Leaders warn about poor involvement of regions and cities in cohesion policy programmes  

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A real partnership between different levels of governance is key to identifying priorities and targeting effective investments in European territories

The plenary of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted the opinion on the effective engagement of local and regional authorities in the cohesion policy programmes for the 2021-27 period, drafted by Juraj Droba (SK/ECR), President of the Bratislava Region. In supporting this opinion, CoR members ask for the full respect of the “partnership principle” and its implementation under the new instruments financed by Next Generation EU, such as the Just Transition Fund and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

With a total of €392 billion for the 2021-2027 period , cohesion policy is the main investment policy of the European Union. Partnership agreements and operational programmes are the cornerstones of cohesion policy, laying out Member States’ strategies on how to use structural funds to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion by reducing disparities between regions. In order to ensure that cohesion policy successfully meets citizens’ needs on the ground, the full involvement of local and regional authorities, socio-economic partners and civil society at all stages of the preparation and implementation of these key documents is of paramount importance.

Juraj Droba (SK/ECR), President of the Bratislava Region and rapporteur of the opinion adopted by the CoR Plenary, said: ” I would like to stress the importance of involving regional and local authorities in the negotiations on the new programming period at the EU level. The regional dimension and solid data are often missing in the debates between governments and the European Commission. Therefore, the voice of the regions and cities must be strengthened .”

The opinion is built on the results of a recent study commissioned by the CoR , which shows that the involvement of partners in preparing the new 2021-27 programming period has improved only slightly compared to the previous 2014-2020 period. The study found that the potential of partnerships is still under-exploited in a number of countries with some local and regional authorities still lacking direct involvement in all stages of the programming periods.

Local and regional leaders call for the partnership principles to be fully implemented under new instruments such as the Just Transition Mechanism , the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) financed under Next Generation EU , the recovery plan for Europe. Moreover, they point to the major impact that the RRF will have on cohesion policy and to the risk of possible duplications and inconsistencies between these instruments which would undermine the effectiveness of EU investments.

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