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COTER: Outermost regions play a key role in sustainable growth and social integrationhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/COTER-Outermost-regions-sustainable-growth-social-integration.aspx2018-04-12T22:00:00ZCOTER: Outermost regions play a key role in sustainable growth and social integration<p style="text-align:justify;">​The COTER commission of the Euroepan Committee of the Regions met on 13 April in Tenerife (Canary Islands) to evaluate the development strategy of the outermost regions (ORs) of the European Union in the post-2020 perspective.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The ORs face many challenges, such as remoteness, climate change, natural hazards, etc. and the aim of this seminar was to lay the foundations for a paradigm shift: to get rid of economic dependence, develop sustainable activities and to enhance the circular economy.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Several island projects in the field of renewable energies, blue economy and the valorization of biodiversity have shown that it is possible to transform constraints into assets within these territories and have led the ORs to demonstrate to Europe that they can contribute to sustainable growth and social integration. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Nanette Maupertuis, CoR rapporteur on entrepreneurship and territorial cohesion on islands, moderated the session on blue growth and innovation (marine resources, fisheries, renewable energies) during which the participants stressed the need to develop cooperation by major sea basins and advocated for the involvement of ORs in H2020 projects.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The EA delegation was represented by Ms Nanette Maupertuis (EA COTER coordinator), Mr Stanisław Szwabski and Mr Kieran McCarthy.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
ENVE adopts Cllr Andrew Cooper's opinion on climate governance after 2020http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/ENVE-Andrew-Cooper-opinion-climate-governance-2020.aspx2018-04-11T22:00:00ZENVE adopts Cllr Andrew Cooper's opinion on climate governance after 2020<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 12 April, the ENVE commission adopted the opinion of Cllr Andrew Cooper on climate governance post 2020, which will represent the CoR's contribution to the UNFCCC COP 24 in Katowice, Poland, next December.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The opinion highlights the need for systematic involvement of sub-national levels of governance and calls for a participatory method during the process of defining and revising the Nationally Determined contributions (NDCs). ENVE voted for NDCs to include an aggregation of regionally and locally determined contributions in order to recognise the role of subnational authorities in the achievement of Paris Agreement goals.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Those carbon savings identified by national governments fall well short of what we need to achieve the Paris Climate Goals and we have to see what role we, as local governments, can play", said Cllr. Cooper in his speech, adding that "we are not seeking new system of bureaucracy but to build and strengthen reporting methodologies that already exist."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The opinion also calls for a continuation of the Talanoa Dialogue, the newly established bottom-up process that encourages input from different range of non-state actors. The final vote of Cllr Cooper's opinion is scheduled for CoR's 4-5 July Plenary Session.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the same meeting, ENVE adopted the opinions on the revision of the Directive on the quality of water for human consumption and on rules for internal market in natural gas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
CIVEX: Mairi Gougeon calls for better communication on the importance of Europe in citizens' liveshttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/CIVEX-Gougeon-better-communication-importance-Europe-citizens-lives.aspx2018-04-10T22:00:00ZCIVEX: Mairi Gougeon calls for better communication on the importance of Europe in citizens' lives<p style="text-align:justify;">​During the 18th meeting of the CIVEX commission, which took place in Brussels on 11 April 2018, members adopted opinions on the European Commission's Action Plan to support the protection of public spaces and on the contribution of local and regional authorities to Eastern Partnership deliverables for 2020.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In addition, as part of the "Reflecting on Europe" process, CIVEX members held a debate with Ms Valérie Gomez-Bassac, member of the French National Assembly's Commission for European Affairs and rapporteur for the Information Report on the democratic conventions for re-building Europe, recently launched by French President Emmanuel Macron. During the debate, member of the Scottish Parliament Ms Mairi Angela Gougeon argued that BREXIT has made people in the UK reflect on and evaluate the importance of Europe in their lives and regretted that it had not been communicated more and better in the past.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
Maupertuis: the future EU budget should continue promoting solidarity and balanced development across all regionshttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Maupertuis-future-EU-budget-should-continue-promoting-solidarity-and-balanced-development-across-all-regions.aspx2018-03-22T23:00:00ZMaupertuis: the future EU budget should continue promoting solidarity and balanced development across all regions<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 23 March CoR members debated in the Plenary Session on the future budget of the EU post 2020 in the presence of Jan Olbricht MEP.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Marie Antoinette Maupertuis, EA Group political coordinator in the COTER commission and member of the executive Council of Corsica regional authority said that "while we understand new means will have to be found to finance new priorities, we cannot expect the EU to improve its perception towards the citizens and at the same time undermining the policies that are mostly visible to them such as cohesion policy and common agricultural policy". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">We call for the future cohesion policy to cover all regions and to place greater attention on peripheral areas such as islands that in order to reap benefit of the single market, need better accessibility, connectivity, transport and digital infrastructure. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">We would like the future EU budget to continue promoting solidarity and balanced development across all EU regions" she concluded.<br></p>
Wróbel to Hahn: local authorities must become active partners in developing Eastern Partnership's strategyhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Wróbel-to-Hahn-local-authorities-must-become-active-partners-in-developing-Eastern-Partnership's-strategy.aspx2018-03-21T23:00:00ZWróbel to Hahn: local authorities must become active partners in developing Eastern Partnership's strategy<p style="text-align:justify;">​During a debate with the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, held on 22 March, EA group's CIVEX coordinator and mayor of Opole Lubelskie, Mr Dariusz Wróbel stressed that in order for the Eastern Partnership's policy to bring the greatest benefits to citizens, local authorities must become active partners in developing the Partnership's strategy.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Wróbel reminded that Poland, along with Sweden was the main initiator of the Eastern Partnership and has provided strong and continuous support for the initiative, particularly in the field of development cooperation. However, he also added that it is necessary to increase the interest of other EU member states for the eastern neighbourhood.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Finally, Mr Wróbel repeated that the Eastern Partnership requires solidarity and cooperation in the broadest sense and that it is necessary to exchange experiences especially on issues related to decentralization, democratization and increasing direct citizen participation in achieving the Partnership's objectives.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
EA members outline local efforts in migrant integration to Commissioner Avramopoulos http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/EA-members-outline-local-efforts-in-migrant-integration-to-Commissioner-Avramopoulos-.aspx2018-03-21T23:00:00ZEA members outline local efforts in migrant integration to Commissioner Avramopoulos <p style="text-align:justify;">​On 22 March, members of the European Committee of the Regions held a debate on the integration of migrants and social cohesion with Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the debate, several EA group members took the floor, shared their local good practices and outlined the main challenges they are facing in their communities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">EA group president, Mr Karl Vanlouwe stressed that successful integration of migrants must be based on three pillars as is already the case in Flanders: language acquisition, assistance in the acceptance of host society's norms and values and career orientation to enable the newcomers to access the job market as quickly as possible. Member of the Scottish Parliament Ms Mairi Gougeon presented the "New Scots" integration strategy which coordinates efforts across all sectors to support refugees and asylum seekers in their integration from day one while delegate of the Government of Navarre, Mr Mikel Irujo Amezaga proposed to replicate some of the financial instruments available to local and regional authorities in innovation policy in the field of integration of migrants and social cohesion. Finally, Mr Kieran McCarthy of the Cork City Council highlighted the Action Plan of the Urban Agenda Partnership on Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees and shared some of the concerns expressed in the document, such as problems in acquiring funds from the national government to address the integration issues, different political priorities across member states and regions, insufficient alignment of EU funds to the needs of local authorities needs as well as the need for better synergies and better brokering links.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
