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ECR Group Members call for more cooperation between the EU and its Eastern Neighbours <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/ukraine.jpg" width="698" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Group-Members-call-for-more-cooperation-between-the-EU-.aspx2017-09-07T22:00:00ZECR Group Members call for more cooperation between the EU and its Eastern Neighbours <p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>Members of the ECR Group met on 8 September in Lviv (Ukraine) to discuss EU's relations with Eastern Neighbourhood countries and the future of Europe. The conference, organised at the invitation of the Marshal of Podkarpackie region and ECR Group Member Władysław Ortyl, brought together local, regional, national and EU politicians and experts. </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking about the future of Europe, Ruža Tomašić MEP (ECR/HR) said: "As a sovereignist and localist I believe Europe needs more smart decentralisation. Currently diversity is not much respected in Brussels when it comes to national and regional differences. The EU should respect local specificities and decisions of national governments. We cannot accept a situation in which those who do not want further centralisation become second class members. As to Ukraine, I believe that with our help the country will soon rebuild itself and in the future it will be able to join the EU so that we can work together on delivering best results to our local communities".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The conference aimed to facilitate a wider discussion on what future we want for ourselves, our children and our continent. "The European Union is in the process of reflecting on the future of Europe, but so far the debate has concentrated on how the EU could evolve. It is however important to remember that our future is dependent not only on the EU, but also on non-EU countries", said ECR Group President Rob Jonkman (Alderman in Opsterland, Netherlands).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Particular attention was paid to the EU's relations with Ukraine, a country facing an ongoing conflict with the Russian Federation. Ukraine is a priority partner for the EU with whom the EU has entered a new state of relationship following the coming into effect of the Association Agreement on 1 September of this year. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) represents clear added value for the EU and must continue. At the same time we have to search for new instruments and improve the existing ones to enrich this policy. We need an EU macro-regional strategy for the Carpathian region so that EU Funds can deliver better results. More EU support is also needed for local and regional partnerships, which help to remove social and infrastructural barriers", said Marshal Władysław Ortyl.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Head of Strzyżów District and ECR Group Member Robert Godek gave a practical example of good cooperation between his district (located in Podkarpackie region, Poland) and the city of Brody (located in Lviv oblast, Ukraine). A joint project funded by the EU and realised by Strzyżów and Brody focused on developing their tourism potential. "The value of such programmes cannot be quantified. Their biggest benefit is promoting mutual understating among people leaving across the border".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Other speakers, all of whom highlighted the need for more decentralised cooperation in Europe, included ECR Group Member Pavel Branda (Deputy Mayor of Rádlo, Czech Republic), Pieter Cleppe (Head of Brussels office of Open Europe), Oleksandr Hanushchyn (Chairman of the Lviv Regional Council) and Serhiy Kiral (Member of the Ukrainian Parliament).</p>
Arnold Hatch endorses Jim Nicholson's call for EU Emergency Funding for Northern Ireland<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/AHatch.jpg" width="414" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Arnold-Hatch-endorses-Jim-Nicholson's-call-for-EU-Emergency-Funding-for-Northern-Ireland.aspx2017-08-31T22:00:00ZArnold Hatch endorses Jim Nicholson's call for EU Emergency Funding for Northern Ireland<p><strong>Alderman Arnold Hatch</strong> (Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Northern Ireland, UK/ Member of CoR and ECR Group Presidency/ President of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association) speaking at the European Committee of the Regions' Bureau meeting in Tallinn, Estonia this morning, endorsed the call of the <strong>MEP for Northern Ireland, Jim Nicholson</strong>, to European Commissioner Phil Hogan to provide EU Emergency Funding for farmers and agri-businesses and all those affected by the flash floods in Northern Ireland. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking during the discussion and adoption of the Action Plan between the CoR and Climate Alliance, Alderman Hatch drew attention to the need for EU Emergency funding for those similarly affected in Donegal as requested by the Fine Gael MEP for Midlands-North West constituency.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Extreme weather conditions can affect any region in Europe whether we are in the European Union or not, and the more we can do to mitigate against the worst effects of climate change the better", Alderman Hatch concluded.<br>  <br> <strong>Editor's notes</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Parts of Northern Ireland were devastated by heavy flooding in August 2017. Infrastructure was devastated and as many as 100 people had to be rescued after fleeing their homes.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><a href="https://uup.org/news/5140/21/Nicholson-calls-for-EU-emergency-aid-for-those-hit-by-flooding#.Wakjj2epWUl"><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration:underline;">More information on Jim Nicholson MEP's call for EU Emergency Funding.</span></a></p>
Cities and regions underline the EU added-value of people-to-people and small-scale projects in cross-border areas<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Branda%20rapporteur.png" width="734" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Cities-and-regions-underline-the-EU-added-value-of-people-to-people-and-small-scale-projects-in-cross-border-areas.aspx2017-07-31T22:00:00ZCities and regions underline the EU added-value of people-to-people and small-scale projects in cross-border areas<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>Local and regional elected representatives believe that more importance should be attached to people-to-people and small-scale projects in the framework of cross-border cooperation programmes, in order to overcome obstacles at borders and to integrate border areas and their citizens. </strong>According to Dr Pavel Branda's (CZ/ECR) <a href="http://cor.europa.eu/fr/activities/opinions/Pages/opinion-factsheet.aspx?OpinionNumber=CDR%201527/2017"><strong>opinion</strong> </a>adopted unanimously on 12 July 2017 by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the positive impact and EU added-value of such projects has not been properly recognised and reflected in the EUs Cohesion Policy. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Border regions are home to more than one third of the EU's population and represent a major challenge for territorial cooperation. Over the 2014-2020 period, border communities are set to receive investments worth more than EUR 6.6 billion - out of the EUR 10 billion invested in regional cooperation. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The opinion drafted by <strong>Pavel Branda, </strong>Deputy Mayor of the city of Rádlo in the Czech Republic, recommends that for the post-2020 Cohesion Policy, these projects be built into the EU's support for cross-border cooperation as legitimate instruments under the CBC programmes. It also calls on the Commission to make the necessary arrangements, including the simplification of procedures.    </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Regional and local political leaders believe that, in light of the current situation in the EU of growing nationalism, the migration crisis, the UKs exit from the EU and economic and monetary difficulties, it is essential to focus more on projects that bring added-value and therefore both refocus the EUs cohesion policy on people-to-people and small scale projects as well as raisinge the profile of their positive results<u style="text-decoration:underline;">.</u></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">The opinion stresses the findings of independent studies confirming that the variety of projects and their decentralised management mean that such projects are capable of delivering better results in addressing region-specific needs and are also capable of bringing numerous concrete benefits to citizens, although these projects are often neglected by the managing authorities for the sake of larger projects.</span><span lang="EN-GB"> </span>"It is not only large projects but also the small individual projects which are essential for the success of cross-border cooperation. They help to build confidence and eliminate stereotypes and prejudices," explains Pavel Branda. They directly involve citizens, local and regional authorities and civil society organizations while developing interpersonal contacts and partnerships and creating a platform for sharing experiences from different sides of the border. Very often, just the fact that cross-border cooperation takes place is a positive result in itself. Therefore, when it comes to assessing the objectives of the EU2020 strategy, flexibility with more suitable methodology and evaluation indicators for these kinds of projects is needed in order to ensure that their contribution is not overlooked.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The CoR therefore recommends that local and regional measures be taken within the framework of CBC, as opposed to more overarching initiatives, which are considered by the Committee to be less effective and overly dominant. Local and regional elected representatives call for the development of smaller-scale initiatives, which will enable local problems to be tackled using a tailor-made approach. This will help to mobilise and involve local citizens participating in the development of larger projects and thus restore genuine trust and cooperation in these areas. </p><p> </p>
Local leaders adopt Daiva Matonienė's opinion on renewable energy and internal electricity market<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/DaivaMatoniene.jpg?RenditionID=3" width="532" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Local-leaders-adopt-Daiva-Matonienė's-opinion-on-renewable-energy-and-internal-electricity-market.aspx2017-07-13T22:00:00ZLocal leaders adopt Daiva Matonienė's opinion on renewable energy and internal electricity market<p>The Members of the European Committee of the Regions adopted on 16 July a set of legislative and policy recommendations on the Winter Energy Package, presented by the European Commission in November 2016. One of the crucial opinions was drafted under the leadership of ECR Group Coordinator in the Environment Commission Ms Daiva Matonienė.</p><p> </p><p>Ms Matonienė is a Member of Šiauliai City Council and former Deputy Minister of Environment of Lithuania.</p><p> </p><p>Commenting on the adoption of her opinion, she said: "We need to be ambitious when it comes to increasing our use of clean energy sources but we need to do so in a 'localist' way, meaning by enabling regions and cities to adapt measures to their specificities and not putting them into a legislative straightjacket. We need to remember that Member States have different capacities when it comes to renewable energy and we need to be ambitious, but also realistic and cost-efficient".</p><p> </p><p>"Overall we welcome in our opinion the European Commissions "Clean Energy for All Europeans" package but as local and regional authorities we would like to see more to be done in terms of ensuring greater electricity market integration. I personally also believe that the Commission should pay more attention to the development of new environmentally-friendly and energy efficient technologies, in line with the technological neutrality principle", said the ECR Group rapporteur.</p><p>The 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package is the main instrument to move forward Europe's sustainable energy transition. It covers energy efficiency, renewable energy, the design of the electricity market, security of electricity supply and governance rules for the Energy Union.</p>
​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>
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>
CoR local dialogue on the future of the EU hosted by ECR Member Władysław Ortyl and attended by Polish Prime Minister and CoR President<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/23.%20Szydlo.jpg" width="714" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Wladyslaw-Ortyl-hosts-the-firsts-Citizens-Dialogue.aspx2017-02-03T23:00:00ZCoR local dialogue on the future of the EU hosted by ECR Member Władysław Ortyl and attended by Polish Prime Minister and CoR President<font class="ms-rteFontFace-3 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" lang="JA" style="font-size:16px;"><font lang="JA"><font lang="JA"><font lang="JA"><font lang="JA"><font lang="JA"></font></font></font></font></font></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:#444444;font-family:"helvetica","sans-serif";"><strong>About 500 citizens and representatives of local and regional administrations, civil society and businesses attended the first citizens dialogue organised in Poland. The event was hosted by Władysław Ortyl, ECR Group Member and Marshal of the Podkarpackie region. It was attended by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland and the President of the European Committee of the Regions.</strong></span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:#444444;font-family:"helvetica","sans-serif";">“Reflecting on Europe” is an initiative launched by the CoR to offer space for citizens to present their ideas, thoughts and opinions on the European Union and how it affects their regions and cities. The aim is to go local, collect feedback and report back to Brussels to impact the decision-making processes ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – a development which laid the foundations for the European Union. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:#444444;font-family:"helvetica","sans-serif";">In this context the Committee co-organised on 4 February a citizen’s dialogue in Podkarpackie in Poland, together with CoR member Władysław Ortyl, and in presence of Beata Szydło, Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, Markku Markkula, President of the CoR, Adam Kwiatkowski, Head of Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Poland, and Jerzy Kwieciński, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Regional Development. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:#444444;font-family:"helvetica","sans-serif";">Beata Szydło, Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, said: “thanks to the presence of the President of the CoR, we are here today talking about Europe and its future. For Poland there is no doubt that the European Union needs to reform. Europeans must have the feeling that the European Union is for them and deals with issues that are close to their hearts. We need to debate our different views, because this is the essence of democracy.At the same time we need to look for the best solutions, taking into account the development potential of individual regions and individual countries. Finally, we have to focus on issues that matter most to the people.</span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:#444444;font-family:"helvetica","sans-serif";">”Hosting the event in his home region, Marshal Ortyl said: “The voice of local government cannot be left out in the ongoing debate about the future of the EU’s cohesion policy. We want the cohesion policy and the use of the Funds to continue. However, we need to improve and better plan this policy area so as to give sub-national government at all levels a better chance at achieving economic development. The Exhibition and Congress G2A Arena Center, where we met today as well as the Science and Technology Park, the Special Economic Zone and the airport in Jasionka show that we are able to use EU funds effectively and skilfully and the result serves not only Podkarpackie but the whole country”.</span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:#444444;font-family:"helvetica","sans-serif";">Discussing the importance of the dialogue, CoR President Markku Markkula said: “We need to exchange ideas to be able to serve all our communities, including the smallest ones. The European Union needs strong regions to help achieve progress and build the kind of Europe citizens want.”</span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:#444444;font-family:"helvetica","sans-serif";">In total there will be more than 70 events all over Europe feeding into the Committee’s contribution to the Reflection on the EU series. Statements and conclusions of this debate as well as an online survey carried out during the event will feed into the CoR contribution to the Reflection on the EU.</span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font>
