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EP official Hubner: There are forces working against EU cohesionUpdated: 04-05-2010 | Regional Europe

Chair of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament (EP) Danuta Hubner is arguing that there are currently forces working against the cohesion of the European Union.

She told a conference on new perspectives on EU's cohesion policy from the Lisbon Agenda to the Europe 2020 strategy - organised in Bucharest by the European Institute in Romania and the Polish Embassy in Bucharest - that we are currently living a time when the forces against convergence and cohesion within the EU are many. Jobs are fewer and worse paid, which weakens the feeling of social belongingness and leads to social instability, she said.

In the first part of the conference devoted to the question whether or not convergence has been achieved under the EU cohesion policy, Hubner highlighted some main aspects of the cohesion policy seen in the context of the current economic state of the EU and the implications thereof.

Competitiveness, sustainability and inclusion are the main themes on the cohesion agenda, she said, pointing to the need for the promotion of territorial cohesion within the EU and saying that currently there are territorial imbalances in the EU that will continue into the future and that should be regarded as challenges.

Hubner mentioned that territorial cohesion was initially seen as a necessity for the EU to better understand territorial specifics, which calls for a greater attention to be attached to rural development, urban development and the link between them in each EU member state.

The imperative of boosting the economic and technological development of the entire European Union is the most important theme, but unfortunately an economic crisis emerged that worsened things and affected our region, said in his turn Polish ambassador in Bucharest Wojciech Zajaczkowski.

State secretary with the Romanian Foreign Ministry Bogdan Mazuru also highlighted the importance of the cohesion policy, all the more so, he maintained, as changes in demographics, globalisation and energy security are all real challenges to all nations.

'We are living in an era in which the EU wants to become a more important and more competitive world player. We know how many problems arise in various EU countries, so we have to focus on finding the best solutions and the cohesion policy is playing an important part in the process,' said Mazuru, adding that the cohesion policy is also important from the angle of economic recovery.

The second part of the conference was devoted to the capability of absorbing EU structural funds and using them efficiently.Director General of the Romanian Authority for the Coordination of Structural Instruments presented the latest developments in Romania's absorption of structural and cohesion funds. He mentioned that the number of projects submitted for such funds in 2007-2010 stood at 16,470 for a value of nearly 35 billion euros, nearly 23 billion of which was covered by EU contributions.

In the same period of time, the number of projects approved for financing stood at only 4,273 for a value in excess of 9 billion euros.Ciobanu said that the 2010 absorption target is set at 1-1.3 billion euros.

Presidential adviser on European affairs Leonard Orban and adviser with the Polish Regional Development Ministry Anna Gmyrek presented new perspectives on the EU's cohesion policy from the Lisbon Agenda to the Europe 2020 strategy.

'It is clear that the guidelines for the composition of the future EU Budget will be established in the months to come, and talks about the adoption of the EU 2020 Strategy are in full swing. I believe that the amounts that are granted to member states generally are playing a highly important part in continuing to make sure that the EU enlargement is attractive. The enlargement is needed,' Orban pointed out.

In his opinion, the opportunities of the cohesion policy are the result of solidarity and competitiveness.

Orban, who was a European commissioner for multilingualism before becoming presidential adviser, said that the cohesion policy has been much criticised and currently there are stormy debates on how this policy should look like after 2013, Agerpres informs.

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