EESC opposed to macroconditionality «as currently formulated»
By Isabelle Smets | Thursday 03 May 2012
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is opposed to macroconditionality applied to EU cohesion policy, at least «as currently formulated,» reads an opinion on the future rules for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), adopted at its plenary session, on 25 April. In this opinion, the EESC rejects macroeconomic conditionality «for sending out the wrong signals and in fine penalising regions and citizens who are not to blame for macroeconomic excesses committed at national level». It adds that macroconditionality can represent an obstacle to economic growth and lead to the withdrawal of aid and the redistribution of instruments withdrawn in favour of the more developed regions. The EESC is nonetheless not opposed to all types of aid conditionality. It even states that greater use of conditionality in cohesion policy will achieve «more focused and real, sustainable results».
The EESC welcomes the Commission’s proposals on thematic concentration «as a means to reduce fragmentation of effort». It recommends greater flexibility, however. The Commission’s proposal to concentrate a large share of ERDF financing on specific objectives could prove less effective for the least developed regions because «mandatory investment objectives are perhaps not the best way to achieve the optimal development of the region or member state in question,» reads the opinion. «Specific development goals and needs of the regions are to be managed in a flexible way,» it adds. On the other hand, the EESC agrees with the Commission’s proposal to determine minimum shares to be invested for each category of regions in relation to the European Social Fund (ESF).
On the simplification of procedures, the EESC acknowledges the Commission’s efforts but considers that too much complexity remains. «Through an excessive emphasis on auditing and procedures, both national and European authorities are stifling access to EU funding for SMEs and NGOs – too much energy is lost in administrative burdens. Gold plating at all levels is absolutely to be rejected.»
It also voices concern over the principle of partnership with regional and local authorities and civil society. The EESC applauds the Commission’s proposals on partnership but notes that it is «deeply worried by signals from the Council where some member states seem to restrict the partnership principle». It calls on the European Parliament and the Commission to reverse this trend.
“Macroconditionality can represent an obstacle to economic growth and lead to the withdrawal of aid and the redistribution of instruments”