After the recent legislative proposal made by the Commission last May, discussions have started at the European Parliament and the Council on the new EU budget and on the rules of Cohesion policy for the post 2020 period. I have been in Liguria and Puglia, in Italy, to catalyse the implementation of Cohesion Policy programmes and to enable support for the Cohesion Policy proposal 2021 – 2027. There is an understanding emerging that the proposal is an equitable one given all the new challenges and priorities that the EU must face.
Italy benefits heavily from Cohesion Policy: 12% of public investment in Italy come from Cohesion Policy funds. At the same time, Italy is the second biggest beneficiary of European Investment and Structural Funds in the 2014-20 period, with 44 billion euro injected into its economy. However, while some regions, like Puglia, are above EU average in implementation (selection of project), there is a lot more that can be done. As I indicated in my meeting with the Italian Minister for the South, Barbara Lezzi, overall the situation could be improved and priority should be given to accelerating implementation of the programmes.
Accelerating implementation of current programmes is at the same time particularly important in the context of negotiations of the Cohesion Policy proposal for post-2020. Better results now will not only stand as proof of Cohesion Policy’s added-value to the development of Member States, but it will pave the way for Italy in preparing its future programmes. This is essential since we should start preparing the future programmes in order to avoid implementation delays.
I was glad to notice in my meetings with the authorities in Puglia and Liguria that Italy’s position on the future of Cohesion Policy is broadly in line with that of the Commission.
It is important we all reach an agreement before the European Parliament elections so that implementation can start from day 1.