- 101 rue Belliard - B-1040 BRUSSELS - Tel. +32 (0)2/282 21 11 - Fax +32 (0)2/282 23 25 -
Brussels, 28 August 2009
of the 19th meeting
of the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy
held at the Committee building in Brussels
23 June 2009
The Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy held its 19th meeting in Brussels on 23 June 2009, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Chairman: Dr. Michael Schneider (DE/EPP)
ABRAMAVICIUS Arnoldas LT/EPP
ARNAUTU Decebal RO/E
BORE Albert UK/PES
BOURG-BROC Bruno FR/EPP
BRUNET-LECHENAULT Claudette FR/PES
CAVERI Luciano IT/ALDE
CLUCAS Flo UK/ALDE
GEMESI Gyorgy HU/ EPP
GUSTAITIS Antanas LT/ALDE
HAIJANEN Pauliina FI/ EPP
HALLIKMÄGI Väino EE/ALDE
HARLINGHAUSEN Rolf DE/ EPP
KARJALAINEN Anne FI/PES
KEYMER CBE Gordon UK/ EPP
KNAPE Anders SE/ EPP
KROCHMAL Witold PL/UEN-EA
KROPIWNICKI Jerzy PL/EPP
KUHN Hermann DE/PES
LOUCAIDOU Eleni CY/ EPP
MADSEN Henrik Ringbæk DK/PES
MCGOWAN Patrick IE/UEN-EA
MOLNAR Arpad HU/ALDE
MOSKOV Vladimir BG/PES
MUSOTTO Francesco IT/ EPP
OSVALD Petr CZ/PES
PALEOLOGOS Christos EL/PES
RASSA Indra LV/ EPP
SCHNEIDER Michael DE/ EPP
SMOLNIKAR Anton SL/PES
SZWABSKI Stanislaw PL/UEN-AE
TIETARI Satu FI/ALDE
TSIGKOUNIS Dimitrios EL/ EPP
VALCÁRCEL SISO Ramón Luis ES/ EPP
VIGELIS Vytautas LT/ALDE
VOGEL Hans-Josef DE/ EPP
WALLHAGER NECKMAN Maria SE/ALDE
WINKLER Hermann DE/ EPP
WRONA Tadeusz PL/ EPP
ZACHARIAS Istvan SK/ EPP
ANCISI Alvaro IT/ EPP
CORDINA Joe MT/PES
CZERNIAK Jacek SL/PES
DACLIN Jean-Michel FR/PES
GARVIE Graham UK/ALDE
GRAAS Gusty LU/ALDE
HADJIKAKOU Costas CY/ EPP
HAKANSSON HARJU Lotta SE/PES
HOLLEY Chris UK/ALDE
HUDDART Doreen UK/ALDE
IACOP Franco IT/ALDE
KLÄR Karl-Heinz DE/PES
KLEINBERGA Nellija LV/ALDE
KOVACIKOVA Sylva CZ/ EPP
LECH Miroslaw PL/UEN-AE
LIPKIN Agneta SE/PES
MIFSUD Malcom MT/ EPP
NAGY Zoltan HU/PES
NEIMANIS Janis LV/ALDE
PAPASTERGIOU Georgios EL/ EPP
PENDER John IE/UEN-AE
RIESE Roland DE/ALDE
ROUILLON Christophe FR/PES
SZALAY Andras HU/ALDE
UNT Ivar EE/ALDE
VELASCO MANCEBO Javier ES/PES
WATSON Ron UK/ EPP
VON BRESKA Eric, DG REGIO
BERKOWITZ Peter, DG REGIO
PESSOA E COSTA José Pedro, DG REGIO
RUSCHE Tim, DG TREN
SCHULZE Gudrum, DG TREN
Directorate for Consultative Works
GUSSETTI Lucio, Director
NEILL-COWPER Marie-Claire, Head of Unit
CORNIDE Pablo, Administrator
KIENEL Christof, Administrator
LABBE, Carole, Administrator
LOLLO-GROTTI Claudia, Assistant
Political group secretariats
FORNEA Aliona PES
ENDRIK Marfia UEN-EA
SCHEUREN Marcus ALDE
WILLEMS Paul EPP
PELLUL Wolfgang DE
BÜRGER Harald AT
1.Adoption of the draft agenda (CdR 142/2009)
The agenda was adopted with the following changes:
Item 8 of the agenda was cancelled.
