Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier took part in a debate of the Cohesion Ministers today via video conference and presented the priorities for EU cohesion policy that Germany has identified for its Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The debate focussed on how to use the current structural fund programmes in coping with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of May, the European Commission proposed to top up the current structural fund programmes by a total of 55 billion euros under the new REACT-EU initiative.

Minister Peter Altmaier said: “The EU Structural Funds are an important building block for the economic recovery after the crisis and a major pillar of European solidarity. They enable the rapid deployment of funds in the regions and sectors that are most affected by the crisis. I therefore welcome the European Commission's proposal to allow the use of the new recovery instrument for the EU Structural Funds also. This will make it possible to support small and medium-sized enterprises, strengthen the health sector and assist employees and the self-employed. I believe it is important to get out of crisis mode as quickly as possible and to channel long-term investments from the EU Structural Funds into important forward-looking issues such as the implementation of the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda.”

On 27 May 2020, the European Commission presented its proposal for a European recovery plan. The plan foresees that part of the additional funding (totalling 55 billion euros) be allocated to the current structural fund programmes, allowing funds to go directly to the most affected regions. The proposal (REACT) was discussed today by the Cohesion Ministers. Further negotiations on the proposal will take place during the German Presidency, which begins on 1 July 2020, and will be taken over by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.