Structural Funds/EP mandate
Housing added to scope of Cohesion Fund
By Isabelle Smets | Thursday 12 July 2012
MEPs want to enable the Cohesion Fund – which comes into play for states whose GDP per inhabitant is less than 90% of the Community average – to support energy efficiency investments in housing (double-glazing, new boilers, etc). This is part of the negotiation mandate entrusted by the Committee on Regional Development (REGI), on 11 July, to Victor Bostinaru (S&D, Romania), the rapporteur on the Cohesion Fund regulation.
In its proposals on the Structural Funds 2014-2020, the European Commission raises the possibility of co-financing energy investments in housing, but only via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), not via the Cohesion Fund. In fact, in the proposal on the Cohesion Fund, housing is explicitly listed as an investment the Cohesion Fund cannot back. MEPs have extended the sentence with “except for promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy use,” thus changing the meaning entirely.
During the REGI debates, the Commission stressed the need to distinguish ERDF from the Cohesion Fund.
It is noteworthy that with this vote, MEPs are accepting the Commission’s proposal to reserve part of the Cohesion Fund envelope for the financing of transport infrastructures under the future Connecting Europe Facility. They did not, however, voice their opinion on the scope of this transfer of funds (the Commission is proposing €10 billion). The applicable co-financing rates would then be those of the Cohesion Fund, more generous than those laid out in the Connecting Europe Facility.