Cohesion to become EU’s Marshall Plan

Cohesion to become EU’s Marshall Plan

BRUSSELS - Hürriyet Daily News
An annual European Union event bringing together local administrators to discuss future plans has been overshadowed by the bloc’s mounting financial woes due to the debt crisis and the upcoming adaptation of the eurozone budget.

Calling the cohesion policy a “Marshall Plan” for the economic recovery of the EU at the Oct. 8 opening of the Open Days 2012 organized by the Committee of the Regions, senior EU officials warned that EU members, which are planning cuts to the budget, will compromise the role of regional and local authorities as key investors for growth amid the fierce negotiations over the EU’s new fiscal pact. “Everybody recognizes that cohesion policy is a key tool to re-launching our economy and achieving the Europe 2020 objectives,” said Ramon Luis Valcarcel, president of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) – the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives.

“Therefore, at the CoR, we expect the decisions of the EU heads of state and government in the weeks ahead to be consistent and coherent with the EU’s agreed road map toward ‘quality’ growth and jobs,” said the president of the CoR, which aims to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU’s decision-making process and to inform them about policies.

Calling for a consensus on “investments for growth-enhancing projects, the needs of EU citizens and a budget that promotes territorial cohesion and allows regions and cities to benefit from the internal market,” Valcarcel said any failure or any decisions that made the EU’s future budget inconsistent with its agenda for growth and jobs would be incomprehensible for the EU’s regional and local authorities and their political representatives. “Therefore, the cohesion policy must be flagged up as a key investment tool during the current negotiations on the future EU budget. It is our ‘Marshall Plan’ to allow regions to support growth and create jobs,” he said.

Remedy for crisis

In his video message to the 10th Open Days, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the cohesion policy was one of the main remedies for the ongoing economic crisis. “Between 2009 and 2012, 20 billion euros were [reallocated], focusing on growth priorities such as research and development and support to small and medium enterprises. In 2012, 10 billion was invested to deal with rising unemployment.”

Calling the cohesion policy the EU’s main investment plan for the 2014-2020 period, the chair of the European Parliament Regional Development (REGI) Committee, Danuta Hübner, said: “Reducing this plan means reducing the investment capacity of regional and local authorities.”

Addressing local representatives from all over Europe, as well as members of the European Parliament, the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, said the EU had been facing “two interlinked crisis, a financial crisis and an economic and social one,” since 2008. “[The crises’] effects could have been significantly worse without the joint reaction of the EU and the member states.” Like other senior EU officials, van Rompuy also called for joint action on the EU budget from member states, warning: “A failure to reach such an agreement [on the budget] would mean a failure for growth and jobs in Europe.”