(21 November 2013) – Key rules and regulations for implementing EU cohesion policy in 2014-2020 were endorsed by the European Parliament on Wednesday.
In a compromise deal struck with the Council after more than a year of tough negotiations, MEPs secured substantial funding for EU regions to invest in their development projects, on terms fairer to them. They also pruned back the bureaucracy needed to apply for this funding, which is sorely needed in this time of economic crisis.
A new “common strategic framework” will provide a single source of guidance for the five principal EU development funds, so as to better integrate EU policies and simplify procedures. Also, the new rules will concentrate investment on a small number of themes linked to the “Europe 2020” (EU’s overarching growth strategy) targets.
One third of the EU budget for 2014-2020 (€325 billion) will be invested in member states, to boost regional development, with a strong focus on employment, energy efficiency, innovation and research.
MEPs stepped up efforts to combat poverty through labour market integration by allocating at least 20% of ESF resources in each member state for this purpose. The European Social Fund will also support efforts to tackle youth unemployment, as at least €3 billion in ESF funding is earmarked for the Youth Employment Initiative. The minimum ESF’s share of cohesion policy funding is 23.1%.