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". Mr President, honourable Members, this is a very important report and, in my three minutes of comments, I would like to make five points. First of all, I fully share your assessment of the importance and successful outcome of the cohesion policy in curbing disparities through growth-enhancing investment, in contributing to Europe’s social, economic and territorial cohesion and in improving administration and public governance, particularly at sub-national level. The fourth cohesion report, which will be published at the end of May, will analyse the situation and economic, social and territorial cohesion trends in the Union, as well as the contribution to the Union’s cohesion of European cohesion policy, of national policies and of other Community policies. On this basis, the report will set out initial reflections on the future shape of European cohesion policy and hopefully, therefore, will also contribute to the overall review without prejudging options. The fifth cohesion report, due in 2010, will take account of the budgetary review and is likely to contain the Commission’s detailed proposal for cohesion-policy reform. Secondly, I fully share your views on the new challenges facing cohesion policy, both internally and as a result of global trends, in particular your views on the impact of demographic trends, climate change and increasing pressure from dynamic competitors. Let me also assure you that I find your question about the impact of possible future enlargements on the scope of cohesion policy legitimate. But let me also stress that it is precisely with the aim of addressing all these challenges that we have reformed and modernised the cohesion policy for 2007-2013. Thirdly, with regard to the impact of the possible accession of Croatia and the Western Balkans, let me first of all underline that the potential effect of Croatia’s accession is estimated to be rather small, with a decrease of 0.5% of GDP per head compared to that of the EU-27. The budgetary impact of Croatia’s possible accession will be assessed by the Commission at a later stage in the accession negotiations. In line with the approach to previous enlargements, the final decision on financial allocation lies with the European Council. Fourthly, as regards Turkey, I would like to stress that under the accession negotiating framework the negotiations are an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed beforehand. As Turkey’s accession could have substantial financial consequences, the financial aspects of the accession negotiations can only be concluded after the establishment of the financial framework for the post-2013 period, together with possible resulting financial reforms. Any arrangements should ensure that the financial burdens are fully shared among all Member States. However, we must realise that Turkey’s economy might differ greatly in the medium term from its present state. Fifthly, I agree with your proposals as regards the financial allocation, effectiveness and sound management of cohesion policy. I also consider that a sufficient financial allocation is a prerequisite for the policy’s success. The impact of cohesion policy goes far beyond its financing aspects and embraces governance, networking, best practice and growth-leverage. The cohesion policy reform has already focused on the policy’s increasing leverage effect by strengthening private-capital participation and by using innovative financial instruments. However, I agree that further work in this direction, aimed at further increasing the impact of cohesion policy on new growth cohesion and competitiveness, is necessary. We are also well aware of the importance of developing administrative capacity, implementing sound control and management systems and fighting corruption so as to ensure the effectiveness of cohesion policy. I will listen carefully to your debate on the report."@en1

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