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Press release – Deal on new rules for EU regional, cohesion and social funds over next 7 years

Parliament’s and Council’s negotiators agreed that the total resources for economic, social and territorial funds available for 2021-2027 are 330 billion EUR (330 234 776 619 in 2018 prices).The deal means less developed regions will continue to benefit from substantial EU support with co-financing rates of up to 85% of funds provided by the EU. The co-financing rate for transition regions and more developed ones has been set to 60% and 40% respectively. Simplifying and strengthening the Partnership Agreement Partnership agreements, which are prepared by national authorities, for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will be simplified and limited to 35 pages, unless member states wish to go further. Regional, local, urban and other public authorities, economic and social partners, civil society, as well as research bodies, where appropriate, will be key partners to the agreements. Introducing horizontal principles for EU funds Parliament succeeded in integrating four main overarching principles to adhere to in order to receive EU funding: (1) compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; (2) gender equality and mainstreaming; (3) fighting discrimination; and (4) the respect of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. Sound economic governance Measures linked to funds being suspended when countries do not comply with EU economic and employment policies guidelines will be time-limited (suspension procedures may be applied only between 2023 and 2025). Sanctions linked to non-compliance with national economic targets, such as excessive deficit, will not be applicable as long as the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact is activated. ESF+ and Interreg funds may not be suspended. Other key measures Mainstreaming climate action: the funds will contribute to achieving an overall target of 30% of the EU budget expenditure supporting climate objectives and will respect the "do no significant harm" principle of the Green Deal; Simplified objectives: There are now five policy objectives (instead of 11 in the previous period): a more competitive and smarter Europe; a greener, low-carbon transitioning towards a net zero carbon economy and resilient Europe; a more connected Europe; a more social and inclusive Europe; a Europe closer to citizens. Mid-term review: 50% of the remaining funds can now be allocated elsewhere for the last two years of the programming period; Audit requirements: following the EP position, member states which are part of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will benefit from simplified audit procedures; Quotes Co-rapporteur Andrey Novakov (EPP, BG) said: “Agreed after two years of negotiations! This means that member states now have clarity on programming, implementation and closure of their programmes. Finally, we can plan the budget of over 330 billion EUR. I am glad to see an agreement on Parliament’s initial demands: 85% EU co-financing for less developed regions. There will be thus less pressure on central and municipal budgets in times of recovery.” Co-rapporteur Constanze Krehl (S&D, DE) said: “I am very happy that cohesion policy got sufficient means in the end so all regions can participate and profit from it. It is very important for the regions that we could agree on raising the co-financing rates above what was in the Commission’s proposal. We managed to make cohesion policy fit for the future, especially concerning social and environmental issues. I'm glad that, thanks to the European Parliament, 30% of the budget will be spent on the fight against climate change.” Next steps Work at technical level will be finalised shortly to reflect the results of the agreement. Parliament and Council will then be expected to endorse the content of the agreement. Irrespective of the date on which the regulation enters into force, the allocation of financial resources will apply retroactively as of 1 January 2021. Background The Common Provisions will apply to the Regional Development Fund, the Social Fund (EFS+), the Cohesion Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Just Transition Fund, and set out financial rules for the Asylum and Migration Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the Border Management and Visa Instrument 2021–2027. The funds covered make up about a third of the EU’s total budget. The allocated cohesion resources for 2021–2027 are around 48 billion EUR lower than the previous seven-year period.Let's block ads! (Why?)

Council and Parliament reach provisional political agreement on cohesion policy rules

