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The ECR Group is centre-right and euro-realist.​
It is made up of local and regional politicians working together within the EU Committee of the Regions ​

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ECR President calls on Commission to prioritise less regulation and greater empowerment of citizens<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/30661501114_27b0fe5d98_o.jpg?Width=800" width="712" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-President-calls-on-Commission-to-prioritise-less-regulation-and-greater-empowerment-of-citizens.aspx2016-12-06T23:00:00ZECR President calls on Commission to prioritise less regulation and greater empowerment of citizens<p>​<br>The EU can achieve better governance in 2017 through greater localism was the message delivered by ECR President Rob Jonkman to European Commission Vice-President Frank Timmermans during the Committee of the Regions 120th plenary session. Vice-President Timmermans was present at the plenary debate to discuss the European Commission's work programme for 2017 with local and regional government representatives. <br> <br>Intervening during the welcoming speeches of the EU CoR's plenary session in December 2016, Alderman Rob Jonkman (Member of the Executive Council of Opsterland) outlined the kind of reform that the EU can deliver in 2017 to achieve a better functioning EU. The ECR Group President underlined to the Commission Vice-President Timmermans the importance of Localism being a guiding principle and outlined how it could help reform the EUs approach to issues such as climate change. Alderman Jonkman also expressed strong reservations about the effectiveness of a European pillar of social rights in helping achieve equal opportunities in society. <br> <br>Alderman Rob Jonkman said: "localism means civic empowerment and taking decisions at the level closest to citizens. In our efforts to try to restore trust in the EU and build a new social contract with citizens, we must not fall into the trap of taking more power away from them."<br>Referring to the Commission proposal for a European Pillar on social rights relating to welfare services being coordinated and potentially harmonised at the EU level, Alderman Jonkman stated that the "ECR is not convinced that the way to achieve equal opportunities in our society is by giving citizens more regulation and more red-tape. Instead, we should give citizens a greater voice and create more room for sharing of best practices at local, regional and national levels of governance. We need to regulate less and listen more! ". <br> <br>Arguing that the Commission needed to be more bottom-up in its approach, Alderman Rob Jonkman warned the Vice President that the EU must treat local government as partners and not stakeholders in the EUs better regulation process. Alderman Jonkman said "calling elected government a stakeholder and trying to put them into the same category as non-governmental organisations is disrespectful to the voters they represent."<br> <br>The ECR Group President also underlined that there are issues that require coordinated action at the European level as these issues transcend borders. "Climate change and disaster resilience are examples of two issues where we need coordinated action. However, such coordinated EU action must be proportionate to the challenge at hand. "<br> <br>Calling for a review and evaluation of all EU binding targets, Alderman Jonkman asked for the Commission to conduct a review and evaluate all EU environmental binding targets.<br> <br>"The number of environmental binding targets at the EU level is overwhelming. Already in 2013 the European Union had an extensive set of 63 binding and 68 non-binding environmental targets. While it may look nice to have figures on paper, the number of derogations means that we end up with a very complicated system with administrative burdens. We have to ask ourselves if such a heavy system is incentivising or slowing down already ambitious local and regional governments. We need a system that allows local and regional government to use the variety of tools at their disposal so as to be ambitious on environmental issues" he said. <br> <br> <i>The welcome speeches kicked off the European Committee of the Regions' 120th plenary session, for which ECR Group members were in attendance to vote on a number of opinions. <i></i></i></p><i><i></i></i>
Pavel Branda appointed rapporteur on people-to-people projects <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/BELGAIMAGE-98744749.jpg" width="712" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Pavel-Branda-appointed-rapporteur-on-people-to-people-projects-.aspx2016-11-30T23:00:00ZPavel Branda appointed rapporteur on people-to-people projects <p>​Pavel Branda, ECR member and Deputy Mayor of Rádlo Municipality, has been appointed rapporteur for the European Committee of the Regions' opinion on 'People-to-people projects (small projects) in cross-border cooperation programmes'.</p><p><br>Mr Branda's own-initiative opinion was adopted by members of the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER), for which Mr Branda is the ECR's coordinator, during yesterday's COTER commission on Wednesday 30 November.</p><p><br>The objective of the opinion is to stress the importance of people-to-people projects for local and regional authorities, where they play an essential role in cross-border cooperation programmes. Despite their success, they have been questioned by some representative for not being anchored in the cohesion policy regulations of the European Union. </p><p><br>Discussing his own-initiative opinion in more detail, Mr Branda said: "People-to-people projects form a basis upon which further cross-border cooperation in different areas can be developed. They contribute to making contacts across borders, they help normalise relationships between neighbouring regions, and they can build trust among partners."</p><p><br>"What's more, they are delivered in a decentralised way through a localism approach where local and regional authorities are the intermidary bodies that bring the projects closer to the citizens."</p><p><br>"This is why I strongly believe in promoting the benefits of people-to-people projects, and look forward to providing strong arguments in my opinion on why sustaining this aspect of cross-border cooperation should be a key priority of the future EU cohesion policy."</p><p><br>The opinion will likely have strategic relevance for local and regional authorities as the future of cross-border cooperation is set to be discussed in the framework of the future of the cohesion policy 2020+ and cross-border review. </p><p><br>Having been appointed as rapporteur, Mr Branda will now conduct research and draft his opinion ahead of the next COTER commission in early 2017. </p>
