Since 2004 I am the coordinator of the European Socialists and Democrats in the Committee on Regional Development (REGI). I stand for a socially and environmentally sustainable development strategy. Regional policy is aimed at overcoming development disparities within the EU. Within this context, I focus my efforts on Saxony and East Germany.
In accordance with the EU budget cycle, the legislative foundation of regional policy is reformulated every seven years. I was chief negotiator for the General Regulation of the programming period 2014 to 2020. The General Regulation establishes rules the European Union five funding instruments: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund as well as the European Fund for Fisheries. By creating a single legislative framework the implementation of funds has been harmonised and transparency increased.
In the current programming period (2014-2020) over 350 billion euros from the EU budget are invested in the member states and their regions. Germany benefits of 28 billion euros alone – this equals to 350 euros per head. Financial instruments are playing an important role in this programming period and will, due to their leverage effect, have an even higher multiplier effect on regions’ economy. Regional policy thus, whether in form of traditional grants or innovative instruments, represents a significant funding item, which directly benefit European citizens.
Nevertheless, passing the new bill on regional policy does not mean our work is done. Now we have to make sure that the things we agreed upon are in fact implemented, and that the fruits of the agreement end up reaching our citizens. In this respect it is important to further reduce the bureaucratic hassle involved in a funding application. We also need to look beyond the limited scope of a single policy area towards other EU policies and programmes, making sure that different fields are mutually complementary. I will continue my efforts to make regional policy the EU’s most important instrument for the creation of a united as well as socially just and economically sound Europe.
Further Information on European Regional Policy
This position paper was development while I was chairing the respective working group and was finally approved by the Socialists and Democrats Group as a whole. It underlines the Socialists’ achievements during the negotiations on the EU’s regional policy. At the same time it offers a vision of the future.