Stenson: The LRAs and citizens must be consulted prior to any forest development decisionhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Stenson-The-LRAs-and-citizens-must-be-consulted-prior-to-any-forest-development-decision.aspx2018-03-08T23:00:00ZStenson: The LRAs and citizens must be consulted prior to any forest development decision<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 9 March 2018 the Members of NAT commission discussed and adopted the opinion on the EU Forest Strategy. Forests cover 43% of the land area of the EU's Member States. On 20 September 2013 the Commission adopted a new EU Forest Strategy which responds to the new challenges facing forests and the forest sector. Local and regional authorities are not only important stakeholders in forestry-related matters, but also genuine interested parties in the same way that forest owners are.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Leitrim County Councilor and <span><span>EA Coordinator for NAT commission </span></span>Enda Stenson called for local and regional authorities and those living in regions to be consulted in matters concerning the use and protection of forests. Stenson said that "there is a need for balanced and sustainable land management concerning forests." "The use of socially sustainable forests requires long-term spatial planning. In matters concerning the use and protection of forests, local and regional authorities and those living in regions must be consulted." - he added.</p>
The Committee of the Regions can play a positive role in cooperation with the local government in Ukraine http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/The-Committee-of-the-Regions-can-play-a-positive-role-in-cooperation-with-the-local-government-in-Ukraine-.aspx2018-03-07T23:00:00ZThe Committee of the Regions can play a positive role in cooperation with the local government in Ukraine <p style="text-align:justify;">​In early 2015 the European Committee of the Regions decided to set up a task force with local authorities from Ukraine with an idea to exchange best practices on decentralisation and discuss other relevant topics, such as territorial cooperation and regional policy. Since the beginning of this project, First Vice President of the European Alliance group and member of the Gdynia City Council Stanisław Szwabski has played an important role in contributing to its work in particular in the areas of decentralisation, local government reform and capacity building.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">An important next step in the cooperation with Ukrainian local authorities is the development of peer to peer initiative where cities and regions from the European Union can give valuable advice to their counterparts in Ukraine on a number of specific topics, with current focus being on public service training, education and local economic development to name but a few.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The CoR Task Force on Ukraine met in Brussels on 8 March and is scheduled to have its next meeting in Ukraine in September.<br></p>
COTER: Kieran McCarthy presents report on the EU Urban Agendahttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/COTER-Kieran-McCarthy-presents-report-on-the-EU-Urban-Agenda.aspx2018-02-26T23:00:00ZCOTER: Kieran McCarthy presents report on the EU Urban Agenda<p style="text-align:justify;">​During the meeting of the COTER commission on 27 February members discussed the scenarios outlined in a recent communication of the Commission on the future financial framework and the possible implications for Cohesion Policy. Members reiterated their support for a strong cohesion policy for all regions, including the European Social Fund and rejected any attempt of centralisation. Two opinions on the cost of non-cohesion and the future of ESF were approved by overwhelming majority.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">COTER members also held a first discussion on the implementation assessment report on the EU Urban Agenda for which, Kieran McCarthy, EA member and Cork city councillor is rapporteur. The CoR advocate a greater role for cities in the EU institutional framework in view of the recognition of their ever growing role and influence. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr McCarthy emphasised the importance of empowering cities of all sizes, in particular, second cities, in order for them to contribute in a meaningful way to the EU Urban Agenda and EU policy making process. The opinion will be discussed and voted upon at the next meeting in April.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
Mikel Irujo's opinion on strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth adopted by unanimity at the SEDEC commissionhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Mikel-Irujo's-opinion-on-strategies-for-resilient,-inclusive-and-sustainable-growth-adopted-by-unanimity-at-the-SEDEC-commi.aspx2018-02-20T23:00:00ZMikel Irujo's opinion on strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth adopted by unanimity at the SEDEC commission<p style="text-align:justify;">​At the 17th meeting of the CoR's Commission for social policy, education, employment, research and culture (SEDEC), held in Brussels on 21 February, members unanimously adopted the opinion "Strengthening Innovation in Europe's Regions: Strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth" drafted by EA member Mikel Irujo Amezaga, representative of the government of Navarre to the EU.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the opinion, Mr Irujo argues that interregional cooperation based on smart specialisation strategies will help to build and reshape the EU value chains by promoting the synergy of investments between the private and public sectors, thus contributing to the development of the EU economy as a whole, and outlines a number of proposals in this regard. The report follows his previous opinion "Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3): impact for regions and inter-regional cooperation" which was adopted by the CoR plenary in March 2017. Mr Irujo's opinion is scheduled to be adopted by the CoR plenary session in May this year.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Other topics discussed during the meeting include the modalities to strengthen the European identity through education and culture, boosting broadband connectivity in Europe and using cultural heritage as a strategic resource for more cohesive and sustainable regions in the EU.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
Szwabski and Silberg discuss Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in Gizahttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Szwabski-and-Silberg-discuss-Euro-Mediterranean-cooperation-in-Giza.aspx2018-02-20T23:00:00ZSzwabski and Silberg discuss Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in Giza<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 20 and 21 February, Egypt hosted the 9th annual meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), body composed of representatives of local and regional authorities from all sides of the Mediterranean basin which complements the work of the Union for the Mediterranean.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Among other topics, members discussed the role of local and regional authorities in manging migration as well as women's empowerment in the Mediterranean region. It was also agreed that the priority topics for next year's meeting will be youth entrepreneurship and transparency in governance. The host, Governor of Giza Mr Mohamed Kamal El Daly also showed delegates a renewable-energy project in the city of Cairo financed by EU funds.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The meeting saw participation by over 40 representatives of local and regional authorities from the EU, Western Balkans, North Africa and East Mediterranean and the EA group was represented by Mr Stanisław Szwabski from the Gdynia City Council (Poland) and mr Uno Silberg, from the Kose Rural Municipality Council (Estonia).</p><p style="text-align:justify;"></p>
McCarthy calls on the Bulgarian Presidency to set the right climate for the MFF negotiations and focus on digital economyhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/McCarthy-calls-on-the-Bulgarian-Presidency-to-set-the-right-climate-for-the-MFF-negotiations-and-focus-on-digital-economy.aspx2018-01-31T23:00:00ZMcCarthy calls on the Bulgarian Presidency to set the right climate for the MFF negotiations and focus on digital economy<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 1 February, members of the European Committee of the Regions held a debate on the priorities of the Bulgarian presidency of the EU Council with Mr Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the debate, Mr Donchev outlined the presidency's main ambitions in the next 6 months and particularly stressed the need for more solidarity and cohesion within the EU, as well as the simplification of rules and procedures.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Member of the Cork City Council Kieran McCarthy urged the Bulgarian presidency to create the right environment for the start of negotiations on the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), due to start by the end of the presidency's mandate, and ensure that the future of EU's cohesion policy is not put in question as a consequence of the budgetary cuts imposed by Brexit. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">As a CoR rapporteur on the European Digital Economy, Mr McCarthy also called on the Bulgarian authorities to dedicate special attention to the "digital cohesion" within the EU, in particular to insist on securing funds for providing high-speed broadband coverage and meeting other infrastructural requirements for a successful development of digital economy in the EU.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Finally, looking forward to the European Year of Cultural Heritage, Mr McCarthy expressed satisfaction that a country like Bulgaria, whose people look after their cultural identity and heritage, will chair the European Council for the first half of this important event.  <br></p>
