The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has expressed strong disagreement with the Commission’s proposal to cut Cohesion policy funds, saying the EU has to be sensitive to the current political environment, instead of focusing only on the upcoming budget.
Speaking to EU news website EURACTIV, Stefano Mallia, EESC rapporteur on the Common Provisions Regulation for 2021-2027 said that the EESC, “in no uncertain terms, rejects the European Commission proposal to cut the Cohesion budget by 10 per cent.”
“The Commission cannot engage in just an accounting exercise. It must also be sensitive to the political environment which we are currently experiencing,” Mr Mallia said.
“At a time where citizens are feeling more and more disconnected from the EU, the last thing we should be contemplating is a 10 per cent cut in funding of one of the main policies of the EU, which has a concrete impact on the everyday life of citizens,” Mr Mallia said.
“How can we be credible asking people to believe in a stronger Europe whilst at the same time reducing the budget of the Cohesion policy? We need to keep the budget at least at the level of the 2014-2020 budget.”
Mr Mallia also underlined the fact that during these last months, the EESC had not seen any signs of co-operation on the part of the Austrians, which took over the EU Presidency in July 2018.
“I am disappointed at the apparent disinterest of the Austrian Presidency to engage with the EESC on this important issue. The EESC is a formal institute of the EU representing civil society in Europe.”
“Cohesion policy is one of the most important policies of the EU and yet the Austrian Presidency has been conspicuous by its absence.”