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Navracsics: Hungary EU presidency to focus on cohesion policy

Cohesion policy, including issues around demographics, will be one of the top priorities of the upcoming Hungarian EU presidency, Tibor Navracsics, the minister of public administration and regional development, told a conference on the subject on Tuesday.

Cohesion policy is instrumental for removing regional differences, promoting sustainable development and strengthening economic and social cohesion within the community, the minister said.

He said cohesion policy should be “fine-tuned” rather than undergo a radical reform after 2027, adding that the changes should be made voluntarily. He insisted that apart from the European Commission’s country-specific recommendations the proposals tendered by EU members, based on local needs, should also be given focus.

Cohesion policy should centre on reducing disparities in the level of development across the bloc, he said, adding that a well-functioning policy would ensure the smooth integration of future members, and he called for those countries to be invited to the talks on cohesion policy.

Navracsics suggested that per-capita GDP should be retained as the benchmark for shaping the overall cohesion policy and distributing community funding.

Oliver Ropke, the head of the European Economic and Social Committee, said it was crucial that the EU’s cohesion policy be given new momentum as it could reinforce Europeans’ confidence in the European project.

Promoting the EU requires reducing economic and social inequalities, which should be supported by cohesion policy, he said. Social groups in which employment is lower, such as women, young people, immigrants or people with poor schooling call for educational and retraining programmes, he said.

The EESC will continue to work with the EU’s rotating presidents and stay ready to share its recommendations, Roepke said.

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