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Better communication for cohesion policy

05-11-2019

Cohesion policy is a major EU investment tool aimed at reducing regional disparities and achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion. It delivers a wide range of results in areas such as new infrastructure, training, job creation, support for small businesses and environmental protection. Communication is key when it comes to making the public aware of existing funding opportunities and informing them of the results of cohesion policy investments. It can also affect public perception of the ...

Cohesion policy is a major EU investment tool aimed at reducing regional disparities and achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion. It delivers a wide range of results in areas such as new infrastructure, training, job creation, support for small businesses and environmental protection. Communication is key when it comes to making the public aware of existing funding opportunities and informing them of the results of cohesion policy investments. It can also affect public perception of the EU and raise awareness of the positive impact of EU support on people's everyday lives. Improving the visibility of cohesion policy is therefore a salient issue for the EU. Communication measures range from requirements for fund managers and beneficiaries on the basis of EU legislation to more informal initiatives such as information campaigns, events and web portals aimed at publicising the policy's achievements. In the framework of multi-level governance, communication activities bring together a wide variety of actors including EU institutions, Member States, regional and local authorities and members of civil society. The ongoing negotiations on the new multiannual financial framework for 2021 to 2027, including new regulations on cohesion policy, and the upcoming conclusion of the 2014-2020 programming period provide a good opportunity for reflection on the issue of cohesion policy communication. This briefing updates an earlier edition, of March 2019. It was originally produced at the request of a member of the European Committee of the Regions, in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the Parliament and the Committee.

A macro-regional strategy for the Carpathian region

18-10-2019

Encompassing regions from European Union (EU) Member States and third countries confronted with a common set of challenges, macro-regions are defined on the basis of geographical features. Whether inspired by a sense of regional identity, a desire to engage in closer cooperation or to pool resources, all macro-regional strategies share the aim of ensuring a coordinated approach to issues best addressed jointly. In spite of a broad consensus on the importance of the macro-regional strategies as a ...

Encompassing regions from European Union (EU) Member States and third countries confronted with a common set of challenges, macro-regions are defined on the basis of geographical features. Whether inspired by a sense of regional identity, a desire to engage in closer cooperation or to pool resources, all macro-regional strategies share the aim of ensuring a coordinated approach to issues best addressed jointly. In spite of a broad consensus on the importance of the macro-regional strategies as a relevant instrument for the optimal use of existing financial resources, some assessments indicate that stronger political ownership is needed. Currently the EU has four macro-regional strategies, covering the Baltic Sea region, the Danube region, the Adriatic-Ionian region and the Alpine region, which address common challenges and achieve economic, environmental, social and territorial cohesion. On occasion, calls are made to launch additional strategies, covering new geographical areas. Some Member States currently voice the need for a fifth macro-regional strategy, covering the Carpathian mountains, where the borders of many countries meet. The region suffers inherent weaknesses in fields such as transport, socio-economic development, innovation and energy supply, and needs to protect its rare and valuable natural resources and cultural heritage. The Polish government has presented a proposal for a common strategy for the Carpathian region to the European Commission, after consultation with several countries in the region. This draft plan has not yet been approved by all of the countries concerned. The Council remains open to any commonly agreed and mature initiative aimed at setting up a new macro-regional strategy; however it has not endorsed the creation of a macro-regional strategy for the Carpathian region. The Committee of the Regions explicitly supports the initiative to create an EU strategy for the Carpathian region. The European Commission and the European Parliament are more cautious when it comes to launching new strategies and suggest building on existing ones instead.

Snapshot of the EU regions with a view to selected Europe 2020 targets

03-10-2019

In 2014-2020, €461 billion from the EU budget is allocated to EU regions for investments in support of the strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (Europe 2020). The NUTS 2 classification (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) divides EU territory into 281 regions with population thresholds between 800 000 and 3 000 000. It is used for the purpose of collection and harmonisation of statistics and for socio-economic analysis. Furthermore, it is used for allocating European ...

In 2014-2020, €461 billion from the EU budget is allocated to EU regions for investments in support of the strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (Europe 2020). The NUTS 2 classification (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) divides EU territory into 281 regions with population thresholds between 800 000 and 3 000 000. It is used for the purpose of collection and harmonisation of statistics and for socio-economic analysis. Furthermore, it is used for allocating European structural and investment funds (ESIF) to EU regions. This paper provides statistics for the NUTS 2 regions with a focus on selected Europe 2020 targets, firstly looking at GDP and unemployment for the years 2007 and 2017/18. It shows the employment situation of the younger generation in 2018. It then considers employment, poverty and education in the light of selected Europe 2020 targets, and internet usage in view of the EU’s digital agenda. Finally, it shows the ESIF allocation for the 2014-2020 period and EU payments up to June 2019.