Achieving disaster resilient development<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/26.%20Banaszak.jpg" width="711" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Achieving-disaster-resilient-development.aspx2017-02-01T23:00:00ZAchieving disaster resilient development<div style="text-align:justify;"><strong>​Adam Banaszak (Vice President of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Parliament in Poland) is the Committee of the Regions' rapporteur on the "Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2020: A disaster risk-informed approach for all EU policies.</strong></div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">In Europe and in the world, we are seeing the frequency and the intensity of disasters increase. This is costing lives and is also costing money to tax payers. Between 2002 and 2012, natural disasters caused more than 100 000 deaths annually on average and there is an increasing trend in direct overall economic losses worldwide, with an average annual economic loss of over EUR 100 billion. In 2014, as the CoR we had also taken note that within the EU natural disasters caused 80 000 deaths and EUR 95 billion in economic losses over the last decade.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">It will not be possible to achieve economic growth that we can sustain in year to come unless our communities and economies are resilient to disasters. This requires us to conduct risk analysis and increase our resilience to the risk of disasters.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">So far at the EU level, we have financial tools (the EUs Solidarity Fund) and mechanisms (the EU Civil Protection Mechanism) that target disaster monitoring and response. However, what we are not doing enough of is focusing on preparing for disasters.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">It is now time to embed the principle of resilience into all EU spending. Currently one third of the EU is spent on the EUs regional policy yet investments do not have to be disaster resilient. In light of the ongoing increase in the number of floods and the fact that it is cheaper to build resilient structures than to retro-fit, we have to ensure that all infrastructure built with EU money is disaster resilient.</div><div style="text-align:justify;">At the EU level, we also need to recognise that disaster resilient development is a necessity to achieving sustainable development. This means that in our new strategies defining the goals behind which we intended to align our Resources, we have to put disaster resilience as a cross-cutting theme.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The international Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2020 agreed at the UN level is an important international step in recognising the importance of disaster resilient development and the practical steps that each level of government needs to take to achieve this. The new Framework represented a shift away from disaster management to disaster risk management is an important one that we should be emulating as well.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">At the EU level, the Commission Staff working document that aims at looking at what this new international voluntary instrument means for Europe and the various instruments that we have is therefore important. At the EU level, we have to recognise that this is a local issue requiring local government to act and take the lead but a coordinated approach is in all of our interests given that disasters do not stop at borders.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;"><em>Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed to introduce the possibility for the EU to be able to finance 100% of a local project in response to major or regional natural disaster. This is a necessary short-term solution to help those devastated areas but the long-term solution is to make our communities less vulnerable to disasters. If we do not  act now, we will find ourselves spending more and more on trying to recover from disasters that are occurring more frequently with increased levels of intensity. We must focus on mitigating disaster risks.</em></div><br>
Daiva Matonienė representing local and regional government views on renewable energy and the internal electricity market <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/18.%20Daiva%20photo.jpg" width="703" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Daiva-Matoniene’s-views-on-renewable-energy.aspx2017-01-31T23:00:00ZDaiva Matonienė representing local and regional government views on renewable energy and the internal electricity market <div style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>European Conservatives and Reformists Group member Daiva Matonienė, Member of Šiauliai City Municipal Council in Lithuania, will manage the European Committee of the Regions' work on 'Renewable energy and internal electricity market'.</strong></div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Ms Matonienė is leading the Committee of the Regions' work on renewable energy and the internal electricity market in her role as rapporteur on some of the most important elements of the so-called 'Winter Package' programme proposed by the European Commission on 30 November 2016.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The CoR opinion is based on five mandatory referrals from the European Commission that cover: 1) the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources; 2) common rules for the internal market in electricity; 3) establishing a European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy regulators; 4) a revised regulation on the internal market for electricity and; 5) a proposal for a new regulation on risk-preparedness in the electricity sector.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">According to the Commission, the recast of the renewable energy directives will help ensure the delivery of new renewable energy targets for 2030 set by the European Council in October 2014. The opinion is thus set to address the main issues associated with the new framework - cost-effectiveness, sustainability and the actual delivery of a share of renewable energy of at least 27% in the EU in 2030.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">For regulation on a new internal market design, the opinion will consider a range of legislative and non-legislative instruments to help improve the efficiency of the internal electricity market, as well as looking at ways to increase competition and consumer participation, and enhance the link between wholesale and retail markets.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Ms Matoniene said "climate change is something that we must aim to address but it is how we go about it that is important. As a Group, we recognise that Member States have different capacities when it comes to renewable energy and we will try to ensure that the opinion remains realistic. I will be aiming to underline the importance for climate policy to be realistic, flexible and costefficient."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Ms Matonienė recently saw her opinion on 'An EU strategy for heating and cooling' successfully adopted unanimously by CoR members at the 119th plenary session in October 2016.The opinion called for more concrete action to boost sustainable heating and cooling in Europe.</div><br>
Paweł Grzybowski represents EU local and regional government work on youth unemployment<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/21.%20Pawel.jpg" width="709" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Pawel-Grzybowski-on-youth-unemployment.aspx2017-01-30T23:00:00ZPaweł Grzybowski represents EU local and regional government work on youth unemployment<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>​The ECR Group's Coordinator for the Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) Commission is leading the work of local and regional government within the EU's Member States on 'Investing in Europe's Youth and EU Solidarity Corps' as rapporteur.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Paweł Grzybowski, the Mayor of Rypin, Poland, will look at ways to build a better future for Europe's young generation through the provision of new work and social opportunities that enhance an individual's knowledge and skills. Mr Grzybowski said: "I'm honoured to be working on such an important topic like youth engagement for my first opinion as rapporteur for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group."</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"We, as local and regional authorities in touch with our young citizens, need to make sure we can give them the best start in life. With 57% of the young generation feeling excluded from economic, social and democratic life, we have a big task ahead to improve youth engagement within society.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">My opinion will therefore look at ways the EU, working with local and regional authorities, can boost the confidence of young people through the provision of work and social opportunities, which will strengthen their knowledge and skillset," Mr Grzybowski added.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Grzybowski's opinion will also investigate the Commission's setting up of a European Solidarity Corps, a project to empower young people through volunteering to gain valuable experience within organisations and learn new skills.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The initiative aims to equip the youth with more skills through work and volunteering opportunities and therefore will benefit the private sector, creating a more competitive talent pool for them to hire from. "With the vast majority of volunteering taking place at the local level, meeting local needs, the European Solidarity Corps should be used as an opportunity to help integrate our youth into our communities and labour market. It is also an opportunity to help equip our youth with the skills that will enable them to lead our communities in the future" said the rapporteur.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The European Solidarity Corps project will help the Commission prepare for the revision of the European Youth Strategy beyond 2018. Through Mr Grzybowski's opinion, the European Committee will be feeding into discussions on the future of this strategy, ensuring young people can continue to have their voice heard and benefit from EU funding and opportunities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Grzybowski concluded: "by investing and providing them with the tools to shine, I hope this opinion will result in young people being more engaged with their local authorities and the European Union, which will be beneficial for all society."</p>
The anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty signing: a moment to reflect and push for new reforms <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/2.%20Maastricht%20event.jpg" width="713" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/The-anniversary-of-the-Maastricht-Treaty-signing-.aspx2016-12-08T23:00:00ZThe anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty signing: a moment to reflect and push for new reforms <div style="text-align:justify;">​ECR Group President Rob Jonkman attended a special 'EU Summit' in Maastricht on 9 December 2016, precisely 25 years ago from the commencement of discussions with EU leaders that led to the formation of the Maastricht Treaty.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Taking place at the MECC Exhibition and Congress Centre in the Dutch city, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Committee of the Regions President Markku Markkula were some of the special guests for the summit, a prelude to celebrations that will take place next year to celebrate 25 years since the signing of the Treaty.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Speaking from Maastricht, Alderman Rob Jonkman, Member of the Executive Council of Opsterland, said: "the 25 years anniversary of Maastricht Treaty that led to the Committee of the Regions being set-up is an opportunity for us to reflect on how we can achieve a more bottom-up localist EU. In the last 25 years, Europe has achieved a lot by working together and it is time to adapt and change so that we can continue to achieve positive things in the future."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"The real challenge for the EU is how it intends to better represent citizens on the ground, many of whom feel too far away from the goings on of the European Union. This is why our Group calls for a more bottom-up, localised approach to decision-making that ensures citizens voices are at the heart of the EU's future policy proposals."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Since the Treaty's signing, the EU has widened into new policy areas and enlarged to its current 28 Member-State configuration, as well as form its own currency – the Euro. The Treaty also helped formulate the European Committee of the Regions, established in 1994, which outlined that the Committee would have an 'advisory role' serving the interests of citizens in the EU (Article 13/4).</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Reflecting at the event, former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: "The Treaty of Maastricht was a milestone in the history of the European Union."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Despite praise, recent events such as Brexit, the Italian referendum and the rise of populism across Europe have increased calls for the EU to reform. With this in mind, Alderman Jonkman concluded: "The input of our citizens should be brought to the EU by local and regional politicians and should be taken seriously in Brussels. Only if we are prepared to listen and give the citizens a voice, the EU becomes more real for them."</div>
President of Poland’s Podkarpackie Region Władysław Ortyl becomes Chairman of Carpathians interregional group<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/17.%20Ortyl%20speaking%20at%20meeting.jpg" width="712" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Wladyslaw-Ortyl-becomes-Chairman-of-Carpathians-interregional-group.aspx2016-12-07T23:00:00ZPresident of Poland’s Podkarpackie Region Władysław Ortyl becomes Chairman of Carpathians interregional group<div style="text-align:justify;"><strong>​Władysław Ortyl, Marshal of the Podkarpackie Region of Poland is chairing the new Carpathians interregional group bringing together local and regional politicians from the European Committee of the Regions to address common challenges.</strong></div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Marshal Ortyl, who recently had his membership status to the Committee of the Regions changed from alternate to full member, has led the establishment of a new interregional group on the Carpathians. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Commenting on his appointment as a full member of the EU's Committee of the Regions, Marshal Ortyl said: "I am honoured to be continuing my work for the ECR Group as a full member of the European Committee of the Regions. As a new member, I look forward to being more involved in the opinions that all tiers of local and regional government from across the EU prepare on EU legislation.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"I look forward to further raising the views of local citizens from my Podkarpackie region in Poland, and treat this nomination as both a privilege and a commitment", said Marshal Ortyl. Poland has 16 regions called Voivodeship's, which are presided over by a Marshal. The Podkarpackie region is the region where the Marshal is from the ECR affiliated Law and Justice Party, currently also in national government. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"In my work I intend to focus on, among other things, the future of cohesion policy. I find it particularly important to ensure that decisions on how to spend EU funds are taken as close as possible to the citizens and that those funds are spent efficiently. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"Among his initial tasks, Marshal Ortyl participated in the first meeting of the new interregional group 'Carpathians', for which he was confirmed as chairman. The group, set up in February 2016, aims to investigate the possibility of creating a Carpathian macroregional strategy in the mountainous region, which stretches west to east from the Czech Republic to Romania, going through Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Poland and the Ukraine. The area is famed for its great beauty and ecological value, as well as the source for a number of major rivers. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Developing the region's economic, cultural and ecological policies through sustainable development is of highest importance, with the interregional group also promising to promote a multilevel governance approach to development of the Carpathian strategy. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Marshal Ortyl presented the plans to members at the meeting on 8 December 2016. Other local and regional politicians attending the Carpathian interregional group included Alin Nica, Head of the Romanian national delegation at the CoR and József Ribányi, Head of the Hungarian national delegation. During the 8 December meeting, other perspectives were offered from an associate of the Carpathian Convention and Harald Egerer from the UN Environment Europe's Vienna Office. </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Adrian Ovidiu Teban (Mayor of Cugir in Romania) and Mr Oszkár Seszták (President of County Council of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg Megye in Hungary) were elected Vice-Chairmen of the Intergroup. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Speaking at the meeting, Marshal Ortyl said: "It's a privilege for me to be opening the first session of the Carpathians as chairman of the CoR's new interregional group to promote a modern development strategy to strengthen this important mountainous region in Europe." </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"By sharing best practices and working together with my colleagues from across seven countries, I believe we can help the region's economy flourish whilst still protecting its valuable ecology and environment." </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">All present members agreed that in order for the group to strengthen international cooperation in line with the Carpathian Convention, some meetings should take place externally from Brussels in order to involve as many local and regional representatives as possible. A proposal for a meeting in Romania later this year has been made, alongside an already planned meeting in Brussels in March 2017.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">As one of Europe's largest mountain ranges, the Carpathian Convention was signed in May 2003 by seven Carpathian states (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine) to foster the sustainable development of the area.</div><br>