As Prof. Barca could not attend the meeting, the Chair announced that the presentation of the Barca report was to be made by Mr Peter Berkowitz and Mr Eric von Breska, respectively Head of Unit and Deputy Head of Unit, Unit "conception, forward studies, impact assessment", DG REGIO, European Commission.
Items 6 and 7 were exchanged.
2.Approval of the minutes of the 18th meeting (CdR 143/2009)
The minutes were adopted.
3.Statement by the Chair
The Chair reminded Members that a memo had been circulated, showing the current status of the work of the Committee of the Regions' expert group on EGTC (European Grouping for Territorial Cohesion). The Chair also informed them that a specific item of the November COTER meeting would be dedicated to the follow up of the EGTC expert group.
The Chair informed Members of a workshop that will be organised during the Open Days 2009 (6 October), by the secretariats of the COTER Commission and the REGI Committee of the European Parliament. The topic of the workshop will focus on the future of Cohesion Policy. All COTER Members are invited to participate and debate with REGI Members and the audience. The Chair informed Members that more detailed information would be circulated soon.
The Chair warmly thanked the Czech Delegation and the Governor of South Bohemia for the excellent COTER meeting and seminar organised in Tabor last 4-5 May 2009, which allowed good discussions and interesting perspectives on the years following accession.
Participation of Members in external events
Dr. Michael Schneider (DE/EPP) participated in an International Conference on the "Future of Cohesion Policy and Integrated Local Development" organised by the Czech Presidency on 26-27 March in Prague (Czech Republic).
Mr Petr Osvald (CZ/PES) participated in a meeting on "Local intermediate Authorities and Territorial Cohesion" organised by PARTENALIA on 8 April 2009 in Turin (Italy).
Sir Albert Bore (UK/PES) participated in a conference on social economy organised by REVES and the Czech Presidency on 16-18 April 2009 in Prague (Czech Republic).
Dr. Michael Schneider (DE/EPP) participated in a conference organised by the RUR@CT network (European Regions for Rural Innovation) on "Proposals for territorial cohesion", on 30 April 2009 in Brussels.
Mr Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES) called for more time to be devoted to debate during seminars organised by the COTER Commission, particularly when Commissioners were present.
4.Organisation of future work (CdR 144/2009)
Appointment of rapporteurs
The COTER Commission appointed Dr Michael Schneider (DE/EPP) as rapporteur for the Outlook opinion on the future of cohesion policy, pending the reception of the referral from the European Commission.
The COTER Commission appointed Ms Flo Clucas (UK/ALDE) as rapporteur for the 6th progress report on economic and social cohesion, pending the adoption of the communication by the European Commission.
Concerning the Communication from the European Commission on a European Union strategy for the Baltic Sea region (COM(2009) 248 final), the COTER Commission decided not to appoint a rapporteur, but to suggest to the President of the Committee of the Regions to attribute the communication to another Commission.
Renunciations (CdR 145/2009)
The COTER Commission decided not to issue an opinion on the following proposals:
Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down rules for the granting of Community financial aid in the field of trans-European networks
COM(2009) 113 final – 2009/0037 (COD)
Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on aviation security charges
COM(2009) 217 final – 2009/0063 (COD)
It was nevertheless decided that a letter be sent to the Council setting out the reasons not to draw up an opinion, pointing out the importance the Committee of the Regions attached to the network of regional airports.
Ongoing work programme (CdR 144/2009)
The Chair presented the Ongoing Work Programme, which shows the current status of the COTER commission's work.
5.Presentation of the Barca report "An agenda for a reformed cohesion policy"
After emphasising that the recommendations contained in this report did not necessarily reflect the Commission's position, Mr Eric Von Breska felt that the report should serve as a basis for the ongoing debate on the future of cohesion policy and he set out the main aspects of the report:
In the context of the discussion on the budget and the serious likelihood that it would be capped at 1% of GNP, cohesion policy had to justify itself fully, particularly with respect to other sectoral policies; the report underlined the high added Community value of this policy, even in those regions and Member States that were "richer" than the European average.
