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Regulation on the European Regional Development Fund 2021-2027

EESC opinion: Regulation on the European Regional Development Fund 2021-2027

Key points:

The EESC

  • reaffirms its strong commitment to and belief in cohesion policy and considers it a major instrument for bringing the EU closer to its citizens and for tackling disparities among EU regions and inequalities among citizens;
  • completely disagrees with the cuts to the cohesion policy in general, and in particular cuts of 12% to the ERDF and 46% to the Cohesion Fund (CF);
  • underlines that the decrease in the national co-financing rates will hinder the implementation of projects, especially by Member States facing budget difficulties;
  • calls upon the Commission to make the criteria for co-financing more flexible;
  • considers that the Commission's proposal to reintroduce the N+2 rule is not supported by practical evidence or by the results analysis of the implementation of the N+3 rule;
  • welcomes the Commission's proposal for the simplification of the use of the funds;
  • welcomes the fact that the Commission proposal improves multi-level governance with its emphasis on shared management, enhancing the participation of civil society organisations;
  • strongly recommends that the Commission establish a European Civil Society Cohesion Forum;
  • proposes that sparsely populated areas, isolated areas, small islands and mountainous regions, in accordance with Article 174 of the TFEU, be supported with the same thematic concentration requirements;
  • recommends that the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) budget be increased for the new programming period;
  • asks the Commission to take other social indicators into account;
  • regrets that the Commission proposals for all regulations have excluded the horizontal incorporation of equality, non-discrimination and accessibility for persons with disabilities;
  • underlines that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) should be fully embedded in the main text of the proposed regulations as well as in the CPR regulation;
  • considers that the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) needs to be prioritised in cohesion policy. It therefore firmly recommends that a minimum of 10% be allocated to PO 4 of the ERDF, establishing the Social Sustainability and Accessibility Regional Initiative (SSARI).