on the following:
1. Cohesion policy is not only a redistribution tool but also an instrument for development that encompasses a fundamental leverage effect to mobilize investment and to respond to external shocks. Therefore, austerity measures and financial restrictions should not fall upon cohesion policy alone. Quite the opposite, EU should stop thinking only in figures so as to reach the means corresponding to its ambitions.
2. Therefore, CAAC pleads for a large-scale budget for cohesion policy as the Treaty goals must not be reduced, nor to mainstreaming neither to symbolic measures. At the same level the principle of cohesion must take precedence on any conditionality. Thus, CAAC underlines that the macroeconomic conditionality would challenge the territorial solidarity highlighted by the Lisbon Treaty.
3. Moreover, acknowledging the need for ascribing funds to less developed regions should not obscure the negative consequences of a sudden absence or reduction of cohesion funds on the old member states. In this framework, the CAAC supports the creation of the transition category; enclosed in an ambitious EU cooperation framework and in the consideration of the crisis’ effects on various member states and especially on Atlantic Arc countries.
4. CAAC underscores that Common Agricultural Policy and the Cohesion policy are complementary and must be balanced and search for coherence, so as to avoid trade-offs.
5. In addition, CAAC would like to express its doubts concerning the relevance of the Connecting Europe facility, and the appropriateness of ring-fencing funds from Cohesion Policy to this facility whereas Cohesion funds are yet compromised.
6. CAAC welcomes the importance given to the Territorial Cooperation. However this network wants to express its disappointment at the imbalance between the funds assigned to cross-border dimension regarding the transnational dimension. The growing importance of the macro-regional phenomenon in that assignment is also ignored.
7. So, concerning the current discussions on the Multi-annual Financial Framework at the Council, the Atlantic Cities would like to suggest a more open and forward-planning approach. The current financing markedly relies on national contributions and it is also becoming more and more opaque, therefore a more balanced mix of resources should be taken into consideration.
Charles Nicol, Secretary-General of the Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities.