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

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Cohesion policy

Cohesion policy - 01.03.2017

5 proposals for an inclusive, decentralised and simplified future
EU citizens live in towns and cities of all shapes and sizes. For all citizens to be included, cohesion policy should ensure small towns and large cities are involved when designing investment priorities and delivering EU funds.” Mayor of Sala and CEMR spokesperson on cohesion policy Carola Gunnarsson laid out CEMR’s vision for the future of cohesion policy in a speech delivered at the European Parliament on 28 February.

Carola Gunnarsson put forward European local governments’ 5 proposals for the future of cohesion policy. By taking on these proposals, cohesion policy can rhyme with equality and efficiency in Europe’s territories.

1.    Create a new post-2020 strategy for Europe

Because beyond just having a vision, it is necessary to give a full strategic orientation to cohesion policy and make EU progress consistent with global progress in this field (such as Habitat III or the Paris climate agreement).

2.    Focus on inclusion

No territory should be left behind. The cohesion policy has to work for all European territories, when designing investment priorities and delivering EU funds. This requires a bottom-up approach, stronger central-local working partnerships and a legally binding partnership principle.

3.    Devolve decision-making to local governments

They know what their own territories need. This requires a stronger focus on the place-based approach and Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI). Moreover, having one single set of rules for the five funds that make up the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) would be significant progress.

4.    Simplify cohesion policy for a maximised use of funds

Too often, towns with smaller capacities struggle to access funds. Simplification and cutting red tape is essential for their access. In fact, during the debate, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu called for a simplification of cohesion policy herself.

5.    Provide technical assistance for cohesion policy beneficiaries

Technical assistance should also be available to cohesion policy beneficiaries: towns and regions, but also universities or entrepreneurs. In particular, technical assistance would help beneficiaries regarding state aid rules, public procurement and financial instruments.
Next steps

8 March: CEMR joint event on local finances at the European Parliament

28 March: CEMR event: “Paving the way for a more territorial Cohesion Policy after 2020”



Marine Gaudron
Advisor - Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion, Local Finances

Email :
Tel : +32 2 213 86 93
Skype : marine.gaudron
Carola Gunnarsson delivered her speech at the occasion of the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI).

Commissioner Crețu was also present to exchange with participants on the future of cohesion policy.
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