Stanisław Szwabski calls for the future EU budget to be at least as ambitious as the current onehttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Stanisław-Szwabski-calls-for-the-future-EU-budget-to-be-at-least-as-ambitious-as-the-current-one.aspx2018-01-30T23:00:00ZStanisław Szwabski calls for the future EU budget to be at least as ambitious as the current one<div style="text-align:justify;">During the 127th plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, members held a debate with the Portuguese Prime Minister Mr António Costa on the future of Europe. The EA group was represented by its 1st vice president ad Gdynia City Councilor Mr Stanisław Szwabski who highlighted the importance of the European Investment Plan (EIP) for growth and development and stressed that the EIP has triggered €225 billion worth of investment and granted loans to 450,000 small firms and more than 270 infrastructure projects so far.<br><br></div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Szwabski said that "Brexit cannot and should not define our engagement in the Future of Europe debate. That said, there is no getting away from the fact that an EU without the UK will have an effect on the political dynamics within the EU and its budget. But we should ensure that the EU budget is at least as ambitious as in this period. Local and regional authorities have important powers and competences in policy areas such as research and innovation, education and skills, export support, infrastructure, SMEs and regulation and they must be involved in decisions on strategic areas where it is important to screen foreign direct investment."<br><br></div><div style="text-align:justify;">He added that, in order to preserve social harmony, "endogenous growth must be possible everywhere so that all regions – including rural areas – can participate in value creation and have the opportunity to create and retain skilled local jobs" and supported the strategic objective of industry making up 20% of GDP as of 2020.<br><br></div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Szwabski also called for more attention to be put on students and pupils who don't have the right attitudes "to face volatile job markets and fast changing societies" as recently remarked by EU education commissioner Tibor Navracsics. "Our educational systems are not adapted to the new reality and children should have at least one entrepreneurial experience before they leave compulsory education," Mr Szwabski stressed.<br><br></div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Kieran McCarthy from the Cork City Council also took part in the debate, stressing in particular the uneven recovery from the crisis across the EU. "The deepening of the economic and monetary union is a key source of worry for EU citizens. All citizens have made sacrifices in their weekly budget. All local and regional authorities have been affected and have suffered cuts. As we emerge into a new space of economic recovery, it is clear that the recovery is spread unevenly. Most noticeably, there is a concentration of recovery in the capital cities with large scale de-population of rural areas as a result. The recovery needs to be spread evenly and should be for everyone", concluded Mr McCarthy. </div>
European Alliance president Karl Vanlouwe calls on the European Commission to act on Cataloniahttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/European-Alliance-president-Karl-Vanlouwe-calls-on-the-European-Commission-to-act-on-Catalonia.aspx2018-01-30T23:00:00ZEuropean Alliance president Karl Vanlouwe calls on the European Commission to act on Catalonia<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 31 January, members of the European Committee of the Regions held a debate with Mr Frans Timmermans, 1st Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, Rule of Law and Charter of Fundamental Rights. During the debate, president of the European Alliance group and member of the Flemish Parliament Karl Vanlouwe severely criticised the attitude of the European Commission towards Catalonia.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Vanlouwe stressed that a democratic call for more autonomy made by Catalan people should not be beaten down in an undemocratic way and added that the situation in Catalonia exposes the hypocrisy of the EU which regularly addresses reprimands to different countries about the rule of law and fundamental rights but remains silent when the same rights and freedoms are violated in one of its own member states.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Vanlouwe further asked Mr Timmermans about his opinion on arrest warrants issued against elected representatives who are being persecuted for their political opinions and added that "we are living in the year 2018 and still one of [EU's] member states has political prisoners behind bars."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The point was reinforced by Ms Mairi Gougeon, Member of the Scottish Parliament who added that "democracy does not mean living in fear of violence" and that violent suppression of one's political opinion is not the future of Europe.<br></p>
EA group members visit Flemish Parliament in Brusselshttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/EA-group-members-visit-Flemish-Parliament-in-Brussels.aspx2018-01-29T23:00:00ZEA group members visit Flemish Parliament in Brussels<p style="text-align:justify;">​On Tuesday 30 January, members of the EA group attending the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions paid a visit to the Flemish Parliament upon invitation by EA group president Mr Karl Vanlouwe.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The members had an opportunity to find out more about the role and competences of the Flemish parliament, its place in the Belgian federal system, as well as the priorities of the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), the biggest party in the parliament and the single biggest party in Flanders and Belgium. After the presentation, Mr Vanlouwe and other EA group members from Flanders led the members on a tour of the Parliament's buildings.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">EA group members very delighted by the opportunity to visit this important institution and largely commented that the visit allowed them to see the political system in Flanders in a completely new light.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In addition to Mr Vanlouwe, EA group members and alternates from Flanders are Mr Andries Gryffroy, Mr Marc Hendrickx, Mr Wilfried Vandaele, Mr Jan Van Esbroeck and Mr Karim Van Overmeire, all members of the Flemish Parliament.<br></p>
"Scotland must remain in at least the Single Market and Customs Union"http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Scotland-must-remain-in-at-least-the-Single-Market-and-Customs-Union.aspx2018-01-22T23:00:00Z"Scotland must remain in at least the Single Market and Customs Union"<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 23 January, European Alliance group organised a lunchtime briefing on the consequences of BREXIT for Scotland, with a focus on the areas of employment and investment. The briefing was given by Ms Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs in the Scottish Government.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">On 15 January, Scotland's Prime Minster Nicola Sturgeon presented Scottish Government's report analysing consequences of different Brexit scenarios which forecasts that Scotland’s economy may lose up to £16bn (€18bn) a year as a result of the UK leaving the EU. Ms Hyslop presented the report and offered first-hand information on how Scottish Government sees the Brexit process and what measures it is considering in order to mitigate its negative implications for the country's economy.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is clear from the Scottish government's perspective that a Brexit which results in the UK being outside the European Single Market and Customs Union will have the most damaging consequences for Scotland. The Government believes that Scotland’s future is best served by continued EU membership, in line with the wishes of the Scottish people as expressed in the referendum in 2016. However, if Brexit proves to be inevitable, Ms Hyslop argued that Scotland's interests are best protected by the UK remaining inside the European Single Market and Customs Union and maintaining the freedom of movement within the EU.<br></p>
Truskolaski stresses diversification and innovation of EU enterprises and the role of SMEs in the EU Strategy for Industryhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Truskolaski-stresses-diversification-and-innovation-of-EU-enterprises-and-the-role-of-SMEs-in-the-European-Strategy-for-Ind.aspx2018-01-22T23:00:00ZTruskolaski stresses diversification and innovation of EU enterprises and the role of SMEs in the EU Strategy for Industry<p style="text-align:justify;">​During the ECON committee meeting on 23 January Mr Tadeusz Truskolaski, EA Coordinator for this Commission and Mayor of Białystok responded to the debate on the European Strategy for Industry. "Local and Regional Authorities have important powers and competences in policy areas such as research and innovation, education and skills, export support, infrastructure, SMEs and regulation and they must get involved in deciding on strategic areas where it is important to screen foreign direct investment", stressed Mr Truskolaski and asked for a particular emphasis to be given to diversification and innovation of EU enterprises underlying the role of SMEs in the European Strategy for Industry.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"There is a need to limit access of social dumping to EU market. A good solution would be also to apply certain import limits. Innovation in different mechanisms, start-ups, scale-ups, SMEs and other are highly recommended to protect our industry" added Mr Truskolaski. <br></p>
Enda Stenson emphasises the need to focus on prevention in European Commission's health strategyhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Enda-Stenson-emphasises-the-need-to-focus-on-prevention-in-European-Commission's-health-strategy.aspx2018-01-21T23:00:00ZEnda Stenson emphasises the need to focus on prevention in European Commission's health strategy<div style="text-align:justify;"> During the NAT commission meeting on 22 January Mr Enda Stenson, EA Coordinator for NAT commission and member of the Leitrim County Council participated in a debate with European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis on the state of health in the EU. He presented the Irish centralised health and social system which, in his words, is "unsustainable in the long run, as attested by the previous recommendations from the European Semester process, the 2016 Euro Health Consumer Index and our own parliamentary committee".</div><div style="text-align:justify;"><br></div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Stenson welcomed the focus on prevention and said that excellent initiatives such as the 5km 'park run' should be supported. He also highlighted the Operation Transformation programme which managed to mobilise efforts of the whole community, including schools, businesses and citizens of all ages.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"><br></div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Stenson also said that he would like to see more action on the dangers of over-consumption of alcohol and smoking. Finally, he added, "As our demographics change we also need to change the system which serves our citizens, bringing care closer to citizens, strengthening primary care, putting people firmly in the driving seat of their own healthcare management and making sure that they actively take part in all care and cure decisions. Empowered, supported and informed patients – these are in my view the key elements to make any healthcare system effective and resilient."<br></div>
