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

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Cohesion policy

Cohesion Policy - 21.10.2015

Simplification of the Cohesion Policy: a lot can be done to truly facilitate the access of towns and regions to EU funds
Simplifying and reducing bureaucracy to access and use of European funds is one of the most popular demands for the current cohesion policy.

As stated by the European Commission: “Simplification can have a positive impact on the results of the policy by ensuring an efficient distribution of administrative efforts required at national, regional and EU levels, cutting the time and costs of reaching the objectives and allowing to focus on results”. 

That set of proposals presented by the Commission represent a step forward in the simplification of the access and use of the European Funds, as it will reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries, for instance, by encouraging the use of electronic documentation or by reducing the number of audits. Such simplification will also help to reduce errors when applying for European funds and will ensure the smooth delivery of those funds. 

However, CEMR believes that a lot can still be done to truly facilitate the access to European funds:

1. Harmonisation of the rules of different policies: cohesion policy, the rural development policy and the maritime and fisheries policy

The EU should move towards common processes and procedures (in terms of the eligibility of programmes and the durability of the funds) wherever possible. Furthermore, as a long-term goal, a single integrated EU-to-local funding stream addressing all the varied growth needs in the field could be a solution.

2. More flexibility when setting up priorities when accessing European funding programmes

So far, the European Commission set the priority programmes (jobs, innovation, rural development, etc.) in each Member State as well as the part of the budget that must be spent on each programme. However this decision does not always take into account the demands of Member States and regions, which could better suit the reality on the ground. Full flexibility is far from been achieved. 

3. Increased proportionality when carrying out control and audits in the use of European funds

The Structural Funds continue to have a multi-layered level of audit, which leads to several checks of the same documents by different authorities at different levels and often results in different interpretations. A lighter process should be introduced by delegating more control to national audit bodies. 
Background information

CEMR was invited to present these messages during a public hearing organised by the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) of the European Parliament. 

You can watch the speech of Dr. Angelika Poth-Mögele on behalf of CEMR on the website of REGI committee.
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