The future of the EU’s Cohesion Policy was at the centre of debates in Brussels on 26 September. Michael Schneider (DE), President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, underlined the importance of the policy to Europe’s cities and regions during his intervention at an EPP public hearing in the European Parliament on Cohesion Policy in the context of the new EU budget.
As the CoR’s co-rapporteur on the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), the legal framework for Cohesion Policy, Mr Schneider called for an integrated approach in the CPR to address demographic challenges in Europe’s regions. The upcoming CoR opinion will welcome the maintenance of the three categories of regions, but any centralisation of funds must be opposed, Schneider stated, and continued:
“Cohesion Policy is in the DNA of many regional and local politicians, who rely much on European funding to improve the living conditions for their citizens.”
Speaking in the second panel of the hearing, EPP CoR Member Bernd Lange (DE) called for the European Union to allocate more funds to support cross-border cooperation projects. Mr Lange, who follows the CoR’s opinion process on cross-border cooperation on behalf of the EPP CoR Group, also presented practical examples of successful projects that have been supported by INTERREG funds in his county of Görlitz in Germany.
Earlier in the afternoon, Mr Schneider spoke at an event on peri-urban regions, hosted by MEP Franc Bogovič and the Peri-Urban Regions Platform Europe. Speaking from experience from his own region, Sachsen-Anhalt, he asked for a better recognition of these regions, where urban and rural co-exist, at the European level due to their specific challenges. Furthermore, according to Mr Schneider, taking the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development out of the CPR is a real cause for concern, as it risks undermining the integrated approach of the Structural and Investment Funds in rural areas, given that rural development is a basic component of Cohesion Policy objectives.