The future vision of EU finances must be both far-sighted yet flexible according to the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, who held a debate on with Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria and Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources on the future of the EU’s finances today. There was broad consensus that the budget should provide greater European added value and have a positive impact on people’s daily lives whilst being simpler to use, more fairly distributed and in line with the EU’s democratic principles.

The regions and cities of Europe need sustainable investment in their infrastructure, education, health and human capitalMichael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, underlined at the start of the meeting. “As the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, we count on Commissioner Oettinger to build up a robust EU budget after 2020.” He added that the architecture of the EU finances after 2020 will have a decisive impact on the future of the European integration process. “For me Cohesion policy is a clear illustration of the EU added value, it is an essential part of the future of the European project as it brings concrete results to the citizens” he stressed.

Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, added that reaching an agreement on the EU’s finances would not be easy, although he remains confident that a solution will be found: “The discussion concerning the allocation of money, instruments and financing are possible only after the consensus regarding the goals and the priorities has been reached“: With negotiations on the future of Cohesion Policy set to be under the Bulgarian Presidency in the first half of 2018, he continued: “The Cohesion policy is not just a part of the European budget. It is much more than that. The Cohesion policy is an instrument for investing in the Union as a Union itself.”

Whilst recognising the added value of Cohesion Policy as an investment tool for Europe’s regions and cities, Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, underlined: “We need more than the current 1% ceiling for the future budget post-2020” he said. “I count on Europe’s regions and cities to make proposals on how the future budgetary chapters should be shaped and be better understood by citizens so that it corresponds to their concerns.”

Referring to the European Commission’s Reflection Paper on the future of EU finances, Marek Woźniak, Vice-President of the EPP-CoR Group and Marshall of the Wielkopolska region, who is drafting the CoR’s official response, believes the answer is clear when it comes to which of the five proposed scenarios is needed for the future of Europe: “The majority of EU’s municipalities, cities and regions favours scenario 5 “doing much more together“, he said.

The EPP Group was also united that the future budget should be adopted before the 2019 European elections and that finances should be made available to strengthen the dialogue with citizens. Jan Olbrycht, Vice-Chair of the EPP-EP Working Group on Budget and Structural policies, promised to take this position forward in his negotiations on behalf of the European Parliament.

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