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Navigating the Future: The Role of the Delegation of the Canary Islands in Brussels

Does your appointment open a new stage in the Delegation of Canary Islands in Brussels or will continuing work continue?

It is continuous. The Delegation was an office in its day when the autonomous communities were not allowed to be in Brussels as government delegations, that is why it was the office of Sofesa (current Proexca) in its day after Catalonia and the Basque Country. A subsequent ruling allowed the autonomous communities to have representation before the EU. The work is the same although the challenges are different, but always with the objective of defending the interests of the Canary Islands in Brussels, analyzing the situation and the files that are presented to us and the problems that we have to face. It is a permanent continuity in the defense of Canary Islands affairs in the EU because the teams and institutions change, but it is a matter of being there and demanding the adaptations that the Canary Islands need for whatever comes next.

What are the priorities on which the Delegation works?

There are currently a series of negotiations that directly affect us. There are issues of concern such as the migration and asylum pact, unaccompanied minors, the future of the cohesion policy that is under debate, the new fiscal rules, agricultural policy and the implementation of the package of measures related to Objective 55 – reduction of emissions by at least 55% that the EU has set for 2030 – that in a region like ours a very considerable effort will have to be made to be able to meet all the objectives set by the European Commission. We are also working on the strategy for the ORs (outermost regions) of 2022, with guidelines from the Commission that must also be met. There is already talk that the next Commission will have to approve a package of measures to reduce emissions by up to 80% by 2040, which has a direct impact on the Canary Islands, which depend on air and maritime traffic.

What repercussions could the next few years have on the Canary Islands and the ORs? elections European Unions and the consequent changes in the European Commission?

The result of the elections will mark the future objectives of the EU and we will have to work on a technical follow-up of everything that is presented to us. The Parliament and the Commission are going to change and sometimes in this scenario we have to start from scratch to explain again what the Canary Islands are and what an OR is. It is in these types of changes when we have to take a few steps back and then move forward, it has always been like this, but our work is the same.

«The Canary Islands have to defend their singularities against whatever comes, which is worrying»

There is concern about the level of execution of the funds Next Generation Is the Canary Islands at the same level as other regions? Are there possibilities of extension beyond 2026?

The MRR (Recovery and Resilience Mechanism) is until 2026, then it ends and will not be extended. In fact, the debate and reflection on the future EU budget 2028-2034 and the possibility of making some rules more flexible will now begin. What there is is a certain concern about the slowness of execution and that is why a certain flexibility is being offered to allow greater absorption. Along these lines, the Step regulation has been approved, which introduces new possibilities to help States use funds in projects that help improve competitiveness and advance the green and digital transition. Everything possible is being done so that the funds are closed before the end of 2026 because then they end and what we have to start paying is the debt incurred.

So it’s not just the Canary Islands that are slow to implement the MRR funds?

It is in general. The period ends in 2027 and then another begins in 2028. Now what is being debated is the future of cohesion policy and how it will look because there are detractors and defenders. The debate on the future EU budget is going to be interesting, but it will have its problems: there is a future accession of countries, the funds run out Next Generation, the interest incurred must be paid and all of this must be followed to see how this framework will turn out. In any case, the last word always belongs to the Member States.

«The Commission has opened reflection on the financial framework and now there are more challenges»

Do you see dark clouds in the future of cohesion policy?

I think it is still early, whenever reports are presented on cohesion it is said that it is going to disappear and it always stays. Some rules will change because not even the Commission knows, it is now being reflected on and in April the cohesion report will be released and it will be from there when it will begin to be finalized, now everything is up for debate.

When it happened brexit A cut in the European budget for the Canary Islands was feared, but in the end it did not happen. Could it happen next due to the challenges facing the EU?

The scenario is now more complicated, although it is difficult to predict what will happen to the financial framework. What has begun is an internal reflection in the Commission because there will probably be an accession of new countries, including Ukraine. An expansion that will be complicated by new growing demands for financing in energy, decarbonization, digitalization, research, defense and security that will be affected with the end of the MRR funds in 2026. The interest on the debt contracted by countries for the Next Generation starting in 2028, which have increased due to the current situation. The upcoming negotiations will be more challenging with the added pressure of enlargement, the debate will be around the size of the budget, its structure and the fiscal rules to meet the Union’s challenges. It will be a more complicated context than the previous one.

“There will be no extension of the ‘Next Generation’ funds, then the debt incurred must be paid”

Are the REF and the unique elements of the Canary Islands sufficiently understood and guaranteed by Brussels?

The European Commission has a well-defined framework and the aid for the Canary Islands is also defined. In fact, REF aid has always been renewed and the general framework has been made more flexible so that there are no problems in the most common ones. If there is something particular, it is negotiated, but Competition understands the REF well.

Do you agree when it is said that Brussels understands the REF better than Madrid?

I have always been in Brussels and I don’t know what Madrid says, but what I know is that in Brussels when you go with well-justified arguments when faced with a problem, the community institutions have always listened to us and have tried to find solutions. We have means to influence and defend our interests both in the preparation process and when the proposal comes out.

Do you think that the migration pact takes into account the migration crisis that the Canary Islands are experiencing and their Atlantic situation?

The Government of the Canary Islands insists in Brussels that the Atlantic migratory route be taken into account and not only that of the Mediterranean. The Commission is listening to us, it is true that the migration pact is very difficult, but what has been agreed so far does not make enough progress in addressing human rights and guaranteeing the right to asylum of people who flee or the issue of migration co-responsibility that all countries should assume. The concept of flexible solidarity has been introduced, but it does not guarantee the reception of all migrants, and it does not solve the problem of unaccompanied minors. There is now a two-year period for States to prepare. In the Canary Islands we are very attentive to find solutions that will take more or less, but they will have to arrive. It is the beginning of a path that has not ended and that still has a lot of regulations to be able to apply it and a lot of will from the States.

2024-03-09 20:31:38
#Cristina #Domínguez #Cohesion #policy #complicated #future #budget

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