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Friday, June 15, 2012

What role for structural funds in the economic recovery?

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News The future of EU structural funds is currently being negociated between the European Parliament and the Council (representing national governments).



These discussions are taking place in a context of tight budgets for member states. But grants of the EU regional policy may contribute to the economic recovery, by supporting innovation, training and green technologies for example.
 

Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn thinks that investing in infrastructures is not sufficient. Structural funds must be used to broaden the economic base of each region. Future priorities should focus on “green and blue technologies, energy efficiency, and innovation” the Commissioner said to MEPs on 29 May. One of the main changes proposed by the European Commission is the creation of a new category of regions for the allocation of structural funds: the regions in transition, which have a GDP per capita between 75 % and 90 % of the EU average.

To achieve their full development potential, structural funds would benefit from a budget frame for 2014-2020 providing enhanced budgetary flexibility. That is what MEPs argue. They stated in a resolution published on 13 June that the current system is sometimes too rigid to react to new challenges.

In the same resolution, the European Parliament advocates for the creation of new resources for the EU budget. It said that the adoption of a tax on financial transactions and a new European VAT would reduce the share of member states’ contributions based on gross national income from 75 % to 40 % in the EU budget by 2020. These own resources would allow getting round national self interests and invigorating the European ambition of the regional policy.

Next step: Heads of states and governments will gather on 28 and 29 June for a Council meeting


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