The most immediate concern raised in the document regards the risk of losing 2014 commitments for Cohesion Policy expenditure. The CPMR calls on the European Parliament and the Council to adopt the revision of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework published by the Commission in January by the 1st May deadline, so that the Cohesion Policy budget is maintained for the 2014–2020 period for the benefit of growth and jobs in the regions.
In this Policy Position, the CPMR criticises a disconnection between the framework of the Cohesion Policy legislative proposals and the narrative in the Country Papers, which were published in December 2013 to guide Member States and Regions for the preparation of operational programmes. In some cases, the Country Papers are overly specific and provide little room for manoeuvre in terms of investment priorities, which contrast the final and adopted legislative texts governing Cohesion Policy funds. For instance, many regions from the more developed and transition categories expressed some difficulty in justifying their need to finance infrastructure projects to the Commission.
The CPMR also notes that communication between regions and the Commission on operational programmes preparation is of varying quality. Whereas some felt that the process is very constructive and enhanced by informal contacts, other regions are sometimes left very little time to respond to comments made on a regional operational programme or had relatively poor guidance. Although it is understandable that the cross-cutting nature of operational programmes requires a large scale interservice consultation within the Commission, the expertise and knowledge of DG Regional and Urban Policy could perhaps provide a stronger and more strategic role within the Commission with regard to operational programmes preparation and management.