In this afternoon’s plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee President Staffan Nilsson welcomed European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for regional policy, and Michel Delebarre, former President of the Committee of the Regions and currently President of its Committee on Territorial Cohesion Policy for a thematic debate on the Commission’s proposal on cohesion policy for 2014-2020, a policy area that represents no less than one third of the EU’s budget, or EUR 350 billion over seven years. The background to the debate was a cohesion policy package consisting of five opinions, setting out the Committee’s position on the European Commission’s October legislative proposal. President Nilsson noted that cohesion policy is one of the most visible aspects of the EU’s work and the results are there for all to see: the four cohesion funds have created an estimated 1.4 million new jobs, funded 47 000 km of motorway and provided wastewater treatment for 23 million people. There is no doubt that cohesion policy has a direct impact on citizens’ daily lives, yet still it is also one of the least talked-about policy areas. The EESC is keen to change that, bringing the debate and the implementation of the policies closer to citizens. “Citizens’ needs and interests must be at the heart of all Community policies, so it is essential to apply the partnership principle in the EU’s cohesion policy in a way that enables all stakeholders to play a full part,” he argued.