Local and regional politicians debate the future of the EU<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/10.%20ECR%20Extraordinary%20Group%20meeting%20pic%202.jpg" width="711" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Local-and-regional-politicians-debate-the-future-of-the-EU.aspx2016-12-07T23:00:00ZLocal and regional politicians debate the future of the EU​In December 2016, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the CoR hosted an extraordinary group meeting, attended by ECR Group members, MPs and local and regional politicians from across Europe, discussing the future of the European Union.<div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Separated into two panels, the meeting on Thursday 8 December started with a seminar on 'Scenarios for the future', looking at how to change the European Union to make it more accountable and effective in the near future.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Chairing the first panel, ECR Group President Alderman Rob Jonkman said: "It is an exciting time to be discussing the EU's future. Recent referendums and votes in Member States have shown disdain and antipathy towards</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">the direction in which the EU has been going, sending a strong signal of the need for the EU to change."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"Many of the concerns voiced by citizens' echo the principles of our Group, namely decisions need to be taken at the local level and involve citizens as much as possible."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Guests for this panel included Daniele Capezzone MP, from the Chambers of Deputies in Italy, who argued the EU "must not be a cage but a means for countries to achieve growth through a free market". Other speakers included</div><div style="text-align:justify;">Pieter Cleppe from the think tank Open Europe and Oldřich Vlasák, Vice-President of the ECR Group.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">For the second session the debate moved to an open forum on the future of the EU, where local and regional government views were shared by local government representatives from Belgium, Italy, Poland, Northern Ireland, Croatia and the Czech Republic.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Topics raised included the need for the EU to focus more on facilitating trade deals, a further focus on regionalisation, and calls for the European Committee of the Regions to be able to propose and put forward legislative changes to the European Parliament and European Commission.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Presiding over proceedings in session two, Cllr Joe Cooney, Vice-President of the ECR CoR Group, said: "Sitting here in Brussels, EU politicians sometimes forget the impact that regional policies and opinions made at the EU level have on our local communities. We need to readdress the communication between the two and improve the relationship between the EU and local communities."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Commenting on the need to make EU funds more effective and easier to access, Councillor Cooney added: "Local and regional authorities have a crucial role in delivering EU growth targets through funds and support mechanisms agreed at the EU level and financed through national governments. Yet problems with current funding apparatus and unsuccessful implementation of funds have resulted in many local regions and authorities not benefiting from EU regional policy."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"The ECR Group believe that the only way to improve the performance of the EU's regional policy is by sticking with the principle of subsidiarity and ensuring decisions are taken as close to citizens as possible."</div><br>
ECR workshop calls for a decentralised, bottom-up system of EU governance<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/8.%20Andrew%20Lewer%20panel.JPG" width="709" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-workshop-calls-for-a-decentralised,-bottom-up-system-of-EU-governance.aspx2016-12-07T23:00:00ZECR workshop calls for a decentralised, bottom-up system of EU governance<div style="text-align:justify;">​A European Union that puts localism at the heart of its plans for the future was the main message from the ECR Group in the European Committee of the Regions' debate on the future of the EU and territorial vision.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Chaired by Andrew Lewer MEP, the debate on Wednesday 7 December 2016 brought together local and regional politicians with representatives of the EU institutions to discuss ideas and elaborate on future policy that will help shape the future of the EU.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">With Brexit and the recent Italian referendum putting pressure on the EU to reform, there were plenty of suggestions and considerations raised by attendees, including the need for the decentralising of powers from the EU to national and local governments, with a greater focus on planning for the future.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Speaking at the debate, Andrew Lewer MEP said: "The EU is faced with many challenges as a result of recent political changes across Europe. Now is the time to start planning for the future."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"With the second largest economy in the EU leaving, there will be implications to the EU budget. The EU should not have illusions of an increased EU budget in the future, which is why we call for the decentralising of powers to save money and make the EU more effective."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Other points advocated for bottom-up policy making in cohesion policy where the exercise of power is made at the lowest practicable level involving citizens.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">As CoR rapporteur for Territorial Vision 2050, ECR Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák argued for a stronger bottom-up approach in future EU policy to achieve more balanced growth and development.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Vlasák, Councillor of the city of Hradec Králové, said: "Local and regional authorities are best-placed to help configure the future of the European project, so we must involve them and use their knowledge of their citizens' needs to create a better functioning EU, particularly in the area of Cohesion Policy."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">As a member for Northern Ireland, Alderman Arnold Hatch, rapporteur for the CoR opinion on Supporting Young European Farmers, expressed his concern about the impact of Brexit on the agriculture sector in his region, as well as ways to currently improve farming across all Member States.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"It is clear to me that we face many similar challenges with national, regional and local authorities in all EU Member States when it comes to agriculture", Mr Hatch said. "We believe that the agri-food sector should be the focus of targeted proposals on job creation, growth and investment to ensure that the EU's agriculture and food industries realise its significant potential and maintains a competitive position on the world market." Other guests included Pieter Cleppe, Head of Open Europe in Brussels, who was joined by the ECR Group's President Rob Jonkman, Alderman of the municipality of Opsterland.</div>
ECR President calls on Commission Vice-President to prioritise less regulation and greater empowerment of citizens for a better functioning EU <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 Vice-President to prioritise less regulation and greater empowerment of citizens for a better functioning EU <p>​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 Frans Timmermans during the Committee of the Regions 120th plenary session.</p><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The Vice-President was present for the plenary debate to discuss the European Commission's work programme for 2017 with local and regional government representatives. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Intervening during the welcoming speeches of the EU CoR's plenary session in December 2016, Rob Jonkman outlined the importance of localism being a guiding principle and how it could help reform the EU's approach to issues such as climate change.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">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."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">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".</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"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", the ECR Group President added.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Arguing that the Commission needed to be more bottom-up in its approach, Alderman Rob Jonkman further warned the Vice President that the EU must treat local government as partners and not stakeholders in the EUs better regulation process.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Alderman Jonkman said: "Calling elected government a stakeholder and trying to put them into the same category as nongovernmental organisations is disrespectful to the voters they represent."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The ECR Group President also underlined that there are issues that require coordinated action at the European level as these issues transcend borders.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"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", the member stated.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Calling for a review and evaluation of all EU binding targets, Alderman Jonkman concluded his address to Vice-President Timmermans by asking for the Commission to conduct a review and evaluate all EU environmental binding targets.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"The huge number of derogations and environmental targets has created a convoluted system, leading to further administrative e burdens for local and regional administrations. It may look good to have lots of figures on paper, but in practice it does not work. For local and regional government to successfully tackle climate change and be ambitious on environmental issues, we must reshape and simplify the current system. This is why we advocate for a review of EU binding targets."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><br><p style="text-align:justify;">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, including 'Collaborative economy and online platforms' and 'Reform of the Common <em>European Asylum System.</em></p><p><br> </p><i><i></i></i>
Improving the European Semester<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/30661501114_27b0fe5d98_o.jpg" width="705" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Improving-the-European-Semester---Rob-Jonkman.aspx2016-12-01T23:00:00ZImproving the European Semester<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>​Rob Jonkman is rapporteur for the Committee of the Regions' opinion on improving the governance of the European Semester: a code of conduct for the involvement of local and regional authorities. The opinion looks at how the EU tool for coordination economic and fiscal policy coordination can be improved through a more localist approach.</strong></p><p> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The European Semester is the main tool for economic and fiscal policy coordination at EU level, during which Member States align their budgetary and economic policies with the recommendations agreed at EU level. The coordination process currently has limited success. The country-specific recommendations, as tailored policy guidance to Member</p><p style="text-align:justify;">States, are one of the key products under the European Semester yet their implementation is very low. At the beginning of 2016 only 4% of the 2015 country-specific recommendations showed 'substantial progress' with 48% showing only 'limited' or 'no progress' at all.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> Local and regional authorities have underlined on many occasions that a more bottom- up approach is needed to the European Semester, highlighting that 40 per cent of the 2016 country-specific recommendations could not be fully implemented without the active role of the local and regional authorities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Underlining the need for greater localism, the CoR rapporteur Rob Jonkman said "involving local and regional authorities in the European Semester as partners will not only give them a voice but help better match the goals with the delivery on the ground."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the annual analysis of the economic and social situation in the Member States published by the Commission on 22 February 2017, the Commission called on Members States to explain how regional and local authorities were involved in the elaboration and implementation of reforms, recognising the need of more ownership on the local and regional level.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"For a sound territorial basis we need to enrich the Semester as a whole (the Annual Growth Survey, National Reform Programmes and Country-Specific Recommendations) with territorial trends and impact of EU policies. We also need to define standing arrangements to give local and regional authorities the opportunity to take part in the preparation, review and implementation of the reforms and programmes. If we adopt a code of conduct that enables a more bottom-up inclusive process then we will also be giving local and regional government a voice in areas that concern them. The recommendations already give details on what we should be doing so we should be given a voice in the process as well," said rapporteur Rob Jonkman.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Underlining that the code of conduct on partnership in the framework of cohesion policy's ESI Funds could be used an example for a code of conduct for the Semester, Rob Jonkman said "as local and regional governments we already provide data and input to the Commission for the ESI Funds. This existing data can be used to improve the linkages between EU policies and investment agenda."</p>
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>
Adam Banaszak participates in signing of the CoR-WHO memorandum of understanding <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/15.%20Adam%20WHO.jpg" width="713" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Adam-Banaszak-participates-in-signing-of-the-CoR-WHO-memorandum-of-understanding-.aspx2016-11-20T23:00:00ZAdam Banaszak participates in signing of the CoR-WHO memorandum of understanding <p style="text-align:justify;">​The ECR's coordinator for the Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) was involved in the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the European Committee of the Regions and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, focusing on health and wellbeing of EU citizens. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><div style="text-align:justify;">Signed in November 2016 in Brussels, the Memorandum seeks to ensure that every human being can enjoy the highest attainable standard of health by the two organisations working together to benefit all EU citizens. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The CoR's Vice-President Karl-Heinz Lambertz and WHO/Europe Regional Director Zsuzsanna Jakab officially signed the agreement which opens a new chapter in collaborative efforts to make Europe's health policy stronger and better suited to the needs of citizens, with emphasis on local and regional authorities playing a greater role in efforts. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Adam Banaszak, Member of the Kujawsko- Pomorskie Regional Assembly, was invited to attend the ceremony as the CoR's Rapporteur on 'The role of local and regional authorities in the implementation of the health strategy 2008-2013', adopted in 2010. </div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Banaszak said: "I am glad to be here today witnessing the signing of an important agreement between the European Committee of the Regions and the World Health Organisation. This agreement will make us both stronger to deal with the local health issues that local and regional authorities face in the EU."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The commitment is likely to cover ideas such as making cities and regions more health-conscious places, as well as promoting vaccination campaigns and supporting people's healthy lifestyles.</div><br>
