Parliamentary Secretary Borg said that Malta is committed to hold a regular political debate on the Cohesion Policy in particular addressing the implementation related issues of the current programmes but also in preparation of the policy framework for the post 2020 period. He continued explaining that the Cohesion Policy is a central component for the realisation of EU objectives. While it is acknowledged that the Cohesion Policy is increasingly being seen as an investment policy, it is important that the debate on the Policy should continue to focus on its goal of reducing disparities between regions and to achieve social, economic and territorial cohesion.
Dr Borg reiterated that although the positive results of programmes in the previous programming period as highlighted in the Commission Ex Post Evaluation Report and the efforts made to improve the framework for the current programming period are evident, Malta believes that there is further opportunity for the Cohesion Policy to be improved in order to respond to the dynamic social and economic landscapes of our regions and territories. He argued that for the successful implementation of the Policy, it is important that the specific needs of different territories and different institutional frameworks are recognised. It is also necessary that the framework ensures sufficient flexibility to support initiatives that address the changing needs at regional, national and EU level.
Tools similar to EFSI, the SME initiative and the grant schemes operated within the Operational Programmes should co-exist together because they respond to different needs on the ground. Parliamentary Secretary Borg said we need to ensure that the Cohesion Policy is able to respond quickly and effectively through targeted investment where it is most needed and investing in key sectors for growth and job creation. Cohesion Policy should remain an integral part of the EU Budget and an important tool to strengthen and support Member States’ potential and the success of the EU project.
In his conclusions, Dr Borg said that most importantly the results of Cohesion Policy need to be made more visible to our citizens. The EU needs to address their needs and aspirations more effectively and in a timely fashion. The political debates need to be guided by the citizens’ needs; we need to keep the citizen’s aspirations at the heart of our work and communicate effectively what we are doing. There is the need to focus on those priority areas that benefit our citizens and the need to raise the credibility of the Union in its ability to deliver actions where it really makes a difference.