Last Thursday EURADA hosted a meeting between the Spanish Association of Regional Development Agencies (Foro ADR) and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), represented by Gustavo López. The aim of the event was to debate and analyse the new version of the Cohesion Alliance, a declaration document that addresses the most pressing challenges European regions will have to face in future.

The Cohesion Alliance is a coalition which gathers all those organisations and entities (from policymakers to universities) that believe the European Union’s cohesion policy must remain one of the core pillars of the Union going forwards. Launched in 2017, it was created through cooperation between various European regional associations, cities, and regions from across the continent, as well as the CoR. Its main demand is for the next EU budget, or Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), for the period of 2021-2027 to reinforce cohesion policy in order to strengthen it and make it more effective, visible, and accessible for all regions in the European Union.

In terms of attendance, the gathering was a roaring success. Every single Spanish RDA participated, as did many other organisations interested in the future of cohesion.

During the meeting, Gustavo López presented the re-launch of the Cohesion Alliance campaign, taking advantage of the momentum generated by the European Commission presenting its new economic recovery plan, which amounts up to €750 billion, as well as the 2021-27 MFF, introducing several modifications regarding Structural Funds. As Gustavo explained, the CoR and many of those organisations associated with the Alliance decided to launch a query about a Declaration 2.0, which responds to those challenges the Covid-19 crisis has imposed and which, as mentioned, addresses the new MFF and the new recovery plan through an intense communication campaign both in social and traditional media.

During the meeting, the attendees had the opportunity to express ideas and make suggestions, in addition to asking any questions they had on the topic. Two points were especially prominent:

  • The flexibilization of the State aid, introducing some matters already present in the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak
  • The inclusion of the S3 in the prioritisation of the funds’ expenditure.

Other suggestions made considered the importance of the relation between cohesion policy and other policies such as competency policy, or the necessity of joint development, making sure no region lags behind.