It is important to maintain the long-term investment nature of the Cohesion policy, despite the changes; it should preserve its priority status in the total EU budget even after 2020, and continue for all EU regions, said Ivelina Vasileva, Chair of the Environment and Waters Committee and Deputy Chair of the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds, at the inter-parliamentary meeting on “The Future of the Cohesion Policy after 2020: opportunities, challenges and next steps”, held in the European Parliament.
She said that contemporary challenges related to Brexit, security and migration, climate change and the development of a digital society, should not shift the focus from economic prosperity and the EU being a key player on the global stage. Our key messages are continuing cohesion, simplification, flexibility and effectiveness, said Ivelina Vasileva.
“It is essential for Bulgaria that the debates are focused on strengthening the effect of investment, which will be equally useful for donors and beneficiaries. A large part of every euro invested into underdeveloped regions under the Cohesion policy comes back to the large Western economies. This is how the cohesion policy contributes to the economic development and growth of the whole EU,” she said.
“The principle of shared governance has no alternative for Bulgaria at this stage. However, it is necessary to make a clearer distinction between the responsibilities of the members states and the European Commission in relation to programming, implementing and controlling EU funds. The member states would also benefit from a streamlined audit approach”, said Ivelina Vasileva.
In her words, flexible combinations between programmes and instruments will be implemented after 2020, such as combinations between Horizon 2020 and the Human Resources Development Programme, or the environment programmes and the European Fund for Strategic Investments. “For as good as financial instruments are, they should be complementary, can be implemented only in sectors with economic potential and established market niches, and cannot replace grants,” said Ivelina Vasileva.
Bulgaria will continue to support the principle of thematic concentration for the achievement of certain strategic goals, said Vasileva and expressed her expectation that after 2020, the ex-ante conditionalities, already introduced, would be bound not only to sanctions but also incentives.