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Reimbursement of EU funding used for the preservation of monuments commemorating fascist regimes

Question écrite de M. Domènec RUIZ DEVESA - Commission européenne

Question de M. Domènec RUIZ DEVESA,

Diffusée le 13 février 2024

Subject: Reimbursement of EU funding used for the preservation of monuments commemorating fascist regimes

On 13 October 2023, taking into account the values of Article 2 of the Treaty, a written question was submitted to the Commission on the incompatibility of ERDF funding with a public space restoration project in Elche, which involves preserving the city’s Cruz a los Caídos (‘Cross to the Fallen’) and symbols of Francoism, despite these having been marked for removal in the original plan. The Commission replied that operations supported by European funds ‘shall comply with applicable EU and national law’, otherwise the beneficiary must reimburse the EU’s financial contribution to the relevant programme. The present case constitutes a breach of Spain's Democratic Memory Law. In response, the Mayor of Elche said that the restoration project would be carried out with the Council’s own funds.

In view of this:

1. What is the Commission’s position on the decision of Elche’s PP-Vox government not to comply with an applicable law, implying a waiver of European funds?

2. Does it consider that Elche City Council is respecting European values by prioritising the promotion of a symbol of a totalitarian regime over the principles of respect for democratic memory and applicable law in the EU?

Submitted:14.2.2024

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 14 mai 2024

Answer given by Ms Ferreira on behalf of the European Commission

(15 May 2024)

1. According to the rules governing cohesion policy, the management of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is shared between the Member States and the Commission. Project selection and monitoring falls under the responsibility of national authorities, in compliance with the EU and national legislation, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. In the case mentioned by the Honourable Member, the managing authority responsible for urban development strategies supported by the ERDF is the Spanish Ministry of Finance and the responsibility for project’s selection under these strategies lies with the responsible urban authorities. At the moment, according to the information provided to the Commission by the Spanish authorities, no decision has been taken as to whether the project will be supported by the ERDF. The decision will be taken by the date for the submission of the closure documents of the National ERDF Operational Programme for 2014- 2020, i.e. by 15 February 2026.

2. Member States have a general responsibility to respect the values enshrined in Article 2 of Treaty on the European Union and the Charter when implementing the Union budget. In addition, sectoral legislation may set further requirements for Member States to respect EU values. The Financial Regulation recast, entering into force in autumn introduces a reference to the respect of EU values and the Charter when Member States implement the Union budget. However, in a situation where Member States have not received EU funding for such projects, it is for them to ensure that fundamental rights are respected in accordance with their national and international human rights obligations.

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