The need to revise the system for assessing this policy in order to measure actual results, both quantitatively and qualitatively; the report thus called for a political debate on the outcome of this policy that went beyond solely financial irregularities and was based on verifiable statistical indicators.
Despite the results achieved over the 2007-2013 period with the "earmarking" exercise and strategic programming (CSG1), it was essential to concentrate financial resources more on limited priorities with a high European added value.
The main thrust of the reform proposed in the report centred on:
the choice of 3-4 priorities2 that would make it possible to achieve the objectives of both "effectiveness" and "equity", after a very broad-based political debate (Member States, regions, CoR…);
a new contractual relationship between the Commission, the Member States and the regions, together with a stronger role and powers for the Commission;
a more effective audit system focused on practical results and not just financial aspects;
greater awareness of the principle of additionality at the political and financial levels;
steps to reinforce a system of political checks and balances, particularly within the Official Council of Ministers responsible for regional development and within the Parliament, in order to secure a better debate on the results of cohesion policy.
One of the conditions for the success of such a reform was the need to carry out, simultaneously and in parallel, negotiations on the policy content and on the budget. The one (on the budget) should not pre-empt the other (on policy).
Dr Michael Schneider (DE/EPP) warmly welcomed the proposal for the contractual relationship between the Commission and the Member States/regions for the "post 2013" period. Mr Ralf Harlinghausen (DE/EPP) wondered about the need for making a clear distinction between the goals of effectiveness and equity which co-existed within cohesion policy. Mr Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES) felt it necessary to increase the Community budget, for example, by means of a European tax, in order to pursue an ambitious cohesion policy. He therefore called on the CoR and the Commission to urge the Council for more resources.
Mr Javier Velasco Mancebo (ES/PES) lamented the fact that the Barca report did not sufficiently analyse the impact of technological development and innovation on the regions, which he believed were increasing regional and social polarisation. Moreover, he expressed the wish that the structural fund could be managed at local and regional authority level.
Ms Flo Clucas (UK/ALDE) thought it necessary to clarify the concept of "places", by defining the scale (in terms of surface area) and the size (in terms of population). She felt that the performance of cohesion policy should not just be measured in terms of quantitative results, but also in terms of qualitative aspects. Finally she qualified as unfair a system in which the automatic decommitment rule should apply at national level, thus penalising regions that spent structural funds appropriately.
Mr Karl Heinz-Klär (DE/PES) pointed out that cohesion policy was a European integration policy par excellence, whereas the CAP was the source of major divisions within the EU. He also felt that it was necessary to see cohesion policy above all from a political angle and not just from an economic point of view. In his opinion, directing the thrust of this policy entirely on the "poorer" regions would be a major political error, as it would jeopardise the desired goal of integration. Furthermore, he wanted regional authorities to be more involved in managing this policy. Finally, he urged the Commission to put forward an ambitious budget, going beyond 1% of GNP, particularly during these times of economic crisis.
Sir Albert Bore (UK/PES) thought that the six priorities proposed by Fabrizio Barca should be put to debate. He warmly welcomed the possibility of arranging contracts between the Commission, the Member States and the regions for drawing up operational programmes. Like Ms Flo Clucas, he felt that the concept of "places" should be clarified.
Mr Ramon Luis Valcarcel Siso (ES/EPP) felt that the failure of the Lisbon Strategy "to make the European economy the most competitive in the world by 2010" required us to re-think this agenda in the light of current regional disparities, which had been further accentuated by the present-day economic crisis.
Mr Roland Reise (DE/ALDE) rejected the idea of a European tax put forward by Mr Rouillon, deeming the European Union to be an association of countries, financed by national contributions.
Mr Eric von Breska replied to these contributions as follows:
Contrary to what the report suggested, DG REGIO felt that a strict separation between "equity" and "effectiveness" was not entirely appropriate, since equity could lead to greater "effectiveness" for example. Nevertheless, separating these two goals made it possible to facilitate implementation of cohesion policy by making it easier to 1) choose which public policies to implement and 2) measure their results.
