The European Parliament has called for projects that build cohesion among EU regions to remain at the heart of EU investment policies, despite pressures on the EU budget.

The “adverse effects of the economic and financial crisis”, especially for low-growth regions, have reduced the margins of budgetary policies, leading to public investment cuts, MEPs stressed in a resolution passed by 488 votes to 90 with 114 abstentions on March 13.

Besides EU priority funding, these regions need tailor-made strategies to close gaps and offer dynamic prospects to their populations, they add.

“This report follows up from an initiative which we took in 2015 with Commissioner Crețu in order to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the lagging regions and the difficulties that they had faced,  which had been also exacerbated by the recession,” said rapporteur, Michela Giuffrida (S&D, IT). “I think it is very important for us to remain aware of the vital role that is played by cohesion policy in enhancing competitiveness. These regions are very disadvantaged and helping them is a priority for the European Union.”

According to a report published by the European Commission in April 2017, there are 47 regions lagging behind in eight member states. These are defined as ”low-growth regions” with a GDP close to the EU average but low growth rates (in Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal) and ”low-income” regions with low GDP but with encouraging growth trends (in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland).