Lagging regions: Giuffrida report approved by EP

I consider the report of MEP Giuffrida, as rapporteur, represents the official position of the European Parliament, the base to increase employment, infrastructure and investment in the regions lagging behind Europe“. Stated European Commissioner for Regional Development Corina Cretu during the official meeting with Michela Giuffrida, MEP of the Italian Democratic Party and rapporteur of the report finally approved by European Parliament. After the vote, Giuffrida held a press conference to illustrate the contents and aims of the report and, subsequently, was received by Commissioner Cretu.

It is necessary to identify a new and more balanced balance between Cohesion policy and European economic policy – said Giuffrida during the press conference – to avoid the regions lagging behind are even penalized by macroeconomic conditionality, specific recommendations of the Semester and others constraints that often turn into punitive tools for those territories that should instead be the first recipients of EU support. We have a responsibility towards these regions – 47 in 8 Member States and in which 83 million people live – which derives from the same spirit of solidarity and support that underpins the European project. The punitive view will not help them to grow, nor will it help Europe to strengthen its integration. In addition to priority EU funding, these regions – underlined Giuffrida – among which is my Sicily, need tailor-made strategies to bridge the gaps with other territories and offer new perspectives to their inhabitants “.

Orient funding in these areas, promote education and training to reduce unemployment, support young people to curb the exodus, support and improve the quality of governance in national and regional public administration, are just some of the points addressed in the report Giuffrida and will now form the basis for consultation and dialogue with the European Commission in view of the revision of the Cohesion Policy and the launch of the new EU budget.

Unfortunately – anticipates the MEP – we can not be optimistic about it. Because if today the Cohesion policy occupies a third of the budget of the European Union, tomorrow we will unfortunately be forced to suffer major cuts in this area. The “emergencies” change and the priorities of Brussels also change. This is why, with this report, we wanted to put a firm point to avoid that territories that already have gaps, would be further penalized. Instead, there is a need for ambitious funding, tailor-made strategies, programs and actions and increased synergies with other EU funds that can attract complementary financial support in the framework of multi-annual post-2020 programming “. Aspects on which there was ample sharing on the part of Commissioner Cretu who reiterated the need for the regions to raise awareness of the central administration on the use and importance of funds. Corina Cretu also recalled the four pilot projects launched in Sicily, hoping for “the most rapid planning and implementation to immediately give concrete answers”.

By the end of March – announced at the end of the meeting – the Commission will hold a first technical meeting to implement the report. In September, at my invitation, Commissioner Cretu will return to Sicily to raise awareness and public opinion on the importance of good use of the structural funds and to take stock of the progress of pilot projects “.

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