ECR members take part in UNFCCC global climate summit in Marrakesh<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/13.%20COP%2022.jpg" width="713" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-members-take-part-in-UNFCCC-global-climate-summit-in-Marrakesh.aspx2016-11-17T23:00:00ZECR members take part in UNFCCC global climate summit in Marrakesh<div style="text-align:justify;">​ECR Group in the CoR members Daiva Matonienė, Ilpo Haalisto and Paweł Grzybowski were in attendance for the session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">With the European Committee of the Regions playing a valuable role in the COP 22 discussions as an observer through the EU UN delegation, ECR members had the chance to participate in a variety of events and summits during the Marrakesh conference in November 2016.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Following the successful COP 21 in Paris in 2015 which saw important progress made to tackling climate change, the follow-up conference focused on implementing actions to help achieve the priorities of the Paris Agreement, in relation to significant areas like transparency, adaptation and mitigation. By hosting the event in the Moroccan capital, the hope was for the forum to help move the Mediterranean region towards a common climate change agenda.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">One of the events included a meeting of the CoR Commission for Sustainable Development of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), which discussed two reports by CoR rapporteurs; one on cross-border cooperation in the Mediterranean region, and another on energy and climate change in the Mediterranean region.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">ECR member Paweł Grzybowski, Mayor of Rypin, said: "Cities and regions have a great potential in operationalising the Paris Agreement and leading on action to protect our climate. By the CoR coordinating with organisations like the UNFCCC and encouraging Member States to work together on a regional basis, we can create a coordinated approach to slowing down climate change."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"In order to do so we need bottom-up initiatives, using innovative technologies and respecting local economies. To give you one positive example, in the city of Rypin we recently modernised our heating system.</div><div style="text-align:justify;">Using cogeneration brought about many benefits to our community such as improving air quality, ensuring security of supply and decreasing the need to buy emission allowances."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">ARLEM members also had the opportunity to present the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (CoM), in partnership with the European Commission and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), as the largest urban global movement aiming at a transition towards low carbon and climate resilient territories. Now fully operational in Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Southern part of the Mediterranean, the CoM aims to raise awareness amongst local mayors, councillors and other local representatives of the challenges of climate change and energy transition. Other events organised by ARLEM saw a meeting on 'Defining a new global climate governance', a meeting between the EU delegation at COP 22 and regions and cities to foster dialogue between the two parties and enhance the inclusiveness of the UNFCCC.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">ARLEM brings together elected representatives of local and regional authorities from the European Union and its Mediterranean partners to provide a platform to promote local democracy, multi-level governance and decentralised cooperation.</div><br>
ECR Poland conference: achieving a more localist EU Cohesion Policy post-2020<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/6.%20Polish%20panel.jpg" width="714" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Poland-conference-achieving-a-more-localist-EU-Cohesion-Policy-post-2020.aspx2016-11-16T23:00:00ZECR Poland conference: achieving a more localist EU Cohesion Policy post-2020<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>​Members of CoR came together with local and regional politicians and stakeholders in Poland's Kujawsko-Pomorskie region to engage in a local dialogue over the future of the European Union's Cohesion Policy.</strong></p><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">As part of the ECR Group's ongoing localism work looking at how the principle of empowering local communities can help lead European reform, a conference was organised in in Przysiek, in Poland's Kujawsko-Pomorskie region on Thursday 17 November 2016. The event specifically looked at how localism can be used to create an improved European Union post-2020, addressing challenges and identifying opportunities for the future of the EU's Cohesion Policy.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Moderated by Adam Banaszak, Vice-President of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Assembly and leader of the Polish delegation in the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions, panellists included Jerzy Zająkała (Mayor of Łubianka) and Alderman Gordon Keymer CBE FCA, Patron and former President of the ECR Group.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Chairing the debate, Mr Banaszak said: "the focus for this conference was to look at how the EU's Cohesion Policy, and importantly the funds that go with it, can be used more effectively to benefit more local people across the EU."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"From the event, it was clear that there is a consensus for local funds to be channeled through to local regions and authorities more effectively. This can be done by cutting red tape and reducing barriers, ensuring money returns to LRAs more quickly and more efficiently."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">First adopted by European leaders in June 2010, Europe 2020 is the EUs ten-year growth strategy which aimed to help achieve cohesive development. It sets out five ambitious objectives on the following areas: employment, innovation, education, social cohesion and climate/energy. Member States must adopt each objective into their own national targets.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Questions raised at the conference focused on how the idea of localism, one of the ECR Group's founding principles, can help shape a better, reformed Cohesion Policy that has its focus solely on improving the lives of EU citizens in local regions and authorities. Audience members were then able to hear from representatives of Poland, including the Governor of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region Mikołaj Bogdanowicz, and Michał Korolko, Director of Economic Development Department and International Cooperation from the Office of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Council.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Discussing the downfalls to the EU's Cohesion Policy, Jerzy Zająkała said: "The cohesion policy objectives set some decades ago have still not been achieved and recent Eurostat figures show just how much still has to be done to attain the goal of governance."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"The EUs cohesion policy should be continued but the Cohesion Policy instruments need to be made simpler, and priority must be given to applying development mechanisms based on a sustainable approach."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">As one of the largest beneficiaries of Cohesion Policy, the continuation of the policy after 2020 is fundamental for local and regional authorities in Poland. However, the country believes that funds need to be better tailored to the needs of local communities.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Discussing the main outcomes from the event, Adam Banaszak concluded: "It was great to hear from many Polish citizens and representatives from Polish local and national governments today, who all agreed that continuing the Cohesion Policy post-2020 will ensure our communities are further developed and supported."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"However, it is clear from the comments raised today that much work needs to be done to make the cohesion funds more tailored to the needs of local people. I hope the EU will take note of the opinions expressed here today when drafting the new Cohesion Policy."</div><br>
UKs exit from the EU: local and regional government assess consequences and discuss long-term cooperation<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/3.%20Rob%20Jonkman%20David%20Jones.jpg" width="713" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/UKs-exit-from-the-EU.aspx2016-10-31T23:00:00ZUKs exit from the EU: local and regional government assess consequences and discuss long-term cooperation<div style="text-align:justify;">​Local and regional government in the UK and other EU countries are working together to assess the impact of a potential UK exit from the EU and to discuss long-term cooperation. To this end, the political leadership of the CoR went to on a fact-finding mission to the UK meeting Secretary of State David Jones as well as Councillors and representatives of UKs devolved administrations. The CoR also met with Michel Barnier, the EUs chief negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the exit Negotiations with the UK, to whom they will be providing input.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The European Committee of the Regions' Conference of President's has been leading the work of local and regional government in assessing the consequences of a UK exit from the EU as well as considering means for longterm cooperation. In January, the Conference of Presidents composed of the President and Vice-President of the CoR as well as the Presidents of the 5 political groups, met with the EUs Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and were in London meeting local politicians and representatives of the UKs devolved administrations.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The CoR is working with the EUs Chief Negotiator Barnier to provide input from a local and regional government perspective to the negotiations on the UKs exit from the EU. Rob Jonkman, representing the ECR Group at the meeting, underlined that "UK and other European local and regional government will continue to face common challenges that will require a continuation of the sharing of best-practices. We need to ensure that we think of the long-term city-to-city type cooperation needed for Europe's future."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The CoR political leadership also went to London where they attended the annual meeting of the UK delegation to the CoR and met with the Greater London Authority. The ECR Group was represented by Rob Jonkman at the UK delegation meeting and Cllr Harvey Siggs (Somerset County and Mendip District Councils) at the GLA meeting.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">The British Secretary of State, David Jones MP also attended the UK delegation meeting where the UK ECR delegation was led by Cllr Joe Cooney (Pendle Borough Council). During the meeting, Cllr David Simmonds</div><div style="text-align:justify;">(Deputy Chairman of the Local Government Association and Chairman of the Brexit Task and Finnish Group) presented the LGA's work in addressing the place-based impacts of a UK exit from the EU aimed at building an evidence base to support the exit negotiations. Alderman Arnold Hatch (Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council) spoke on behalf of the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh authorities and underlined the importance place-based impacts being taken into account.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">During the meeting in London the Committee of the Regions' President, Markku Markkula, stressed that that the CoR will continue to cooperate with the UK's local and regional government throughout the Brexit negotiations and beyond.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">"The focus in Brussels is currently on the future of Europe. In that debate, we have to remember that the continent will face common challenges ranging from migration to globalisation and these will require UK and the EU27 to keep working together," said ECR Group Vice-President and leader of the ECR UK delegation Cllr Joe Cooney.</div>
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>
Localism top of the agenda for ECR conference in Italy<img alt="" height="319" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/ECR%20Localism%20conference_Poster.jpg" width="259" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Localism-top-of-the-agenda-for-ECR-conference-in-Italy.aspx2016-10-13T22:00:00ZLocalism top of the agenda for ECR conference in Italy<span class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" id="ms-rterangepaste-start"></span><div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Taking place on Friday 21 October in Lecce, Italy, the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions' forthcoming localism conference aims to look at how the principle of localism can be used to achieve a better functioning regional policy.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">The event will focus specifically on the EU's regional policy, which accounts for approximately one third of the total EU budget. The policy aims to target all regions and cities, and as a result our conference will bring together a variety of stakeholders and speakers to the historic city of Lecce, Italy. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Confirmed guests include Paolo Perrone, Mayor of Lecce and First Deputy Chairman of the National Association of Italian Municipalities, and Raffaele Fitto MEP, Member of the European Parliament for Southern Italy and President of Conservatori e Riformisti.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">The conference will be split into two sections, where the first panel will set the scene for EU regional policy and look at ongoing challenges experienced at a local and regional level that require EU actions. The second panel will feature a discussion on the way forward for localism post-2020. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><em><span lang="PL" style="font-style:normal;line-height:115%;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">The discussion will be overseen by President of the ECR Group in the CoR Rob Jonkman and Vice-President </span></font></span></em><span lang="PL" style="line-height:115%;">Oldřich Vlasák. Other guests will be announced in due course. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="PL" style="line-height:115%;">The event, taking place at the Teatro Paisiello in Lecce, will start with welcome speeches from 09.00 and is estimated to finish at 12.45. </span></div> <span class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" id="ms-rterangepaste-end"></span>
