Sat. Jun 25th, 2022

Luxembourg, 2 June 2022

The Council today approved conclusions on the Commission’s 8th report on the European cohesion policy.

In its conclusions, the Council acknowledges that the report comes in the context of crises (COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine) and long-term challenges (such as climate and demographic changes) which have an asymmetric impact on EU member states and regions.

The Council underlines that cohesion policy should take proper account of the needs and potential of territories, enabling them to target the most relevant investments locally.

The main points of the conclusions are the following:

More focused priorities

The Council considers that investments should be oriented towards the opportunities for growth offered by the green and digital transitions to avoid new disparities.

The Council also acknowledges that the European Pillar of Social Rights supports the actions of member states for a more just and inclusive society. It calls for the strengthening of education and vocational training in order to better prepare citizens to cope with the transitions in our societies.

Anchoring cohesion more firmly in the territories

The conclusions underline the importance of the local dimension of cohesion policy and recall that particular attention shall be paid to rural areas, areas affected by industrial transition, and regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps.

The Council recommends that further attention should be paid to some middle-income regions which are stagnating or have been in a recession for many years. Cohesion policy should help these territories find new sources of growth, and prevent that other European regions find themselves in such a situation.

Concerning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the conclusions acknowledge the specific economic and social challenges faced by the regions bordering Russia and Belarus, as well as those bordering Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, which affect their regional development.

A simpler cohesion policy supporting long-term investment

The Council underlines that cohesion policy has the goal of supporting strategies for long-term development, but that it has nonetheless helped certain regions to mitigate the effects of recent crises.

In addition, the Council recalls the importance of ensuring the effective implementation of EU support, in a transparent manner and in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

Reflection for the future

The Council is looking forward to opening a reflection on the future of cohesion policy after 2027, in order to design a simpler and effective set of rules and to avoid the tendency to multiply the funds.

Background

In February, the European Commission presented its 8th report on cohesion. The report offers an in-depth analysis of the evolution of the economic, social and territorial cohesion in Europe in the course of the last ten years, identifying new challenges in the way of reducing disparities and enhancing convergence among regions.

The goal of cohesion policy is to promote the overall harmonious development of the Union, aiming in particular at reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions.

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