The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) is shocked by the proposals presented today by EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger on the future of Cohesion policy in the EU budget for the post-2020 period.

The CPMR is concerned that the European Commission’s proposal will signify an irreversible blow to the future of Cohesion policy and the prospects of increasing regional disparities across Europe.

At a press conference today, Commissioner Oettinger outlined the Commission’s proposal for the future EU budget, to be officially published on May 2. He spoke about cuts of 15% or even 30% to the Cohesion policy budget.

Cutting the budget for Cohesion policy after 2020 by as much as 15% would mean losing its ‘raison d’être’ as the EU investment policy. In any of these scenarios, aid intensity to the richest regions in Europe would be extremely low.

The CPMR has carried out projections of -15% and -30% cuts which show that Member States who are net contributors would stand to lose the most in Cohesion policy allocations.

The European Commission is also proposing to establish a structural reform instrument with a budget of around €25 billion that could be a part of Cohesion policy in the future, even though it will provide direct budgetary support to Member States.

This proposal is very worrying, as it raises too many questions regarding the legitimacy of such an instrument, how it will function, and its democratic accountability.

CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said: “The European Commission should not cut the ‘traditional’ policies, CAP and Cohesion Policy, to fund new priorities. If these proposals are adopted they would spell disaster for economic, social and territorial cohesion in Europe and for the future prosperity of the EU and its citizens.”

The CPMR has reiterated the need for a strong Cohesion policy, covering all regions. Its Political Bureau will meet in Patras (Greece) on 8 March to adopt its position on the post-2020 EU budget.