The Czech Minister, Karla Šlechtová, invited the President of the European Committee of the Regions to discuss the role of the EU's cohesion policy after 2020 in a debate with Commissioner Corina Creţu i, representatives from the "Visegrad Group" countries.
Speaking in Prague the CoRs' President, Markku Markkula, remarked, "Cohesion policy has continually proven its worth driving regional development across the EU. Yet disparity between regions persists which is why we need to make it fit for the future. At the local and regional level, current regulations are viewed as too bureaucratic and complex. We need a reformed simpler cohesion policy after 2020 that is more responsive to new challenges. We must make it more flexible, more efficient and more result-orientated"
Karla Šlechtová , the Czech Minister for Regional Development, remarked: "Cohesion policy forms a link between all the countries of the European Union. At today's meeting we have signed a document in which we agreed on a common approach to this policy. It is important that we arrive at common views and conduct an open dialogue. I consider it a great success that the Czech Republic has managed to arrange discussions between so many countries and, especially, to secure a joint declaration. Cohesion policy has a unique potential to address long-term structural problems."
EU regional policy Commissioner, Corina Creţu, stated: "I am pleased that the Czech Republic, as the incumbent V4 Presidency, has initiated the first ever ministerial negotiations on the future of cohesion policy after 2020. There is no doubt that the structural funds have brought central Europe growth and jobs over the last decade, but in future we shall have to incorporate into the European Semester the changing needs of the economic policies of individual countries, how these relate to one another, and a greater capacity of cohesion funds to respond flexibly to changing circumstances. One issue in its own right - and which must be part of every debate - is a more far-reaching simplification of cohesion policy rules. Now, however, we should put the stress on a swift start to implementation of the current programming period, which is coming to a critical phase in 2016, and the operational programmes should be fully launched."
The meeting was followed up by a conference of experts at which particular parts and aspects of the position will be discussed openly and in detail. It looked especially at strategic planning which plays a key role in the effective use of public funds, including EU ones. More information at: www.V4.dotaceEU.cz.