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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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Sharing experiences with Ukraine and Belarus<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/BELGAIMAGE-98744749.jpg" width="709" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Sharing-experiences-with-Ukraine-and-Belarus.aspx2017-03-17T23:00:00ZSharing experiences with Ukraine and Belarus<p style="text-align:justify;">​Dr. Pavel Branda, member of the CoR and the Chairman of the Interregional group on cross-border cooperation, was invited as an expert to the international conference "Intersectoral partnership for border territories development: European experience for Ukraine and Belarus" held on March 17-18, 2017 in Chernihiv, Ukraine. </p><div style="text-align:justify;">He shared the experience of his Euroregion during the past 25 years of cooperation with the representatives of local authorities and civil society organisations from Chernihiv and Gomel regions. In his presentation, he focused on involving civil society in the cross-border cooperation between Ukrainian and Belarusian border regions through a small project fund. </div><br>
Cllr Wallace discusses the future of devolved powers to North of England with Minister Andrew Percy<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/22.%20Judith%20Wallace.jpg" width="706" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Cllr-Wallace-discusses-the-Future-of-devolved-powers-to-North-of-England-with-Minister-Andrew-Percy.aspx2017-02-12T23:00:00ZCllr Wallace discusses the future of devolved powers to North of England with Minister Andrew Percy<div style="text-align:justify;">​Cllr Judith Wallace, ECR Group member and Conservative Group Leader at North Tyneside Council, met with the Minister for the LocalGrowth and the Northern Powerhouse, Andrew Percy M.P. to discuss the future of devolution in the north of England. Andrew represents the constituency of Brigg and Goole, having previously been a local councillor for ten years on Hull City Council.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">With the Conservative Party presenting policy for devolving powers from national government in Westminster to local regions, the talks were an opportunity for Minister Percy to meet with representatives from local councils in the North of England to speak about the future of devolution and economic benefits that devolved powers will bring to the area.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Councillor Wallace said: "The Conservatives have introduced a policy of devolving powers from the national government in Westminster to local authorities in England, where local authorities can group together and seek specific powers to improve economic performance, with a directly elected Mayor. Each devolution deal is bespoke, as different areas have different requirements and views. Several deals have already been finalised. The U.K. was the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year, but some areas could grow faster."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">As home to more than 15 million people and one million businesses, the Northern Powerhouse economy was worth an estimated L316 billion in 2015, which gives an idea of the potential of the North to help further boost local people and the overall UK economy.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Councillor Wallace added: "There could be a new development corporation to drive forward regeneration of the area, and such corporations have a good track record. In my own area, seven local authorities, all under Labour control, had signed a preliminary deal with the government but then four withdrew unexpectedly in the autumn: the deal was worth an extra L30 million investment each year, to drive economic growth, with further funding if growth was achieved."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"It was good to have the opportunity to discuss with the Minister the future of these opportunities to devolve powers from central government to local authorities, to grass roots level", Mrs Wallace concluded.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The New Economy report conducted for the Local Government Association outlines that the evidence for public support for local control of public services is there. Research from Centre for Cities, the LGA and Ipsos MORI finds that the general public is more likely to trust local authorities (79% of respondents) than central government (11% of respondents) to make decisions about the areas they live in.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">In the North East, an agreement for Tees Valley has now been reached, with the upcoming mayoral election due to take place in May 2018. It is yet to be seen what kind of an agreement North Tyneside might have.</div>