Building disaster resilient communities: ECR Rapporteurs help conclude UN-CoR cooperation<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/34.%20Adam%20and%20Harvey.jpg?Width=800" width="712" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-rapporteurs-oversee-official-signing-of-Sendai-Framework-Action-Plan.aspx2016-10-12T22:00:00ZBuilding disaster resilient communities: ECR Rapporteurs help conclude UN-CoR cooperation<p style="text-align:justify;"><span>Rapporteurs Adam Banaszak and Harvey Siggs, as the spokespersons of local and regional authorities in Europe on disaster risk reduction, helped launch a five year cooperation between the European Committee of the Regions and the <a href="https://www.unisdr.org/"><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><font color="#0066cc">United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction</font></span></a> (UNISDR). </span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The <a href="http://cor.europa.eu/en/news/Pages/reduce-disaster-risks.aspx">ceremony</a>, which took place on 13 October on the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), saw the CoR's President Markku Markkula and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction Robert Glassser jointly sign the framework which will be implemented on local and regional levels. The ceremony started with statements made by the Committee of the Regions rapporteurs Adam Banaszak and Harvey Siggs, who outlined the need for coordinated action.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Action Plan aims to translate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (a voluntary international agreement to disaster management policy and operations) into ideas for local and regional governments.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">As the CoR's rapporteur for the opinion on a 'Post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action', the ECR's Harvey Siggs (Leader of Mendip District Council and Member of Somerset County Council) helped bring together the views of local and regional authorities across Europe to create an opinion on disaster resilience. Cllr Siggs then presented this common position at the 3<sup>rd</sup> World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai in 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Commenting at the official signing ceremony, Cllr Siggs said: "The CoR opinion on disaster resilience prepared under my leadership underlined the need for a focus on prevention, preparedness and resilience, whilst highlighting the key role of local and regional authorities."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"With natural disasters costing the EU close to €100 billion since 2005 and affectiving over 30 million people of which 150,000 have been killed, this goes to show that disasters are only going to continue in coming years. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"I am therefore pleased to see the UN and the EUs assembly of local and regional representatives coming together today for this important signing ceremony."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Also in attendance was the ECR's Adam Banaszak, who has recently been appointed CoR rapporteur on an 'Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030'.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Having already worked on improving EU instruments for responding to and managing disasters as rapporteur on the 'Union's Civil Protection Mechanism' in 2012, Mr Banaszak said he was "looking forward" to taking steps to help the EU manage risks and achieve resilience.</p><p>Mr Banaszak said: "More than one third of the EU's budget is dedicated to the EU's cohesion policy and one could argue that it is our moral obligation to invest with resilience in mind. If we do not invest with resilience in mind and if EU money delivers unsafe buildings, then we are risking citizens' lives – and that is unacceptable."</p><p>Read more about this at the <a href="http://cor.europa.eu/en/news/Pages/reduce-disaster-risks.aspx">Committee of the Regions website</a>.</p>
ECR hosts workshop on future of Europe 2020 strategy for EWRC 2016<img alt="" height="187" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Panel.jpg" width="281" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-hosts-workshop-on-future-of-Europe-2020-strategy-for-EWRC-2016.aspx2016-10-10T22:00:00ZECR hosts workshop on future of Europe 2020 strategy for EWRC 2016<span class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" id="ms-rterangepaste-start"></span><div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;">The debate, entitled 'The post-2020 growth and jobs agenda - what do local and regional authorities want?', examined the future of the EU's regional policy, featuring a panel including <b>Andrew Lewer MEP</b> for the ECR Group, <span lang="EN-GB">Mayor of </span><span lang="PL" style="color:black;">Ł</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;">ubianka</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;"></span><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;"></span><span lang="EN-GB"> <strong>Jerzy Zająkała</strong>, <strong>Professor Iain Begg </strong>and our Vice President <b>Oldřich Vlasák</b>.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span>With its mid-term review now up, the session focused on how a <span style="line-height:115%;">post-2020 strategy can better accommodate and incorporate the views of local and regional authorities. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span style="line-height:115%;"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span style="line-height:115%;">Chairing the event, </span><b><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Gordon Keymer</span></b><span style="line-height:115%;">, former ECR Group President and CoR rapporteur on 'Mobility in geographically and demographically challenged regions', said: "</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">As a former local politician who dedicated over 15 years of my career to serving local government in the EU as an active member of the CoR, it is a pleasure to chair todays workshop."</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">"It is important to remember that local and regional government are not only affected by approximately three quarters of EU policies but that they manage two thirds of all public investments."</span><span style="line-height:115%;"></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span style="line-height:115%;"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span style="line-height:115%;"><img width="3750" height="2500" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="Keymer.jpg" src="/ecr/news/Documents/Keymer.jpg" style="height:222px;width:332px;margin:5px;" />Adopted by European leaders in June 2010, the Europe 2020 initiative is closely aligned with the EU's cohesion policy. It sets out five ambitious objectives on the following areas: employment, innovation, education, social cohesion and climate/ energy. Member states must adopt each objective into their own national targets.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span style="line-height:115%;"> <br></span><span style="line-height:115%;">Questions raised at the workshop asked how the rapidly changing economy in Europe will affect the future of the strategy, along with</span> internal and external issues such as migration and the result of the recent UK referendum on EU membership. Participants also criticised the strategy on so-far failing to deliver on the expected degree of political influence it had first hoped to achieve, with others questioning whether a medium and long-term growth strategy is relevant for today's fast-moving world. </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;">Reflecting on the future of the 2020 strategy, <b><span lang="EN-GB">Oldřich Vlasák</span></b><span lang="EN-GB">, ECR Group member, said: "</span><span lang="EN-GB">A post-2020 vision should include a place-based, bottom-up approach to policy making; a holistic strategy to <span lang="EN-GB"></span>urban and rural matters that gives local and regional authorities responsibility for development."</span><span lang="EN-GB"></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span lang="EN-GB"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"><span lang="EN-GB">The workshop was one of several organised for the European Week of Regions and Cities 2016, an annual four-day event which bring EU cities and regions together to showcase and discuss sustainability and inclusive growth. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:115%;">The debate featured <b><span lang="EN-GB">Andrew Lewer MEP</span></b><span lang="EN-GB"> (Member of the European Parliament for East Midlands, UK, EP ECR Group Coordinator on Regional Policy Committee and Chairman of the Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group), <b>Oldřich Vlasák</b> (CoR rapporteur on Territorial Vision 2050/ Councillor of the city of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic/ Director of Water Supply and Sewerage Association of the Czech Republic), <b>Jerzy Zająkała</b> (Mayor of </span><span lang="PL" style="color:black;">Ł</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;">ubianka</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;"></span><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;"></span><span lang="EN-GB">, Poland/ Member of the National Development Council) and <b>Prof Iain Begg</b> (Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science/ Associate fellow at Chatham House).</span></div> <span class="ms-rteFontSize-3 ms-rteFontFace-5" id="ms-rterangepaste-end"></span>
Greater localism is needed in EU energy policy if we want to achieve improved efficiency<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Daiva%20in%20ENVE.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Greater-localism-is-needed-in-EU-energy-policy-if-we-want-to-achieve-improved-efficiency.aspx2016-10-09T22:00:00ZGreater localism is needed in EU energy policy if we want to achieve improved efficiency<p><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">​<span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">L</span></span><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0 ms-rteFontSize-3" lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0 ms-rteFontSize-3">ocal and regional leaders in the Environment Commission adopted on 30 June 2016 a draft opinion on <a href="http://cor.europa.eu/en/activities/opinions/pages/opinion-factsheet.aspx?OpinionNumber=CDR%201411/2016">'an EU strategy on heating and cooling' </a>prepared under the leadership of ECR Group Member Daiva Matonienė. </span></font></span><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0 ms-rteFontSize-3" lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0 ms-rteFontSize-3">In her opinion and in the article below, Ms Matonienė calls on the European Commission to review existing financial support mechanisms and to come up with more concrete and localist policy recommendations on how to develop the heating and cooling sector in Europe. </span></font></span></p> <p class="ms-rteFontSize-3"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0 ms-rteFontSize-3"></span></font></span><span lang="EN-GB">Heating and cooling in our buildings and industry accounts for half of the EU's energy consumption and if we want to increase our efficiency, it is an area we must target through a localism approach. Energy efficiency is a target that we can only reach if local and regional authorities are treated as partners. </span></p> <p class="ms-rteFontSize-3"><span lang="EN-GB"></span><span lang="EN-GB">I strongly believe the European Commission strategy published in February 2016 on heating and cooling is a step in the right direction, but it unfortunately fails to acknowledge the key role played by local and regional authorities. Local authorities are not only involved in the development and management of infrastructure, but are also among the largest energy users. Many towns and cities across the EU already have climate and sustainable energy action plans, which incorporate low-carbon heat and power production, deployment of renewable energy sources and measures aimed at energy efficiency improvement. At the EU level, we must facilitate the sharing of experiences and best practices.</span></p> <p class="ms-rteFontSize-3"><span lang="EN-GB"></span><span lang="EN-GB">Through my own experiences as a local, national and EU politician, I have seen first-hand that it is only through the different tiers of government working together that we can achieve our intended results. Our task at the EU and national level is to unleash the potential of the heating and cooling sector in terms of energy savings, sustainability and energy diversification, and those implementing most of the measures will be local or regional governments. </span></p> <p class="ms-rteFontSize-3"><span lang="EN-GB"></span><span lang="EN-GB">In my home country Lithuania I am directly responsible for the national programme of modernisation of multi-family apartment buildings, which aims to ensure that these buildings are more energy efficient. More than 1,000 buildings have been renovated under this scheme and a further 2,000 are undergoing renovation. We have achieved such great results in these areas because all levels of government – the European Investment Bank, the European Commission and the central government – have worked in close cooperation with local authorities to achieve a multiplier effect. Such a localism approach should also be the guiding principle for the European Commission's strategy.</span></p> <p class="ms-rteFontSize-3"><span lang="EN-GB"></span><span lang="EN-GB">Additionally, the European Commission has not focused enough in its strategy on innovation in the industry. At the EU level, we must collectively support the development of new technologies, which can efficiently contribute to climate change mitigation.</span></p> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span><span lang="EN-GB">Furthermore, we must think about how these energy efficiency projects will be financed. Combining the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) financial instruments would be really helpful as it would ensure the procedures are sped up and simplified. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span><span lang="EN-GB">F</span><span lang="EN-GB">inally, we also need to remove the administrative and legal barriers that are slowing down the development of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants and networks.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span lang="EN-GB"></span><i><span lang="EN-GB">Local and regional politicians are due to vote on the final text outlining their opinion during the CoR's 11-12 October plenary session. You can watch the plenary live through the <a href="http://cor.europa.eu/en/Pages/home.aspx">CoR homepage</a>.</span></i></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span lang="EN-GB"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><i><span lang="EN-GB">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.</span></i></div>
ECR set to discuss future of Europe 2020 strategy<img alt="" height="270" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/European-Week-of-Regions-and-Cities-EWRC_bc95e67ed415b8e49f9c908d6a09f17c4da260fb_sq_320.jpg" width="281" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-set-to-discuss-future-of-Europe-2020-strategy.aspx2016-10-03T22:00:00ZECR set to discuss future of Europe 2020 strategy​ <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" id="ms-rterangepaste-start"></span><div class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0 ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">As part of the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/regions-and-cities/2016/index.cfm">European Week of Regions and Cities 2016</a>, the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions will be hosting a workshop discussing the future of the EU's Cohesion Policy. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Entitled 'The post-2020 growth and jobs agenda – what do local and regional authorities want?', the discussion will look at the future of growth in the EU following the end of the Europe 2020 strategy. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Adopted by European leaders in June 2010, the Europe 2020 initiative, closely aligned with the EU's cohesion policy, came into fruition at a difficult time amidst the Eurozone debt crisis and other unfortunate circumstances. It sets out five ambitious objectives – on employment, innovation, education, social conclusion, and climate/ energy – which member states must adopt into their own national targets. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">The aim is to deliver growth in these areas, but with a rapidly changing economy in Europe and several internal and external problems, the 2020 strategy has so far failed to deliver on the expected degree of political influence it was first hoped to achieve. With its midterm review now up, its lack of success has led to some questioning whether a medium-and long-term growth strategy is still relevant. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Looking to find answers and offer solutions, our panellists are expected to debate the issues surrounding the current strategy, and ask how a new programme can be interpreted for post-2020 that will support growth and jobs at local and regional levels. The current strategy was largely based on European and national targets, so there is a real opportunity for regional and local authorities to play an important role in shaping negotiations for any future strategy.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Chaired by <span style="color:black;">honorary President of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions</span> Gordon Keymer CBE</span><span lang="PL" style="line-height:115%;">, the panel will include Andrew Lewer MEP, ECR Group Coordinator in the European Parliament Regional Development Committee, and Jerzy </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Zająkała, Mayor of </span><span lang="PL" style="line-height:115%;">Ł</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">ubianka</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"></span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"></span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"></span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;"> in Poland since 1990. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">Joining them will be Professor Iain Begg from the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, and ECR Group Vice-President </span><span lang="PL" style="line-height:115%;">Oldřich Vlasák</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">.</span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5 ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="line-height:115%;">The event takes place on 11 October 2016 in Brussels. Follow us on Twitter for live updates from the workshop: <a href="https://twitter.com/ECR_CoR">@ECR_CoR</a></span></div>
