Financial support from EU Structural and Investment Funds has been vital in keeping public services going in EU countries. This was the case before the COVID-19 outbreak, but the crisis has increased the need for public funding to keep economies and societies ticking.
Local authorities are at the forefront of providing many of the very practical aspects of support to people, public services and enterprises most affected by the crisis. They are the ones directly facing the health, social, economic and logistic challenges. Based on desk research and five case studies (the German-Polish border, Cyprus, Slovenia, Corsica and the Netherlands), we have collected insights of local representatives about their use of the Cohesion Policy crisis responses.
Dr Martin Ferry, the leader of EPRC’s research team, presented the findings at the study launch One year into the COVID19 crisis – How does the EU help municipalities to cope?. The event was organised by The Left MEPs (GUE/NGL) of the Regional Development Committee in the European Parliament, who commissioned the study. Dr Ferry’s presentation addressed questions like How efficient and accessible are EU crisis measure like CRII and REACT-EU for municipalities? What lessons can be learned for EU policy, what recommendations can be given to Member States, regions and the local level? What are implications more broadly for EU regional cohesion policy?
The final report identifies five areas of improvement in the use of Cohesion Policy by municipalities:
- the role of Cohesion policy in short- and medium-term crisis responses and recovery support
- the need for both vertical and horizontal coordination
- the territorial dimension of Cohesion Policy and embedding the local level as active participant
- capacity-building at the local level and inter-municipal cooperation
- the role of EU-level institutions in mobilising the local level
The meeting was chaired by Younous Omarjee (MEP La France Insoumise, Chair of the REGI committee at the European Parliament), and panel members Martina Michels (MEP Die Linke, Germany, the Left in the European Parliament’s REGI coordinator), Dimitris Papadimoulis (MEP The Left/Greece, Vice-President of the European Parliament, BUDG coordinator) and Niyazi Kizilyürek (MEP AKEL, Cyprus, REGI member) took part in the discussion.