We can do even better to create more positive impact on our Member States' economies with the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). That's why the EPP Group wants to put more emphasis on investments in our shared objectives, apply a more flexible use of the funds and increase support for SMEs from these funds.
Enabling a more flexible use of funds to maximise their impact
In practice, this means that local and regional governments and other stakeholders should be able to combine different EU funds on one project more easily and invest in European objectives like small businesses, research and development and to work towards a cleaner economy.
For several countries hit by the economic crisis these European funds are very important to maintaining public investment. Sometimes they account for up to 80% of all public investment.
As Lambert van Nistelrooij, the EPP Group’s Coordinator on regional policy, puts it: “Maximising the impact of this fundamental investment tool therefore becomes essential. Investing in our entrepreneurs is a crucial element of a successful European recovery.”
Increasing the visibility of European investments in Member States
Members of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development called in particular for more visibility for European investments in the Member States.
“If citizens can’t see the tangible positive contributions the EU makes in their countries, it is clear that support for Europe will decline. That's why we call for stronger citizen participation and communication around the design, implementation and overall impact of ESI funds,” van Nistelrooij stated.
If citizens can’t see the tangible positive contributions the EU makes in their countries, it is clear that support for Europe will decline Lambert van Nistelrooij
With a budget of 454 billion Euros for the 2014-2020 period, the European Structural and Investment Funds are the European Union's main investment policy tool. Billions of Euros are invested in countries to improve their economy and the social cohesion of their communities, but too few people are actually aware of these projects in their cities, towns and regions.
The Regional Development Committee also gave a green light to the Structural Reform Support Programme, which will help countries that are in a European support programme.
Currently support programmes are directly financed from Member States to Member State through a fund called the European Stability Mechanism. Now the Commission has proposed to commit around €143 million Euros from the European budget to specifically target necessary reforms and investments in these countries. This is an important first step in making European support to Member States more transparent and in line with our common economic objectives.