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

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Governance and citizenship

EU budget - 14.02.2018

Towns and regions want a fair EU budget
Europe’s towns and regions are worried about the European Union’s future budget. They want it to be respectful of their needs.

On 14 February, the European Commission published a communication on the EU’s future spending plan (the Multiannual Financial Framework – MFF) outlining potential cuts of 15% or even 30% to the cohesion policy budget. The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) believes that a clear cut to cohesion policy would mean withdrawing local governments from the European project.

As CEMR’s Executive director for European Affairs, Angelika Poth-Mögele states: “It is in everybody’s interest for the EU’s future spending plan to be local-friendly. The success of the EU’s political priorities (innovation, jobs and growth…) depends on towns and regions’ budgetary well-being and capacity to invest in their territories.” The EU’s future budget should be local-friendly. CEMR explains how and why this should happen.

For everyone’s sake, the next EU budget should be adapted to local needs. Along with being guided by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, this means several things:

Cohesion policy needs to remain strong enough for investments in all towns and regions to even continue to exist. If it gets cut, this would be a major blow to local initiatives that directly benefit Europe’s citizens, such as jobs for youth or sustainable mobility. The Commission’s communication on the future MFF suggests three different scenarios for cohesion policy. CEMR is in favour of the first scenario: it supports a strong cohesion policy. A very local-unfriendly risk exists concerning cohesion policy: some would like it to discriminate towns or regions based on their resources. CEMR states loud and clear that all local and regional governments should have the right to benefit from cohesion policy.

Budget priorities should be aligned throughout all spheres of governance. Even though the competences of the EU, states, regions and towns naturally differ, what every sphere of governance should aim for is to at least have the same priorities concerning the topics they will have to work on together. One way to achieve this is to use the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guide, with the year 2030 as a horizon.

Simplification is the way to go. Too often, funds exist for local governments but they are not used because the town does not have the necessary resources to deal with the complex application process. That is an issue that should absolutely be made local-friendly in the next budget.

All in all, the focus should be on the essential: the next EU budget is meant to serve European citizens. Through dialogue and working in partnership on relevant topics, this budget can be a great success for the EU as well as for towns and regions, and deliver true European Added Value for the 500 million Europeans they represent.

For more details, please read CEMR’s full position paper.
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