This is the big one: covering over a third of the entire EU budget, cohesion policy is the one area where real money is being invested into EU regions, first and foremost benefitting the poorer ones. After months of debate and a five-hour voting session, the Regional Development Committee passed its cohesion policy package for 2014 to 2020. A modern, well-focused and result-oriented cohesion policy, which avoids things being built that nobody in Europe needs or wants and that in hindsight people realise should have been thought through before. This will not happen with our re-orientation. Environmental campaigners appreciate the Parliament's new focus for cohesion policy, targeting investments into clearly defined areas like energy efficiency. The Parliament raised the bar compared to the Council and Commission proposal, especially on low carbon investments, and that's very important because it ensures consistency. The exact amount of the cohesion policy budget is subject to ongoing negotiations but it could be up to a third of a trillion euros. Five funds - regional, agricultural, maritime and social among them - will share the spoils and Member States in crisis will be able to access them with significantly lower co-financing percentages than before. It's once in seven years that we have this revision of the framework. I'm glad. There were a lot of amendments but we made it, to make the compromises and to start today with the negotiations with the Council. EP negotiators hope to reach an agreement with the Member States by the year's end.
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