Brussels, 10 July 2013
Member States and regions must lose no time in preparing the next generation of EU programmes for growth, says Commissioner Hahn after MEPs' vote on radical reform of EU Regional Policy
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn has told Member States and regions there is no time to lose in planning the EU structural funds programmes for 2014-2020. The call to action comes after members of the European Parliament's Regional Development Committee adopted a series of reports that in principle agree a radical reform of Regional Policy.
The reports reflect the outcome of negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Member States on wide-ranging changes in the way regional policy programmes are managed for maximum impact. The new approach focuses the largest part of the EU investments on key areas for growth and jobs. It demands targets to measure results and sets new conditions for funding.
Speaking after the vote Commissioner Hahn said, "At the last European Council, the EU called on Member States to accelerate the use of European structural and investment funds for jobs and growth. Today's vote gives them the tools to act. We have no time to lose. These reforms will equip EU Regional Policy to tackle the EU's main obstacles to long-term growth. They focus our investments on the key areas for economic development: SME support, research and innovation, the digital agenda and the low carbon economy -as set out in the Europe 2020 Growth Agenda. Through these reforms, we are modernising the policy to produce tangible results and stronger performance. And crucially our new policy will mobilise the full potential of Europe’s regions to deliver this agenda."
Commissioner Hahn added, "I would like to pay particular tribute to the efforts of the Chair of the Regional Development Committee Danuta Hübner, as well as the MEPs who have authored these reports. She and her colleagues have worked hard to help us make our policy fit for purpose. Now it is up to the Member States, their regions and cities to advance the preparations for the next period. "
Today's preliminary agreement covers most of the reform package for Regional Policy. While the negotiations on the remaining issues such as the performance reserve and macro-economic conditionality will continue, the measures endorsed today provide a sound basis for programming to proceed. They set out the rules that will shape the main objectives and funding priorities to be fixed in the "partnership agreements" between each Member State and the European Commission. These are the starting points for the more detailed national and regional programmes.
In some Member States draft partnership agreements are ready. The Commission expects all of these to be finalised by the end of this year with agreement on all programmes in the early part of 2014 so that investment can be directed towards growth and jobs without delay.
Key elements of reform confirmed by today's vote:
- Focusing investments on key areas for growth and jobs as outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy through a common set of rules which apply to all five European Structural and Investment Funds (European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund)
- The majority of the budget to be concentrated on few priorities closely linked to the EU 2020 growth strategy. In particular:
- Between 50% and 80% of the ERDF budget concentrated on measures to support innovation and R&D, the digital agenda, the competitiveness of SMEs, and the shift towards a low carbon economy.
- On low carbon economy a further obligation to allocate at least between 12% and 20% to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Member States and regions to establish clear and measurable targets on the impact of the investments. Progress to be measured and communicated.
- Measures to cut red tape and simplify the use of EU funds: more common rules among all funds, more targeted but fewer reporting demands, more use of digital technology (“e-cohesion”).
The Commission adopted its legislative proposals for 2014-2020 on 6 October 2011.
The key features were a reinforced strategic dimension of the policy to ensure that EU investment is targeted on Europe's long-term goals for growth and jobs (Europe 2020) and a strong emphasis on results.
The principle of partnership with regional and local authorities, economic and social partners and bodies representing civil society is a key element in the new policy, particularly through the adoption of a European Code of Conduct on Partnership.
MEMO/13/678: Further background and Q and A on Cohesion Policy Reform
Shirin Wheeler (+32 2 296 65 65)
Annemarie Huber (+32 2 299 33 10)