Cohesion policy defines the EU’s strategic choices and provides the policy framework for hundreds of thousands of projects across Europe that receive funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund. On the threshold of the new programming an excursus of the state of the art and what lies ahead.
With the presentation by the European Commission (EC) on 29 May 2018 of the first proposals for the new European budget and the Cohesion Policy Regulations 2021-2027 the preparation phase of the new seven-year programming period for the EU Structural Funds began. However, it got underway with the COM (2020) 443 of 28 May 2020, during the #covid19 phase, when the proposal to amend the Council Regulation laying down the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the period 2021-2027 was presented. The overall recovery package requires changes compared to the Commission’s May 2018 proposals, based on the occurrence of the #covid19 pandemic, which may allow for the inclusion of new instruments and programmes focused on Member States’ recovery needs.
Negotiations are still ongoing, but the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework) will probably be lower than in the previous programming period for a total proposed by the European Commission of €1,240,436.00 million.
From a policy point of view, the strategic plan has an increasingly crucial role in supporting the ongoing economic and social reform processes in the Member States. In this sense, the European Commission has proposed to strengthen the link between the investments of the Cohesion Policy funds and the so-called “European semester”, an instrument for the coordination of the economic policies of the EU countries, created with the aim of avoiding major imbalances and overcoming the Eurozone crisis.
Country-specific recommendations are expected to propose specific guidelines for investment and reforms that are essential for a prosperous future in Europe.
These processes will also address the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDS) of the UN Agenda 2030.
The European Commission has also announced the objective of making Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 by implementing a new EU growth strategy with the European Green Deal and the Fair Transition Fund (JTF), which proposes a mechanism for regions and sectors most affected by the transition because of their dependence on fossil fuels or greenhouse gas-intensive industrial processes.
The EU’s strategy to reduce methane emissions is currently underway.
The Cohesion Policy will be financed by the Cohesion Fund (CF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+).
For the new programming period, the European Commission has proposed a number of important changes in a view that can be summarised in 5 broad strategic objectives:
1.a smarter Europe through the promotion of an innovative and smart economic transformation;
2.a greener, low-carbon Europe (a greener, low-carbon Europe) by promoting a transition to clean and fair energy, green and blue investments, the circular economy, climate change adaptation and risk management and prevention;
3.a more connected Europe through the strengthening of mobility and regional ICT connectivity;
4.a more social Europe through the implementation of the European Social Rights Pillar;
5.a Europe closer to citizens through the promotion of sustainable and integrated development of urban, rural and coastal areas and local initiatives.