BREXIT worries highlighted by European Alliance group membershttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/BREXIT-worries-highlighted-by-European-Alliance-group-members.aspx2017-11-30T23:00:00ZBREXIT worries highlighted by European Alliance group members<p style="text-align:justify;">​During the European Committee of the Regions' 126th Plenary session members held an emotive debate on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union and shared some of the main concerns over the impact it will have on their regions and citizens. Guests speakers included Brian Hayes MEP who outlined the priority of an agreement on Irish border issues.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Cllr Enda Stenson, member of Leitrim County Council reminded everyone of the devastating effect a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland had in the past and said that we cannot return to those days. He urged that a solution be found that would suit those living on the whole island of Ireland.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The European Alliance Group President Karl Vanlouwe highlighted the impact on Flanders, in particular the very high level of trade it has with the UK. Cllr Andrew Cooper said the British people were conned by the Brexiters and much of their campaign, including claims of the alleged financial benefits of Brexit for the NHS, has now been shown as false.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mairi Gougeon, Member of the Scottish Parliament focused on the need to protect citizens' rights post BREXIT while Cllr Kieran McCarthy from the Cork City Council outlined the need for continued cooperation projects in particular around the Atlantic Area.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Finally, East Renfrewshire Councilor Tony Buchanan outlined a worrying perspective of Brexit's impact on local services in Scotland and also reinforced the need for continued cooperation.<br></p>
The European Union cannot stay silent on Catalonia, say Karl Vanlouwe and Mairi Gougeon http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/The-European-Union-cannot-stay-silent-on-Catalonia-says-Karl-Vanlouwe,-European-Alliance-Group-President-.aspx2017-11-30T23:00:00ZThe European Union cannot stay silent on Catalonia, say Karl Vanlouwe and Mairi Gougeon <p style="text-align:justify;">​During the 126th Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, EA Group members called on the European institutions to take stance and not ignore recent developments in Catalonia.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">At the margins of a debate with the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici, Karl Vanlouwe, EA Group President and member of the Flemish Parliament said that the “EU cannot stay silent when there are political prisoners in Europe. As a democrat I cannot ignore Catalonia, it is my duty to talk about the elephant in the room and call for the release of the 10 political prisoners in Spain."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Another EA group member and Member of the Scottish Parliament, Mairi Gougeon criticized the decision not to hold a debate on the issue. “There is no bigger issue in the regions in Europe right now than Catalonia and I find it shocking that we do not discuss this and that we seem to be ignoring a large group of citizens”.<br></p>
Enda Stenson’s opinion on Smart Villages adopted by the CoR Plenaryhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Enda-Stenson’s-opinion-on-Smart-Villages-adopted-by-the-CoR-Plenary.aspx2017-11-30T23:00:00ZEnda Stenson’s opinion on Smart Villages adopted by the CoR Plenary<p style="text-align:justify;">​During the November 2017 Plenary Session members of the European Committee of the Regions adopted the opinion on the revitalisation of rural areas through Smart Villages, drafted by EA member and member of the Leitrim County Council Cllr Enda Stenson.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the opinion, Cllr Stenson proposes expanding the notion of Smart Villages to that of Smart Rural Areas and incorporating the initiative into the European Rural Agenda, so as to also encourage and develop synergies between neighbouring small villages within Smart Rural Areas. He also calls the stakeholders to start the preparatory work as soon as possible to put a sustainable and effective programme for Smart Villages in place for the next funding period.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“With this opinion we welcome the European Commission’s initiative on EU Action for Smart Villages which recognises the need for targeted actions to support the revival of rural areas as sustainable places in which to live and work. Enhancing rural prosperity and the viability of rural areas are among the most urgent tasks, since a more balanced territorial development is the basis for achieving greater socio-economic and environmental sustainability,” said Mr Stenson.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He also added: “However I should say that we regret the lack of ambition outlined in the paper, which represents a compilation of pre-existing initiatives. In this text we call for greater ambition and the development of a targeted and forward-looking policy on Smart Villages with a view to the post 2020 period, which builds on the need to consolidate the full range of place-based EU smart instruments.” “As the rapporteur, I would like to draw attention to the importance of close coordination at all levels of governance, with due respect for the principle of subsidiarity in order to define “bottom up” and “place based” solutions. The rural proofing should be integrated into the policy and training to be provided to target groups such as farmers”, Mr Stenson concluded.<br></p>
Tadeusz Truskolaski calls Commissioner Vestager to provide greater support for start-ups and scale-upshttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Tadeusz-Truskolaski-calls-the-European-Commission-to-provide-greater-support-for-start-ups-and-scale-ups.aspx2017-11-30T23:00:00ZTadeusz Truskolaski calls Commissioner Vestager to provide greater support for start-ups and scale-ups<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 1 December 2017, members of the European Committee of the Regions held a debate with European Commissioner for Competition, Ms Margrethe Vestager. During the debate, Mr Tadeusz Truskolaski, Mayor of Białystok particularly emphasised the promotion of small- and medium-sized enterprises and their importance the European economy and regional development.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The topic of competitiveness is of paramount importance for the EU. We all have an interest in the success of European businesses. Ultimately, this success will translate into higher quality of life and the well-being of all citizens. However, these economic achievements will not be possible without our efforts to include start-ups and scale-ups," Truskolaski noted.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Referring to his opinion, adopted by the European Committee of the Regions' July plenary session, Mr Truskolaski stressed that, from the local and regional perspective, support for start-ups and scale-ups is an important factor in increasing the number of jobs in the regions. "Working with partners from European, national, regional and local public authorities is of great importance if we want to create conditions for start-ups to scale-ups to work properly," he added, noting that "financial and legal differences in Member States represent a serious barrier to the development of innovative businesses.”</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Truskolaski also highlighted the benefits of creating a European venture capital fund, enquiring whether the Commission would envisage creating its regional offices.<br></p>
EA Group President calls for greater involvement of Regional Governments in the European Semesterhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/EA-Group-President-calls-for-greater-involvement-of-Regional-Governments-in-the-European-Semester.aspx2017-11-29T23:00:00ZEA Group President calls for greater involvement of Regional Governments in the European Semester<p style="text-align:justify;">​During a debate with Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici held a the Committee of the Regions Plenary session, EA group President Karl Vanlouwe called for a greater involvement regional governments in the European semester and for the establishment of a Code of conduct.  In particular the European Commission should request the Regional parliaments to be involved.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He highlighted the fact that the Flemish Government produce a Flemish Reform Programme but the feedback is a report on National recommendations.  The commission should reflect the internal regional competences of Member States in the European Semester.<br></p>
Major success for CoR and EA group as locally and regionally determined contributions get featured in the COP 23 final declarationhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/locally-regionally-determined-contributions-COP-23-final-declaration.aspx2017-11-13T23:00:00ZMajor success for CoR and EA group as locally and regionally determined contributions get featured in the COP 23 final declaration<p style="text-align:justify;">​EA members Cllr Andrew Cooper and Cllr Enda Stenson were part of the COR delegation, led by President Karl Heinz Lambertz, which took part in the 23rd Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP23). </p><p style="text-align:justify;">On 12 November CoR members participated in the Climate Summit of local and regional leaders where all parties, regions and cities across the world, as well as international organisations such as ICLEI and Climate Alliance, to name a few, a greed a final declaration which stipulates the establishment of Locally- and Regionally-determined contributions (LDCs) to help national governments achieve existing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Cllr Andrew Cooper, EA coordinator in the ENVE commission and member of Kirklees County Council, who took the initiative of setting up the concept of LDCs as a way to achieve the agreed target under the Paris agreement, called on UNFCC to continue work on its development.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Establishing targets agreed at a local level could give us the boost we need to actually achieve the carbon reductions that need to happen to prevent runaway climate change. LDCs also give us the opportunity to make action on Climate Change more relevant to citizens as they see action at the local level led by their Local or Regional Authority”, said Cllr Cooper.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">A global system of LDCs is a huge opportunity for local and regional authorities all across the globe. For Mayors in the USA, for example, it provides a Framework to get involved in the delivery of the UNFCC targets. For smaller municipalities which are not engaged with bodies such as the Global Covenant of Mayors it gives an opportunity to contribute to the Paris goals.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">On 13 November members took part in a conference on Transatlantic Dialogue on Climate Change with the US conference of Mayors and the Canadian municipalities. Members committed to champion the Covenant of Mayors initiative within and beyond the EU as a prime model of multi-level governance for climate objectives.<br></p>
