In the fourth year of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020, crucial questions have been raised concerning the impact of the Cohesion Policy on the EU regions.
According to recent data of Eurostat concerning 2015, the disparities among the European regions have remained stable, taking into account that 19 regions are below 50% in PPS per inhabitant of the EU 28, while 4 regions have more than the double percentage of the EU average.
Despite the unemployment’s reduction in 8,2% at the EU-28 in 2016, all the countries of the Southern Europe still hold a percentage over 10%, while Greece and Spain score 23 and 18,4% respectively.
Post-2020 reform: What has been done until now?
In February, the European Parliament published a summary on the challenges for the post-2020 Cohesion Policy. In particular, this briefing describes the current situation for the programming period 2014-2020 and analyzes the upcoming challenges and goals.
The European Commission will present a proposal for the post-2020 MFF before the 1st of January 2018. In the meanwhile, issues such as migration, security and investment policy have made the reform of the MFF essential, as well as it is probable that the Brexit will have an impact on the EU budget.
The main priorities defined by the Commissioner of the Regional Policy, Corina Cretu concerning the reform of the Cohesion Policy, are flexibility, performance, economic governance along with structural reforms and simplification.
More concretely, special focus will be given on the better access to the SMEs, simplification in administrative procedures, the use of online tools and the assistance by the local communities in the implementation of the projects. Also, the main thematic areas that will be covered are the Research and Development, low-carbon economy, employment, SMEs and the ICT sector.
The adoption of the Pact of Amsterdam in June 2016 puts the cities in the core of the Cohesion Policy and their contribution should be reinforced for a sustainable and inclusive growth. In this regard, 50% of the ERDF will be invested in the urban areas.
Another topic of a high importance is the EFSI funding and the Financial Instruments and their contribution in the development of the regions, through the leverage of 315 billion euros until the end of 2020.
Until now, the main concerns in regard to the implementation of the EFSI is the potential competition with the ESI funds and the over-optimistic goals of the particular programme. In this regard, the CoR and the EP have emphasized at the importance in the complementarity of EFSI with the structural funds and the better synergies between these tools.