Common strategic framework: Hahn may make concessions
By Isabelle Smets | Tuesday 29 May 2012
Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn has reiterated his opposition to efforts to relax the requirements for the thematic concentration of Structural Funds. On 29 May, during a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI), MEPs said that they wanted more flexibility than had been provided for in the legislative proposals for next programming period in order to let the regions invest the money where it is needed. If flexibility means that the member states and the regions can do what they want with the money, “we will not be able to create the critical mass to make the investments effective,” the commissioner retorted.
Nonetheless, Hahn has shown some flexibility on the issue of the common strategic framework. This document, which will define the main investment priorities of each of the funds, must, according to the European Commission’s proposals, be adopted through the delegated acts procedure. MEPs have been calling for months for an adoption by co-decision procedure through making it an annex of the general regulation. It is an “essential element,” which expresses political views, MEPs said.
For the first time, Hahn has suggested that he might give in. The Commission is prepared to talk about the drawing up of an annex, he said. Hahn was certainly not giving in 100%, going on to talk about the requirement that will not make the implementing act redundant. It seems that there will be a mixture of co-decision and delegated act in this instance; with the share of each still to be negotiated. In any case, the commissioner knows he does not really have a choice. Indeed, the request has not only come from the EP but also from the Council of Ministers.
Votes in July
The draft report by Lambert van Nistelrooij (EPP, Netherlands) and Constanze Krehl (S&D, Germany) on the new general regulation for the Structural Funds is now available in all language versions at
www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/organes/regi/regi_20120529_1500.htm. The deadline for tabling amendments is 7 June and the vote in REGI is set for early July. The rapporteurs want to respect this timing to be able to present a position for its negotiations with the Council as soon as possible. They hope not to see hundreds of amendments tabled in committee. “Some seem inclined to take that route, but it’s not the right way to go.” They have asked MEPs not to table amendments “originating in the Council,” so that Parliament will still have some bargaining chips in the talks. “We need this negotiating margin,” commented Krehl.