'An agreement on the multiannual financial framework is a signal of Europe's decisiveness'
(19 March 2013)
Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn was at the European Parliament Comittee on Regional Development (REGI-Committee) today to exchange views with its Members on the Multiannual Financial Framework and the ongoing inter-institutional negotiations on the post 2014 EU Cohesion Policy.
Extracts from his speech:
Political evaluation of the MFF is complex: significant increases for research and development, but not as high as the Commission wanted, additional funds for combating youth unemployment, on the other hand less money for regions or agriculture.
It is important to note that budgetary provision supports the new architecture in principle (Transition Regions) and also enables new strategic alignment of Regional Policy.
I will not hide the fact that I am personally critical of certain aspects, given that they particularly endanger the new results-orientated approach. For example, the n+3 rule does not support the Better Spending concept. I also regret the poor funding for Territorial Cooperation – I believe that significant cut-backs in areas where Europe obviously adds value send out the wrong signal. I am sure that the Parliament will give out a clear European message on this matter during negotiations.
Overall, the agreement reached by the Heads of State and Government creates a sound basis for negotiations between Council and Parliament. We need a rapid solution to this matter so as not to delay further negotiations regarding sectoral policies or endanger solid programming. All Member States, including Croatia, have entered into a partnership agreement with the Commission to formally fix matters, with the aim of ensuring a smooth transition from one period to the next.
I do not need to explain to you that moving away from multiannual financing in favour of annual budgeting is a serious threat to Regional Policy. Investment policy thrives on investment security!
I thank the Parliament/you for your strong commitment to the ongoing trilogue negotiations, in which many of you are directly involved, and which, I believe, are heading in a very good direction. It is therefore reasonable to expect an agreement to be reached before summer. The Commission, my colleagues and I are always at your disposal.
I conclude with two points that I would like to briefly address:
ESF share: we rapidly need a clear and ambitious solution for the ESF minimum share. In this context, it is surely necessary to take into account the specific characteristics of the regions and allow flexibility accordingly. However, the basic concept should remain unaffected.
Thematic focus: This ensures achievement of pan-European objectives. Focus on the things assigned to the Europe 2020 growth objectives. Allowing flexibility for everything is possibly a poor interpretation; this deals with targeted measures. In this House, I have always promoted and advocated the principle of thematic focus. If we want to use the funds to greatest effect, we must focus them on the (few) areas that are of central importance for growth and employment. Previously, structural policy was affected by a lack of direction. We want to demonstrate that we are improving.