Reforming the EUs Agriculture policy: Hatch’s call for a focus on young farmers supported by Commissioner Hogan<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/BELGAIMAGE-107885782.jpg?Width=800" width="704" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Arnold-Hatch's-proposals-to-support-young-European-farmers-endorsed-by-Commissioner-Hogan-and-CoR.aspx2017-02-08T23:00:00ZReforming the EUs Agriculture policy: Hatch’s call for a focus on young farmers supported by Commissioner Hogan<p>Alderman Arnold Hatch, ECR member and Rapporteur for the Commission on Natural Resources' (NAT) opinion on '<a href="http://cor.europa.eu/en/activities/opinions/pages/opinion-factsheet.aspx?OpinionNumber=CDR%205034/2016">supporting young European farmers</a>', saw his work unanimously adopted by members of the European Committee of the Regions during the CoR's recent plenary session, which was attended by Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.<br> <br>Councillor Hatch, representing Armagh, Banbridge and Craighavon Council in Northern Ireland, received widespread support across the political spectrum for his own-initiative opinion on the 9 February, which calls for reducing barriers to farming that will inspire and encourage more young people to pursue a career in agriculture.<br> <br>Underlining the importance of focusing on young farmers for the future of urban areas and food security, Mr Hatch said: "Young people are drifting away from farming and the countryside. Today around 72% of citizens in the EU live in urban areas, with this figure expected to rise to more than 90% in several countries by 2020. We all agree on the importance of rural communities but we are not doing enough to sustain them."<br> <br>Commissioner Hogan, noting he would very much welcome idea from local and regional politicians on addressing this important issue said: "The farming population is getting older at a rapid rate. For each young farmer – aged 35 years or younger – there are approximately nine farmers older than 55 years. Generational renewal is an issue that goes far beyond a reduction in the average age of farmers in the EU. It is also about empowering a new generation of highly-qualified young farmers to bring the full benefits of technology to support sustainable farming practices in Europe."<br> <br>With only 6% of all farms being managed by people under 35 years old, the aging farming workforce across the EU is a substantial problem that needs addressing. The opinion found that for many young people however, farming is an undesirable profession owing to low income, long working hours and lack of infrastructure and resources in rural communities.<br> <br>“We need a healthy agricultural sector for a healthy rural economy but this means reforms of the financial support system for young farmers. The subsidy system should address both the needs of established and new farmers rather than being tied to land ownership. The current system favours existing farmers, making it more difficult for our youth to enter the sector. We need to invest more in skills, which is where local and regional authorities have a key role to play in offering advice to young farmers on technical, legal and financial matters," said rapporteur Arnold Hatch.<br> <br>The opinion of the EUs local and regional politicians calls for more initiatives to support entrepreneurship in the sector and promote educational programmes such as Erasmus to young farmers. It also makes recommendations for the CAP subsidies to benefit smaller, family farms rather than favouring existing farmers, as well as investing more in skills and training programmes for which local and regional authorities have a key role in offering advice to young farmers on technical, legal and financial matters.<br> <br>Following the adoption, CoR members welcomed Commissioner Hogan for a debate on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), where the Commissioner supported the conclusions drawn in Councillor Hatch's opinion.<br> <br>The exchange of views were welcome by the Commissioner in light of the forthcoming consultation on the future of CAP post-2020 scheduled to take place later this year.</p>
A new territorial vision to help guide EU policies and spending<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/2.%20Vlasak%20+%20Mihaylova%20MEP.jpg" width="715" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/A-new-territorial-vision-to-help-guide-EU-policies-and-spending.aspx2017-02-07T23:00:00ZA new territorial vision to help guide EU policies and spending<div style="text-align:justify;">​Oldřich Vlasak, the CoR rapporteur on territorial vision 2050 met with Iskra Mihaylova MEP, the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development to discuss a new territorial vision to help guide EU policies and funds after 2020. The programming period, which sets the annual budgets for 7 year periods outlining the areas and amount that money will be allocated to, currently runs till the year 2020. The EU will need to decide on its policy aims and the funding due to be allocated to these aims. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Despite the EUs Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 aiming to reduce disparities between Europe's regions, strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion, studies have found that the economic divide between regions has not gotten better. The 6th EU Cohesion Report states that "regional disparities have widened during the last few years because the economic crisis has affected regions differently."</div><div style="text-align:justify;">Commenting on the need for a territorial vision, Oldřich Vlasák said "we need a new territorial vision that brings the 1999 European Spatial Development Perspective Agreement up to date. Despite one third of the EU budget being spent on trying to reduce disparities between Europe's regions, disparities between our regions has widened during the last few years. Globalisation has had a varied impact on our cities and regions. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">While some have thrived, others have struggled. We need a new strategy to help guide the post-2020 policies and spending. We need a place-based bottom-up approach would help us to correctly identify the challenges and most appropriate public policy tools to address them." </div><br>

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