EU support for coal regions

03-10-2019

The EU has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % before 2030, and by at least 80 % by 2050. This will require a transition from relying on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and in particular a reduction in power generation from coal. While EU production and consumption of coal has declined steadily, coal still provides about a quarter of EU power generation. Coal is mined in 12 Member States, and coal-fired power plants operate in 21 Member States. The European coal sector employs ...

The EU has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % before 2030, and by at least 80 % by 2050. This will require a transition from relying on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and in particular a reduction in power generation from coal. While EU production and consumption of coal has declined steadily, coal still provides about a quarter of EU power generation. Coal is mined in 12 Member States, and coal-fired power plants operate in 21 Member States. The European coal sector employs 238 000 people in directly linked activities, such as coal mines and power plants. An estimated 160 000 jobs could disappear by 2030. Further job losses are expected in indirect activities along the value chain, e.g. power generation, equipment supply, services, research and development. Impacts of phasing out coal are also likely to be felt in the iron and steel sectors, mining equipment manufacturing and coal terminals. Transition to a low-carbon economy will therefore require structural changes in coal-producing regions. Proposed solutions include helping workers to retrain and supporting their search for new employment, promoting local economies' diversification, modernising energy and power generation systems, developing the renewable energy sector, and rehabilitating mining land, for instance by converting former mines for renewable energy use or creating industrial heritage sites. The EU provides a variety of funding that can be used to alleviate the socio-economic consequences for coal regions. Energy and climate adaptation programmes, along with cohesion policy and research funding opportunities, offer financial support, while additional technical assistance is also available. The European Commission's Platform for Coal Regions in Transition assists regions to prepare and implement transition activities. As the EU is currently negotiating its post-2020 budgetary framework, the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions call for specific measures and tailored funding sources to offer support to facilitate transition in coal regions. The Commission President-elect has announced the establishment of a Just Transition Fund as part of the European Green Deal, and new legislative proposals can be expected early in her term in office.

Implementing the Urban Agenda for the EU

02-10-2019

Our towns and cities are home to nearly three quarters of the EU's population, and most EU policies concern them, be it directly or indirectly. While the revised 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework introduced a number of new instruments intended to enhance the urban dimension of cohesion funding, a shared vision of urban development has gradually taken shape at inter-governmental level, accompanied by increasing calls to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in policy-making. To help ...

Our towns and cities are home to nearly three quarters of the EU's population, and most EU policies concern them, be it directly or indirectly. While the revised 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework introduced a number of new instruments intended to enhance the urban dimension of cohesion funding, a shared vision of urban development has gradually taken shape at inter-governmental level, accompanied by increasing calls to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in policy-making. To help guide these discussions, the European Commission launched a public consultation following its July 2014 communication on the urban dimension of EU policies. Its findings indicated broad support among city stakeholders for an Urban Agenda for the EU. The European Parliament also prepared an own-initiative report on the issue, as part of a process that would ultimately lead to the signing of the Pact of Amsterdam on 30 May 2016, a clear political commitment to deliver an Urban Agenda. With the pact providing for the creation of urban partnerships focusing on key urban themes, all partnerships are now in operation. A total of 12 partnerships have now drawn up action plans, allowing the partners involved to contribute to the design of future, or the revision of current, EU legislation. As many of these plans are currently at the implementation stage, this is leading to a series of concrete deliverables, helping to ensure that the Urban Agenda for the EU is making a real difference on the ground. Developments such as better coordination at the Commission on urban issues have further consolidated the Urban Agenda, yet challenges remain. In this context, the Commission's proposals for the cohesion framework post-2020, which include creating a European urban initiative to support the Urban Agenda, the imminent Commission assessment of Urban Agenda implementation and the planned renewal of the Leipzig Charter in 2020, all have the potential to strengthen the Urban Agenda. Successfully implementing the Urban Agenda, however, will ultimately depend on the partnerships' ability to deliver actions and on the extent to which they are taken up by the Commission, a process requiring full commitment from all partners involved.

