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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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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>
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>

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