The Great Debate UK
By Konrad Niklewicz, Spokesman for the Polish Presidency of the EU. The opinions expressed are on behalf of the organisation he represents.
How should the EU distribute €370 billion? The new cohesion policy rules proposed by the European Commission provide a good basis for further debate, but some of their components are clearly questionable.
The philosophy behind the application of European funds is known. Heads of state and governments of the EU, debating on 23 October in Brussels, confirmed it: in the context of the crisis, funds must be directed at accelerating economic growth, competitiveness and employment. The European Commission has respected this political message. In recent weeks, it presented specific pieces of the puzzle which together constitute the “new” cohesion policy for the years 2014-2020.
The Commission forecasts a total budget for cohesion policy of €336 billion, representing a theoretical reduction compared to the previous five-year framework’s €354.8 billion. But the total amount will in fact increase if we take account of the newest idea from the Commission, the Connecting Europe Facility, representing a separate fund worth €50 billion, of which €10 billion would come from the Cohesion Fund. Under the new Cohesion Fund, 57 per cent of the funds would be spent in the least developed regions of the European Union, but if we also take into account the Connecting Europe Facility, it turns out that expenditure for the poorer regions is proportionally less advantageous than the previous budget.