ECR's Adam Banaszak attends election observation mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/31.%20Adam%20Banaszak%20in%20Bosnia%201.jpg" width="714" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR's-Adam-Banaszak-attends-election-observation-mission-in-Bosnia-and-Herzegovina.aspx2016-10-01T22:00:00ZECR's Adam Banaszak attends election observation mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina<p>By invitation from the <a href="http://www.coe.int/t/Congress/default_en.asp">Congress of Local and Regional Authorities</a>, ECR Group member Adam Banaszak participated in the Election Observation Mission's recent observation of local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, acting as spokesperson for the Committee of the Regions.</p><p> <br>Members of the public went to the polls for the country's local elections on 2 October 2016, electing local mayors and council members. Despite some irregularities and a few violent incidents, polling was largely carried out in a calm and orderly manner, in-line with international standards.<br></p><p>Adam Banaszak, mission spokesperson for the EU Committee of the Regions, attended the mission alongside four other CoR members, who together made up a 32 member delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. The group visited around 150 polling stations throughout the country, observing the elections and the work of the Polling Stations Commissions.<br> <br>Adam Banaszak said: "The EU has an international commitment to strengthening democracy, which was why it was important for members of the Committee of the Regions to attend this Election Observation Mission."<br> <br>"As a country earmarked for future EU membership, Bosnia and Herzegovina must improve its democracy, human rights and rule of law, in accordance with the EU's enlargement policy and pre-accession instruments. By observing the elections and working with local authorities, I hope we can show our commitment to helping Bosnia and Herzegovina improve in these key areas."<br> <br>Other findings from the mission include a concern regarding the level of transparency of procedures, particularly with regard to vote counting. The issue of political allegiance is also a problem, as allegiances are often based on ethnic identity and nationalistic attitudes. More responsibilities for local self-government are also crucial for the future. <br> <br>"I was pleased to see that changes to the electoral system have been implemented, including new procedures such as 'correct counting' in case of doubtful results reported by polling stations, however it is clear that there is still lots of work to do in the future", Mr Banaszak added. <br> <br>Adam Banaszak will present his report on the mission to CIVEX (Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs) at their next meeting on 24 November 2016. <br> ​</p>
Strzyżów ranked first for best use of European funds in Poland<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/11.%20Robert%20Godek%20with%20award.jpg" width="711" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Strzyzow-ranked-first-for-best-use-of-European-funds-in-Poland.aspx2016-09-22T22:00:00ZStrzyżów ranked first for best use of European funds in Poland<p style="text-align:justify;">​The district, led by European Conservatives and Reformists member Robert Godek, came first in a Polish ranking for the best use of European funds for social projects under the 2007-2013 financial perspective.</p><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Some 314 districts were compared, with the district of Strzyżów coming top for per capita expenditure of PLN (at 435.27), ahead of the district of Pisz in the province of Warmińsko-Mazurskie which had a per capita spending of 322.90 PLN.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Speaking about his cities success, Mr Godek, Vice-President of the Polish district association, said: "Coming first in the Polish ranking compiled by the most important Polish local government journal is a huge honour for our authority, the inhabitants of Strzyżów, and the people who work for our institutions."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Compiled by local government magazine Wspólnota (Community), the ranking was based on reports on the implementation of local government budgets compiled by the Polish Ministry of Finance between 2007-2013. Together with academics from the University of Warsaw, the list focused on funds covering areas such as tourism, education, healthcare, social policy and assistance, and conservation of national heritage.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Discussing how his city has managed to come out on top, Mr Godek said: "Focusing on the good use of EU funds was a deliberate choice by the district council and administration in consecutive terms-of-office. It has enabled us to carry out many more tasks than would have been possible."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">One of the biggest projects carried out by the Strzyżów district authority has been the construction of a new regional centre for vocational education and modern technology in Dobrzechów. Designed as a modern hub for vocational training, the centre teaches a variety of courses from computer programming to the needs of the aviation industry. The project was carried out under priority 1 – a competitive and innovative economy – of the 2007 to 2013 Regional Operational Programme for the Podkarpackie region, which used funds from the European Regional Development Fund and the district's own budget.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Other investments have seen an extension of a training centre for young people with disabilities, as well as the modernisation of care homes for adults with learning disabilities and chronic mental health conditions. Asked about the district's plans for the future, Mr Godek added: "Strzyżów is not slowing down at all and we will continue to invest because we believe this is what our community needs. We have contracted a number of projects under new financial perspective for the new period, with a significant contribution made from the European Union's Structural Funds, which we are now starting to implement."</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">For its success, Strzyżów was honoured at the XIV Local Government Capital and Finance Forum held in Katowice, Poland, between 22-23 September 2016 where Robert Godek and others received special diplomas.</div><div style="text-align:justify;"> </div><div style="text-align:justify;">Quotes and information have been sampled from Wspólnota, which for 20 years has been following Polish local government and regional authorities, producing articles on legal affairs, public finances and up-to-date information on local government affairs.</div><br>
Władysław Ortyl strengthens EU-Ukraine regional cooperation<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/23.%20Władysław%20Ortyl%20forum.jpg?Width=800" width="715" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Władysław-Ortyl-strengthens-EU-Ukraine-regional-cooperation.aspx2016-09-07T22:00:00ZWładysław Ortyl strengthens EU-Ukraine regional cooperation<p>​Over 3,000 participants from 50 countries took part in the <a href="http://www.forum-ekonomiczne.pl/26th-economic-forum-2016/?lang=en">26th Economic Forum </a>in Krynica (Poland). Władysław Ortyl – Marshal of the Podkarpackie region and member of the ECR group in the Committee of the Regions – participated in the discussions and also signed a prestigious agreement regarding the organisation of the Europe-Ukraine Forum.</p><p><br>'United or Divided? Europe in the Face of the Challenges of Tomorrow' was the theme for this year's forum, taking place from 6 to 8 September 2016 in Krynica. For Marshal Ortyl, the key event was the signing of an agreement between the regional government of the Podkarpackie region and the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies regarding the Europe-Ukraine Forum, to be organised by the Podkarpackie region in January 2017.</p><p><br>This agreement, signed by Marshal Ortyl and Zygmunt Berdychowski, Head of the Programme Council of the Institute for Eastern Studies, proposes that the next meeting – and the subsequent four meetings – are to take place in Podkarpackie. The agreement was signed in the presence of Marek Kuchciński, Marshal of the Polish Sejm, and Dawid Jackiewicz, the Polish Minister of Treasury.</p><p><br>Marshal Władysław Ortyl said he was "delighted" with the agreement. Mr Ortyl said: "I am delighted that such an important event will be taking place in our region.We are continuing our cooperation with Ukraine". </p><p><br>"This forum will undoubtedly be a platform for Ukrainian partners and the rest of Europe to exchange experiences and contacts, as well as providing a setting for dialogue on the future of the European Union's relations with Ukraine."</p><p><br>The Europe-Ukraine Forum is one of the most important conferences that has been held since 2007. It is mainly concerned with Ukraine's modernisation, reforms to its state and economy, and questions relating to international security, ethnic minorities, cultural heritage, and Ukraine's relations with the European Union. This last issue – particularly in the wake of Russia's aggression against Ukraine – is of great importance in terms of ensuring the security of Europe as a whole.</p><p><br>Following the prestigious agreement, Mr Ortyl added: "We recently returned from the Festival of Partnership in Lviv.We expect our region's cooperation with Ukraine to have a stronger economic basis."</p><p><br>The Krynica forum is also known as the "Polish Davos". Over 150 panel discussions, lectures and debates took place over three days in the centre of Krynica. </p>
UK referendum: we have an important task ahead of us<img alt="" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/Rob%20Jonkman-June%202016-cropped.jpg" width="300" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/UK-referendum-we-have-an-important-task-ahead-of-us0624-312.aspx2016-06-23T22:00:00ZUK referendum: we have an important task ahead of us<div style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">Concerning the decision of the British people to leave the EU, the President of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions, Rob Jonkman (NL) underlined the importance of the task ahead.  </span></div> <div style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"> </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-justify:inter-ideograph;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Rob Jonkman said: "UK citizens have decided to leave the European Union. While I would have hoped that it would have not come to this, it is a decision that we must respect. </font></span></div> <div style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;"><font face="Calibri"> </font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-justify:inter-ideograph;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;"><font face="Calibri">The type of relationship that the UK will have with the EU will be discussed and defined in the years to come. Local and regional government will have an interest in this process. Our work will continue as the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions and I look forward to our continued work with our British colleagues.</font></span></div> <div style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;"><font face="Calibri"> </font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-justify:inter-ideograph;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;"><font face="Calibri">The task ahead of us is an important one. We must continue our collective work to push for a better functioning EU. We need greater European localism and euro-realism. We cannot have perpetual centralisation of powers in Brussels but rather we need a system that respects the powers of our local, regional and national levels of government. Decisions should be taken at the level closest to our citizens and should only be taken at the EU when a clear added-value can be demonstrated.</font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-justify:inter-ideograph;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;"><font face="Calibri"> </font></span></div> <span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">The ECR family, currently the fastest growing political family in Europe, will continue to grow. We will continue our work to achieve a better functioning EU for the benefit of all its citizens and partners."</span>
Rob Jonkman elected as new president of the ECR Group<img alt="" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/Rob%20Jonkman%20-%2020%20June-cropped.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Dutch-Alderman-Rob-Jonkman-was-elected-the-new-President-of-the-European-Conservatives-and-Reformist-Group-in-the-Committee.aspx2016-06-19T22:00:00ZRob Jonkman elected as new president of the ECR Group<p style="text-align:justify;"><b><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">Dutch Alderman Rob Jonkman was elected the new President of the European Conservatives and Reformist Group in the Committee of Regions. </span></b></p> <p style="text-align:justify;"><b><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span></b><span style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span> <span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">Alderman Rob Jonkman (Member of the Executive Council of Opsterland) has become the President of the centre-right euro-realist ECR Group in the European Committee of the Regions. The Group held its elections on Wednesday 15 June following the loss of mandate of its President Gordon Keymer in the recent local elections in the UK. Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák was the acting President till the elections were held and Mr Jonkman was unanimously elected. Councillor Joe Cooney (Pendle Borough Council, UK) was also elected as Vice-President. The Group now has two Vice-Presidents – Oldřich Vlasák and Joe Cooney.</span></p> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span><span style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">"I look forward to continuing the work of Gordon Keymer in aiming to achieve greater localism and realism in the EU decision-making process so that decisions are only taken at the EU level when they can bring " said Alderman Jonkman.</span><span style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">Alderman Jonkman has been a member of the ECR Group in the Committee of Regions since 2014. As a member of the ECR Group, Mr. Jonkman has been the Group's spokesperson on economic policy. </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span><span style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">During the plenary session on June 16<sup>th</sup>, Alderman Jonkman represented the ECR Group in the debate with OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi on current and future challenges for European regions and cities. Mr. Jonkman called for greater localism in addressing global challenges. He underlined that "we need a place-based approach to identify global trends and challenges in the early stages in order to adequately adapt public policy." </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span><span style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;"></span> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";line-height:120%;">Rob Jonkman has been Alderman of the municipality of Opsterland (the Netherlands) since 2010. Before becoming Alderman, Mr. Jonkman has represented the ChristenUnie as council member within the municipality of Opsterland. Mr. Jonkman has been a member of the Commission Europe and International within the Dutch Association of Municipalities (VNG) since 2010 and has been a member of the advisory board of the Knowledge Centre Europa Decentraal since 2014.</span></div>