Truskolaski: benefits EU membership brought to Białystok can serve as an example for LRAs in Serbiahttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Truskolaski-benefits-EU-membership-Białystok-can-serve-as-an-example-for-LRAs-in-Serbia.aspx2017-11-23T23:00:00ZTruskolaski: benefits EU membership brought to Białystok can serve as an example for LRAs in Serbia<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 24 November, the city of Novi Sad, second largest city in Serbia and capital of the autonomous province of Vojvodina, hosted the 3rd meeting of the CoR-Serbia Joint Consultative Committee (JCC).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the meeting, CoR members, as well as representatives of Serbian sub-national authorities, Serbian government, civil sector and the EU delegation in Serbia had an opportunity to discuss the role of Serbian local and regional authorities in the country's EU accession process and get a thorough insight into how national minorities in the country exercise their rights at the sub-national levels of government.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During this very interesting meeting, Mr Tadeusz Truskolaski, Mayor of Białystok (Poland) and EA group member in the JCC, offered an inspiring overview of how EU membership and especially the use of EU cohesion funds helped transition Białystok from one of the poorest regions in Poland to an evolving cultural and economic centre with developing transport, business and cultural infrastructure. Mr Truskolaski also stressed that his experience as a mayor in such a region could be useful for many local authorities in Serbia and offered his help and full support to his Balkan counterparts on their road to the EU.<br></p>
CIVEX discuss Future of Europe, Subsidiarity and Cyber security http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/CIVEX-discuss-Future-of-Europe,-Subsidiarity-and-Cyber-security-.aspx2017-11-22T23:00:00ZCIVEX discuss Future of Europe, Subsidiarity and Cyber security <p>Under the political coordination of Mr Dariusz Wróbel, members from the European Alliance group participated actively in the discussions on Future of Europe. CIVEX also adopted the annual report on Subsidiarity as well as the work programme for 2018. </p><p>During the debate on Cybercrime and cybersecurity, Cllr Kieran McCarthy, CoR rapporteur on European Data economy, pointed out that the EU needs to do a lot more to improve prevention and detection concerning the cyber incidents. Threats are made to utility services like transport networks, local water, electricity grids, energy, etc. and local authorities don't have the necessary tools to respond. Systemic and coordinated interventions as well as advanced security training are needed to respond to these attacks - he said.</p>
ENVE discuss 2018 priorities and actions post COP23http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/ENVE-discuss-2018-priorities-and-actions-post-COP23.aspx2017-11-21T23:00:00ZENVE discuss 2018 priorities and actions post COP23<p>On 22 November ENVE commission voted on the work programme for 2018 and discussed the follow up to COP23 in the presence of ICLEI Secretary General.</p><p>In accordance with the Paris Agreement accord, the Conference of the Parties (COP) decided to convene a facilitative dialogue among Parties in 2018 to take stock of the collective efforts and in relation to progress towards the long-term goal and to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions.</p><p>Andrew Cooper, EA Group coordinator, welcomed the local leaders commitments in Bonn to establish a system of locally and regionally determined contributions in order to bridge the emission gap and agreed with ICLEI Secretary General that the upcoming dialogue would be an important opportunity to discuss the role and contribution of local governments, including those that are too small to be part of the Global Covenant of Mayors.</p><p>The ENVE commission adopted a draft opinion on Promoting Coexistence with conflict species within the framework of EU Nature Directives<br></p>
Mr Dariusz Strugała, Mayor of Jaraczewo on how not to waste food http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Mr-Dariusz-Strugała,-Mayor-of-Jaraczewo-on-how-not-to-waste-food-.aspx2017-11-12T23:00:00ZMr Dariusz Strugała, Mayor of Jaraczewo on how not to waste food <p style="text-align:justify;">​On 20 November in Brussels, Mayor of town and municipality of Jaraczewo Strugała Dariusz presented at the NAT Commission meeting the system of distributing food to deprived people in his municipality.  Municipality of Jaraczewo has engaged with Wielkopolski Bank Food in Poznań, which is a non-governmental organisation, to distribute free of charge food which would otherwise be wasted.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Large quantities of food are wasted each year. We produce and buy too much, and the problem of surplus food has been on the agendas of a number of institutions and organisations for several years now. Worldwide, there is a very stark contrast between European countries and, for example, countries in Africa. The problem of hunger in Africa should be addressed at international level. Meanwhile, a local authority's role is to ensure that food from the local market is channelled towards those in needs – e.g. in terms of catering in hospitals or schools and supporting the poorest families. To this end, an appropriate mechanism to distribute this food needs to be developed. And this is happening in Jaraczewo, the town that I represent"- Mr Dariusz Antoni Strugała highlighted.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Within 12 years of implementation of this project we have distributed more than 200 tonnes of food products with a total value of almost one million PLN.  Each year of this form of support, which has 640 persons 12 years around 7,7 thousand inhabitants, which provided that aid’ — calculated Mr Strugała.  ‘Food supply is distributed by volunteers from fire brigade and other organisations to the staff of municipal social assistance centre. The food that ends up in our warehouse, which often include bread, milk, dairy products, food preparations, dry products, confectionery, juices, fish products, fruits and vegetables,” said Mr Strugała.  He also said  that derived products are of high quality, mostly come from donations of producers and distributors. As a result of Wielkopolski Food Bank per year assistance reaches up to 300 organisations and institutions in the region and, through them, around 100 thousand people in need of assistance. "In its existence bank distributed more than 11,5 thousand tonnes of food. As noted at the NAT meeting, each year is wasted globally around 1,3 billion tons of food, i.e. one third of food produced;  in Europe almost 100 million tonnes of wasted food.  Food waste is also a waste of water and energy — e.g. discarded kilogram of beef, 6 litres of water is lost food surplus" – stated Mr Strugała. <br></p>
SEDEC members exchange views on strengthening innovation in regionshttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/SEDEC-members-exchange-views-on-strengthening-innovation-in-regions.aspx2017-11-20T23:00:00ZSEDEC members exchange views on strengthening innovation in regions<p style="text-align:justify;">​At the 16the meeting of the European Committee of the Regions' SEDEC commission, held on 21 November in Brussels, members held an exchange of views on the draft opinion "Strengthening Innovation in Europe's Regions: strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth", prepared by EA member Mikel Irujo Amezaga, representative of the government of Navarra in Brussels.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the debate, which was attended by CoR members, experts and representatives of the European Commission's DG REGIO and DG RTD, Mr Irujo outlined three main suggestions for the European decision-makers:</p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li>to address the current complexity of rules which are killing imagination</li><li>to adopt a clear legal framework and a "carrot and sticks" approach</li><li>to develop tools (such as the Seal of Excellence which was mentioned as a good example but still needs improvement)</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Irujo also said that Smart Specialisation 2.0. will be about how to connect existing regional strategies.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The opinion "Strengthening Innovation in Europe's Regions: strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth" is set to be adopted at the next SEDEC commission meeting which will take place in Brussels on 21 February 2018.<br></p>
Major success for CoR and EA group as locally and regionally determined contributions get featured in the COP 23 final declaration http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Major-success-CoR-EA-group-locally-regionally-determined-contributions-featured-COP-23-final-declaration-.aspx2017-11-11T23:00:00ZMajor success for CoR and EA group as locally and regionally determined contributions get featured in the COP 23 final declaration <p style="text-align:justify;">​EA members Cllr Andrew Cooper and Cllr Enda Stenson were part of the COR delegation, led by President Karl Heinz Lambertz, which took part in the 23rd Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP23).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">On 12 November CoR members participated in the Climate Summit of local and regional leaders where all parties, region and cities across the world, as well as international organisations  such as ICLEI and Climate Alliance to name a few, agreed  a final declaration which stipulates the establishment of Locally- and Regionally-determined contributions (LDCs) to help national governments achieve existing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) . Cllr Andrew Cooper, EA coordinator in the ENVE commission and member of Kirklees County Council, who took the initiative of setting up the concept of LDCs as a way to achieve the agreed target under the Paris agreement, called on UNFCC to continue work on its development.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Establishing targets agreed at a local level could give us the boost we need to actually achieve the carbon reductions that need to happen to prevent runaway climate change. LDCs also give us the opportunity to make action on Climate Change more relevant to citizens as they see action at the local level led by their Local or Regional Authority", said Cllr Cooper.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">A global system of LDCs is a huge opportunity for local and regional authorities all across the globe. For Mayors in the USA, for example, it provides a Framework to get involved in the delivery of the UNFCC targets. For smaller municipalities which are not engaged with bodies such as the Global Covenant of Mayors it gives an opportunity to contribute to the Paris goals.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">On 13 November members took part in a conference on Transatlantic Dialogue on Climate Change with the US conference of Mayors and the Canadian municipalities. Members committed to champion the Covenant of Mayors initiative within and beyond the EU as a prime model of multi-level governance for climate objectives.<br></p>
