Cohesion policy is key to recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and reducing disparities in Europe. A recent EESC opinion cautions that its most serious challenge for the foreseeable future is the war in Ukraine.

Rapid action is needed to help refugees and ensure Ukraine's European integration. In its opinion, the EESC also underscores that it is strongly in favour of Ukraine joining the EU without delay and calls for cohesion policy and the associated financial instruments to be adapted accordingly.

Specifically, the Committee suggests creating a separate EU fund to facilitate post-war reconstruction and development. The opinion, adopted during the May plenary, analyses a European Commission communication about its Cohesion in Europe towards 2050 report.

The report was published two weeks before Russia's invasion of Ukraine – and therefore did not take its ramifications into account. Rapporteur Krzysztof Balon said: "In the short and medium term, the biggest challenge for cohesion policy is Russia's aggression, which is in fact also an act of aggression against the European Union."

Co-rapporteur Gonçalo Lobo Xavier added: "Cohesion policy is still a fundamental instrument for the recovery and resilience of the European economy and particular focus should be placed on SMEs."  (tk)