EU regions and Commission president: Investment for growth and better regulation must be Europe’s top priorities

mm_um_2013_04_18President Juncker: “Local and regional authorities are natural allies in delivering growth and social policies. Regions and cities are on your side to bridge the gap between Europe and citizens through bold initiatives such as the EU Investment Plan and the migration agenda.”

These opening words by the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) Markku Markkula (pictured) launched a debate with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the EU’s political priorities for the coming years.

President Juncker and local leaders discussed the key challenges currently facing Europe, agreeing that the absolute priority is to deliver new jobs and sustainable growth. “Now the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council are in agreement on the legislation, the EU Investment Plan can be launched and the CoR is a key partner. Regions and cities have now the right and duty to present new projects.”

This call was echoed by President Markkula who recalled the joint action plan launched by the CoR with the European Investment Bank to help regions and cities benefit from the new investment tool. The CoR is also supporting its delivery by pooling together regional development banks and other institutional investors.

The distinct role and scope of the Plan and of European structural funds were further clarified in the debate. “Simplification, better absorption of EU funds and synergies between cohesion policy and the Juncker Plan are crucial challenges in the cooperation with the EU Regional Commissioner Corinna Creţu” highlighted President Markkula.

President Juncker also stressed that the Investment Plan should be accompanied by concrete progress on budgetary consolidation and structural reforms. “This does not mean the European social state will come under attack. Quite the opposite: we believe that current social policies are underdeveloped and for this reason the Commission will launch new initiatives on the social dimension of the single market and monetary union,” he announced.

The debate highlighted the strategic role of the completion and interconnection of Europe’s digital, energy, transport and capital markets, a process with huge growth potential. Additionally, the challenge of improving the quality of EU legislation was discussed and it was made clear that there was a need to find the right balance between overregulation and the absence of common rules to compete and grow together.

Following the discussion, members of the CoR adopted their priorities for 2015-2020 setting up five key pillars for the coming years: creating jobs and sustainable growth in cities and regions to provide a better quality of life for citizens; the territorial dimension of EU legislation; a simpler, more connected Europe; stability and cooperation within and outside the European Union, and; creating a Europe of the citizens.

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Category: A Frontpage, Committee of the Regions (CoR), EU, European Commission, Politics

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