Monday

29th May 2017

MEPs against macro strings on regional spending

  • Polish MEP Danuta Hubner is against linking regional funds to economic performance (Photo: epp group)

The European Parliament is opposing demands by a German-led group of countries to link the payment of EU regional funds to how countries sticks to macroeconomic reforms.

The regional affairs committee of the European Parliament on Wednesday approved "about 95 percent" of the rules regarding regional and social funds for the next EU budget for 2014-2020, committee chair Danuta Huebner said in a press conference.

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The thorniest remaining issue is whether to link planned funding and actual payments to member states with what the German government, backed by the Dutch and Nordic countries are calling "macroeconomic conditionality."

"The position of the parliament is very clear: we reject it," Huebner said.

The original idea goes back to 2009-2010, said Huebner, who was a member of the EU commission at that time, in charge of regional policy.

"Back then we didn't have the six-pack, the two-pack, the fiscal compact," she recalled, referring to a swathe of EU rules that strengthen the power of the EU commission over national budgets and reforms.

"So we believe there is no need to reach out to the funds that invest in jobs and growth and introduce this type of legal insecurity," the Polish politician said.

She noted that member states have already been told what their financial envelope for the next seven years will be and that certainty is needed for project planning.

"It is a situation that is very difficult to understand - continuing with this aim of additional support for discipline - that today is not justified," she said.

A German diplomat told this website that "for us it is still important to strengthen the principle of macroeconomic conditionality as part of our better-spending agenda as far as possible."

Germany, together with the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic states form the so-called 'Better Spending Coalition', while the southern and eastern states are part of the 'Friends of Cohesion' club.

With the parliament last week having endorsed the overall budget for 2014-2020, time is now pressing to translate all the different rules and regulations into legal acts.

A last negotiations before summer recess will take place on Thursday between Parliament, member states and the EU commission, but is unlikely to reach a deal on macroeconomic conditionality. The final vote on the matter is expected to take place in October, after the German general elections.

Poorest regions get least out of EU funding

Countries with a poor public administration are "of course" absorbing less EU cohesion funds, meaning some of the poorest regions are getting the least out of the available money, the EU commission has said.

Interview

Regional funds may be linked to pension reforms

Linking EU regional funds to economic reforms is "fair" because it would apply to all EU states, regional policy commissioner Johannes Hahn has said, amid opposition from MEPs.

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