PES cohesion conference: Solidarity is a guarantee for EU future

10/07/2017

	Stanishev, Cretu, Lambertz at conference

Europe's social democrats call for a strengthened cohesion policy post-2020, focused on decent jobs, clean environment, investment in human capital and new technologies, a packed hall of conference delegates heard today.

Some 150 delegates, plus online participants, discussed leading contributions from European Commissioners Corina Creţu and Maroš Šefčovič, PES president Sergei Stanishev, Committee of the Regions first vice-president Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Slovakian deputy prime minister Peter Pellegrini, and other high-level speakers.

In a packed conference hall, Corina Creţu and Sergei Stanishev spoke in their keynotes speeches on the challenges of maintaining effective cohesion policy beyond 2020 in the likely context of a reduced overall EU budget.

Expert panels also debated how cohesion policy can power the green economy, how to preserve pan-European solidarity, and how to use European investment to create sustainable jobs. 

Mr Stanishev said:

"The three decades of cohesion policy are a great achievement of which our progressive family can be proud. But this also means that we have special responsibility for taking good care of its future.

"First and foremost, we need to counteract this tacit but widespread agreement that the EU will be devoting less money to its regional policy after 2020. I have a sense that this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy — but I have a fundamental problem with this. Cohesion policy is the most successful investment tool in the EU. It creates hundreds of thousands of jobs every year, and helps to increase quality of life better than any other policy in the EU."

Ms Creţu said: 

"Cohesion policy is the cement that holds the European Union together. It is the best way to towards a strong and caring Europe for all. And it is also the most genuine expression of European solidarity in all our countries."

Closing reflections were delivered by Kerstin Westphal MEP, and the conference proceedings were summarised by Sergei Stanishev, who also emphasised that this was not the conclusion of the debate in itself but rather the beginning of a major debate in which PES will play a leading role.

A second major PES conference, entitled 'A new economic model for Europe', is scheduled for 12 October 2017. There will also be further PES cohesion events in the years to come as priorities for 2020 spending are negotiated and agreed.

Full list of speakers in order of appearance:

  • Yonnec Polet, deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialists

  • Sergei Stanishev, Party of European Socialists president and former prime minister of Bulgaria
  • Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for regional policy
  • Karl-Heinz Lambertz, first vice-president, Committee of the Regions

  • Peter Pellegrini, deputy prime minister for investments and information society, Slovakia and deputy chairman of SMER – Social Democracy

  • Marjorie Jouen, advisor on regional and cohesion policy, Jacques Delors Institute
  • László Andor, former European Commissioner for employment, social affairs & inclusion

  • Isabelle Thomas MEP, S&D vice-president for budget and cohesion policy

  • Olga Zrihen, member of the Walloon parliament and vice-president, PES group in the Committee of the Regions

  • Eleftherios Antonopoulos, European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde

  • Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the European Commission for energy union

  • Jo Leinen MEP, chair of PES environment & climate change network

  • Montserrat Mir, confederal secretary, European Trade Union Confederation

  • Kata Tüttő, municipal councillor in Budapest, member of PES group in the Committee of the Regions

  • Kerstin Westphal MEP, member of the European Parliament committee on regional development and rapporteur on Building blocks for a post-2020 EU cohesion policy