Truskolaski calls for continued support to SMEs beyond 2020http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Truskolaski-calls-for-continued-support-to-SMEs-beyond-2020.aspx2017-11-08T23:00:00ZTruskolaski calls for continued support to SMEs beyond 2020<p style="text-align:justify;">​At the last meeting of the CoR's Commission for Economic Policy (ECON), members adopted two opinions: "Deepening of the EMU by 2025" and "Future of COSME programme beyond 2020".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Tadeusz Truskolaski, EA coordinator for the ECON Commission and CoR rapporteur on the start-up and scale-up initiative, said that it is very important that LRAs ensure a stable support to small and medium-sized entreprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs beyond 2020 through instruments of support for SME competitiveness, such as the current COSME programme. "That is why we requested that particular care should be taken to ensure that this programme's successor addresses the funding needs of the entire spectrum of SMEs in different regions, including traditional SMEs,  self-entrepreneurs,  micro-enterprises and high-growth start-ups and scale-ups" Mr Truskolaski added.<br></p>
Silberg: EU can learn about tolerance from young people in Bosnia and Herzegovinahttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Silberg-EU-can-learn-about-tolerance-from-young-people-in-Bosnia-and-Herzegovina.aspx2017-10-24T22:00:00ZSilberg: EU can learn about tolerance from young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 24 and 25 October, members of the European Committee of the Regions' (CoR) Working Group on the Western Balkans visited the city of East Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina's Republika Srpska entity.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">CoR members and representatives of local authorities from Bosnia and Herzegovina discussed the best practices and challenges in the use of IPA 2 pre-accession funds in Bosnia and Herzegovina and especially in cross-border cooperation with neighbouring countries.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The members also had a conversation with the students of the University of East Sarajevo where young people from the region shared their concerns and ideas about Europe, Balkans and the EU. EA group was represented at the meeting by Mr Uno Silberg, Member of Kose Municipality Council (Estonia) who encouraged students to seek opportunities and learn from their peers from other parts of Europe. Talking with student representatives, Mr Silberg also said that young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans have a lot to teach to people in Europe about multiculturalism, tolerance and life with people of different backgrounds.<br></p>
Vanlouwe calls for dialogue and discussion not jailing democratically elected Catalan leadershttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Vanlouwe-calls-for-dialogue-and-discussion-not-jailing-democratically-elected-Catalan-leaders.aspx2017-11-02T23:00:00ZVanlouwe calls for dialogue and discussion not jailing democratically elected Catalan leaders<p>President of the <span><span>European Alliance group </span></span>in the Committee of the Regions Mr Karl Vanlouwe said the jailing of democratically elected politicians in Spain was politically motivated and unacceptable in a European Union which prides itself on democracy and freedom of speech.</p><p>It is now clear that the Catalan crisis is a European issue and no longer an internal Spanish issue.  Mr Vanlouwe who is also a member of the Flemish Parliament said:  I call on the European Institutions to condemn the latest attempt by the Spanish Government and Courts to supress Catalan Political rights.  All democrats should stand united against the jailing of democratically elected leaders.  The EU cannot ignore these developments in Spain.<br></p>
European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission launch Broadband Platform to help end digital dividehttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/European-Committee-of-the-Regions-and-the-European-Commission-launch-Broadband-Platform-to-help-end-digital-divide.aspx2017-10-11T22:00:00ZEuropean Committee of the Regions and the European Commission launch Broadband Platform to help end digital divide<p style="text-align:justify;">​In the presence of European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, the European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission launched a joint platform which aims to deploy high-speed broadband coverage across all European regions, including rural and other disadvantaged areas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">CoR members and representatives of the European Commission will meet twice a year to share experiences and discuss various challenges related to broadband deployment on the ground, thus making it a truly bottom-up policy process.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking at the launching event, EA group members Cllr Anthony Buchanan (East Renfrewshire, Scotland) and Cllr Kieran McCarthy (Cork City, Ireland) shared experiences from their local communities and outlined ideas on how the goal of covering the entire Europe with fast broadband could be achieved in the next couple of years.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">They stressed the importance of broadband coverage for territorial and social cohesion and sustainability in Europe, while Mr McCarthy particularly noted the new opportunities broadband coverage can create in the development of smart villages, another recent initiative by the European Commission on which the CoR is currently preparing an opinion.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The next meeting of the Broadband Platform will take place in March 2018.<br></p>
Kieran McCarthy's opinion on the European Data Economy adopted unanimously at the CoR plenary sessionhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Kieran-McCarthy's-opinion-on-the-European-Data-Economy-adopted-unanimously-at-the-CoR-plenary-session.aspx2017-10-10T22:00:00ZKieran McCarthy's opinion on the European Data Economy adopted unanimously at the CoR plenary session<p>​On 11 October, 125th plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions adopted with unanimity Cllr Kieran McCarthy's opinion on the European Commission's Communication "Building a European Data Economy", which was published earlier this year.</p><p>In the opinion, Cllr McCarthy argues that local and regional authorities could have a key role in creating a database of public information, providing data security, developing necessary digital and entrepreneurial skills, and securing and facilitating funding for broadband networks. He also calls on the European Commission to support local and regional authorities in their financing activities by continuing to authorise priority deployment of the European Structural and Investment Funds towards digital infrastructure in all European regions.</p><p>To read Mr McCarthy's opinion, please click <a href="http://cdlink.cor.europa.eu/l/26d93d2a16144e6a86beaa8ad43f4fd5/85CD5620/41B21B3B/102017n">here</a>.<br></p>
President of Białystok advocates for a simplified Cohesion Policy after 2020http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/President-of-Bialystok-advocates-for-a-simplified-Cohesion-Policy-after-2020.aspx2017-10-10T22:00:00ZPresident of Białystok advocates for a simplified Cohesion Policy after 2020<p style="text-align:justify;">​On October 11, 2017, the 8th meeting of the Interregional Group on Less Developed Regions took place at the seat of the European Committee of the Regions. The Members of the Intergroup adopted the Position paper on simplification on Cohesion Policy post-2020.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The meeting was opened by Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions who congratulated the work undertaken by the Interregional Group on this very important issue for all regions. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">President Tadeusz Truskolaski highlighted that the adoption of this position coincided with increased debate on the future budget of the European Union.- "The European Week of Regions and Cities, which is currently the perfect time and place for discussion on the future of cohesion policy, exchange of experiences on cohesion spending in the years of crisis and preparation of land for cohesion policy after 2020" - stressed Truskolaski – "Cohesion Policy supports developments in less developed regions of the EU and is a major source of investment. We must be aware, however, that despite the gradual diminution of regional economic disparities, less developed regions without adequate support will not be able to even out differences, and even, as recent studies show, the distance to the rich has increased."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The implementation of the Cohesion Policy should guarantee stability of the legal environment, reduce administrative burdens and ensure implementation of the simplified procedures expected by the Member States. It should focus on creating a framework that will facilitate the successful implementation of Cohesion Policy objectives rather than attempting to retail all possible situations". – said President of Białystok. – "Cohesion policy should be more effective than results-oriented. Hence, it is imperative that the agreed development objectives are paramount to the implementation solutions implemented. A clear division of responsibilities between the European Commission and the Member States and regions should be ensured to maximize the potential of this governance model".<br></p>
