PRESS RELEASE BY THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIAT FOR EUROPEAN FUNDS AND SOCIAL DIALOGUE: Malta says ‘no’ to new conditionalities on implementation of EU funds

The recommendation to impose new conditionalities on the implementation of EU funds was criticised by the Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia during the General Affairs Council (GAC) on Cohesion Policy this week.

In Luxembourg, the Parliamentary Secretary told European Ministers responsible for EU funds that Malta does not support this approach, as it will actually result in increasing the administrative burden in management of funds and stifle the present economic growth being registered amongst a number of member states.

The aim behind enabling conditions is to ensure that the right framework is in place at the national level to enable the effective implementation of funds�and certainly not to create increased obligations that may actually not be linked to the objectives of the funds, or that may result in increasing the administrative burden in the implementation of the funds, he said.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that member states should not risk moving further away from the treaties and main objectives of Cohesion Policy. Conditionalities have been with us even before EU membership, first by the implementation of the acquis communitaire, then the Maastricht and Copenhagen criteria, and later on by strengthening the Stability and Growth Pact with the Six Pack and the Two Pack, and lately with the Ex Ante and macroeconomic conditionalities.

The objective of the GAC meeting was to take stock of the state of play concerning the Legislative Package for Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 and to steer a policy debate on the future challenges in the programming of funds.

On the other hand, the Parliamentary Secretary explained that Malta is in favour of the speedy adoption of new funding regulations in order to ensure that implementation of future funding can start as early as possible, as delays would have a ripple effect which ultimately affect citizens.

On the issue of operational links between EU Cohesion Policy and the current European Semester, Parliamentary Secretary Farrugia said that there is scope to encourage further links between cohesion investments and other economic investments. His statement is based on his experience, and hindsight of the international financial crisis of 2008.

We are convinced that there is no one solution for all, and that member states face different situations and timelines that will require different and often tailored responses, he said.

He said that it should also be recalled that Cohesion Policy objectives go beyond the economic aspects or the implementation of reforms and that reducing disadvantages between different regions, especially where such disadvantages are a result of specific geographical characteristics or territorial specificities, must remain at the heart of the Policy.

Concerning the challenges that are envisaged for the 2021-2027 programming exercise in light of the 2019 country specific recommendations, he said that the main challenge is in the 2021-2027 programming exercise in light of the fact that the 2019 country-specific recommendations should ensure that what the Commission is recommending will actually match the needs on the ground.

As for the challenges that may occur during the mid-term review exercise in 2025, we consider it important that there will not be disruptions in the programming of the funds and we should avoid making the system too complex that will lead to excessive administrative burden, the Parliamentary Secretary said.

With regard to how economic governance and the convergence objective will be reconciled, he acknowledged that the link is necessary, but also that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Even here, tailored solutions are required to ensure effective convergence on the ground.

Source: Government of Malta