Cretu's statement following the joint debate on Cohesion Policy in the European Parliament

Today in the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg, I participated in a joint debate on Cohesion Policy, on the basis of two excellent reports by Members of the European Parliament; the first one on the contribution of Cohesion Policy to "Investment for jobs and growth", based on the 6th Cohesion Report and the second one, on the urban dimension of our Policy.

The first report rightly pointed out the importance of making sure that the European Structural and Investment Funds, the EU's main investment arm for growth and job creation, reach people and the real economy swiftly and efficiently.

In front of the European Parliament I reiterated my commitment to ensure the fullest contribution of Cohesion Policy to the Commission's priorities, whether it is the Digital Single Market, the Energy Union or the objectives of growth and jobs of President Juncker's Investment Plan for Europe.

The success of the reformed Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 will be measured by its results on the ground. Each Operational Programmes is performance-oriented with clear targets which allow us to quantify in advance what the citizens can expect from our investments. For example, did you know that one million enterprises will receive the support from the European Structural and Investment Funds in 2014-2020?

Of course for our Funds to have the maximum impact on the ground, we need to simplify their access for beneficiaries. In front of the Members of the European Parliament I repeated my promise to reduce the administrative burden, through the creation of a High Level Group on Simplification, which will hold its first meeting on 22 October and make its concrete proposals already next year.

Furthermore, as I said during the discussion, I expect the implementation of our Policy on the ground to be faster than in 2007-2013. We are ready to provide all the necessary technical assistance to the Member States, especially through exchanges of best practices and thematic seminars.

Now, for the urban dimension of our Policy; nearly €80 billion from the 2014-2020 envelope of the European Regional Development Fund will be invested, directly or indirectly, in urban areas. In particular, €15 billion are earmarked for actions in the field of sustainable urban development. But further than that, our objectives are to strengthen the role of cities in European urban policy-making and to ensure better coordination and synergies in EU policies relating to cities.

Because cities are the engines of growth and innovation in Europe, we are no longer discussing if we need an EU Urban Agenda but rather how we can make it happen. We are currently working on it in close cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders, not least the cities themselves but also the EU institutions, and the European Parliament will be a crucial partner in bringing forward the EU Urban Agenda.

As we always seek to fully exploit the potential of Cohesion Policy, in December we will present a report assessing how the new Partnership Agreements and programmes take account of the new policy framework. This will decisively feed into our reflections for the future, and here also I count very much on the European Parliament's precious input.

Source: Commissioner Cretu's Announcements, http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/cretu/announcements/we-always-s...