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EU-wide new Cohesion Alliance mobilises to strengthen Cohesion Policy in the future

The consequences of the ongoing climate emergency, the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s war against Ukraine and the current record inflation rates triggered by increased food and energy prices make the strengthening cohesion as a fundamental value of the European Union more pressing than ever.

For this reason, the partners of the Cohesion Alliance – the EU-wide coalition of 12,000 signatories advocating for a stronger Cohesion Policy – gathered in Brussels during the 20th edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities to reaffirm their commitment to reinforce Cohesion Policy and increase the territorial impact of all EU investments in order to make them fit for Europe’s long-term challenges.

Through a joint declaration signed today, in the presence of the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, and the Chair of the European Parliament’s committee for regional development, Younous Omarjee, the European Committee of the Regions together with the leading European associations of cities and regions together shared the common will to keep Cohesion Policy as:

  • the EU’s most important investment policy;
  • the EU’s most visible instrument at local and regional level;
  • a long-term development policy based on principles of shared management, partnership and multilevel governance;
  • ​a policy that follows a place-based approach and addresses the territorial diversity of the Union;​​
  • a key tool to supports territorial cooperation and promote solidarity and integration.

Let us remind all EU and national decision-makers of the indispensable role that Cohesion Policy plays in the European integration process!” states the declaration, with which the #CohesionAlliance wants to start a forward-looking work to make Cohesion Policy stronger, simpler, more effective and result-oriented now and in the future.

The Alliance also calls to ensure that cohesion remains an overall value for the European Union by ensuring that all relevant EU policies contribute to reduce disparities among and within Member States.

Commissioner ElisaFerreira welcomed the signature of the new joint declaration saying: “I am very happy with the relaunch of the Cohesion Alliance. It could not be timelier in these extremely challenging times. You have been a very important partner in shaping Cohesion Policy and keeping regional and local communities at its heart, and you will remain so in the future. We need a strong Cohesion Alliance to advocate the place-based approach for all policies under the “do no harm to cohesion” principle. And we need your testimonies and experience to speak up for Cohesion and remain engaged in the discussion on the future of the policy.

The Chair of the REGI committee Younous Omarjee praised the renewed mobilisation of the Alliance, and stated: “Europe needs a strong and ambitious Cohesion Policy to tackle the multiple crises that it is facing. Cohesion Policy is the main EU policy for structural investment and solidarity. It allows us to respond to urgent, medium and long-term challenges by guaranteeing strategic and much needed investments in every region, in order to leave no one behind. Cohesion Policy deserves to be defended and supported, because it is one of the pillars of the European Union.

Voices from the ‘Cohesion Alliance’:

Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Member of the Parliament of the Autonomous Region of the Azores (PT), said: “Today’s challenges call for more cohesion in Europe and a stronger role for Cohesion Policy, but at the same time we need to join forces and close ranks to defend this policy. This is why we launch a new Cohesion Alliance for new challenges, to promote the importance of Cohesion Policy for our communities, coordinate and work together, especially to convince those that do not yet realise how crucial cohesion policy is.

Emil Boc, Chair of the CoR’s commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and Budget and Mayor of Cluj-Napoca (RO) said: “The future of Cohesion means a better multi-level governance and effective decentralization to ensure that the local and regional levels have the necessary capacities to manage the change, to provide citizens with the trust that they will have a fair chance to reap the benefits of the digital and green transformation.

Jean-Luc Vanraes, Vice-President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and Member of the Municipal Council of Uccle (BE), said: “Cohesion Policy enables regional authorities to recover from today’s crises and seize future opportunities. This is why the partnership principle must be a guiding light to achieve robust growth in our villages, towns, and cities.

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and member of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community in Belgium, said: “European Cohesion should guarantee a sustainable development and equal opportunities for the citizens living in handicapped territories, such as (cross-)border regions, mountains, islands, etc. Instead of empty places, we need living and functional cross-border spaces boosting integration on a daily basis.

Jean-Claude Marcourt, President of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) and of the Parliament of Wallonia (BE), said: “While underlining the European Commissions’s efforts in simplifying Cohesion Policy procedures, the CALRE stands with the European Committee of the Regions in promoting these, in order both to guarantee equal opportunities in access to funds by the European regions and to ensure the irreproachable use of these at the benefit of their people.

Karine Gloanec-Maurin, member of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and President of the community of communes of Collines du Perche (FR), said: “Local and regional projects financed by Cohesion Policy are the most visible sign of the EU added value for the Europeans. It can allow us as local elected representative to talk about Europe in our territories and to engage with our citizens. Cohesion Policy is not only a fundamental solidarity pilar, it is also in the DNA of the European project.

Cees Loggen, President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and Regional Minister of the Province Noord-Holland (NL), said: “Cohesion Policy must become more flexible to remain relevant in an increasingly unpredictable world. However, we demand flexibility that enables tailor-made interventions, strengthens local and regional authorities and reduces administrative burdens.

Dario Nardella, President of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence (IT), said: “Cohesion Policy is crucial to accelerating urban transformations. As cities, we reiterate our strong support for the renewal of the Cohesion Alliance. With the energy crisis looming in our cities, cohesion funds are once again demonstrating their strategic value. Investments in energy efficiency renovations and clean urban transport infrastructure are already promoting the energy transition in cities. With a strong Cohesion Policy we can reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas faster .