Making adjustments and going for growth

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The Cohesion Forum will take place next week and will be an important milestone in the discussion on the Cohesion Policy post-2020. The following contribution is part of the Panorama magazine special edition published in the context of this debate.

Developments in the context of the EU’s Cohesion Policy signify a change in direction, based on recognition of the importance of the territorial approach towards regional development.

At the same time, the course of the Greek and European economies is bound up with developments in the global economic sphere. At a European level, the nature of the crisis and the close interconnection of the economies require a new form of international understanding and coordinated action.

Given this, Cohesion Policy is one of the basic pillars of the structure. In this way, Greek Regions – including the Region of Crete – have benefitted significantly, since community resources of around EUR 64 billion have flowed into our country in the last two decades.

These resources have contributed to the development of a significant infrastructure network, enhancing entrepreneurship, modernising public administration and improving human resources. The evaluation of the 2007-2013 period reveals that, especially for the Convergence Regions, the Structural Funds secured a 4 % increase in GDP. In addition, 122 000 new small and medium-sized enterprises and 322 000 jobs were created. In total, more than 940 000 new jobs have been created by all the Funds.

As many European regions are being affected by the economic crisis, Cohesion Policy is being called upon to make a substantial contribution to efforts towards the recovery of national and regional economies. Indeed, the regulatory framework for the 2014-2020 period encourages us to direct the available resources towards those sectors and activities which result in the greatest growth. It is a fact that the added value and efficacy of the Cohesion Policy is now being discussed by policymakers, academics and other interested parties.

As a representative of Crete – a European island region – I would like to emphasise that the Cohesion Policy is a vital policy for the progress of European regions and the prosperity of the citizens. It is one of the main pillars of the European Union which must be continued after the end of the current programming period. Indeed, the possibility of additional support should be considered so that it is in a position to respond to the role it is being called upon to perform.

For that reason, all of us who represent European regions have a duty to highlight the benefits and significance of this policy, with the aim of safeguarding it from short-sighted political considerations. We are willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue which will identify the necessary institutional adjustments, procedural simplifications and strategic options that will strengthen Cohesion Policy, with obvious implications at both the European and the international level.

Stavros Arnaoutakis,

Regional Governor of Crete