The German Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on the updated rules governing the structural funds which underpin EU policy for economic, social and territorial cohesion. The agreement covers most of the text of the new draft common provisions regulation (CPR). This overarching piece of legislation consolidates the rules for eight funds and will regulate programmes to be adopted in the 2021-2027 period. Above all, it defines five new policy objectives which reflect the EU's political priorities and which will determine the areas of investment financed by the funds: a smarter Europe - innovative and smart economic transformation a greener, low-carbon Europe a more connected Europe - mobility and regional ICT connectivity a more social Europe - implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights Europe closer to citizens – sustainable and integrated development of urban, rural and coastal areas through local initiatives. The draft regulation also introduces a number of changes, such as: reducing red tape for managing authorities increasing flexibility for more efficient allocation of resources strengthening the link to the European Semester introducing enabling conditions to be applied throughout the programming period, such as effective monitoring of public procurement, compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and application of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities performing a new mid-term review in 2025 to ensure that the programmes adequately address new challenges arising in the upcoming years introducing a new climate monitoring mechanism for a strong contribution of the structural funds to the achievement of the EU climate targets Crisis response Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the existing cohesion framework proved instrumental in providing swift support to member states to tackle the initial effects of the pandemic. Based on this positive experience, a new provision has been introduced allowing for temporary measures in the use of the funds in response to exceptional and unusual circumstances. Also in view of the economic fallout of the pandemic, member states will have additional flexibility for transferring resources between the funds to better address their specific needs. Regions and co-financing The new CPR slightly redefines the thresholds of the three categories of regions: less developed regions - GDP per capita less than 75% of the EU average transition regions - GDP per capita between 75% and 100% of the EU average more developed regions - GDP per capita above 100% of the EU average All cohesion programmes require national contributions in addition to EU funding. The co-legislators agreed that the share of EU resources shall not be higher than: 85% for less developed and outermost regions 70% for transition regions that were classified as less developed in the 2014-2020 period 60% for transition regions 50% for more developed regions previously classified as transition regions 40% for more developed regions The Cohesion Fund will still support only those member states whose GNI per capita is less than 90% of the EU average. The EU co-financing rate will not exceed 85%. The main structural and investment funds are the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus and the Cohesion Fund, while the new Just Transition Fund is part of the European Green Deal. The programmes financed by these funds aim to reduce the economic and social disparities within member states and across Europe, thus reinforcing the single market. Next steps The full text of the draft regulation will be finalised by the co-legislators in the first months of 2021 under the Portuguese presidency. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Remarks by President Charles Michel at the joint press conference with Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa

Antonio, it’s always a pleasure to welcome you to Brussels. And this time, for a truly special occasion. On January first, Portugal will take over the rotating presidency of the Council  for the fourth time. Your presidency comes at a crucial time for Europe. Perhaps a historic time. Because your presidency will lead the EU towards the post-Covid era. Today we discussed our common European priorities. As we work towards our economic and social recovery, we will also drive forward our transition to a greener, more digital, and more inclusive Europe. And work to build a fairer Europe, by addressing the inequalities caused by the pandemic. A highlight of your Presidency will be the Social Summit planned for next May, in Porto. This Summit will provide the political impetus to implement the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights.  I know that your Presidency will give full support to implementing our Green Deal for a sustainable economic recovery. And support our 2050 climate neutrality goal and our increased ambition for 2030. Another strategic priority — our digital transformation — will spur our economic recovery. Portugal's openness to the world will also be reflected in your Presidency. Promoting a "Global Europe", based on multilateralism and a rules-based order. Under your Presidency, we intend to organise a meeting of EU leaders with the Prime Minister of India, in Porto, in May. Nous avons aussi eu l'occasion ce soir d'évoquer un certain nombre de sujets d'actualité européenne, puisque vous savez que nous avons au mois de décembre un Conseil européen qui sera intense. L'agenda nous permettra de discuter de points qui touchent à la relance économique au travers de la mise en œuvre de l'accord conclu au mois de juillet, au prochain budget européen et au Recovery Fund. Vous savez que nous faisons face à quelques difficultés dans la mise en œuvre de cet accord. Nous sommes très mobilisés pour continuer, dans les jours qui viennent, à soutenir les efforts de la présidence allemande afin de pouvoir résoudre le plus vite possible cette importante question. Et donc pour donner à l'Union européenne la pleine capacité des moyens nécessaires pour franchir les obstacles, et pour engager les transformations économiques nécessaires, notamment dans le cadre des transitions digitales et des transitions climatiques. Par ailleurs, nous faisons face depuis quelques temps maintenant, vous le savez, au processus de négociation en lien avec le Brexit. Nous suivons de très près la situation et nous veillons, sous la direction du négociateur en chef, à ce que l'ensemble des Etats membres soient parfaitement associés, mobilisés et informés dans ce processus de négociation important. Nous souhaitons qu'un accord puisse être conclu sur la relation future avec le Royaume-uni. Et nous souhaitons que cet accord prenne en considération des priorités très importantes, notamment les questions de fair play économique, les questions de gouvernance de l'accord et d'autres thèmes également qui doivent pouvoir être résolus. Nous allons suivre de très près, y compris pendant les prochains jours, les différents développements sur le sujet. Tous mes vœux, en tout cas, de succès à l'adresse du Portugal et du premier ministre Costa, pour ce moment important pour l'Europe, et important pour le Portugal. Et je veux dire aussi toute l'amitié, tout le plaisir que j'ai à pouvoir coopérer de manière encore plus étroite tout au long des prochaines semaines et des prochains mois pour faire avancer les valeurs européennes qui nous rassemblent, qui nous unissent et auxquelles nous sommes tous les deux très attachés. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Article – New EU rules: digitalisation to improve access to justice