EU must make Public procurement part of its better regulation agenda and better involve local government<img alt="" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/IMG_13291.JPG" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/EU-must-make-Public-procurement-part-of-its-better-regulation-agenda-and-better-involve-local-government.aspx2016-06-02T22:00:00ZEU must make Public procurement part of its better regulation agenda and better involve local government<div> </div> <b><font size="4"></font><font size="3"></font></b><font class="ms-rteFontFace-5" size="3"><div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) met in Groningen, Netherlands to discuss public procurement and better EU regulation. ECR Group members called for public procurement, a market estimated to be more than €2 trillion, to become part of the EUs better regulation agenda and underlined that local and regional authorities needed to be treated as key partners in the better regulation process and not stakeholders. </div></font><font class="ms-rteFontFace-5" size="3"></font><font class="ms-rteFontFace-5" face="Century Gothic,Century Gothic" size="3"><font class="ms-rteFontFace-5" face="Century Gothic,Century Gothic" size="3"><div class="ms-rteFontFace-5"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">Oldřich Vlasák (Councillor of the City of Hradec Kralove, ECR Group’s acting President) underlined that "the procurement market represents a potential of 2 trillion Euros of EU added-value. At a time when our citizens are increasing feeling disengaged with the EU, we cannot afford not to make public procurement part of our better regulation agenda." </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">The meeting brought together representatives of the different tiers of government and experts in the field. Speakers included Peter Van Dalen MEP (Member of the European Parliament), Malcolm Harbour (Chairman of the UK Local Government Association Working Group on Innovation in Public Procurement), Gordon Keymer (CoR rapporteur on better regulation), Drs Fenna Beekmans-Pols (Director of Europa Decentraal, member of the stakeholder group of the Regulatory Fitness Platform) and Prof Dr Mr Hans Vedder (Professor of Economic Law, Faculty of law, University of Groningen). </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">Rob Jonkman (Member of Executive Council of Opsterland, ECR Group Bureau member) said "today we saw that EU legislation is not achieving its intended results and the way to address that is to look at the local and regional bottlenecks. EU institutions need to be working more closely with us as local and regional government to help ensure EU legislation that is better designed to our communities needs." </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">The potential that innovation holds in helping deliver cheaper and more cost effective services to citizens was underlined as was the potential that public procurement rules can bring in helping drive sustainable and smart solutions. </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">Members underlined that while it was positive that the Committee of the Regions is a member of the stakeholder group of the European Commissions REFIT Platform, it was underlined that giving local and regional authorities a single seat in a Platform mainly composed of trade unions and social stakeholders did not do justice to the importance of local and regional authorities in achieving better regulation. </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">Henk Staghouwer (member of the Executive Council of the Province of Groningen) said "Local and regional authorities implement approximately 70% of EU legislation yet the Commission seems to think we should be put on an equal footing as non-governmental stakeholders. This needs to change". </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontFace-5" style="text-align:justify;">Malcolm Harbour, former Chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, underlined that the Commission had to take into account the enforcement angle. "If the Commission is serious about better regulation, then it must engage local authorities who are important in enforcing EU law." Giving the example of the sharing economy, Malcolm underlined that "yesterday’s Commission guidelines on the sharing economy recognises that things like AirBnB and Uber are coming under local government control. As the sharing economy develops, their role is going to become more important." </div></font></font><div><p><b><font size="4"> </font></b></p></div>
Regional promotional banks can help make €315bn EU Investment Plan work<img alt="" height="295" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Adam%20Banaszak.JPG" width="250" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Regional-promotional-banks-can-help-make-€315bn-EU-Investment-Plan-work.aspx2016-04-06T22:00:00ZRegional promotional banks can help make €315bn EU Investment Plan work<div style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"></font></span><div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">Promotional banks at the regional level must be taken into account in rolling out the Investment Plan for Europe argues an opinion by Adam Banaszak (PL/ECR) adopted at the European Committee of the Regions' plenary session. The Committee argues that local and regional authorities must be given a greater say deciding financial solutions and that ex-post evaluations should match the long-term nature of the projects.</span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"> </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">The economic and financial crisis has had a significant impact on Europe's society and economy, which can still be felt today. The EU's financial systems are not fully recovered yet, which results in an estimated gap of €300 billion in public and private investment since 2008. Promotional banks and investment platforms are stepping in across Europe to fill this gap but while the Commission focuses on national promotional banks, the CoR urges for local and regional solutions.</span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"> </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">"Year on year, there has been a shortfall in investment which is threatening Europe's future. Regional promotional banks can help make the Investment Plan for Europe work and, coupled by careful public investment, kick-start growth. What is paramount is that local and regional authorities are given more flexibility to decide what financial solutions are right for their local economies. This is my top priority and will form the basis of our Bratislava Declaration to be adopted at our Summit in July later this year", said Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions. </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"> </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">Members of the CoR call for an increase in the role of local authorities in the creation, operation and evaluation of the impact of promotional banking in regions that do not have their own promotional instruments. They underline that this can be achieved by giving local and regional authorities a bigger say in the strategic focus and governance of national promotional banks or by complementing the services offered by national promotional banks through the creation of banks on the regional and local level. </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"> </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">"Ultimately, we need regional promotional banks to make the Investment Plan for Europe work and deliver results on the ground. The 'centralised' promotional support models based solely on a national bank and its non-autonomous local branches do not always meet the needs of local communities, especially in less developed regions", said the CoR rapporteur Adam Banaszak (PL/ECR).</span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"> </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">Speaking to the Committee's members, Laszlo Baranyay, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, remarked, "cooperation with promotional banks is indeed critical for the European Investment Bank (EIB) in order to deliver finance to boost growth, jobs and investment throughout the European Union. The complementarity between the ElB's pan-European scope and the local promotional banks’ depth of knowledge and impact within Member States is a tremendous asset for the Investment Plan for Europe, and we must make best use of its full potential”, </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"> </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">The Committee also expressed its concern about the European Commission's proposed assessment system. It underlined that the assessment system – which would be used before setting-up a new promotional bank - may hamper their operational capacity and complicate the process. They further point out that evaluations of a promotional banks effectiveness should be done on a longer-term basis (10-15 years), reflecting the timeframe of the investment projects.</span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"> </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">The Investment Plan for Europe announced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker aims to leverage €315 billion of investment to fill the investment gap and create jobs and growth. While the implementation of the plan relies mainly on the Commission and EIB working together as strategic partners, an effective involvement of National Promotional Banks is necessary as reflected in the regulation on the European Fund for Strategic Investments. The Commission published a Communication on 27 July 2015 to provide guidance to Member States intending to set up new NPBs. </span></font></span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"></font></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><span style="color:black;"><font face="Calibri"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">The investment programme including the role of and cooperation among promotional banks is due to be evaluated following its completion on 30 June 2018.</span></font></span></div></div>
Cllr Keymer calls for greater European localism in CoR debate with Tusk<img align="left" alt="" height="160" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/Big2.jpg" width="240" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Cllr-Keymer-calls-for-greater-European-localism-in-CoR-debate-with-Tusk.aspx2016-02-09T23:00:00ZCllr Keymer calls for greater European localism in CoR debate with Tusk<div style="text-align:justify;">​<span lang="EN-US"><font face="Calibri">ECR Group President Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (Leader of the Tandridge Council/United Kingdom) welcomed the President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk, on behalf of the ECR Group during the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions on 10 February. Cllr Keymer explained that greater localist thinking is needed and gave examples of how greater localism could help the EU to better address economic development targets and the migration crisis.</font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US"><font face="Calibri"> </font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US"><font face="Calibri">Regarding the upcoming Council agenda item on the future structure of the EU, Cllr Keymer welcomed Donald Tusk's efforts and underlined that European reform is of great importance to local government. "I believe the debates over the future gives an opportunity for all of us in the EU to look at what is going on in our countries and whether local government where we live is flourishing or declining. We need to ask ourselves if powers are really being devolved down to the levels closest to the people. Is adequate funding obtainable to run the services on which our residents rely?  How far are we able to raise funds locally to provide services locally?", explained Cllr Keymer.</font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US"><font face="Calibri"> </font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US"><font face="Calibri">The ECR Group President commented on the two items of the upcoming Council meetings of Heads of State and Government explaining that greater localist thinking is needed. On the European semester, the EUs annual cycle of economic policy guidance and surveillance,  Cllr Keymer said "local and regional authorities are responsible for approximately one third of all public expenditure and two thirds of all public investment. Therefore, as part of the structural reforms being pursued, the EU needs to work with local and regional authorities when formulating targets and strategies".</font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span lang="EN-US"><font face="Calibri"> </font></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:11pt;font-family:"calibri", "sans-serif";">On migration, Cllr Keymer emphasised that the ECR Group "has been consistent in calling for a firm but fair approach. From the very beginning we called for a legal distinction between a migrant and a refugee. Someone seeking to enter the EU illegally to improve their life cannot be put in the same category as a person fleeing from war and persecution. We have seen the EU become more careful in its wording so as to respect this legal distinction and that must be welcome. However, we are still not seeing sufficient focus on local and regional capabilities. As local and regional authorities, we are the ones who have to deliver on housing and care. We need more collective thinking on how to address the migration challenges we face in a sustainable and realistic manner. As you can see, migration is another policy area that would benefit from greater localist thinking," Cllr Keymer concluded.</span></div>
ECR annual event aims to put localism at heart of EU reform agenda<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Keymer-480.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-ANNUAL-EVENT-AIMS-TO-PUT-LOCALISM-AT-HEART-OF-EU-REFORM-AGENDA.aspx2016-01-28T23:00:00ZECR annual event aims to put localism at heart of EU reform agenda<div style="text-align:justify;">​The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) today launched an ambitious campaign to put localism at the heart of the EU. At a conference in Budapest (Hungary) delegates had the opportunity to exchange views and further develop the ECR’s localism agenda.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">“We believe that localism is key for a reformed and better-functioning EU, as it would mean a more citizen-led, more transparent, and less intrusive system of governance,” said Cllr Gordon Keymer, President of the ECR Group in the CoR. “Approximately 70% of EU legislation impacts local and regional authorities, and these bodies therefore deserve a seat at the decision-making table to ensure they can contribute to polices which are elaborated at national and EU level.”</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">The principle of localism would result in the EU only getting involved if absolutely needed and better taking into account the interests of local communities.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Zoltan Kész, a member of the Hungarian Parliament, spoke about the local context in his country. “Localism is about taking decisions in a bottom-up manner and allowing local issues to be addressed locally – here in Hungary there is hardly any independence for municipalities, the growing centralization hurts local interests. It goes against conservative values such as the importance of the individual and their involvement in the decision making process as well as the idea of a free market. I can see how the principles of localism would benefit both the local populations and local businesses on the ground, moving decisions closer to the citizen and adapting them to local circumstances. I very much welcome this campaign from the ECR and will be closely following developments.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Today’s event, which focused on the role of local and regional government in delivering effective public services, brought together a wide range of decision-makers and stakeholders and featured an excellent group of speakers including MEPs, national Parliamentarians, Members of the CoR, Think-Tanks, economists, and local development agencies. This conference is the first of what will become an annual event on the topic to further raise the profile of localism across Europe.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Andrew Lewer MEP said: "Localism is particularly dear to our party group – indeed the exercise of powers at the lowest practicable level is one of our political family's founding principles. In my own country, the UK, we have a number of layers of government, with some power devolved in the regions. However, there is still much work to be done when it comes to properly respecting and rewarding our local government leaders, and they must be provided with enough autonomy and responsibility to make a difference at the local level. Working hard at the European level to get the institutions to ensure they do not block local autonomy – deliberately or otherwise – only bears its ripest fruit if national government is equally respectful of other layers of governance."</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">In the coming months the ECR Group will work with policymakers to ensure that localism not only remains on the EU agenda, but also comes to shape future policies to the extent that it becomes a principle to the EU as a whole.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div>
The Middle East and Europe's migration crisis - Cllr Gordon Keymer and Ilpo Haalisto meet local government counterparts from the EUs Southern Neighbourhood<img alt="" height="1" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/007.JPG" width="1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/The-Middle-East-and-Europe's-migration-crisis---Cllr-Gordon-Keymer-and-Ilpo-Haalisto-meet-local-government-counter0122-6503.aspx2016-01-18T23:00:00ZThe Middle East and Europe's migration crisis - Cllr Gordon Keymer and Ilpo Haalisto meet local government counterparts from the EUs Southern Neighbourhood<div style="text-align:justify;"><img width="5046" height="2090" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/007.JPG" alt="" style="height:235px;width:565px;margin:5px 0px;" /><br><br>ECR Group Members Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (Leader of Tandridge Council/United Kingdom) and Ilpo Haalisto (Local Councillor of Nousiainen/Finland) travelled to the capital of Cyprus to share their experiences on local government with political leaders from the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean countries. Cllr Keymer and Mr Haalisto contributed to debates on migration, the European Neighbourhood Policy and local reforms in Libya, which took place as part of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) meeting of 18-19 January 2016.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">ECR Group President Cllr Gordon Keymer spoke on the part that local government can play in increasing local integration and combatting radicalisation. "Local and regional authorities are in the frontline when it comes to managing migration. This issue will be with us for the years to come and that is why we need to focus on sharing best practices in the field of integration of refugees and prevention of radicalisation. Ensuring funding for local and regional authorities is essential in this regard and we need to be clear about that with the national governments. As to ARLEM, the local government family should work together in the countries from where the refugees and migrants come to increase stability, investment and jobs", said Cllr Keymer.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">ARLEM was set up on 21 January 2010 in Barcelona with the aim of strengthening the role of local authorities in Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and giving a territorial dimension to the Union for the Mediterranean. It was also set up to enhance cooperation between the three shores of the Mediterranean (south, east and north) and to demonstrate that, despite political and institutional difficulties, local authorities are able to promote the launching and development of new cooperation projects in line with the priorities adopted at the 2008 Paris Summit.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div>
