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The forum will be the last opportunity for Member States and regions to make their voices heard before the Commission presents its legislative proposals on the future cohesion policy, due out by summer 2011.
Organised every three years in Brussels, the Commission has invited top policy-makers from the 27 Member States to a two-day event which expects around 800 participants.
The EU's cohesion policy - worth almost €350 billion over 7 years - provides support for 455 national and regional development programmes across the EU. In the context of both the EU budget review and the Europe 2020 Strategy, a number of options for reforming the policy when the current funding period ends in 2013 are under discussion.
The event will look in particular at the role of cohesion policy in delivering the Europe 2020 Strategy – which sets out the sustainable economic development blueprint for the EU for the next decade. Four thematic -panels during the event, each chaired by EU Commissioners, will focus on key components of the EU 2020 Strategy: smart growth, green growth, inclusive growth, and the territorial dimension of Europe 2020.
László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, will be joined at the event's launch by Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, and Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland – the countries holding the EU Presidency. Andrius Kubilius, Prime Minister of Lithuania will also take part in the forum.
With the publication of the fifth cohesion report in November 2010, the Commission set out its initial ideas for further simplifying and streamlining the delivery system of cohesion policy, and improving evaluation, performance and results through more effective target-setting. All the options set out in the report will be discussed in depth during the panels.