Although the EESC welcomes the Commission's proposals for thematic concentration as a means to reduce fragmentation of effort, it nevertheless recommends showing greater flexibility, largely to make the territorial approach easier to apply and, thus, to improve the effectiveness of the policy.
As a consequence of the crisis, scarcity of both public and private resources may result in difficulties to provide the necessary co-financing for interventions which are essential for making the desired changes happen. The EESC considers that a flexible responsible approach with regard to co-financing rates and conditionality clauses would improve the chances of obtaining a lasting impact of the interventions financed by the Funds.
The ERDF can have a considerable impact both on the achievement of convergence objectives and on Europe-wide objectives in the area of competitiveness. Given that the level of resources cannot be increased in any significant way, the EESC believes there is a further potential in defining clearer objectives and ensuring that the proposed investment priorities are more precisely linked with the objectives. As the territorial approach lends itself to define more precise objectives, the EESC's view is that more emphasis is to be placed on Europe-wide territory-based strategies, such as existing or future macro-regional strategies, as references for area-specific objectives.
The EESC has often affirmed that given the concentration of resources, there is a need to provide resources and distinct legal frameworks to bolster transnational cooperation and thus strengthen links within Europe. The EESC further proposes that the Commission consider widening the scope of possible interventions undertaken by the Connecting Europe Facility by opening it up so that it can co-finance projects of Special European Interest in addition to transport and communication ones. Finally, the EESC recommends introducing mechanisms that ensure that financed projects do serve the interest of better economic, social and territorial cohesion in Europe.