Without anticipating the outcome of the discussions on the budget, the key issue of the debate was either to draw up a regional (or "place-based") policy to meet regional needs, or to concentrate Community funding on sectoral policies of Community interest.
The concept of "place" for implementing cohesion policy related, above all, to the idea of a "functional region" whose borders (often) went beyond administrative boundaries and altered depending on the public policies to be pursued.
The proposals for making rules more flexible referred to the need for simplifying and limiting the number of implementing rules, more tailored to the local context by means of contracts between the Commission, the Member States and regions.
Mr Peter Berkowitz pointed out that the Barca report was part of DG REGIO's assessment of the future of cohesion policy. As such, COTER was called upon to play a major part in this debate. He agreed with the report's overall focus, particularly as the arguments advanced by Fabrizio Barca on the budget debate were very important - and convincing - for justifying the continuation of a strong European cohesion policy, especially in view of its importance for European political integration. He also noted the importance the report placed on concentrating funds on key priorities and the fundamental role that local and regional authorities had to play in implementing cohesion policy. DG REGIO was currently carrying out an in-depth study on the impact of technological development and innovation on the regions. It would be published by the end of the year and would feed into the debate on the future of cohesion policy. Finally, the link between the Lisbon Strategy and cohesion policy was a fundamental part of DG REGIO's assessment.
Dr Michael Schneider (DE/EPP) said he was pleased that a scientific report also confirmed the importance of cohesion policy. In his capacity as rapporteur-to-be on the future of this policy, he would try to make practical proposals for improving its content and implementation.
6.Draft opinion on the "Green Paper on TEN-T: A policy review – towards a better integrated transeuropean transport network at the service of the common transport policy"
COM(2009) 44 final
Rapporteur: Mr Jean-Michel Daclin (FR/PES)
CdR 103/2009 COTER-IV-025
Mr Jean-Michel Daclin (FR/PES) presented the main points of his draft opinion:
the Green Paper met the need for improving European transport policy, particularly TEN-T, since to date only 30% of the budget allocated had been spent;
the TEN-T policy should radically shift its thrust to concentrate Community action on priority networks and steps to link these up to local networks;
TEN-T played a crucial role because of their contribution to territorial cohesion and the fight against global warming (particularly with respect to rail transport).
41 amendments were tabled. In the examination of the draft opinion the amendments were dealt with as follows:
Amendments adopted: 16 (10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 22, 27, 29, 33, 34, 35, 37, 39, 40 and 41)
Amendments adopted with a compromise: 21 (1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30, 32, 36 and 38)
Amendments rejected: 1 (31)
Amendments withdrawn: 2 (2, 9)
Amendments fallen: 1 (4)
The draft opinion, duly amended, was put to the vote and adopted by a majority. It will be submitted for adoption at the Plenary Session on 5-7 October 2009.
7.Draft opinion on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning a European rail network for competitive freight
COM(2008) 852 final
Rapporteur: Mr Witold Krochmal (PL/UEN-EA)
CdR 102/2009 COTER-IV-024
Mr Witold Krochmal (PL/UEN-EA) presented the main points of his draft opinion:
The creation of trans-national freight corridors was very important, as it would make goods transportation in Europe more efficient and environmentally friendly. Although they were often less relevant in economic terms than other forms of transport, railways should be given more funding because of their low impact on global warming.
Some difficulties with the introduction of these corridors should be underlined, in particular:
the absence of a common language for the trans-national administration responsible for these trans-European corridors;
border crossings; and
the absence of common safety standards.
There was a need to involve local and regional authorities more closely, since the impact of these corridors on their development was crucial.
26 amendments were tabled. In the examination of the draft opinion the amendments were dealt with as follows:
Amendments adopted: 18 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26)
Amendments adopted with a compromise: 2 (2 and 7)
Amendments rejected: 6 (8, 9, 11, 12, 14 and 15)
Amendments withdrawn: 0
The draft opinion, duly amended, was put to the vote and adopted by a majority. It will be submitted for adoption at the Plenary Session on 5-7 October 2009.
8.Any other business
9.Confirmation of the date of the next meeting: 24 September 2009 in Brussels.
CdR 205/2009 EN/o-FR/AC/SLW/as