The German government wants to tie access to EU cohesion funds to certain rule-of-law requirements, reports BruxInfo.hu, a Hungarian blog that covers EU affairs. The blog cites a German government position paper reportedly released on May 11.
According to BruxInfo, Berlin’s position paper signals the start of the EU’s cohesion debate, which is the basis for the future decisions regarding the transfer of structural and cohesion funds to poorer, less developed EU Member States.
The blog says the paper calls for stricter criteria for the distribution of EU funds, and tying access to those funds to certain rule-of-law requirements, especially in allocating the funds to poorer EU Member States that have faced challenges integrating refugees and dealing with demographic problems.
Berlin is reportedly calling for the seven-year funding cycle to remain, and might be pushing for a system in which the funding is crafted to specifically fit the needs of individual Member States (which, according to BruxInfo, means that individual Member States might have to abide by different rules).
The document also addresses how certain Member States have had difficulty using up all the funds during a given cycle, and therefore argues that a country’s absorption rate of EU funds must be taken into consideration before money is allocated.
The Germans would bring co-financing back to pre-financial crisis levels, meaning national governments would have to reach deeper into their own pockets when using EU funds to co-fund their projects.
“The reasoning behind this is that Member States would take more ownership in politics and would be more responsible,” BruxInfo writes.
Berlin would also shorten the timeline for spending EU funds from n+3 to n+2, meaning national governments would have one less year to call down EU funds.
Another interesting element in the position paper is that the distribution of EU funds would be more closely tied to the requirement that country-specific recommendations generated under the European Semester are being delivered upon. In other words, this requirement would incentivize Member States to adopt recommendations and reforms stipulated under the European Semester.