ECR calls for reform of EU regional policy at localism conference in Italy<img alt="" height="354" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/lecce%20conference%20rob%20and%20fitto.jpg" width="400" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-calls-for-reform-of-EU-regional-policy-at-localism-conference-in-Italy.aspx2016-10-23T22:00:00ZECR calls for reform of EU regional policy at localism conference in Italy<span class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" id="ms-rterangepaste-start"></span><div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">The ECR Group's latest localism conference looking at the future of the EU's regional policy took place in Lecce in Southern Italy on Friday 21 October. The event held at the famous Teatro Paisiello boasted an impressive line-up of speakers, including <b>Raffaele Fitto MEP</b>, President of <i>Conservatori e Riformisti</i>, and Mayor of Lecce <b>Paolo Perrone</b>. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">Welcoming participants to his home province of Lecce, <b>Raffaele Fitto MEP</b> said: "The cohesion policy is a very important instrument and Italy is one of its main beneficiaries. However, current decisions made in the EU do not match the needs of local populations. To change this, we need to ensure a stronger voice for local and regional authorities at the EU level by enhancing the role of the Committee of the Regions."</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">The EU's regional policy accounts for approximately one third of the total EU budget, with the policy aiming to support all regions and cities across the EU with job creation, economic growth and sustainable development. Despite this, the EU's current regional policy has been hindered by the lack of strategic programming, centralisation, inflexibility, and not responding to the needs of small localities. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">ECR Group President <b>Rob Jonkman</b> said: "Our conference has illustrated the urgency in reforming the EU's regional policy along a more bottom-up, place-based approach. Local and regional government must have a voice in this process. Currently, the EU is trying to do good but is not fully delivering. The solution is decentralisation." </span></div></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">During the conference, the example of the management of the <i>Xylella fastidiosa</i> outbreak was presented as a case study to demonstrate how a lack of localism can harm the economy. The outbreak, first reported in 2013, is a virus that results in olive trees no longer being able to produce olives, affecting olive oil producers in Mediterranean countries. The virus heavily impacted the south of Italy, whose economy is reliant on the olive industry. "If local government had been more effectively involved, we could have better tackled the crisis", said <b>Francesco Bruni</b>, </span><span>Member of the Italian Senate for Puglia</span><span lang="EN-GB">.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB"> <span lang="EN-GB"><img class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="Lecce conference.jpg" src="/ecr/news/Documents/Lecce%20conference.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:706px;height:591px;" /></span></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">Speaking in the first panel discussion on the EU's current regional policy, <b>Paolo Perrone</b> said: "We are not empowering regional and local government enough, which undermines the effectiveness of EU Funds. This can be addressed by reforming regional policy, putting the emphasis on localism and streamlining procedures."</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:115%;"><span lang="EN-GB">Other speakers at the ECR event were <b>Zoltan</b></span><b><span lang="EN-GB"> Kész MP</span></b><span lang="EN-GB">, Member of the Hungarian Parliament, <b>Antonio Palmisano </b>from LUISS University, <b>Oldřich Vlasák</b>, Vice-President of the ECR CoR Group and <b>Pavel Branda</b>, ECR CoR Coordinator for Commission for Territorial Cohesion and the EU Budget. </span><span lang="EN-GB"></span></div> <span class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" id="ms-rterangepaste-end"></span>
ECR rapporteur Daiva Matonienė's opinion on heating and cooling adopted unanimously<img alt="" height="180" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Rob%20and%20Daiva%20at%20119th%20plenary.JPG" width="281" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-rapporteur-Daiva-Matonienė's-opinion-on-heating-and-cooling-adopted-unanimously.aspx2016-10-16T22:00:00ZECR rapporteur Daiva Matonienė's opinion on heating and cooling adopted unanimously<div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">The opinion, which was voted through by Committee of the Regions' members during the 119<sup>th </sup>plenary, calls for more concrete action to boost sustainable heating and cooling in Europe.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB">With 50% of energy in the EU being consumed by heating and cooling, improving sustainability is crucial for the EU to reach its energy and climate commitments. In her opinion, rapporteur </span><span lang="FR">Daiva Matonienė</span><span class="st1"><span lang="FR"> </span></span><span lang="EN-GB">(LT/ECR), </span><span lang="EN-IE">member of Šiauliai City Council and Deputy Minister for Environment of Lithuania, argued for the developing of smart district heating solutions that would have a positive impact on the environment, as well increasing energy security.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-IE">Whilst the European Commission has started to concentrate on sustainable heating and cooling solutions, the Committee has now asked the Commission to come up with more concrete actions, as well as better connect existing financial support mechanisms in the EU.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-IE">Ms </span><span lang="FR">Matonienė said: "The European Commission's strategy on heating and cooling</span><span lang="EN-GB"> is</span><span lang="FR"> a major</span><span lang="EN-GB"> step</span><span lang="FR"> forward but it lacks clarity."</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="FR">"As local and regional authorities, we need to lead on this local issue and work towards preparing strategies for the promotion of sustainable heating and cooling. The Commission has a role to play in providing support, be it financial or technical, but it is important that the EU recognises that local and regional authorities are at the heart of this process."</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="FR">Ms Matonienė's pledges are key to the reaching the EU's energy and climate objectives, with only one month to go until the global climate summit COP22 in Marrakesh.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="FR">Ms Matonienė added: "EU support must taking into account the diverse conditions that exist for heating and cooling. No EU country or region is the same. They face different geographic and demographic conditions. In turn, the development of heating and cooling systems differs from one locality to another."</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="FR">Having been adopted unanimously by CoR members at this week's plenary session, the opinion will now be shared with the other European institutions.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;line-height:normal;"><i><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;">Daiva Matonienė is a member of Šiauliai City Council in Lithuania and is also the Deputy Minister for Environment of Lithuania. She has been a member of the CoR since 2009 where she is the ECR Group ENVE Coordinator. In her home country she is directly responsible for the national programme of modernisation of multi-family apartment buildings, which aims to ensure that these buildings are more energy efficient. </span></i><span style="color:black;"></span></div>

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