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  |  2013-05-21

Cohesion Policy: getting the most from EU Funds for growth and jobs

Measures to help crisis-hit countries to use much needed EU funds have been proposed today by the European Commission

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The measures would help these Member States to tackle youth unemployment, to support small and medium sized business and to pay for key infrastructure projects. In the absence of this proposed measure, Cohesion Policy investments for growth could be lost because of a lack of time to spend the money or because of the difficulty of finding national and private co-finance in the current economic climate. The proposal, prompted by requests from EU governments and from the European Council, will now be sent to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for adoption.

 

The first measure would help to deliver around €500m growth promoting investments more quickly to Greece, Cyprus and Portugal. This would increase the EU contribution of Cohesion Policy investments and allow a lower national share. This would prolong an agreement on co-financing from December 2011 for another two years. It would also ease the strain on national budgets but involves no new money from the EU.

 

The second measure proposed today would give Romania and Slovakia more time to spend Cohesion Policy money. This would allow for better selection and implementation of strategic projects - for example to boost the competitiveness of SMEs and get young people into jobs.

 

Commenting on the proposal, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "We at the European Commission are ready to show solidarity and flexibility to those hit badly by the crisis so they can get back on the path to growth. Cohesion Policy is one of the Union's main tools to do this. The tailor-made measures we have adopted today will help these countries make use of much needed investments: to create sustainable jobs by supporting small and medium sized business and helping them access finance, to help young people into work and to encourage innovation and research. This will be not just for the good of the countries involved but for Europe as a whole. But I should add that while this proposal does offer breathing space it cannot be a substitute for reform and acceleration in using the funds."

 

László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, added "The exceptional circumstances that prompted us to increase the EU's share of Cohesion Policy spending in the so called programme countries are unfortunately still with us. The measure has been successful in boosting spending of EU funds on growth promoting investment and we have good reasons to extend it. As for Romania and Slovakia, following on the European Council decisions, this proposal gives them an opportunity to invest EU funds where they are most needed. The two countries should see this as an incentive to strengthen their reform and investment efforts."

 

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