EU announces 'simplification committee' at Riga talks

Take note – story published 9 years ago

European Union member state ministers and other officials responsible for cohesion policy met in Riga Tuesday on the first of two days of discussions.

Following the first few hours of discussions, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said she was setting up a "High level committee group on simplification" consisting of 10-12 people headed by Estonia's Siim Kallas.

"One of the announcements of today was to go a step towards simplification with the future creation of a high-level group on simplification which will look always to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries to access European structural and investment funds.

"I was speaking already with former Vice-President of the European Commission, Siim Kallas and he agreed to chair this high-level committee group on simplification and we will go forwards to have membership on personal merit with 10-12 people and I advised all member states to offer best possible candidates to apply," Cretu said.

And as if to provide evidence of one area in which "simplification" is certainly needed, Cretu then attempted to clarify the situation with regard to EU plans to stimulate research and development, small and medium-sized enterprises and the low carbon economy.

"It is possible to make five euros from one euro," by choosing the right investments, Cretu said.

"There are two different things: one thing is the cohesion policy European structural investment fund and we have regulations in place as to how this fund is spent... we also have structural funds... and this Juncker commission came with another plan on top of these structural funds. What we [call] the investment plan for Europe, the Juncker plan, or the Juncker-Katainen plan, I don't know, because Vice President Katainen is running around Europe explaining what the Juncker plan is.

"This is a fund which will be at the European Investment Bank and it will be up to this independent group to select the projects and also using structural funds but also in the investment plan I see use of national instruments is crucial to maximise the money that will be spent.

"There are additional investments in the Juncker plan on top of this structural and investment fund. So we are waiting now for the legislation on these strategic funds so it's a bit of confusion because European funds are European structural investment fund and there will be adopted legislation on a European fund for strategic investment on the 14th of June and then will provide guidelines for member states on how they can combine the funds.

"It's possible to combine structural funds, European funds with funds from the European strategic fund."


Got that? If not, call Siim Kallas!

Speaking alongside her, Latvian Finance Minister Janis Reirs said:

"Efficiency of cohesion policy is a shared repsonsibility between the European Commission and the member states. We need to trust each other."

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