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The future cohesion policy should direct investments to sectors with high added value; the money should be spent in an efficient and effective manner; people should be able to receive them as per simpler rules: these are just a few of the key messages from today’s debate about the future of cohesion policy which EU ministers held at the General Affairs Council – Cohesion under the Bulgarian Presidency. The conclusions of the meeting, which Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev chaired, are a clear message to the Commission just a few days before it presents the draft of the next long-term budget of the EU, the MFF, and the accompanying legislative proposals.

„The debate on the cohesion policy post-2020 is an essential part of the general debate on the future of Europe. Establishing the link between the two is very important – we cannot decide how to allocate the money for cohesion without having defined our priorities, without having drawn a picture of the Europe that we want to have in ten years or, even more bravely, the Europe we want to build for our children and their children,“ Deputy Prime Minister Donchev said.

At today‘s meeting, ministers also agreed on a formal set of Council conclusions which outline Member States’ common vision about the future cohesion policy. These cover points like respect of the subsidiarity principle, simpler rules, better and flexible programming, a smooth transition between programming periods and an improved territorial approach. The full text of the Council conclusions is available here.

The debate on the future of cohesion policy falls within a series of debates on the future of Europe which the Bulgarian Presidency has organised so far. The main conclusions from the discussions on the future of agricultural, social and educational policy have already been handed in to the Commission to support its work on the proposal for the next MFF.  

To set the ground for today’s debate, the Bulgarian Presidency organised several debates dedicated to the future of the cohesion policy, which is one of the priority topics for the Presidency.

Once the Commission has put forward its proposals in May, the Bulgarian Presidency is organising a first exchange of views at a dedicated high-level conference on the future of cohesion policy, on 8 June in Sofia.  

Following today’s meeting, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev gave a press conference, in which EU Commissioner for Cohesion Corina Cretu also took part.

Pictures and videos from today’s meeting are available here.

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