The European Commission aims to strengthen the link between Cohesion Policy and the European Semester regarding the programming of 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy funds to align the EU budget more closely with EU economic priorities. In order to do this, the European Commission has established a series of investment priority needs for each Member State to be delivered by post-2020 Cohesion Policy.

The investment guidance was outlined in the so-called “Annex D: Investment guidance on cohesion policy funding 2021-2027” in each Member State Country report published in February 2019 as part of the European Semester.  For the first time, the European Commission has paid more attention to identifying investment needs and challenges linked to regional and territorial disparities, with the intention of giving a greater territorial dimension to the European Semester framework. On 5th June 2019 the European Commission presented the 2019 Country Specific Recommendations for each Member State. One of these recommendations is to have an investment focus in line with the published Annex D, paying special attention to regional and territorial disparities.

 

The CPMR paper analyses the European Commission’s assessment and the policy recommendations set out in the 27 “Annex D” documents regarding specific types of territories represented within the CPMR’s membership, CPMR policy areas of interest, investments to be supported by the European Social Fund + and how macro-regional strategies and sea-basin strategies are addressed.

The overarching conclusion of our analysis is whilst the introduction of Annex D is a good attempt to provide a territorial dimension to the European Semester, there are notable inconsistencies when it comes to analysing territorial challenges and investment needs, especially for specific types of territories covered by the EU Treaty Articles. There is also insufficient consideration of a territorial dimension in the investment priorities related to the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy funds policy objectives. Considering the relevant role that is assigned to this Annex D in relation to 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy funds programming, the CPMR raises concerns on how it will affect the upcoming programming process of the ERDF, ESF+ and CF.

The CPMR General Secretariat held a technical discussion with its member Regions on 30 April to discuss the issues broached in the analysis.

Read our full analysis here.