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Ombudsman makes eight proposals to Commission to avoid fundamental rights violations in cohesion policy

May 21, 2015 | News

(21 May 2015) – The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has made eight proposals to the European Commission to help it ensure that the 350 billion euro 2014-2020 “European Structural and Investment Funds“ do not support Member State cohesion programmes that breach fundamental rights.

The cohesion policy aims to create jobs, reduce poverty and tackle social exclusion, particularly in the Union’s rural and disadvantaged areas. While Member States are primarily responsible – selecting projects, making payments and handling complaints – the Ombudsman says that the Commission cannot abdicate its human rights obligations just because it does not directly manage the funds.

The Commission therefore should: carry out more frequent and thorough on-the-spot visits to Member States who implement the cohesion programmes; launch an online platform where civil society can report fund abuses and violations of the EU Charter of fundamental rights; strictly apply sanctions when Member States fail to fulfil their obligations; verify that national redress mechanisms work well; and seek to avoid fundamental rights violations in the first place by focusing training and capacity building efforts on Member States with a less positive track record in this area.

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