Committee of the Regions: Juncker Plan should reduce regional disparity
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has adopted its position on the proposed EU regulation for the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) as part of the Juncker Investment Plan. The opinion warns against the risk of territorial concentration and calls for greater attention to be given to weaker regions. It also calls for coordination between the Investment Plan and EU Structural Funds, as well as for a stronger role for Europe's local and regional authorities in identifying and delivering strategic projects.
CoR President Markku Markkula emphasised that from the CoR's perspective, "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". Investment and collaboration at EU level would help regions and cities to implement their smart specialisation strategies. The CoR also called for clearer rules to ensure the fund complements the EU's existing growth strategy - notably structural and investment funds – without any crowding out or overlapping.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen sees the regions as playing a key role in the successful implementation of the EFSI and encourages them to make use of the EFSI's additional investment potential. The CoR insists on a bottom-up approach and considers investment platforms to be the key to ensuring all of Europe's regions are involved. It also asks for the European Investment Advisory Hub to use local and regional development experts to support regions and cities in promoting private investment for growth, and to offer support free of charge for local and regional authorities.
With regards to the financing of the Plan, the CoR, similar to the European Parliament earlier this week, calls for using all flexibility margins existing in the EU budget before reducing - and thus weakening - Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility.