The new #CohesionAlliance gets into gear to shape the future of the main investment policy of the EU.
The key challenges and future objectives of Cohesion Policy were the main focus of the high-level event organised by the #CohesionAlliance on 16 March. The EU-wide coalition of 12,000 signatories advocating for a stronger Cohesion Policy launched two calls addressed to European local and regional authorities to collect their feedback on the future role and design of cohesion policy, and to showcase the unique role of this policy in supporting cities' and regions' development in every corner of Europe.
The #CohesionAlliance is a joint movement of like-minded representatives cities and regions and their associations, and of social partners and civic society representatives that advocate cohesion as a fundamental value of the EU and plead for a strong Cohesion Policy beyond 2027. After the successful campaign to secure a central role for Cohesion Policy in the 2021-27 EU long-term budget – which brought together more than 12,000 signatories, 140 regions, 137 cities and counties, 50 associations of regional and local governments, many Members of the European Parliament and 35 EU sectoral associations – the #CohesionAlliance is now ready for a new challenge.
Today's event kicks off the reflection process of the new Cohesion Alliance on the future of Cohesion Policy, which will bring together key stakeholders, regional and local representatives, EU and national institutions, in order to make the policy stronger, simpler, more effective and result-oriented now and in the future.
Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), stated: " If we break Cohesion Policy, we may still have a European Union, but it will not move forward the same way. The objectives of Cohesion Policy are always territorial, economic and social cohesion, but the context has changed. When we talk about migration and integration of refugees, or about energy transition, just to name two challenges, it is always cohesion that is at stake. We need to adapt Cohesion Policy and update it, but it is very important to not become hostage of the discussion about money only. The question should always be what kind of solution we want to face the challenges in front of us. Cohesion Policy is the answer. I invite you all to join the Cohesion Alliance, because this is about what kind of Europe we want in the future ."
Younous Omarjee, Chair of the European Parliament's Committee for regional development, said: " Cohesion Policy is a cornerstone policy of the European Union, it brings Europe together. The new generation of funds is meant to help regions to achieve the green and digital transition, and to reduce development gaps in the EU. For the future, we want to strengthen this policy to face the major challenges: energy and industrial sovereignty, adaptation to climate change, demographic crisis ."
Elisa Ferreira, EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, addressed the #CohesionAlliance partners via a video message: " We have now started the reflection on the future of Cohesion Policy and we are carrying out a deepened discussion on the achievements and the way forward. I count on the Cohesion Alliance to make a substantial contribution to this important discourse, as well as on activating the communities that they represent to speak up! We have to spread the word on the successes of the Policy, the empowerment that it brought to EU regions and municipalities and to the transformations possible thanks to Cohesion Policy investments. Let’s discuss what and how could be improved, as we are entering this new period 2021-2027, and looking beyond, so that the Policy remains the powerful pull holding Europe together and reminding us of a joint destiny! " she said.
Emil Boc, Chair of the CoR's Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and Budget ( COTER ) and Mayor of Cluj-Napoca (RO) said: " With today's meeting we have launched a reflection process of the Cohesion Alliance that will continue throughout the year and that will enable us to position the Alliance on the question of how Cohesion Policy should be shaped in the future. However, it is also crucial that this reflection process is as inclusive as possible and that all of those who are interested in a future with a strong and effective Cohesion Policy for all regions have a possibility to provide us with their input ."
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Association of European Border Regions ( AEBR ) and member of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community in Belgium, said: " Cohesion Policy improves the development of all territories, including particularly those handicapped due to their location and other circumstances. It facilitates their cooperation adding an enormous value in terms of functionality. Without Cohesion and cooperation, the disadvantages of these territories would only grow and consolidate ."
Adrián Ariel Zittelli Ferrari, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions ( CPMR) political representative, Director-General for European Union Affairs for the Region of Murcia, said: " Many of Europe’s current and upcoming challenges are linked to territorial circumstances on the ground, and vary from region to region. Cohesion policy should offer opportunities and support to all citizens regardless of their location, and help them fully participate in European development and the single market. Therefore, Cohesion Policy should be maintained as the main investment policy for all regions in the EU . "
The European Committee of the Regions has started its political debate on the matter and appointed President Cordeiro and the Chair of the COTER Commission Boc as co-rapporteurs of an opinion on the future of cohesion policy after 2027.
The #CohesionAlliance launched two calls for contribution targeting local and regional authorities in Europe:
- a broad consultation to receive feedback on the future role and design of cohesion policy. Respondents can access the consultation and send their contribution here.
- a call for Cohesion Local Stories to showcasing how cohesion policy has a unique role to support cities' and regions' development. Respondents can send their contributions via this link. The stories will be then used for the campaign and published on the Cohesion Alliance's website.
If you want to stay up to date with all the activities of the #CohesionAlliance and the latest development on cohesion policy, you can sign up to receive the new #CohesionAlliance newsletter here.