The real launch of the cohesion policy for 2007-2013 might be delayed, Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner told members of the EP Regional Development Committee, on 1 February in Brussels. The adoption of the national strategic reference frameworks could take longer than expected and will necessarily lead to delay on the operational programmes as well.
The national strategic frameworks determine the member states' investment priorities for the next seven years. According to the general Structural Funds regulations, they must be forwarded by the member states to the European Commission within five months of adoption of the Community Strategic Guidelines, ie no later than 5 March 2007 (since the guidelines were adopted by the Council of Ministers on 6 October 2006).
While a number of member states have already come out with the final version of their national strategic frameworks(1), Danuta Hubner has had to acknowledge that she is not ruling out that this may not be the case "before the summer or September" for others. She mentioned the United Kingdom, where the consultation procedure seems "very long". The commissioner also said she hoped the operational programmes would be "available by end 2007" but that some might not be ready before early 2008. Here, too, this suggests there may be a delay in the launch of programming, since the Structural Funds regulations establish that operational programmes must be submitted to the Commission no later than five months following adoption of the Community Strategic Guidelines, and subsequentlyadopted by the Commission withifour months.
DOCUMENTS IN PREPARATION
Some 450 operational programmes are set to be adopted for the 2007-2013 programming period. Once most of them have been approved, the Commission will come forward with a communication on how innovation has been taken into account in the programmes. …