Enrico Letta: structural funds must not finance new EU priorities

«The great mission of the future EU single market will not only be to guarantee mobility between member countries but to complete the integration on the financial markets to be able to finance the three great challenges of the future: the transition, the enlargement and defense.” This was underlined by the former prime minister and president of the Delors institute, Enrico Letta, who gave the opening speech at the ninth Forum on cohesion policy underway in Brussels. Connected by video, Letta was speaking from Madrid where this morning he met the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, to discuss the report on the future European internal market that Letta will present to the European Council on 17 April. Letta insisted on the central role of cohesion policy in the future of the Union, so intrinsically is it linked to the single market, with which it is no coincidence that it shares the date of birth in the history of European integration. But this raises some questions.

«Stop this narrative»

«The next enlargement of the Union will be a challenge from a political and economic point of view, but it is a mission and a duty» said the former Italian prime minister. «If we are not able to create what I call a strong and integrated “Investment Union” to have sufficient resources to finance future needs, then in the European Union we will start to think that these priorities will be paid for by current cohesion funds or other programs. We must stop this narrative.”

Lots of appetite for structural funds

In practice, according to Letta, it will not be possible to continue to consider cohesion policy, which like agricultural policy is worth a third of the common European budget, as a nest egg to be drawn on at any time and for anything – distorting its territorial character, for any need of the Union. It happened due to Covid, the energy crisis and to welcome Ukrainian refugees. But it’s not enough. Many would like to be able to count on cohesion resources to finance centralized but not territorial policies. This also emerges clearly from the official documents of the European institutions, from the Step regulation, the platform for strategic technologies, to the directive for green homes, to the proposal presented in March in an attempt to push the European defense industries to work together and make less the creation of a common defense is difficult.

If these are the premises, Letta’s mission – who at the forum praised with conviction the role of cohesion policy – does not promise to be very simple.

#Enrico #Letta #structural #funds #finance #priorities
2024-04-11 22:17:32

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