New cohesion focus on regions affected by automotive transition
Just Transition Fund to finance re-skilling and alternative employment
Easier access to funding for SMEs
New cohesion policy should move from income-related criteria to focus on regions’ characteristics.
MEPs of the Regional Development Committee (REGI) approved with 30 votes against 1 and no abstention an own-initiative report on reshaping the EU structural funds to support regions affected by automotive, green and digital transitions.
Just transition in automotive-dependent regions
To avoid deeper disparities among EU regions and minimise negative impact on EU’s economic, social and territorial development, MEPs require the Commission to come with a proposal for a new Just Transition Fund beyond 2027. It should have additional resources to provide targeted support to regions highly dependent on sectors undergoing a deep transformation such as the automotive industry and its value chain, including motor batteries, electrical equipment, tyres, suppliers of raw materials and car use services. MEPs are convinced that decarbonisation of road transport and green transition must follow a well-planned strategy ensuring socially acceptable transition for the workers and companies especially in the less developed regions. They put emphasis on up-skilling, re-skilling and training programmes for workers within the entire value chain and alternative employment options while stressing the need for multilevel partnership and governance of the process.
Particular attention to SMEs
MEPs also stress the need to ease access of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps to European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The administrative process should be simplified and progress should be made by implementing ‘only once principle’, which means that citizens and businesses are only required to provide certain standard information to the authorities once and they should also be provided with targeted support to upgrade infrastructure and invest in research and development.
EU countries are required to provide equal access to electric mobility by making public investments into alternative fuel infrastructure, particularly in rural, island and remote regions not sufficiently covered by private providers. This is important due to already existing disparities between EU countries when it comes to the number of electric vehicles registrations and number of charging points.
Following the committee vote, the European Parliament rapporteur Susana Solís Pérez (Renew, ES) said: “We cannot set ambitious climate objectives such as the end of the combustion engine car by 2035 without giving the regions affected support via European funds. The text we have adopted sends a clear message: our automotive regions need and deserve the same support we have given to coal regions. This is why we demand the extension of the Just Transition Fund to give the EU’s automotive regions the assistance that they need to succeed in this transition.”
This own-initiative report will be voted on by the European Parliament at one of its upcoming plenary meetings.
The EU is among the world's biggest producers of motor vehicles. Automotive industry generates a turnover of over 7 % of EU GDP, while in certain regions it represents up to 25 % of the regional GDP. It accounts for more than 6% of European employment providing direct and indirect jobs to 13.8 million Europeans and being the largest private investor in research and development in the EU. Out of around 3000 companies in the automotive sector, 2500 are small and medium-sized enterprises.