Cuts to cohesion policy in EU’s long-term budget cause controversy

Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s proposed cuts to the EU’s long-term budget have proved controversial
Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s proposed cuts to the EU’s long-term budget have proved controversial © EPP Group in the CoR

The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and others have expressed dismay at proposed cuts to cohesion policy funding in the EU’s long-term budget for the years after 2020.

Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther H. Oettinger outlined his perspective the EU’s long-term budget after 2020 ahead of an informal leaders’ meeting to take place next week, where leaders will discuss how to successfully fund the EU’s priority areas.

What has Oettinger proposed?

He insisted that the commission’s focus was on delivering the budget in a timely manner, although controversy over the proposed cuts might set back this procedure. Oettinger cited previous negotiations over the EU’s long-term budget which took place in 2013 and suffered heavy delays.

He said: “We must not repeat the unfortunate experience of 2013 when the current EU budget was agreed with considerable delay. If such a delay were to happen again, more than 100,000 EU-funded projects – in key areas like business support, energy efficiency, health care, education and social inclusion – would not be able to start on time, and hundreds of thousands of young people would not be able to benefit from an Erasmus+ exchange in 2021.”

The formal proposal for the EU’s long-term budget, which will take into account views gathered from stakeholders and public consultations, will be published at the latest in early May, 2018.

How did the CPMR respond?

The CPMR voiced its concern that the commission’s proposed budget priorities ‘will signify an irreversible blow to the future of cohesion policy and the prospects of increasing regional disparities across Europe’, thanks in part to the size of the proposed funding reduction.

Oettinger spoke of cutting the budget for cohesion policy by as much as 15-30%, and has also proposed the establishment of a structural reform instrument with a budget of around €25bn. This instrument could be folded into cohesion policy funding in the future, but CPMR is concerned about the lack of clarity over how such an instrument would function and its democratic accountability.

Eleni Marianou, CPMR’s Secretary General, shared her view of the proposals: “The European Commission should not cut the ‘traditional’ policies, CAP and Cohesion Policy, to fund new priorities. If these proposals are adopted they would spell disaster for economic, social and territorial cohesion in Europe and for the future prosperity of the EU and its citizens.”

CPMR will meet in Greece on 8 March to discuss the proposals and adopt a formal position on the EU’s long-term budget post 2020. It has previously warned that Brexit could also have a negative impact on wider European cohesion in the maritime sector.

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