Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments


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Cohesion policy

Cohesion policy - 15.11.2010

CEMR welcomes 5th cohesion report and recommends further decentralisation of the policy
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) welcomes the European Commission recognising the need for a strong cohesion policy for all EU regions in its 5th Cohesion Report, with a special focus on regions lagging behind.

However, while CEMR appreciates the strengthened focus on urban areas, it strongly recommends that the future cohesion policy be further decentralised and that 'the European Commission make a strong local dimension mandatory. This local dimension should include urban and rural areas, all the while strengthening the link between them," stated CEMR President, Mayor and Governor of Vienna, Michael Häupl, following the release of the report on 10 November 2010.

'CEMR is very much against the proposed conditionality related to the stability and growth pact, as cohesion policy is a development policy and not a corrective instrument to ensure the sound financial management of member states." Such will be one of CEMR Executive President and MEP Oldrich Vlasak's main messages at the occasion of a roundtable discussion with Regional Policy Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, on Tuesday 16 November 2010.

CEMR would however support a result-oriented conditionality for structural funds provided that it relates to 'the fulfilment of specific cohesion policy aims by a specific region, as agreed upon beforehand by all levels of government, including the local and regional levels. It is also vital that poor regions receive sufficient funding no matter what," declared Häupl.

Indeed, 'the crucial point for CEMR is whether the priorities are politically chosen at the local and regional level so that they may best suit the specific needs of each territory," will explain Vlasak. He will thus recommend that the Commission not only lend further support to the partnership principle, which should by definition include the regional and local level, but also render it legally binding.

Moreover, cohesion policy cannot be reduced to an instrument to implement the Europe 2020 strategy. Backed by the Lisbon Treaty, it is 'a policy in its own right. Therefore, in order to achieve Europe 2020 and cohesion goals, financial instruments such as structural and cohesion funds must be complemented with other EU or national funds," concluded Häupl in CEMR's first reaction to the report. A soon-to-be-published CEMR response to the consultation on the conclusions of the report is currently being prepared by the CEMR Focus Group on Cohesion (consultation deadline: 31 January 2011).
 
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