“The debate on the Cohesion Policy is a debate for the Future of Europe” highlighted the Deputy Prime Minister, Tomislav Donchev before the participants in the Plenary Meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (Plenary COSAC) in Sofia. The forum was the final meeting of the Parliamentary Dimension of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Mr Tomislav Dоnchev took part in the session dedicated to the “Strong and effective Cohesion Policy post 2020”.
“All doubts and hesitations that we have in regard to the Cohesion Policy are de facto fluctuations in our Union as such” said the Deputy Prime Minister. According to him, there is no other instrument that invests in Europe as an Union and there is no other indicator of how much we believe in Europe, how seriously we look at it.
Tomislav Donchev pointed out that our Union is experiencing identity crises. He also mentioned that there was one solution to all problems – universal consensus belief about what kind of Union we need – how strong it should be, how much it should regulate things inside and how ambitious it should be outside its geographical boundaries.
The Deputy Prime Minister also underlined that policy which is not comprehensible for the citizens couldn’t be supported by them. According to him, the simplification of the rules is not an administrative whim but necessity. He also added that spending funds must be tied to reforms.
The Director for Budget, Communication and General Affairs in DG REGIO of the European Commission, Ms Dana Spinant also pointed out that the Cohesion Policy is inextricably linked to the future of the EU. She underlined that the European Commission had made a proposal for balanced and well-structured Cohesion Policy, which should continue to be a policy for all regions.
Ms Iskra Mihaylova, Chair of the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) of the European Parliament said that the problems of the future Cohesion Policy were not problems of today. She stressed that for already a year and a half the European Parliament (EP) had been working on its position on the new financial framework proposal of the European Commission (EC). She also mentioned that the EP had voted resolutions on two reports - on the future Financial Framework and on the EU's own resources and revenues.
The EC proposal is very close to the expectations and the requirements of the European Parliament and of the Committee on Regional Development, said the Chair of the Committee. “We insisted on a more flexible budget and on a citizen-oriented Cohesion Policy and we received it” underlined Ms Mihalylova. In her words, focusing on five priorities, instead of eleven, will facilitate their examination. “These priorities are related to the European citizens’ expectations, they are close to Europe’s agenda and allow the future Cohesion Policy to be efficient enough and to provide European added value that is to allow a clear distinction to be achieved through EU support” stressed Iskra Mihaylova.
The Regional Minister of the Province of Flevoland and Rapporteur on European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Mr Michiel Rijsberman, underlined that Cohesion Policy is EU's most important financial instrument for stimulating the regional economy. “It is the most direct way through which EU could have a positive impact on the lives of its citizens. The European Regional Development Fund examined the European Commission's proposal for Cohesion Policy and praised highly the efforts of the Commission to make the policy more flexible, easier and clearer.” said Mr Rijsberman. He also emphasized on the fact that it was the national parliaments of the EU that could ensure that the strong position of cities and regions will be preserved in the future.