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EU ministers underline the importance of Cohesion Policy in achieving the key objectives of the EU

At the meeting of the General Affairs Council, the ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy underlined the contribution of Cohesion Policy to reducing and eliminating development gaps, to the green transformation and digital transition and to the economic, social and territorial cohesion. The ministers gave green light to the inclusion of San Marino in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region.

Chairing the meeting, Zvone Černač, Slovenian Minister for Development and European Cohesion Policy, said: ''Cohesion Policy is one of the most important EU policies, not only in terms of addressing development gaps between EU regions, but also because it supports other EU policies; we’ve witnessed that during the pandemic through its strong support for the measures to tackle the consequences of the covid-19 pandemic. Cohesion Policy funds play an important role in reducing the development gaps within EU member states and individual regions. In the coming years, they will have to be combined in a smart way with the funds from the other funding mechanisms to strengthen the resilience of individual systems and ensure synergies in supporting the green and digital transition. All this time, we shouldn’t forget that this is the money that comes from the EU citizens, so it must be given back to the people through a number of programmes and projects. I believe this is the only way we can truly bring Cohesion Policy closer to the people.’’

The ministers agreed that the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic pose a serious challenge to the EU territorial cohesion. Given the development gaps between EU regions and member states, post-covid recovery and economic revival are likely to happen at a different pace across the EU. However, smart and regionally-tailored use of Cohesion Policy instruments will help boost the economic growth again in all regions and increase resilience to future shocks.

The debate put spotlight on a number of challenges and opportunities that Cohesion Policy instruments bring and their integration with other instruments to promote development and reduce development gaps. The debate underlined the massive importance of additional funding under the REACT-EU programme, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Resilience, recovery and strategic autonomy of the EU is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Simplified, efficient and result-oriented Cohesion Policy can make a huge contribution to the economic recovery and to building a resilient, green and digital Europe where no one is left behind. The discussion therefore also focused on further efforts to have the programming documents for the upcoming seven-year programming period finalized and adopted as swiftly as possible and on how to combine the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy with other policy instruments. The activities are fully underway and their completion in the coming year will make an important contribution to complementing the implementation of other mechanisms that were adopted in the wake of the covid-19 crisis.

Ministers on the inclusion of the Republic of San Marino in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region

By adopting Council conclusions, the ministers agreed to support the inclusion of the Republic of San Marino in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region. The European Commission will amend the Strategy to include the Republic of San Marino. From now on, ten countries will participate in the Strategy: Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and San Marino.