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Sustainable territorial and local development

Regional policy - 13.02.2004

Michel Barnier: 'Regions must be partners, not spectators"
Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Regional Policy, has called on local and regional government to mobilise in support of the Commission's plans for an effective cohesion policy for the next EU financial period, 2007-13.
Speaking at the Committee of the Regions Plenary Session on 12 February, Mr Barnier said that cohesion policy is in no way an outmoded policy , but an essential component of a strong Europe based on sustainable growth and development. 'Solidarity remains a new idea", he said.
He welcomed the co-ordination of policy lobbying by the CoR and the associations of local and regional government on issues such as the European constitution and regional policy, and repeatedly emphasized that regions must not be passive spectators in Europe's development, but active partners.
The EU Commissioner outlined the main elements of the Commission's Financial Perspective for the next 7 years. He pointed out that the spending plans came to about 1.14% of EU gross national income per year, well below the legal ceiling of 1.24%. Michel Barnier strongly defended the plans, in the face of demands from several governments which seek to hold spending to about 1% GNI.
The future cohesion policy

Mr Barnier went on to highlight the main themes for the future of cohesion policy, due to be adopted by the Commission on 18 February.
About 78% of the cohesion funding will go to Europe's least developed regions under what is known as Objective 1 (GNI per head less than 75% of Eu average). There will be continued support for present Objective 1 regions that would have remained below this threshold, save for the effects of enlargement.
About 17% of cohesion spending will be dedicated to a new Objective 2 aimed at enhancing regional competitiveness. Money will be allocated via a formula which covers gross national product, employment and density rates. Actions under Objective 2 will be selected by regions from a menu that reflects agreed EU priorities.
The last 5% will be dedicated to inter-regional co-operation, which will become simpler to undertake.
Finally, Commisioner Barnier confirmed that there will be a new 'Urban plus" strand of funding, under Objectives 1 and 2, to enable cities to tackle major problems. Special attention will also be given to regions with permanent natural handicaps.
Michel Barnier and senior officials from DG Regio will be speaking at the Cohesion Policy Forum in Brussels on Monday 23rd February. The Forum is co-organised by CEMR together with the Assembly of European Border regions, the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions and Eurocities.
This forum will allow a more in-depth discussion of the Commission's plans for the future, to be published in its Cohesion Report.
To see the Commission's financial Communication, click here.
For more information on the Cohesion policy Forum, click here.
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