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Danuta HÜBNER European Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy”Statement on the 5th Progress Report on economic and social cohesion” Committee of the RegionsBrussels, 18 June 2008

Committee of the Regions
Brussels, 18 June 2008

Few minutes ago I had a chance to speak to some of you on the 5th Cohesion Report, in the framework of structured dialogue. Therefore, I would like to use this occasion to address the plenary session on the same issue and quickly update you on our work programme in the forthcoming months.
Let me start by coming back to your opinion on the Fourth Cohesion Report in which the Committee of the Regions expressed its first views on the future shape of the European cohesion policy. The key message was that – in face of new challenges impacting European territories – cohesion policy must continue to play a key role in narrowing development gaps and enhancing competitiveness at local and regional levels.
Indeed, this is also the main message emerging from the public consultations I have launched at the Cohesion Forum last 2022, in which some of you participated in your capacity of local and regional leaders. Your strong participation demonstrates once again that you are key main actors in the debate about this policy.
Strong cohesion policy after 2013 for all European regions – this is how I would summarize the outcome the consultations. An overwhelming majority of those who have participated in this consultation rejects any attempt of re-nationalisation of the policy.
Importantly, there is also agreement that in the new global context, supporting competitiveness is the shortest and only way to cohesion. Your Opinion puts it in a nutshell, by referring to the policy which reduces development gaps and increases competitiveness. Accordingly, the participants in the consultations support our earmarking approach, resulting in the concentration of investments on innovation, skills and education, sustainable development and Europe-wide infrastructures.
Finally, many contributions refer to the importance of territorial cohesion, which – again in line with your Opinion – should become a stronger feature within cohesion policy. This implies that we should give more consideration to questions of territorial balance. As you know, after the summer break I will present a Green Paper on territorial cohesion which will initiate a debate on this issue. I count on your contribution and participation in this debate in order to clarify the role this new notion could play in designing and implementing not only cohesion policy, but also other Community policies.
Clearly, this debate on the future shape of the cohesion policy should be also seen in the context of the ongoing budgetary review, the consultation on which were closed just three days ago. As you know, the results will be published in 2009.
This does not mean that in the meantime we can wait for it with our arms folded. Indeed, we have put within DG REGIO a number of processes on track which should give us more insight into the challenges faced by European regions and possible policy responses.
Toward the end of the 2022, my services will publish a report “Europe 2020” on the challenges with which regions will be confronted over the next 15 2022s. This work will set the scene for developing ideas and priorities for cohesion policy for the period post-2013.
In January 2009 an independent expert report will be published. This report will be the outcome of analytical work and debate involving the best European economists and – I can already tell you – will give us quite a new and fascinating narrative for the future shape of the policy.
In spring 2009, I will publish the Sixth progress report which will update on the state of the public debate on the future cohesion policy and provide new insights on other important dimensions of regional development.
In the meantime we have been launching a large programme of ex-post evaluation. Most of the results will become available in the course of 2009 shedding new light on the functioning and impact of cohesion policy.
Finally, building on all this material, I intend – by spring next 2022 – to set out my ideas and directions for the post 2013 shape of the cohesion policy.
Thank you for your attention. I’m looking forward for a rich

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Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
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