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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 Group Members call on the President of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the European Commission to focus on areas of added value<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/rjonk.jpg" width="715" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Future-of-Europe.aspx2017-05-10T22:00:00Z​ECR Group Members call on the President of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the European Commission to focus on areas of added value<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>The EU should be more localist and focus on areas of added value was the message delivered by ECR Group President Rob Jonkman and ECR Group Member Władysław Ortyl to the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen during the European Committee of the Regions plenary session on May 11. </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The two high-profile representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission attended the CoR plenary debate to discuss the future of Europe. Antonio Tajani acknowledged that the EU's role should be not to shower everyone with money, but to concentrate on priority areas: security, migration and youth unemployment. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">This was in line with <strong>Rob Jonkman's</strong> (Alderman in Opsterland, Netherlands) call for rebuilding trust for the EU by investing in civic empowerment and taking decisions at a level that is closest to citizens. "Many Europeans feel today that the EU is too remote. As a result support for the EU is low in many Member States, in fact even lower than in the United Kingdom, which decided to leave the Union. We must rebuild this trust by bringing the EU as close as possible to our local communities. This could be achieved through European localism. The EU should refrain from regulating on issues that can be addressed at local or regional level".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The ECR President's message was reinforced by <strong>Władysław Ortyl</strong> (Marshal of the Podkarpackie region in Poland) who addressed Commissioner Katainen and called on the European Commission to listen more to the citizens and focus on issues which benefit all Member States.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"In February this year we co-organised with the European Committee of the Regions a citizen's debate in my region Podkarpackie in Poland. The event was attended by Prime Minister Beata Szydło and CoR President Markku Markkula, but above all the purpose of the meeting was to listen to our citizens and to pass their comments to EU institutions. One of the main messages the citizens wanted us to take to Brussels is that we should not be afraid to reform the EU and to concentrate on selected policies which bring benefits to all, such as deepening of the Single Market, flexible regional policy and building resilience to natural disasters".</p>
ECR localism conference in Vukovar calls for a bottom-up and localist EU Cohesion Policy<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/IMG_1885.JPG" width="709" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Localism-Croatia.aspx2017-03-27T22:00:00ZECR localism conference in Vukovar calls for a bottom-up and localist EU Cohesion Policy<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>​The third edition of the Localism conference focusing on cohesive development in Europe took place today in Vukovar, Croatia's Slavonia region. Organised by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the event brought together locals with local and regional politicians and experts from across Europe. Best-practices and lessons-learnt were shared. Those participating included the CoR ECR Group President Rob Jonkman, Croatian ECR Member of the European Parliament Ruža Tomašić, Deputy Mayor of Vukovar Marijan Pavliček and the European Young Conservatives President Keti Mamulashvilli. Prior to the start of the conference, participants visited the war memorial and payed their respect to the victims who lost their lives during the Homeland War in 1991 in Vukovar. </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This year's localism conference organised in Vukovar, Croatia brought together local and regional politicians and experts with representatives of the European Parliament. Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Lithuanian and Polish Case studies on the use of the EUs Cohesion Funds were presented. Best-practices as well as lessons-learnt were shared and their implications for the current programming period that runs till 2020 was analysed, as was their implications for the future of the EUs cohesion policy post-2020.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Underlining that the conference showed the need for reform, ECR Group President Alderman Rob Jonkman (Alderman in Opsterland, Netherlands) noted that "the level of reconstruction and development that has taken place in Vukovar since the war, is impressive. Our conference showed that while EU Funds have helped areas like Vukovar, there are still obstacles in place that prevent localities from making the most of funds at their disposal. What we need is a reformed and transparent cohesion policy better suited to the needs of our local communities. We need a one-stop-shop for beneficiaries so that they can ask any questions they may have about applications and use of Funds. We also need to step-up efforts to avoid any misuse of Funds."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Marijan Pavliček said "Vukovar's recent history is very tragic. It was the area of Croatia most heavily affected by the Homeland War and saw most of its infrastructure and buildings destroyed. Our town had to be rebuilt and is recovering well from the effects of the war. So far, EU support has been limited. Today's exchange of views has enabled us in Vukovar to share ideas and draw lessons from the experiences of others. It is the first time that we have had such an opportunity in Vukovar and I look forward to repeating it. I hope that today's conclusions on cohesive development will help shape the policies' future and contribute to the better use of EU Funds in the Slavonia region."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mrs Ruža Tomašić MEP said "when Croatia joined the EU in 2013, we expected our membership to benefit our country. Unfortunately, we encountered many challenges with complicated EU procedures and we didn't have the necessary infrastructure needed to make the most of the available EU Funds. To address this, we need to simplify procedures and develop the necessary administrative tools and capacity. We also need to ensure that the technical assistance is better channelled to our local and regional authorities. To achieve shared goals, the level of trust between the different layers of government should be increased and we need to enhance collaboration between the public and private sectors."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The EU Parliament survey published on 27 April showed that there are 9 member states (Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and Slovenia) in which less than 49% of the population believe that EU membership is a good thing. This means that these 9 member states are more critical of EUs benefits than the UK, given that survey showed that 49% of the citizens in the UK believed that EU membership is a good thing.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Drawing the link with the ongoing debate on the future of the European Union, Alderman Jonkman stated that "it is clear that the EUs Cohesion Policy brings added-value but the results could be much more positive. For its success, we need to reform and improve the EUs system of governance. Local communities should be at the heart of the project and this can only be done if we empower them. Therefore, the future of Europe must be a decentralised and localist one."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Referring to the General Affairs Council meeting of 25 April, Alderman Jonkman said "while I do agree that the success stories of EU projects need to be better communicated to citizens, the issue is much deeper than communication. The Cohesion policy is simply not delivering its intended results and therefore needs to be reformulated."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Currently, the EU dedicates more than 350 billion Euros to its Regional and Cohesion Policy, which is one third of the EUs budget. The EUs European Strategy and Policy Analysis System study on global trends 2030 and the 6<sup>th</sup> Cohesion Policy both showed that global trends are having a varied impact on localities, with some prospering and other facing challenges. The results show that the EUs Cohesion Policy has not helped mitigate the challenges and that disparities between the richest and poorest regions remain. </p>
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>

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