CoR calls for local targets to tackle climate changehttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/CoR-calls-for-local-targets-to-tackle-climate-change.aspx2017-10-09T22:00:00ZCoR calls for local targets to tackle climate change<p style="text-align:justify;">​One month ahead of the COP23, cities and regions call Europe to keep up leadership in the fight against global warming with upgraded ambition and new financing initiatives for local climate action.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In presence of Commissioner for Energy and Climate Change, Miguel Arias Cañete, members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) called for adequate mechanisms for climate finance, reiterated the importance of involving all levels of government and said they would continue to strengthen relations with cities and regions outside Europe's borders to push the climate agenda forward.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">EA Group member, Andrew Cooper said: "the reduction of CO2 emissions achieved by local governments needs to be measured, valued and encouraged.  A system of Locally Determined Contributions (LDC) needs to be established in addition to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to help bridge the emissions gap.” The Kirklees Councilor says "Locally Determined Contributions” will help limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. It would also allow us to set up higher yet remaining achievable targets."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The COR plenary also adopted Mr Cooper opinion on the "Environmental implementation review" which provides recommendation as to how to address the implementation gaps in the implementation of environmental law in the EU Member States.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The opinion urges the European Commission to place climate change into the next round of the EIR and to include both climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. The initial focus of the EIR is on waste management, nature and biodiversity protection, air quality, noise pollution and water quality and management.<br></p>
European Alliance President condemns violence, calls for dialogue and international mediation in Catalan debate at the CoRhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/European-Alliance-President-condemns-violence,-calls-for-dialogue-and-international-mediation-in-Catalan-debate-at-the-CoR.aspx2017-10-09T22:00:00ZEuropean Alliance President condemns violence, calls for dialogue and international mediation in Catalan debate at the CoR<p>​<span><span>O<span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-5">n 10 October</span></span></span><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-5">, the European Committee of the Regions plenary session held a debate on the Catalan crisis which saw Mr Amadeu Altafaj, Representative of the Government of Catalonia to the EU presenting the current situation and putting a passionate case for Catalonia to the members of the CoR.</span></p><p><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-5">During the debate, the European Alliance group President Karl Vanlouwe made the following plea to the EU:<br></span></p><ul><li><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-5">to condemn the use of violence against people who only wished to exercise their right to vote</span></li><li><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-5">to insist on political dialogue as the way forward between the Catalan and Spanish governments</span></li><li><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-5">to call for international or EU mediation in the dispute</span></li></ul><p>Ms Mairi Gougeon, member of the Scottih Parliament, reiterated the call for a dialogue and added that ruber bullets, tear gas, attacks on emergency services and ordinary members of the public have no place in Europe.<br></p><p>To watch the full debate, please click <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I144917">here</a> (English interpretation).</p>
CoR president Lambertz delivers first "State of the European Union: the View of Regions and Cities" speech, EA president Karl Vanlouwe calls for more devolution of powers in the EUhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/CoR-president-Lambertz-State-of-the-EU-speech-EA-president-Karl-Vanlouwe-devolution-of-powers-in-the-EU.aspx2017-10-09T22:00:00ZCoR president Lambertz delivers first "State of the European Union: the View of Regions and Cities" speech, EA president Karl Vanlouwe calls for more devolution of powers in the EU<p style="text-align:justify;">​On 10 October, during the 125th plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, president of the CoR Karl-Heinz Lambertz delivered the first annual "State of the European Union: the View of Regions and Cities" speech in the presence of the president of the European Council Donald Tusk.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In his speech, Mr Lambertz gave an overview of the current situation in the EU from the perspective of local and regional authorities and outlined some of the main challenges for the coming period which, among others, include EU institutions' efforts to reconnect with citizens, future of the cohesion policy, EU budget and public investment, migration and Brexit.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Addressing the assembly, EA group president Mr Karl Vanlouwe stressed the necessity to have a real devolution of powers within the EU, all the way down to the level closest to the citizens. He said that we must challenge the current model where communication is largely effected between member states and the EU and that the true respect for the principle of subsidiarity means  giving people and their local representatives powers which are already guaranteed on paper by the EU treaties. <br></p>
'Strengthening the role of Nations and Regions in Economic development' discussed at European Alliance Group seminarhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/'Strengthening-the-role-of-Nations-and-Regions-in-Economic-development'-discussed-at-European-Alliance-Group-seminar.aspx2017-10-09T22:00:00Z'Strengthening the role of Nations and Regions in Economic development' discussed at European Alliance Group seminar<p></p><p>Under the chairmanship of EA group President Karl Vanlouwe this year's European Week of Regions and Cities seminar focused on 'Strengthening the role of Nations and Regions in Economic development'.</p><p>To a packed room the seminar brought together policy makers and practitioners from Flanders, the Vanguard initiative, Gdynia City Council and from the Northern & Western region of Ireland.</p><p>It was clear from discussions that nations, regions, cities and local authorities are the level of governance closest to the citizens and business and therefore crucial for economic development.  Different strategies were discussed as well as the role of the European Union to allow more flexibility for the relevant level of governance to enhance their regional and local economies.</p><p>The seminar also examined strengthening the economic development, bridging the investment gap, as well as current challenges and opportunities.<br></p>
Szwabski supports the Cohesion Alliance and calls for strong cohesion policy in the futurehttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Mr-Stanislaw-Szwabski-supports-the-Cohesion-Alliance-and-calls-for-strong-cohesion-policy-in-the-future.aspx2017-10-08T22:00:00ZSzwabski supports the Cohesion Alliance and calls for strong cohesion policy in the future<p>​During the Opening Session of European Week of Regions and Cities 2017 Mr Stanisław Szwabski, Councillor of Gdynia City and 1st Vice-Chair of EA Group at the Committee of the Regions expressed his strong support for the Cohesion Alliance, through which the CoR Members want to ensure a strong cohesion policy after 2020 with an adequate budget, simplified and with the principle of partnership at the forefront. "I am glad that the EP has joined us in this effort and has adopted resolutions on this issue in the last week"-he said.</p><p>As rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions on the Code of Conduct for Partnership and Port City Revitalization he emphasized on cohesion policy and EU funds as solidarity and focus on reducing regional imbalances within the EU.</p><p>He gave an example of his municipality, a city characterized by great dynamics of development thanks to its economic potential, cohesion policy and the people who work there. "The revitalization of our city was crucial to overcoming the post-crisis stagnation and the exodus of marauding. Gdynia is a port city that offers great opportunities in terms of infrastructure, assets, ability to develop new sectors, as well as cultural and leisure activities. We have succeeded in identifying and strengthening synergies in port - city relations in Gdynia, partially weakened by the liberalization and globalization of markets. We worked in different dimensions and combined EU transport, maritime and water policies to address the development challenges of our city." He added by giving several examples of concrete projects.<br></p>
Spanish Government action in Catalonia must be condemned by the European Unionhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Spanish-Government-action-in-Catalonia-must-be-condemned-by-the-European-Union.aspx2017-10-01T22:00:00ZSpanish Government action in Catalonia must be condemned by the European Union<div style="text-align:justify;"><em>Press Statement of the European Alliance Group in the European Committee of the Regions</em></div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">On the 1st October the Catalan people exercised their democratic right to express their opinion on the referendum in Catalonia on self-determination.  Unfortunately the unacceptable violence by the Guardia civil and sanctioned by the Spanish Government must be condemned by the European Union.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"><span style="line-height:1.6;"><br></span> </div><div style="text-align:justify;"><span style="line-height:1.6;">The European Alliance President Karl </span><span style="line-height:1.6;"></span><span style="line-height:1.6;"></span><span style="line-height:1.6;"></span><span style="line-height:1.6;"></span><span style="line-height:1.6;"></span><span style="line-height:1.6;">Vanlou</span><span style="line-height:1.6;">we and Member of the Flemish Parliament, called on the European Union institutions to condemn the heavy handed and oppressive tactics of the Spanish Government in Catalonia.  No EU Member State should be allowed to erode civil rights and democratic principles which are the basis of our common European project.</span></div><div style="text-align:justify;"><span style="line-height:1.6;"><br></span> </div><div style="text-align:justify;"><span style="line-height:1.6;">Mr Vanlouwe congratulated the Catalan people on exercising their democratic right via the ballot box.  </span></div>
