Cohesion agreements, half of the funds for the Regions go to transport

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Local roads and bridges, railway lines and stations, new trains, cycle paths, airport terminals. Mobility and transport works absorb almost half of the resources of the National Development and Cohesion Fund – around 4.6 billion – shared with the first six Cohesion Agreements between the government and the Regions: at the moment Lombardy, Lazio have signed , Veneto, Piedmont, Liguria and Marche. We are over 45% and all the other thematic areas of the Fund, confirmed for the 2021-2027 programming after the 2014-2020 one, are largely on the margins: 9.9% for urban redevelopment followed by businesses, competitiveness, research (8, 7%), social and health (7.3%), environment (5.2%), education and training (4.2%), cultural heritage (1.9%), work and employability (0.6%) , administrative capacity (0.5%), energy (0.4%), digitalisation (0.3%).

To these chapters is added one which does not involve a specific sector or area, but concerns the co-financing of EU funds. This is the possibility for the Regions, most recently provided for by Legislative Decree 152 of 2021, to use the FSC instead of resources from the regional budget to co-finance the Pors (regional operational programmes). The regional resources can then be used for other interventions.

Over 860 million of the 4.6 billion covered by the six agreements are intended for co-financing of EU funds. In particular, Lombardy will use approximately 315 million of the 1.2 billion of the Agreement for this purpose, Lazio 205 out of 1.2 billion, Piedmont 170 million out of 865 million, Veneto 137.5 out of 607, Liguria 40 out of 265 It is a crucial point of the Agreements which, it must be clarified, are in reality a container of resources already allocated by Cipess and in some cases already assigned. In particular, in fact, over 650 million were already fully available to the Regions, as assigned as excerpt plans from the 2021-2027 programming by the Cipess with resolution 79 at the end of 2021 during the Draghi government. The other approximately 4 billion had instead been allocated by Cipess in favor of the six Regions affected thus far with Cipess resolution 25 of 3 August 2023 and now, after the signing of the Agreements, they will be formally assigned.

So far all the Agreements have been signed with presidents of centre-right councils. The Minister for European Affairs, the South, Cohesion and Pnrr Raffaele Fitto, who conceived the Agreements as more binding instruments on objectives and timetables compared to the previous Development and Cohesion Plans, must now conclude the most politically difficult phase, especially with regards to signed with Campania and Puglia, two of the regions that were most critical of the reorganization of the Development and Cohesion Fund carried out in September with the Southern decree. The Fund is turning decisively towards an increasingly oriented use of works and infrastructures and, also from this perspective, the government has also identified it as a reservoir to recover a series of road and transport projects registered to the Municipalities and cut from the Pnrr. Even maxi-works, such as the Bridge over the Strait of Messina, confirm an increasingly marked vocation. Over 700 million of the FSC belonging to the ministries will be withdrawn to finance the Bridge project, to which must be added the share borne by the regional FSC of Calabria and Sicily – 1.6 billion in total – which will be included in the respective Agreements for the cohesion. However, the Sicilian Region has already complained that its share expected by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport at 1.3 billion is higher than the billion for which availability had been provided. Not exactly a good starting point for a shared signature of the Agreement.

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