Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson strongly criticised the outcome of the Regional Development Committee (REGI) vote on a new regulation on cohesion policy for the period 2014-2020.
“The result of this vote is that cohesion policy, which governs the use of structural and cohesion funds, will become subject to the Commission’s austerity policies.
“It is a shame that for the first time in the history of the EU, budgets dedicated to cohesion between its different regions are being cut substantially.
“The REGI committee vote concluded the initial stages of legislation in advance of negotiations between the EU institutions. One positive outcome of the Committee vote is the strong opposition within the European Parliament making it clear that it would not accept such macro-economic conditionality in structural and cohesion funding. Macroeconomic conditionality would make cohesion funding dependent on member states adherence to EU economic governance rules.
“Failure by government to abide the harsh and counterproductive austerity policies set by the European Commission could be punished by the withdrawal of cohesion funding. In the North of Ireland this would mean that we could be punished by the European Commission for decisions taken in London over which we have no control . Macro-economic conditionality would create insecurity and uncertainty in the structural funds allocated to member states which would be detrimental to strategic regional project planning.”