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ESC opinion on the future of cohesion and the Structural Funds

The Economic and Social Committee of the European Union has published an own-initiative opinion on "The future of cohesion and the long-term implications for the Structural Funds". The Committee stresses that reviews of the Structural Funds should not weaken the four principl...

The Economic and Social Committee of the European Union has published an own-initiative opinion on "The future of cohesion and the long-term implications for the Structural Funds". The Committee stresses that reviews of the Structural Funds should not weaken the four principles ratified at the Lisbon and Edinburgh European Councils: concentration, partnership, programming and additionality. The aims and objectives of cohesion should be recognized in Community policies, particularly those to combat unemployment. The opinion recognizes, however, that the upcoming review of the Structural Funds to extend them beyond 1999 will be affected by four elements. These are: - Prospective enlargement to include Central and East European countries; - Economic and monetary union; - The views adopted by individual Member States regarding the benefits of Structural Funds; - The commitment to institutional and political unity within the EU. The Committee recommends that greater coordination between national and Community measures be introduced, and that concentration of funding on areas of greatest needs may be the most effective way of increasing cohesion. The opinion also recommends greater flexibility for the Structural Funds.