On 23 November, Parliament adopted two proposals aimed at modernising justice systems in the EU, which will help to decrease delays, increase legal certainty and make access to justice cheaper and easier.New regulations will implement several digital solutions for cross-border taking of evidence and service of documents with the aim of making cooperation between national courts in different EU countries more efficient. Endorsing distance communication technologies will lower costs and help evidence to be taken quicker. For example, to hear a person in a cross-border proceeding, videoconferencing can be used instead of requiring a physical presence. A decentralised IT system that brings together national systems will be established so that documents can be exchanged electronically in a faster and more secure way. The new rules include additional provisions to protect data and privacy when documents are transmitted and evidence is being taken. The regulations help simplify procedures and offer legal certainty to people and businesses, which will encourage them to engage in international transactions, thereby not only strengthening democracy but also the EU's  internal market.Let's block ads! (Why?)

Press release – MEPs approve deal on tap water and demand that EU water legislation be respected

The agreement with member states on the drinking water directive was approved with 73 votes to 2 and 5 abstentions. The new rules will improve the quality of tap water by tightening the maximum limits for certain pollutants such as lead and harmful bacteria. They also aim to cut plastic litter by encouraging the use of tap water. This could be done by providing water free of charge in public buildings or for a low service fee, and to customers in restaurants, canteens, and catering services.Comply with EU water legislation by 2027 The Committee also adopted a resolution on the implementation of EU water legislation with 68 votes to 2 and 10 abstentions. While MEPs agree with the Commission’s assessment that the Water Framework Directive (WFD) is fit for purpose and should not be revised, they strongly regret that half of the bodies of water in the EU are still not in good condition and that the objectives of the WFD have not yet been reached. This is mainly due to inadequate funding, particularly slow implementation, and insufficient enforcement. The precautionary and polluter-pays principles are not being implemented properly, and many member states are using exemptions too broadly, they say. The resolution underlines that the WFD objectives need to be better integrated into sectoral policies, particularly in agriculture, transport and energy in order to be fully compliant with the WFD and for all surface and ground waters to achieve ‘good status’ by 2027 at the latest. MEPs urge member states to reduce the use of fertiliser and pesticides and call for such targets to be integrated and implemented in the national Strategic Plans under the EU’s farm policy. Additional action regarding chemicals and pollutants, water pricing policies, hydropower and urban wastewater treatment is needed, they say. Next steps The plenary will vote on the deal on the drinking water directive and on the resolution on the implementation of the EU water legislation during its 14 - 17 December session. Background The Fitness Check of EU water legislation in December 2019 concluded that the legislation is adequate but that there is room for improvement related to investments, implementation, integrating water into other policies, chemical pollution, administrative simplification and digitalisation. While the Water Framework Directive established a framework to protect 110.000 bodies of surface water in the EU, the implementation has been lacking. Less than half of the EU’s bodies of water are in good status, even though the deadline for achieving this was 2015.Let's block ads! (Why?)