19 octobre 2021 Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
The European Commissioner responsible for regional policy, Danuta HÜBNER, addresses today and tomorrow the Informal Ministerial meeting on Regional Policy and Territorial Cohesion in Luxembourg. Today`s session covers the Strategic Guidelines for the next generation of regional cohesion programmes for 2007-2013. The session is chaired by Mr Jeannot Krecké, Luxembourg minister of Economy and Foreign Trade. Commissioner Hübner presented a reflection paper setting out ideas for future priorities based on the renewed Lisbon agenda for growth and jobs approved by the Spring Council in March. Tomorrow’s session is devoted to territorial cohesion and will be chaired by Mr Jean-Marie Halsdorf, Minister of the Interior and Spatial Development,.
On the Community Strategic Guidelines, Commissioner Hübner said: “The key objective of the Guidelines is to provide Member States and regions with ideas for the preparation of their new development programmes, helping to strengthen the synergies between cohesion policy and the renewed Lisbon agenda. At the same time, we will seek to increase consistency with the Union’s Broad Economic Policy Guidelines and the European Employment Strategy. The Guidelines take account of differing needs at regional level, for example, the considerable widening of socio-economic disparities following recent – and future – enlargements. The limited resources at Union level need to be concentrated on fields where they can deliver best results in terms of growth, competitiveness and employment.”
The draft General Regulation on the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund adopted in July 2004 proposes that the first stage in the preparation for the next programming period should take the form of Community Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion. The reflection paper on the Community Strategic Guidelines identify three priorities:
Improving the attractiveness of regions and cities by improving accessibility, ensuring adequate quality and level of services, and preserving their environmental potential;
Encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and the growth of the knowledge economy by research and innovation capacities, including new information and communication technologies;
Creating more and better jobs by attracting more people into employment or entrepreneurial activity, improving adaptability of workers and enterprises and increasing investment in human capital.
Under the Commission’s proposals , the Strategic Guidelines would be decided by the Council acting in unanimity. In line with the conclusions of the Spring Council 2005 on the “Growth and Jobs Agenda”, the Guidelines aim at reinforcing the ownership of cohesion policy by the regions and social partners. This would help to ensure a continuing dialogue and a clearer division of responsibilities between the Commission, the Member States and the regions, and a strong partnership between all the stakeholders involved in implementation.
The second session of the Informal Ministerial meeting will address “territorial cohesion”. This is a key matter for European integration, essentially refusing the idea of a multi-speed Europe, with growing and declining territories, economic and social imbalances and high environmental and other costs associated with high levels of urban concentration or rural desertification.
The search for better territorial balance in Europe reflects the “polycentric” ambitions set out in the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), which was adopted by Member States in 1999. The entry into force of the Constitution would strengthen this aspect (articles I.3 and III.20) because it foresees the introduction of the concept of territorial cohesion.
Mrs Hübner underlined the importance of the concept by saying that “this is a matter of shared responsibility, and so the dialogue with the Member States on territorial cohesion must be developed. Related research will be undertaken in the Fourth Cohesion report and the Commission will examine the possibility of using other instruments, including a possible white paper, in order to promote territorial cohesion through more integrated development and sectoral policies.”
The Commission proposals for future cohesion policy establish a legal framework and financial tools which allow for balanced territorial development:
by emphasising the territorial concentration of financial resources, so that Community assistance is allocated according to the needs of the regions and territories of the Union;
by including provisions for the specific character of certain territories, such as those suffering from natural handicaps or urban and rural areas;
by raising in future the profile of actions such as those under the current URBAN initiative in order to encourage harmonious urban development strategies, promoting the economic and social regeneration of problem urban areas;
Over the period 2000 to 2006, transfers from Structural Funds and instruments to the Union’s poorest regions amount to about EUR 265 billion or one third of the EU budget. Most of the funding is spent through multi-annual development programmes, managed jointly by the European Commission, the Member States and regional authorities. For the 2007-2013 period, the Commission proposal for a reformed cohesion policy amounts to EUR 336.1 billion. 79% of this amount (i.e. EUR 264 billion) is foreseen for the poorest regions and Member States under the new convergence objective, 17% (i.e. EUR 57.9 billion) for Community support under the new regional competitiveness and employment objective, and 4% (i.e. EUR 13.2 billion) for territorial cooperation.
Commission’s Regional Policy website:
Luxembourg Presidency/Informal Meeting