Balancing financial tools and grants in EU cohesion policy
Two reports aiming to alleviate disparities within the EU regions were adopted by MEPs
Maria Koleva, Brussels
19 May, 2017
Photo © European Parliament
Every project funded through the EU is a proof that we have a future, Andrey Novakov (EPP, BG) said.
With a wide majority MEPs backed on 18 June at their plenary in Strasbourg a report urging to be preserved EU grants’ schemes for the poorer regions in the next financial period and proposing steps to make it easier to apply for European funds. Almost half a billion euro are invested on average each day in the European Union, and by 2023 these recourses will be about half a trillion, said Bulgarian EPP MEP Andrey Novakov who authored the report on the right funding mix for Europe’s regions dedicated on balancing financial instruments such as microfinance, loans, guarantees, equity and venture capital, and grants in EU cohesion policy. Novakov noted that he is delighted that his report has received such a huge support, which guarantees that the European Parliament stands solid for grants funding after 2020 combined with the new financial instruments. Every project funded through the EU is a proof that we have a future, he stated. In the current programming period 2014-2020, the EU is expected to invest €454bn through ESI Funds.
At the debate before the vote, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu pointed out that the Commission welcomes this report, saying that “it brings forward an essential topic for the ongoing discussions regarding 'omnibus' proposal, but also for the design of the post-2020 policy”. In her words, the people from the newer Member States should have the same chance as the people from other countries that have benefited from these funds for 42 years.
The funding mix should depend on the investment type, as well as on the features of each region and sectors, Commissioner Cretu underlined adding that “we believe in particular that a significant share of cohesion policy needs to be delivered through grants”. She explained that this is the case when it comes to essential infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, childcare, that is not directly profitable. Financial instruments should complement this support, by targeting revenue-generating investments.
On the same day lawmakers approved as well a report of Croatian ECR MEP Ruza Tomasic on the future perspectives of technical assistance in cohesion policy. Commenting on the two reports, Bulgarian ALDE MEP Iskra Mihaylova, chair of Parliament’s Regional Development Committee said that they both are oriented to key areas that can improve the effectiveness of cohesion policy in the current period up to 2020 and its rational use post-2020 as significant instrument to alleviate disparities within the EU regions. The reports address key issues such as flexibility, complementarity, combining European Structural Funds with other EU financial instruments and addressing the major problem which is the good balance between our experience from the lessons learned from the cohesion policy and the future perspectives, she opined. According to her, the financial instruments give the opportunity to attract additional investments outside the scope of the EU funding.