It is crucial for the regions to have a functioning Cohesion Policy with a clearly identified role, emphasised Minister for National Development Tamás Fellegi at the press conference held in connection with the informal meeting of ministers for Cohesion Policy at Gödöllő on 20 May, 2011. During the meeting, the ministers discussed the future of Cohesion Policy in the interest of improving competitiveness of the European Union and the quality of life for its citizens.

“We have arrived at another milestone in the discussion of the future of Cohesion Policy, and I am glad to announce that the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union has realised its most important objectives set in this field: genuine progress has been made in consultations from strategic proposals towards specific measures, and thus the relevant draft legislations can be expected before long”, Mr Fellegi said.

photo: Tamás Szigeti

He reported that the participants of the meeting sought improved and more efficient ways in which Cohesion Policy could serve the implementation of the common goal: social and territorial cohesion based on competitiveness. This discussion of key issues has been successfully raised to a policy level, which facilitates the evolution of the consensus required for negotiations on regulatory matters.

These decisions about the role assigned to Cohesion Policy and its expected operation in the next programming period to start in 2014 are of pivotal significance for the future of the regions, the Member States and the European Union. The significance of all these factors cannot be too strongly and frequently emphasized, as this was one of the most significant of all the policies of the European Union which affected every citizen in the European Union, the minister emphasised.

He recalled that the very first time ministers reacted on the European Commission’s Fifth Cohesion Report on economic, social and territorial cohesion and its conclusions was at the previous informal ministerial meeting held in November 2010, in Liége. In the period that has passed since then, the Hungarian Presidency, in joint effort with the Member States, has been engaged in intensive work on a professional and political level to discuss the proposals addressed in the Report, and has incorporated the achievements of this work as an input to the meeting.

photo: Tamás Szigeti

The ministers’ consultation was finished by the presentation of Presidency conclusions on Cohesion Policy, made in summary of the Member States’ opinions. These confirm the fact that Cohesion Policy and its objectives – namely the reduction of economic, social and territorial inequalities – remain a key building block of the European Union and are indispensable for the successful implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy. It was, furthermore, noted that the Member States had shown clear and definite commitment to further increasing the efficiency of this policy. The objective of the Presidency conclusions is to support the Commission by messages formulated at a high political level in the course of drafting the legislation that determines the future of this policy, and facilitate the work of the Polish Presidency in the conduct of detailed negotiations on legislation after July 2011.

The Member States have managed to get one more step closer to consensus, and hopefully, this will increase the success, measurability and efficiency of implementation in Cohesion Policy, and contribute to streamlining administrative processes.

Tamás Fellegi emphasised that the sources of Cohesion Policy must be used in the effective and most cost efficient way, while increasing the effects of policy measures and projects. The Hungarian Presidency has done its utmost to enforce these considerations during fund allocation, monitoring and settling up.

(Ministry of National Development , Department of Communication)