Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-09-02-Speech-2-016"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it seems clear to me, as it does to the rapporteur and to the Commission, that we cannot approach cohesion policies and Structural Funds in an ideological way. What is needed is a very pragmatic approach, as taken by the rapporteur and, undoubtedly, by the Commissioner, too, in his work. The future of the European Union is firmly linked to the quality and future of cohesion policies. Only if we do not have a three-speed Europe, which is the risk we are running, will we genuinely be able to talk about a process of political integration. For this to happen, certain conditions have to be met: it is essential that we confirm our unequivocal rejection of any renationalisation of regional policies. As many colleagues have said, it is essential to make the 0.45% threshold a minimum threshold, in the sense that the European Union’s commitment in cohesion policies cannot fall below this percentage, and it is good that, given the decisions facing the European Union on the eve of enlargement, this is being established as a political principle and not merely as an arithmetic one. As other colleagues have said and as I would like to reiterate, we need to avoid some regions suddenly finding themselves classed as rich because of the impact on the statistics. Therefore, better phasing-out needs to be devised for Objective 1 regions, which will be excluded following enlargement, and, above all, the permanent geographical handicap of many regions needs to be taken into account. To this end, I believe that these permanent geographical handicaps and the need for a Community strategy which can overcome them need to be recognised in the next Constitutional Treaty. The declaration annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam on the structural disadvantages of islands has never been converted into specific measures. I would also like to urge the Commission to make greater endeavours to simplify the regional policy implementation rules and to ensure clearer distribution of responsibilities and competences between all those involved in cohesion policy. I would also like to call upon the Commission to continue with the endeavour that has been made thus far to lay down some priorities in cohesion policies. Consider how important it is today to invest in the quality of knowledge, in the quality of innovation, in technological research and immaterial infrastructure. We believe that the future of Europe should be viewed less in terms of concrete construction and much more in terms of the quality of knowledge we can offer. In Europe, Mr President, the wealthy regions are not in danger of becoming poor. Quite the opposite: there is the danger that some poor regions will remain as such in the long term. We want to avoid this."@en1

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