Photo: European Union
THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION:
(1) RECALLS the scope and aims of cohesion policy and the ESI Funds as set out in Art. 174 TFEU;
(2) RECALLS its conclusions of 15 November 2017 on Synergies and Simplification for Cohesion Policy post-2020 ;
(3) RECALLS the Final Conclusions and Recommendations of the High Level Group (HLG) on Simplification for post-2020 ;
(4) WELCOMES the Strategic Report 2017 of the Commission on the implementation of the European Structural and Investment Funds ;
(5) TAKES NOTE of the positive assessment in this Strategic Report of the new elements introduced in the 2014-2020 programming period to improve delivery, such as ex-ante conditionalities, the alignment with relevant country-specific recommendations, the reinforced performance orientation and better synergies with other instruments; WELCOMES the progress achieved across Member States and policy areas with regard to the selection of projects, and CALLS on Member States to further speed up the implementation and spending in view of maximizing the contribution of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds to key Union priorities;
(6) ACKNOWLEDGES at the same time the slow start of the programmes in the period 2014-2020, and TAKES NOTE of the different reasons for delays, such as the late adoption of the legislation, the complexity of the rules and the introduction of new rules, time-consuming procedures for designating the competent authorities in the Member States, as well as the overlap of the closure of the programming period 2007-2013 with the start of the new programming period 2014-2020; CONSIDERS therefore that challenges still remain and a substantial simplification of the implementation of the ESI Funds post-2020 is needed;
(7) NOTES that these Council Conclusions do not prejudge the outcome either of the negotiations on the future EU Multiannual Financial Framework or of future discussions of cohesion policy post-2020;
(8) REMAINS COMMITTED to a regular political debate among relevant ministers in the General Affairs Council to discuss cohesion policy and the ESI Funds;
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