This May, the European Parliament published a Report outlining its vision about the future of EU cohesion policy. Their Report is, to a degree, a response to the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe from March 2017, which presented 5 possible scenarios for a post-Brexit Europe 2025.

Here are the main takeaways from the EP’s outlook for a modernised post-2020 Cohesion Policy.

1. Technical Recommendations for the Multiannual Financial Framework

Warning against the risks of a delayed implementation of operational programmes, the EP calls for a timely preparation of the post-2020 EU cohesion policy to be launched effectively at the very beginning of the new programming period, with no retroactive effect. This includes the timely adoption of all legislative proposals for future cohesion policy (incl. the guidance on management and control).

For the new programming period, the EP calls on the Commission to keep changes to a minimum. This involves maintaining the 7-year programming period or alternatively introducing a 5+5 years programming period (with an obligatory mid-term revision), as well as keeping the EU budget share for cohesion policy after 2020 at an adequate level, if not increased.

The EP also calls for maintaining the core of the current cohesion policy legislative framework, with a refined, strengthened, easily accessible and result-orientated policy. This also implies communicating the results achieved with ESI Funds in a more efficient way, to help regain citizens’ confidence.

2. Recommended key policy areas:

  • On the top of the EU agenda; fostering economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity across the EU and steering EU funds towards growth, jobs and competitiveness; Addressing growing inequalities, building solidarity, maintaining social inclusion, including ESF spending and complemented by ERDF investments in that field;
  • Fighting against long-term and youth unemployment, while tackling demographic change (e.g. for job creation in depopulated areas), stressing the role played by SMEs in job creation and the importance of digital and low-carbon economies;
  • Underlining the enhanced importance of sustainable urban development and innovative actions: Territorial Agenda, successful rural-urban partnerships, as well as the future role of territorial development tools, such as Community-Led Local Development and the Integrated Territorial Investments;
  • Fostering EU’s commitments under the Paris climate change agreement to spend at least 20% of the EU budget on climate change-related action (including green economies and renewable energies);
  • Encouraging smart specialisation and regional innovation ecosystems through synergies between the ESIF, Horizon 2020 and other EU funding programmes;
  • Addressing the reception of migrants and refugees under international protection, as well as their social and economic integration, through Cohesion Policy (cf. Commission’s proposal 2016/0282(COD))

Read more about the Cohesion Policy in the new programming period:

EP Report on building blocks for a post-2020 EU cohesion policy (2016/2326(INI))

Suggestions of the High Level Group on Simplification for the post-2020 period – the Group proposes an even simpler framework, harmonising rules in different EU funds and instruments in terms of state aid, public procurement and methods to reimburse costs, to facilitate synergies and allow beneficiaries to apply for different sources of EU funding for the same project

Towards Cohesion Policy 4.0: Structural Transformation and Inclusive Growth by RSA Europe, Brussels | Regional Studies Association – a  paper reflecting on the opportunities and challenges of structural transformation in Europe, seting out proposals for change