In the current international economic and financial context, the fault lines that jeopardise social cohesion no longer follow the boundary dividing eastern and western Europe, but cut a jagged path through the continent as a whole.
In order to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, European Union member States are encouraged to supplement the Union’s resources with funding from the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). One of the strategic objectives of the CEB’s 2014-2016 Development Plan is to work hand in hand with member States to help them make better use of European structural funds, starting with the European Social Fund. The European Social Fund allocates a minimum amount of investment to each European Union member State and specifies that the remainder is to be distributed according to regional rather than national needs: an approach that allows for differences in wealth levels, which may be considerable, within countries.
In light of the above, we believe it is time for the Parliamentary Assembly to ask a review of the CEB’s strategies, which have hitherto been focused on achieving goals oriented to specific geographical areas.
The CEB should instead adjust its intervention policy to favour specific areas of action over geography. With a view to the more effective integration of its funding with the financial instruments of the European Union, it should also promote the standardisation of the criteria used for the allocation of funds and set priorities with reference to the regional rather than the national boundaries of member States.
The Assembly should also suggest that the CEB will do all it can to enhance the transparency of its activities, including through the online publication of the value and destination of its investments.
Finally, governments need to advocate a change in the bylaws of the CEB that would enable it to implement policies of financial support and provide direct funding to public bodies and agencies without relying on the intermediation of private banks.