Committee of the Regions proposes improvements to EU Investment Plan
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted an Opinion to put forward a number of changes to the draft of the EU Investment Plan at its plenary meeting on 16 April 2015 in Brussels. The CoR wants to ensure that all EU regions and cities benefit from and contribute to the € 315bn European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
In particular, the Opinion warns against the risk of territorial concentration and calls for greater attention to be given to weaker regions. It also advocates coordination between the Investment Plan and EU's Structural Funds, as well as a stronger role for Europe's local and regional authorities in identifying and delivering strategic projects.
CoR President Markku Markkula emphasised that "Clear references to the territorial dimension of the Juncker Plan are needed. We must also consider how to reduce investment gaps and pay more attention to less developed and isolated regions.Through integrated investment and collaboration at EU level, regions and cities will be able to implement their smart specialisation strategies: these will be key drivers for economic growth, innovation and employment in the future."
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen agreed that "regions will play a key role in the successful implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments." He encouraged regions to be active and make use of the additional investment potential provided by EFSI, adding "The Commission can provide the framework but the projects will come from the regions." Such a bottom-up approach is in line with the CoR's Opinion, which considers investment platforms - co-financing mechanisms established at regional, national, cross-border or sectorial level to finance a group of projects - to be the key to ensuring all of Europe's regions are involved. The CoR also points out that the national co-financing of the Juncker Plan should not be curbed by the Growth and Stability Pact.
With regard to funding for the EFSI, the CoR fears that Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility could be weakened by using part of their funds to finance the EFSI, and calls for using all flexibility margins existing in the EU budget before reducing Horizon 2020 and CEF funds.
The next step in the EFSI legislative procedure is the adoption of the European Parliament draft report at committee level.
For more information:TOP