The Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union (Mr David Jones): I attended the General Affairs Council on 25 April 2017. The meeting was held in Luxembourg and chaired by the Maltese Presidency.
The meeting was dedicated to cohesion policy and the agenda items included: Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation; Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens; and Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies.
A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2017/04/25/
Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation
The Presidency provided an update on the proposed revision of the Common Provisions Regulation, which sought to provide a higher level of EU cohesion funding in response to natural disasters. The Committee of Permanent Representatives had agreed a compromise and a discussion between the European Parliament, the Council and European Commission was scheduled for 3 May.
The Presidency also provided an update on the ‘Omnibus’ regulation proposed by the European Commission to simplify cohesion funding and announced that it would begin discussions with the European Parliament on this matter as soon as possible.
Council Conclusions on Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens
The Presidency reiterated its views on the benefits of cohesion policy but recognised that funding pressures continued and that a lack of awareness of the EU’s contributions towards cohesion policy remained. I intervened to welcome the improvements to cohesion funding during the current period but recognised that further innovation should be encouraged. I also recalled the Prime Minister’s commitment that the UK would seek a fair settlement of its rights and obligations during the negotiations on the UK’s departure from the EU.
Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies
The Presidency highlighted progress in developing macro-regional strategies.
Discussions on the conclusions were agreed.