CoR wishes to extend Cohesion Fund support to housing
By Isabelle Smets | Monday 07 May 2012
The EU Committee of the Regions (CoR) would like to see the Cohesion Fund support investments in energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in housing. It makes this request in its opinion on the regulation on the Cohesion Fund for the next programming period, adopted in plenary, on 3 May, along with its opinions on the draft general Structural Funds regulation for 2014-2020 (see
Europolitics4418) and on the draft regulations for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).
The European Commission proposes the possibility of co-financing energy investments in housing, but only under the ERDF. On the other hand, it explicitly rules out support for private housing via the Cohesion Fund. The CoR’s request may nevertheless be given a favourable reaction in the European Parliament, which co-legislates on the Structural Funds, since the rapporteur on the Cohesion Fund, Victor Bostinaru (S&D, Romania), backs this approach.
Predictably, local and regional authorities are sceptical as to the Commission’s willingness to transfer €10 billion from the Cohesion Fund to the future Connecting Europe Facility. The Commission’s idea is to facilitate support for infrastructures making up the Trans-European Transport Network in countries eligible for Cohesion Fund support. But while these funds would still go to the states concerned, their transfer would imply much more centralised management, which would be less likely to involve regional and local officials.
FLEXIBILITY THE WATCHWORD
Flexibility is the watchword in all the CoR’s opinions on the future cohesion policy. For both the ERDF and the ESF, it calls for reductions in minimum percentages of aid to be invested in pre-defined priorities, and is opposed to the Commission’s proposal to oblige states to reserve 25% to 52% of their allocation – depending on the development level of the region concerned – to the ESF. While the CoR supports the priority given by the Commission to ERDF investments in SMEs, it defends the possibility of supporting investment aid for large businesses. It would also like to see the ERDF provide support for private research bodies, whereas the Commission’s proposal mentions only public research and innovation projects.
Flexibility is also needed on urban development, argues the CoR, which calls for the list of cities eligible for aid under integrated territorial investments (5% of ERDF resources in the Commission’s proposal) to be indicative in nature and to be drawn up in partnership with local and regional authorities, based on a call for proposals.