The future of cohesion policy (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Romanian Presidency)

EESC opinion: The future of cohesion policy (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Romanian Presidency)

Key points:


  • considers cohesion policy to be the fundamental pillars for bringing the EU closer to its citizens and for reducing disparities among EU regions and inequalities among people;
  • is of the firm view that the proposal to reduce the size of the cohesion policy budget for the period 2021-2027 is unacceptable;
  • believes that there is a need for a new ambitious and clear European strategy that is aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Considers it is important that whilst embarking on a much needed effort to make cohesion policy future proof. The EESC believes that EU should not forget the challenges of today, which continue to impact society greatly. Here the EESC is specifically referring to social challenges (marginalisation and discrimination of minorities and specific ethnic groups, or domestic violence)and economic challenges (access to finance and upskilling);
  • is of the opinion that all regions must be eligible for funding;
  • believes that if Europe is to move to the next level of economic development cohesion policy must increasingly adopt a regionally differentiated approach when it comes to investments and policy responses;
  • welcomes the stronger link with the European Semester and also calls for integration with the country-specific recommendations as a means of encouraging structural reforms.
  • expects a stronger link between the European level investment strategy and that of Member States. It is important that the funds do not substitute for the efforts of the Member States but complement them;
  • believes that the regulatory package should be much simpler and avoid micromanaging the funds;
  • is calling on Commission to promote the possibility of a simplified procedure to access funds for projects of a small size.
  • supports the use of financial instruments but calls on the Commission to ensure that when devising such instruments, a thorough test of suitability is carried out to ensure that such instruments are suitable for all Member States;