18 November 2021
Minister Mara Carfagna attended the EU General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting on Cohesion in Brussels today. During her speech, the Minister for Southern Italy and Territorial Cohesion recalled the main challenge ahead: "Making effective use of available resources, an essential prerequisite for generating growth and development, and reducing territorial, gender and generational gaps. The European Union as a whole will be stronger and more resilient only if no one and no region is left behind, and if we know how to strengthen the 'solidarity guarantee' that interconnects us all."
“In Italy," Minister Carfagna added, "this challenge is focused on Southern regions, with coherent choices made within our National Recovery and Resilience Plan: in order to reduce the gaps, we have earmarked 40% of the resources for Southern Italy, a far higher proportion than the percentage of its residents and GDP compared to the national total.”
One of the main items on the agenda of the GAC meeting was the integration between the actions programmed under Next Generation EU and those financed by Cohesion Policy, mainly through the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. "Growth and the reduction of gaps must proceed on the same track," Carfagna agreed. "And the missions indicated by the Treaty – innovation, digitalisation and green transition of the economy – must be complemented with our search for synergies on employment, inclusion, and education enhancement."
With regard to the work planned by the Italian Government for the next Structural Funds programming cycle, Minister Carfagna explained: "We have broken down our actions between metropolitan areas, medium-sized urban areas, and so-called “inner areas”. Within metropolitan areas, we will continue the national action launched in the 2014-2020 programming period to strengthen their capacity to respond to climate change, succeed in the transition to a circular economy, and combat socio-economic distress and housing deprivation, with special focus on suburbs and most marginal areas. In medium-sized urban areas we will promote economic recovery, enhancement of essential services for citizens, and the transition towards a circular economy. Furthermore, our action will continue in “inner areas” via an integrated approach drawing upon local development measures and strengthened key services (health, transport, education) in a national strategic framework. Within this approach, local communities’ leadership and active involvement of socio-economic partners and civil society will be essential.”
Minister Carfagna concluded her address by assuring her European colleagues that "Italy is doing its utmost to ensure that not a single euro will be lost or under-utilised. We are determined to turn the concurrence of the new cycle of Cohesion Policy and the National Resilience and Recovery Plan into our 'lifetime chance', an opportunity which we will not waste.”
She added: "We have laid the foundations for all local administrations to find in Italy’s central Government a facilitator of their investment initiatives. It is crucial that the Union plays the same role towards national governments. Too many times it appeared, and was portrayed, as a counterpart rather than a facilitator. With the pandemic, after initial uncertainties, we have discovered the power and essential role of a strong Union for a finally cohesive Europe".