Quality or high speed?
With the future MFF, and in particular the Cohesion Funds, the real choices for the European Union are on the table. Not only BREXIT - if it becomes reality - but in the negotiations between the Council, the Commission and the EP the debate is at its most intense on the issue of speeding up. This is understandable in the light of the uncertainty about the future EP and the next European Commission. Looking at the European political landscape, the future outlook is anything but brilliant. Nevertheless depression will not help, nor will business as usual. Awareness-raising and mobilisation are needed!
Policies need financial support. The greatest benefit for citizens does not come from the Common Agricultural Policy, although now a little greenwashed, with the addition of certain elements of sustainable development. 5% of the European workforce are in agriculture, when roughly 40% of the EU budget goes to the sector. The beneficiaries are not those farmers who produce in a sustainable manner. It is agro-industry, whose leitmotiv is usually more and more production, growth at any price. This is not sustainable and sometimes has devastating consequences for animal welfare, soils and groundwater.
The Cohesion Funds are the funds that most effectively reach citizens in Europe and that can help to solve problems on the ground. It is not only a matter of the budget to be allocated, it is also about empowering those who are needed to put the policies in place. And there is work to be done: regional administrations and stakeholders are not always equal to the task, as the amount of unused funding is sometimes quite large, and there remain the problems of bad governance (usually called corruption) and ignorance of fundamental European values and the rule of law.
European funds are, however, a steering tool and should be better used as such. Time is an argument, but quality of delivery is more relevant. European funds are not a modern payment card, they should be the best investment in a – hopefully - sustainable future. It is up to institutional and organised European civil society to play the role of watchdog! It is about our common future!
- Conny Reuter, Co-Chair of the Liaison Group