The future of EU finances: Commissioner Creţu discusses Cohesion policy after 2020 in the Council

This morning, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu discussed the future of EU funds with the ministers in charge of cohesion, on the basis of the 7th Cohesion Report. Commissioner Creţu said: “Cohesion policy should keep on investing in all EU regions and address the main challenges of our times; the fight against social exclusion and youth unemployment, migration, adaptation to globalisation and climate change. It should continue to support sustainable transport, health and digital infrastructure, small businesses and innovation, focusing on areas where the highest EU value added can be achieved.” On how Cohesion policy can best support structural reforms, Commissioner Creţu suggested that the process of fulfilling and assessing the preconditions to successful investments (so-called “ex-ante conditionalities“) should be reviewed. Incentives for reforms could be provided throughout the funding period and not only in the beginning. “We should also reflect on whether the European Semester annual cycle and the mid-term planning of Cohesion policy could be better linked,” the Commissioner added. Commissioner Creţu called for “a lighter, proportionate and tailor-made approach” to claiming EU payments for beneficiaries: “Real or simplified costs should not be the only options. Many countries support payments upon fulfilment of pre-agreed conditions.” Finally, the Commissioner suggested that similar projects financed under different EU funds should be treated the same way, for example as regards public procurement. The Commissioner’s speaking points are available here. A press conference with Commissioner Creţu and Mr Jaak Aab, Minister of public administration and political representative of the Estonian Presidency responsible for Cohesion policy, is organised in the Council’s Europa building at 13h CET and live on EbS.