The European Commission’s proposal for the post-2020 EU budget fails to realise the long-term vision and ambition required to shape Europe’s future, according to the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR).

The CPMR, which brings together some 160 Regions from 25 European Union member states and beyond, welcomed the Commission’s proposals to introduce new own resources, which are in line with its own proposals. It also notes that the budget is roughly at the same level as the current multiannual financial framework (MFF), despite the financial gap that will be left by Brexit.

“We note that the European Commission has proposed an EU budget at the same level as the current MFF, despite the financial impact of Brexit. Introducing new own resources will also enable the EU to go beyond the ‘juste retour’ approach,” said CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou. “However, the proposals are not ambitious enough to address both traditional and new EU priorities at an appropriate level.”

The CPMR is concerned by the absence of vision for Cohesion Policy in the proposals and the lack of mention of Cohesion policy being the investment policy for Europe.

It is worried that the European Social Fund (ESF) will be a standalone fund in the budget and will lose its territorial dimension, meaning that Cohesion policy will be unable to reinforce social, economic and territorial cohesion.

In addition, the CPMR is alarmed that the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is being reduced by 15%. It warned that this cut undermines the objectives of the European Commission for this fund, including delivering sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

It also noted that the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which supports transport investment, would be reduced to represent less than 2.5% of the EU Budget, despite the need for infrastructure to improve the accessibility of peripheral and maritime regions. As Cohesion policy has been severely reduced in the Commission’s proposal, it cannot be assumed that it will fill the gap in the CEF’s budget.

“The Commission’s EU budget proposals meet neither the expectations or the needs of the European Union,” said CPMR President Vasco Cordeiro. “The proposed budget cuts key policies for our regions, including Cohesion Policy and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, are very worrying and will only drive the EU further away from its citizens.”