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


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Cohesion policy

"Cohesion" package - 20.11.2013

A step in the right direction, but contradictions remain, the CEMR deems following the vote at the European Parliament
The European Parliament’s adoption of a new legislative package on cohesion policy (2014-2020) marks a step in the right direction. CEMR welcomes this adoption as it will allow local and regional authorities to negotiate their investment priorities for the benefit of companies, associations, citizens and communities, within a stable legal framework. However, several provisions approved at the plenary session contradict the needs of local and regional authorities and the reality on the ground. 
 
Local and regional authorities firmly opposed to even partial implementation of conditions for allocation of funds
 
The possibility of suspending a percentage of aid in the case of a macroeconomic imbalance or excessive State budgetary deficit opposes the very objectives of cohesion policy – reducing disparities between the levels of development of the regions. As pointed out several weeks ago, “local and regional authorities are not responsible at all at a macroeconomic level in their countries. CEMR rejects all macro-economic conditionality in the new cohesion policy package as it will make the municipalities and regions hostages to decisions over which they have no control.” We therefore regret the lack of consideration on the part of the European institutions in regards to the local authorities who have engaged in binding crisis exit policies. 
 
Cohesion policy must be designed for…and by local and regional authorities
 
According to a study carried out by CEMR and its association members in 2013, only a third of Member States defined their financial priorities in partnership with local and regional authorities. The Secretary General of CEMR, Frédéric Vallier, remarks: “we worry about the fact that certain States do not fully involve local and regional authorities – and sometimes not at all – in the design of, implementation of, and follow-through of cohesion policy programmes. The success of cohesion policy depends in large part on the involvement of local and regional authorities, so we call on central governments to not ignore them.”
 
Although there is now a common general regulation for all funds, a larger harmonisation of rules for the funds is necessary 
 
With new instruments, the possibility of a combined use of several European funds – regional, social, rural, maritime, and cohesion – on the same territory is a factor in the successful development of our territories. Unfortunately, the administrative costs linked to the use of these instruments remain very heavy due to dissimilar rules (audit, rapports, follow-up plans) for the funds. As a result, up until now very few governments and management authorities choose to use them. That is why we call on the Commission to have more coherent rules and to facilitate their use by local and regional authorities.
 
 
CEMR position on the new legislative package on cohesion policy (2014-2020) is available in English
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