On 10 and 11 May, the Commission organised the Third Cohesion Forum in Brussels. This major debate brought together the contributions of a wide range of key players on the reform of the cohesion policy in the context of an enlarged Europe , proposed by the Commission for the period 2007-2013.
The discussions were organised around two round-tables : “Setting a new agenda: future priorities for cohesion policy” and “Reforming the delivery system: simplification and decentralisation” which refer to the proposals made by the Commission in the conclusions of the Third Cohesion report of 18 February 2004 . The various contributions revealed that the cohesion policy is largely supported by the States, regions and towns.
A large majority of the participants stressed that the proposals of the Commission concerning the future of this policy and which are contained not only in the Third Cohesion report but also in the proposals for the financial perspectives adopted on 10 February 2004 , form a good basis for the inter-institutional negotiations which have started. Some of them pointed out that the budgetary constraints of the Member States are a factor to take into account.
Two major tendencies emerged from the Forum:
- Cohesion is at the heart of the Union ’s efforts to improve the economic performance and the competitiveness of the European economy. This will require mobilisation of all the resources and all the regions. And in this context, enlargement is an opportunity because the economic growth of the new States is stronger than that of the 15 old Member States.
- The cohesion policy must be more targeted, more decentralised and simpler than it is at present.
All the contributions of the participants will be taken into account by the Commission with a view to the elaboration of regulatory proposals, five in all, which will concretise the main elements of the reform: a general regulation on the Funds, three regulations for the ERDF, ESF and the Cohesion Fund as well as a regulation on a legal cooperation instrument. The Commission will examine these texts next July.
Monday 10 May
11.00 – 12.15 Opening Session chaired by Mr. Jacques BARROT, Member of the European Commission responsible for Regional Policy
"Construire tous ensemble la cohésion d'une Europe réunie, compétitive et solidaire Parlement européen Discours d'ouverture du troisième forum sur la cohésion"
Mr. Romano PRODI , President of the European Commission
Mr. Tom PARLON , Minister of State at the Department of Finance in Ireland , Irish Presidency of the Council
Mr. Peter STRAUB , President of the Committee of the Regions
Mr. Roger BRIESCH , President of the Economic and Social Committee
Mr. Philippe MAYSTADT , President of the European Investment Bank
12:15 – 12:40“A new partnership for Cohesion”
A special presentation by Mr. Michel BARNIER Minister for Foreign Affaires, France, and former Member of the European Commission
14:30 – 17:30 Panel 1 “Setting a new agenda: future priorities for cohesion policy”
Round table discussion led by Mr. Jacques BARROT , Member of the European Commission responsible for regionalpolicy with Mr. Stavros DIMAS , Member of the European Commission responsible for Employment and Social Affairs and Ms. Odile QUINTIN, Director General, Directorate General Employment and Social Affairs, European Commission, with the participation of:
Mr. Péter MEDGYESSY , Prime Minister, Hungary
Mr. Rhodri MORGAN, First Minister of Wales
Ms Manuela FERREIRA LEITE , Minister of State and Finance of Portugal
M. Karl DILLER ,
State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance , Germany
M. Michael HÄUPL , Governor and Mayor of Vienna and Member of the Committee of the Regions
M. Jean-Claude VAN CAUWENBERGHE ,
Minister-President of the Walloon region, Belgium , and Member of the Committee of the Regions
M. Gilles de ROBIEN , Minister forMinister for Capital Works, Transport, Town and Country Planning, Tourism and the Sea, France
M. Vladimír ŠPIDLA , Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
Rapporteur: Mr. Jean-Charles LEYGUES , Director, Directorate General Regional Policy, European Commission
Tuesday 11 May
9:00 – 11:00 Panel 2 : “Reforming the delivery system: simplification and decentralisation”
Round table discussion led by Mr. Péter BALÁZS , Member of the European Commission with Mr. Graham MEADOWS, Director general, Directorate General Regional Policy, European Commission, with the participation of:
Mr. Hannes MANNINEN , Minister for Regional Affairs, Finland
Mr. Claudio MARTINI , President of Tuscany , President of CPMR( Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe ), Member of ARE (Assembly of European Regions)and of the Committee of the Regions
Ms. Krystyna GURBIEL, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Economy, Labour and Social Policy , Poland
Mr. Jonas BJELFVENSTAM , State Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, Sweden
Mr. Miguel Ángel FERNÁNDEZ ORDOÑEZ , Secretary of State for budget, Spain
Rapporteur: Mr. Raoul Prado, Director, Directorate General Employment and Social Affairs, European Commission
11:00-13:00 Concluding session chaired by Mr. Mario MONTI , Member of the European Commission responsible for competition
Rapporteur Panel 1 : Mr. J.-C. LEYGUES
Rapporteur Panel 2 : Mr. Raoul PRADO
Mr. Konstantinos HATZIDAKIS, Member of the European Parliament, Member of the RETT (Committee on regional policy, transport and tourism)
Mr. Vlado DIMOVSKI , Minister of Labour , Slovenia
Mr. Gianfranco MICCICHÉ , Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance , Italy
Mr. Alain ROUSSET , President of the Associations of the French regions, President of the Regional Council of Aquitaine, France
Conclusions by Mr. Jacques BARROT, Member of the European Commission responsible for Regional Policy : "Vers une politique de cohésion forte et efficace"
The European Structural Funds - A solidarity policy