COTER commission discusses EU budget with Commissioners Creţu and Oettinger, smart mobility with the European Parliament’s TRAN committeehttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/COTER-discusses-EU-budget-with-Creţu-Oettinger-smart-mobility-with-European-Parliament-TRAN.aspx2017-09-25T22:00:00ZCOTER commission discusses EU budget with Commissioners Creţu and Oettinger, smart mobility with the European Parliament’s TRAN committee<div>​In the framework of the structural dialogue with territorial associations, members of the European Committee of the Regions’ Commission for Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) discussed the future of EU budget with the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu and the European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Günther Oettinger. The debate took place following the publication of the Reflection paper on the future of EU finances, published in June this year.</div><div><br> </div><div>In the debate, members expressed their concern over possible reductions to cohesion policy allocations after 2020, which was mentioned in most scenarios in the Paper. EA members Marie Antoinette Maupertuis and Kieran Mccarthy reiterated their call for a strong cohesion policy which would need to be simpler, more flexible and reflecting the need of local territories.</div><div> </div><div>On the same day, the COTER commission held its second joint meeting with the European Parliament’s TRAN committee. Members had the opportunity to discuss about smart mobility solutions and opportunities to support regions and cities in innovating transport systems with the rapporteurs on the EU strategy on the low emission mobility and Cooperative Intelligent Transport systems.</div><div><br> </div><div>During the debate, Ms Maupertuis stressed that innovation in transport must not contribute to the widening of the digital divide between highly connected urban and isolated rural areas and peripheral regions.​</div>
Cllr Stenson's opinion on smart villages adopted with unanimous agreement in the NAT commissionhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Cllr-Stenson's-opinion-on-smart-villages-adopted-with-unanimous-agreement-in-the-NAT-commission.aspx2017-09-25T22:00:00ZCllr Stenson's opinion on smart villages adopted with unanimous agreement in the NAT commission<div>​Europe is changing and we are witnessing a technological and societal revolution. Rural areas are not immune to all these challenges. Smart Villages refers to rural areas and communities which build on their existing strengths and assets to develop new opportunities in this changing environment.</div><div><br> </div><div>The concept is very wide and covers a range of policy areas, such as smart farming, urban-rural synergies, sustainability, transport, digital connectivity and others. This is because rural areas have great but insufficiently employed assets which can unlock their full economic potential and turn them into development and innovation hubs.</div><div><br> </div><div><span style="line-height:1.6;">Leitrim County Councillor Enda Stenson delivered his opinion at the NAT commission on the 26th September where he looked at current practices in various regions across Europe and propose a set of measures to revitalize rural areas in a number of challenging areas, such as economic development, demographic change, digital divide with cities, transport links and others.</span></div><div><br> </div><div>​The initiative is very timely as the European Commission in April launched a reflection exercise called "EU Action for Smart Villages" which looks into the existing instruments and policies which could be better used to tackle challenges rural areas are facing.</div><div><span style="line-height:1.6;"><br></span> </div><div><span style="line-height:1.6;">After its unanimous agreement in the NAT commission the Smart Villages opinion is set to be discussed at the CoR plenary in November.</span></div>
M.A Maupertuis meets Commissioner Creţu to discuss EU policies for islands http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/M.A-Maupertuis-meets-Commissioner-Creţu-to-discuss-EU-policies-for-islands-.aspx2017-09-25T22:00:00ZM.A Maupertuis meets Commissioner Creţu to discuss EU policies for islands <p>On 26 September, Executive member of the Corsican regional authority Ms Marie Antoinette Maupertuis met with European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu, Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chairman of the EP Searica Intergroup Tonino Picula and the Economic and Social Committee member S. Mallia to discuss the challenges of islands and cohesion policy.</p><p>During the meeting the members of the CoR, European Parliament and EESC highlighted the cohesion policy's fundamental role in addressing the needs of all regions, in particular those suffering from geographic and demographic constraints, and called on the European Commission to place special attention to island territories.</p><p>Ms Maupertuis, who is also CoR rapporteur on entrepreneurship on islands, stated that we need to develop a new methodology that would allow islanders to fully benefit from the single market and that the support through cohesion policy is now needed more than ever to cope with the higher costs faced by island businesses and citizens.<br></p>
Delegation from BIPA discuss BREXIThttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Delegation-from-BIPA-discuss-BREXIT.aspx2017-09-25T22:00:00ZDelegation from BIPA discuss BREXIT<p>​A delegation from the British-Irish Parliamentary Association met the CoR President and a number of members of the CoR including Cllr Tony Buchanan, Vice Chair of the EA group.</p><p>The group discussed BREXIT implications for local and regional government, the work of the CoR and in particular the Conference of Presidents' engagement with regional and local governments.  Cllr Buchanan said that while it is the position of the British Government to leave, this is not the wish of Scotland and every solution needs to also respect the Scottish perspective.<br></p>
European Alliance Group President says Spanish Government action in Catalonia must be condemned by the European Unionhttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/European-Alliance-Group-President-says-Spanish-Government-action-in-Catalonia-must-be-condemned-by-the-European-Union.aspx2017-09-20T22:00:00ZEuropean Alliance Group President says Spanish Government action in Catalonia must be condemned by the European Union<p>During an informative briefing on the upcoming Catalan referendum of self-determination organised by the EA Group in the Committee of the Regions, Amadeu Altafaj, the representative of the Government of Catalonia to the European Union defended the democratic legitimacy of its government to follow on the mandate received from the Catalan people and its Parliament.</p><p>On the 1st October the Catalan people will have an opportunity to freely express their opinion on the right of Catalonia to self-determination and a massive, peaceful participation would be the best response to the acts of repression and intimidation by the Spanish Government.</p><p>The European Alliance President Karl Vanlouwe and Member of the Flemish Parliament, called on the European Union institutions to condemn the heavy handed and oppressive tactics of the Spanish Government in Catalonia.  No EU Member State should be allowed to erode civil rights and democratic principles which are the basis of our common European project.   The people of Catalonia have a democratic right to express their wishes through the ballot box and it is not acceptable that the freedoms taken for granted in the European Union are being suppressed by the Spanish Government.</p>
Cllr Hughie McGrath hosted European Alliance delegation to discuss policies to regenerate town centreshttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/Cllr-Hughie-McGrath-hosted-European-Alliance-delegation-to-discuss-policies-to-regenerate-town-centres.aspx2017-09-11T22:00:00ZCllr Hughie McGrath hosted European Alliance delegation to discuss policies to regenerate town centres<p>​Cllr Hughie McGrath, Tipperary County Council hosted a delegation from the European Alliance Group in the European Committee of the Regions to discuss EU policies to regenerate town centres.  The Group members are elected politicians from across Europe including Poland, Romania, Estonia, Scotland and Flanders.  The objective was to examine how EU funding and policies needs to be adjusted to reflect also the needs of towns and their centres.</p><p>Cllr McGrath said that he has raised on many occasions the need to look at rural towns and he felt it was important that people see the situation on the ground and in particular in Nenagh.  He further added that towns lose out on funding due to the fact they are too small to be eligible for urban funding but too big to receive rural funding and this needs to change.</p><p>The President of the European Alliance Group and Member of the Flemish Parliament Mr Karl Vanlouwe welcomed the invitation to Nenagh and highlighted that the situation of town centres was similar across the European Union and clearly EU policies needed to adapt and reflect the reality of towns.</p><p>Participants in the meeting included Members of the Dáil (Irish Parliament), Jackie Cahill TD (Fianna Fáil) and Alan Kelly TD (Labour). The delegation will meet local politicians, Tipperary County Council manager the director of the Southern Regional Assembly and local chambers of commerce.<br></p>
BREXIT the focus of European Alliance bureau meeting in the Irish Houses of Parliament http://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/BREXIT-the-focus-of-European-Alliance-bureau-meeting-in-the-Irish-Houses-of-Parliament-.aspx2017-09-10T22:00:00ZBREXIT the focus of European Alliance bureau meeting in the Irish Houses of Parliament <p>​The implication of BREXIT on Ireland and the European Union was the focus of the European Alliance bureau visit to the Houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament) in Dublin on this week.  The delegation met with Mr Darragh O'Brien, TD, Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade who outlined the worrying aspects of BREXIT for the Irish Economy and its Citizens and also a call for a "special economic zone" for Northern Ireland.</p><p>The delegation also held a meeting with Senator Neale Richmond, Fine Gael Senate spokesperson on Europe and also Chair of the Special Select Committee on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.  He outlined the impact of BREXIT on a range of areas of relevance to local and regional governments.</p><p>European Alliance President Karl Vanlouwe said that it was fundamentally important to ensure that everyone was aware of the implications of BREXIT and that this is subject to ongoing discussions in the Flemish Parliament.  He in particular drew attention to the ports of Flanders as one of many examples where it would have an impact.  He welcomed the discussions with the Irish Members of the Dáil and Seanad.<br></p>
EA Group condemns the barbaric attacks in Cataloniahttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ea/News/Pages/EA-GROUP-CONDEMS-BARBARIC-ATTACK-IN-BARCELONA.aspx2017-08-17T22:00:00ZEA Group condemns the barbaric attacks in Catalonia<p>​We are deeply shocked and saddened by the barbaric attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils where innocent people lost their lives.</p><p>In this very difficult moment, we would like to express our solidarity with the Catalan people and offer our condolences to the families and the loved ones of the victims.</p><p>Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.</p><p>"We will not be intimidated by terrorist attacks and violence and we will stand united to uphold  and protect our fundamental values and freedoms", said the President of the European Alliance Group Karl Vanlouwe. <br></p>