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Local and regional authorities involvement in EU Semester

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome/Brussels, 24.09.2018, 12:05 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Dr. Carlo Marino Bericht 4372x gelesen

Rome/Brussels [ENA] The European Commission has recently proposed a consolidated link between cohesion policy and the European Semester process. The European Semester is the main EU tool for economic and fiscal policy coordination and also serves as a framework to support growth and jobs targets as set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy. This idea has been hotly disputed for some time. A coordinated and

harmonized implementation of Union Funds, fulfilled under shared management financial rules based on Article 322 of the TFEU, should be established for all the Funds , clearly specifying the scope of application of the relevant provisions. The involved Funds are the European Regional Development Fund ('ERDF'), the European Social Fund Plus ('ESF+'), the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development ('EAFRD'), measures financed under shared management in the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund ('EMFF'), the Asylum and Migration Fund ('AMIF'), Internal Security Fund ('ISF') and Integrated Border Management Fund ('BMVI').

In addition, common provisions based on Article 177 of the TFEU should be established to cover policy specific rules for the ERDF, the ESF+, the Cohesion Fund, the EAFRD and the EMFF. Horizontal principles as set out in Article 3 of the Treaty on the European Union ('TEU') and in Article 10 of the TFEU, including principles of subsidiarity and proportionality as set out in Article 5 of the TEU should be respected in the implementation of the Funds, taking into account the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Member States should also respect the obligations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensure accessibility in line with its article 9 and in accordance with the Union law harmonizing accessibility requirements for products and services. In that context, the Funds should be implemented in a way which promotes de-institutionalization and community-based care. Major projects represent a substantial share of Union spending and are frequently of strategic importance with respect to the achievement of the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It is therefore justified that operations above certain thresholds continue to be subject to specific approval procedures.

The threshold should be determined in relation to total eligible cost after taking account of expected net revenues. To ensure clarity, it is appropriate to define the content of a major project application for such a purpose. The application should contain the necessary information to provide assurance that the financial contribution from the Funds does not result in a substantial loss of jobs in existing locations within the Union. To better activate potential at the local level, it is necessary to strengthen and facilitate Community-Led Local Development. Taking into account local needs and potential, as well as relevant socio-cultural characteristics should provide for structural changes, build community capacity and stimulate

innovation. The close cooperation and integrated use of the Funds to deliver local development strategies should be strengthened. Local action groups, representing the interests of the community, should be responsible for the design and implementation of CLLD (Community-Led Local Development) strategies. In order to facilitate coordinated support from different Funds to Community-Led Local Development strategies and to facilitate their implementation, the use of a 'Lead Fund' approach should be facilitated. The Commission shall dedicate at least 15 % of the resources to create greater efficiency in communication to the public and stronger synergies between the communication activities undertaken at the initiative of the

the Commission, by extending the knowledge base on results, in particular through more effective data collection and dissemination, evaluations and reporting, and especially by highlighting the contribution of the Funds to improving citizen’s lives, and by increasing the visibility of support from the Funds as well as by raising awareness about the results and the added value of such support. Information, communication and visibility measures on results and added value of support from the Funds, with particular focus on operations, shall be continued after the closure of the programs, where appropriate.

The Semester affects policymaking by public authorities at EU, national, regional and local levels along an annual cycle. However, its performance has been in some respects problematic. Various analyses, by different EU institutions, reveal that the Semester does not live up to its promises, as shown by the poor implementation record. Indisputably, it is not appropriate to punish local communities for perceived deficiencies of national economic policies. The European Semester has developed considerably since 2010 and is becoming permanent in the national processes concerning economic policy and structural reforms.

An interesting proposal could be that grave malfunction to comply with recommendations linked to the European Semester process should only lead to the suspension of commitment appropriations and not payment appropriations. Even in serious cases, such suspensions should not exceed a certain amount of the funds to be spent in a Member State. In the 2014-2020 period, there are requirements putting in place special controls for major projects. Reintroducing a rationalized version of the current rules on major projects, albeit with a higher threshold could be a solution.

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