Metropolitan regions in EU cohesion policy

02-10-2019

Metropolitan regions currently include three fifths of the EU population – a proportion that is expected to increase in the future. These regions constitute important poles of innovation, research and economic growth, while also offering a wide variety of educational, cultural and professional opportunities to their inhabitants. Nevertheless, metropolitan regions face a number of important challenges. As they are composed of urban, sub-urban and even rural areas, they require a multidimensional policy ...

Metropolitan regions currently include three fifths of the EU population – a proportion that is expected to increase in the future. These regions constitute important poles of innovation, research and economic growth, while also offering a wide variety of educational, cultural and professional opportunities to their inhabitants. Nevertheless, metropolitan regions face a number of important challenges. As they are composed of urban, sub-urban and even rural areas, they require a multidimensional policy approach to help them tackle their complex issues. One of the major issues that metropolitan regions usually face is the lack of an efficient, inter-connected transport system. Environmental pollution, a major problem in many such regions, is inextricably linked to transport (exacerbated by the high number of commuters), high energy consumption and waste creation. Metropolitan regions usually constitute poles of population growth and have to cater for the integration of their newly arrived citizens. In certain cases, the increasing demand for accommodation leads to a lack of affordable housing and an escalation of rental and property prices; this problem has worsened in many urban areas of the European Union in recent years. In addition, although metropolitan regions may be hubs of economic growth, they also house big numbers of poor and homeless people. Yet again, a number of de-industrialised EU metropolitan regions are suffering severe economic losses. The EU is addressing the needs of metropolitan regions through a number of funds and tools, most notably the European structural and investment funds. Other EU instruments, such as the Urban Agenda for the EU also provide opportunities for metropolitan regions.

Financial instruments in cohesion policy

30-09-2019

Considered a resource-efficient way of using public funding, the use of financial instruments in cohesion policy is increasing. Financial instruments provide support for investment in the form of loans, guarantees, equity and other risk-sharing mechanisms. In the 2014-2020 programming period, financial instruments can be applied in all thematic areas and funds covered by cohesion policy, and they can be combined with grants. The amounts allocated are expected to double in comparison to the previous ...

Considered a resource-efficient way of using public funding, the use of financial instruments in cohesion policy is increasing. Financial instruments provide support for investment in the form of loans, guarantees, equity and other risk-sharing mechanisms. In the 2014-2020 programming period, financial instruments can be applied in all thematic areas and funds covered by cohesion policy, and they can be combined with grants. The amounts allocated are expected to double in comparison to the previous period. The lessons learnt so far from the implementation of financial instruments show that they present both advantages and challenges. Their revolving nature can increase the efficiency and sustainability of public funds in the long term. The requirement to repay can stimulate better performance and quality of investment projects. They can improve access to finance, through targeting financially viable projects that have not been able to obtain sufficient funding from market sources. However, financial instruments can also entail high management costs and fees, as well as complex set-up procedures. Although financial instruments may be a beneficial way to optimise the use of the cohesion budget, in some situations grants can be more effective. It is also important to bear in mind that the primary goal of financial instruments is to support cohesion policy objectives, rather than just to generate financial returns. The new legislative proposals on the post-2020 cohesion policy framework have taken these considerations into account, simplifying the use of financial instruments. This is an updated edition of a 2016 Briefing.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Elisa Ferreira - Cohesion and Reforms

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - September 2019

16-09-2019

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Research for REGI Committee – Cohesion policy: The European Parliament’s role since the Treaty of Lisbon

15-07-2019

This study assesses the role of the European Parliament in the field of cohesion policy since the Treaty of Lisbon introduced ‘co-decision’ procedure whereby Parliament and Council have equal powers in agreeing the regulations of the EU Structural and Investment Funds. In addition to the formal processes, the study also considers the informal ones from policy development at the pre-legislative stage to the interinstitutional negotiations as well as the Parliament’s scrutiny role over cohesion policy ...

This study assesses the role of the European Parliament in the field of cohesion policy since the Treaty of Lisbon introduced ‘co-decision’ procedure whereby Parliament and Council have equal powers in agreeing the regulations of the EU Structural and Investment Funds. In addition to the formal processes, the study also considers the informal ones from policy development at the pre-legislative stage to the interinstitutional negotiations as well as the Parliament’s scrutiny role over cohesion policy.

External author

Jürgen PUCHER, Haris MARTINOS, Serafin PAZOS-VIDAL, Jasmin HAIDER

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