The European Commission's proposal to concentrate a given percentage of Structural Fund support for the 2014-2020 programming period on certain areas looks likely to have a rough road ahead. After the member states expressed doubts at the General Affairs Council, on 16 December 2011 (see Europolitics 4329), MEPs voiced scepticism during a debate by the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) just before the year-end holidays, on 19 December.

The legislative proposals on the post-2013 Structural Funds entail the concentration of a large part of support under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) - at least 80% for developed and transition regions and at least 50% for less developed regions - on three key priorities: research, technological development and innovation; strengthening of the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses; and support for the shift to a low-carbon economy. On top of that, a minimum percentage of allocations would have to be dedicated to the European Social Fund: from 25% to 52%, depending on the region's level of development.

For Constanze Krehl (S&D, Germany), co-rapporteur with Lambert van Nistelrooij (EPP, Netherlands) on the Structural Funds general regulation, mandatory quotas imposed from the start "deprive regions of flexibility". Many of his fellow MEPs echoed his doubts and rejected the use of such quotas.

MEPs and member states do not reject greater thematic...

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