EU policies and funds need to be shaped by local and regional experiences – Europe's Local and regional authorities explain their territorial vision in a report prepared by Oldřich Vlasák<img alt="OV plenary small" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/OV%20plenary%20small.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/EU-policies-and-funds-need-to-be-shaped-.aspx2015-12-02T23:00:00ZEU policies and funds need to be shaped by local and regional experiences – Europe's Local and regional authorities explain their territorial vision in a report prepared by Oldřich Vlasák<div style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">​During its 115th plenary session, the Committee of the Regions adopted the report on "Territorial Vision 2050: What future?", prepared by Oldřich Vlasák (CZ/ECR). Welcoming the Luxembourg Presidency efforts to launch a discussion on a Territorial Vision for the year 2050, the report called for a stronger bottom-up approach to EU policies and for existing funds and policies to be streamlined and simplified. </span></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"><div> </div> <div>"We are pleased that the Luxembourg Presidency has got the ball moving and consulted local and regional authorities on this important matter. I am especially pleased to see our opinion and key messages being referred to in the Conclusions of the Informal Ministerial Meetings on Territorial Cohesion and Urban Policy. It is now time for a Europe wide consultation to look concretely at how we can make better use of local and regional data to guide EU policies and help them achieve greater impact" said Mr Vlasák. </div></div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;">Mr Vlasák underlined that territorial cohesion remains a challenge and that a stronger bottom-up approach led by local and regional data is needed to help achieve more balanced growth and development. "Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU sets the overarching objective for the harmonious development of the Union. To ensure this is achieved, we need to make sure that our regions that already suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps such as the northernmost regions with very low population density and island, cross-border and mountain regions are not left behind" said Mr Vlasák.</div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;">Rapporteur Vlasák's report highlights that a clear European territorial vision is necessary in order to respond effectively to current and future trends and challenges. This vision should strengthen the territorial dimension in policy-making by using a results-oriented territorial dialogue and the expertise of local and regional authorities to identify and address the key territorial challenges of the European Union. The rapporteur underlined that "we need to use local and regional experiences to shape EU policies. The territorial vision should provide guidance to all EU policies that have a territorial dimension." The report underlines that a territorial vision needs to be used to help shape the post-2020 period for EU Funds. </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;">"A bottom-up approach would mean shaping EU policies based on local and regional realities. Our local and regional authorities would therefore also have a greater say in the design and management of European projects and policies," said Mr Vlasák. The report underlines the need for Europe 2020 (EU's growth strategy) to be shaped bottom-up so that the targets better account for the local implications they have. Mr Vlasák explained that "Europe 2020 is an excessively technocratic and top-down exercise. The targets are in many cases the responsibility of local and regional government yet they are developed with very little contribution from us." </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;">To help build policies from the bottom-up, the CoR calls for greater involvement of local and regional authorities and greater investment in data. "We need data from cities and regions to reinforce the territorial approach in policy-making", said Mr Vlasák. He requested Member States and the European Union to invest in acquiring the missing statistical data and develop simple data collection methods at the lowest administrative level without creating additional administrative burdens. "We really do need to decrease the administrative burden connected with collection of statistical data and reporting" Mr Vlasák emphasised. This is particularly important in those countries where Eurostat territorial units do not really reflect real geographies at local or regional level. Without a complete and evolving picture of the European Union's regions, it is not possible to create effective policies that address the challenges they face.</div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;">Furthermore, the Member States and the European Union need to implement Territorial Impact Assessments as a standard practice in the policy-making process. If the possible asymmetric effects of the EU and national policies are not taken into account, these policies can never be sufficiently efficient or effective, potentially resulting in unwanted effects. The report also draws attention to the advantages and benefits of applying the place-based approach and collaborative policy-making approach, whose essential elements concern the integration of sectors in a particular territorial strategy and a results-oriented territorial dialogue. If implemented effectively, the place-based approach makes it possible to value and revive territorial identity and territorial specificities as a unique asset.</div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;"><div>Mr Oldřich Vlasák (Councillor of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic/ECR Group Vice-President) is the Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on “Territorial Vision 2050: what future?”. This opinion was discussed and adopted unanimously at the 3 December Committee of the Regions Plenary Session. Mr Oldřich Vlasák is the former Vice-President of the European Parliament responsible for the European Parliament’s relations with the Committee of the Regions. During his Vice-Presidency, the two institutions concluded a cooperation agreement that outlined areas under which EP-CoR cooperation would be deepened. He was among the first Czech members appointed to the Committee of the Regions as an observer in 2000 prior to being elected as an MEP in 2004. He is now a member of the Committee of the Regions and Vice-President of the ECR Group in the CoR.</div> <div> </div></div> <div><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3" id="ms-rterangepaste-end"></span> </div>
The role of transport connection in delivering growth and jobs – ECR Group member Ilpo Haalisto unveils a new trans-European transport connection during Group meeting in Turku<img alt="Turku shipyard" height="187" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Turku%20shipyard.jpg" width="281" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/news1022-5279.aspx2015-10-19T22:00:00ZThe role of transport connection in delivering growth and jobs – ECR Group member Ilpo Haalisto unveils a new trans-European transport connection during Group meeting in Turku<div style="text-align:justify;">​ECR Group members met in Turku, Finland to analyse the role of local and regional transport connections in delivering growth and jobs. Members met the Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini on the 19th and continued the debate over two panels on the 20th, where Members and experts discussed the current EU transport infrastructure policy and explored the role that innovation could play as well as how the public and private sectors could best work together. Mr Ilpo Haalisto (Local councillor of Nousiainen, Finland/ECR Group Bureau member) unveiled a proposal for a new Western-Finland high-speed transport route to be added to the existing trans-European transport (TEN-T) network. He underlined a new Turku-Oulu-Kirkenes  highway connection would help complement the existing trans-European networks by helping increase connectivity, competitiveness and generate growth and jobs. <br> <br>Mr Haalisto, unveiling his plans for a new link to the current trans-European transport network, explained that, "the existing transport networks in Europe misses out the Northern parts of the Nordic countries. We need to capitalise on the potential of the Nordic countries. Through a high-speed Turku (Finland) -Oulu (Finland) - Kirkenes (Norway) highway connection, which would build on the Stocholm (Sweden) -Turku connection, the European market can have access to the Arctic and through the Artic, to China. Currently, sending goods to China takes about a month. Through the Barents Sea in Arctic, this would take about two weeks. We can thus create a 'sea silk road'". Mr Haalisto also underlined that the next step could even be to create a new data cable from Europe to China along the "sea silk road".  <br> <br>Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (President of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions/Leader of Tandridge District Council, UK) underlined the importance of ensuring that the more remote areas of Europe remain connected. "Despite EU Treaty goals to build cohesion in all regions in the EU, we see that capital cities or the largest metropolitan centres are systematically prioritised. A genuinely holistic approach to balanced development is urgently needed and should form a fundamental pillar of the EU’s development policies. Transportation routes are an important way that that can be done. As the CoR rapporteur on "mobility in geographically and demographically challenged regions", I have called on the Commission to launch a debate on the mobility challenges faced by our remote areas through a White paper. I believe this remains a necessity" said Cllr Keymer.  <br> <br>Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, discussing the importance of developing and modernising transport infrastructure with the ECR Group members, underlined the importance of local and regional authorities involvements. Addressing the ECR Group Members, the Foreign Minister said "you have a major role in implementation and have the best knowledge of how things are on the ground. Things must be done locally wherever and whenever possible. I’m very happy that the Committee of the Regions has been so active in these issues, be it on the TEN-T networks or the Connecting Europe Facility." Mr Soini also noted that "transport is much more than asphalt, railways, and bridges. Digitalisation and automation offer a huge variety of possibilities for the transport sector".<br> <br>The ECR Group meeting in Turku, Finland brought together politicians and experts to identify challenges and solutions in the European transport sector so that greater interconnectivity can be achieved. Members took stock of the current transport connections and discussed the role that innovation and technology can play as well as how the public and private sectors could work together. <br> <br>This meeting took place in light of the new EU transport infrastructure policy that has been in place since January 2014. The new Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) aims to modernise and ‘knit together’ today’s patchwork of national parts into a smooth-running network that connects all corners of Europe while making the best use of all the different means of travel. It has a budget of €26 billion up to 2020 and in combination with funds from other EU sources and the EIB, it is expected to significantly stimulate investments and ensure a successful implementation of the new infrastructure policy. "The Juncker investment plan of €315 billion also presents an important opportunity to further improve our interconnectivity" said Mr Haalisto. <br> <br></div>
Defending the rights of Member States, local authorities and citizens in the EU – the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions presents its work at the Conservative Party Conference<img alt="" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/10%20Conservative.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/news.aspx2015-10-04T22:00:00ZDefending the rights of Member States, local authorities and citizens in the EU – the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions presents its work at the Conservative Party Conference<div class="ms-rteFontSize-3" style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;">The ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions hosted a fringe event at this years' British Conservative Party Conference, presenting how it is working to defend the right of Member States, local authorities and citizens within the EU. The event brought together Councillors representing local government in the EU, a Member of Parliament and Members of the European Parliament. Panellists presented the importance of the joint work of the different tiers of government in reforming the EU and achieving greater localism. <br>  <br>The event was chaired by the President of the ECR Group in the CoR, Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (Leader of Tandridge District Council). The panellists were Roger Evans AM (Deputy Mayor of London/ Bureau Member of the ECR Group in the / Member of the CoR Subsidiarity Steering Group) Syed Kamall MEP (Chairman of the ECR Group in the European Parliament) and former CoR members Bob Neill MP (Member of Parliament for Bromley & Chislehurst and Chairman of the Justice Select Committee) and Andrew Lewer MBE MEP (Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands/ECR Coordinator in the European Parliament for Regional Development and Culture and Education Committees/Chairman of the Subsidiarity and Localism policy group). <br> <br>Presenting the activities of the newest political Group in the Committee of the Regions, Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA explained the leadership role assumed by the ECR Group members in reforming the EU. "The CoR advises the Commission, Council and European Parliament in the legislative process. Our Group members have been CoR rapporteurs on important dossiers, helping reform them. For instance, we helped reform the European Fund that provides disaster assistance to Member States and their local communities in the aftermath of floods – the EUSF. Through the report prepared under the leadership of our ECR member, we made concrete proposals on how the Fund use could be made easier to use and how it could correspond better with the realities that our Councils face on the ground. We worked closely with our Group in the European Parliament and I am proud to say that we managed, with them, to achieve the reform we were seeking."<br> <br>The panel discussed the importance of decisions being taken as close to citizens as possible. Syed Kamall MEP, Chairman of the third largest political group in the European Parliament, highlighted the need to reform the EU and the importance of greater localism. He also underlined the importance of the joint work and good relations between the ECR Group Members in the EP and the CoR in achieving this. "We need to make sure that powers come back to EU Member States and are exercised as close as possible to the people. This means bringing competences not only to countries, but also to local councils", he explained. <br> <br>Cllr Keymer also underlined the important role of local government in ensuring that decisions are taken only at the EU level when necessary. "As the CoR, we have the powers to take the EU to Court if a decision taken at the EU level would have been more effectively handled nationally of locally. Our Group has been active in monitoring this in the CoR and have raised concerns relating to binding EU targets being imposed on local Councils, for instance. We also work with our Group in the European Parliament through the subsidiarity and localism policy group in addressing the subsidiarity angle of EU legislation."<br> <br>Andrew Lewer MBE MEP stated that "the EU's structural funds account for 35% of the EU budget and this spending needs quite radical reform. I call for it to be part of the UK's reform negotiations ahead of the In/Out Referendum in order to put the greatest possible pressure upon EU institutions to take the need for change seriously." Recalling that "localism" is one of the founding principles of the ECR political family, he said "we have achieved closer working relations between our ECR Members in the EP and in the CoR. This helps greatly with our mission to devolve power down to the level closest to the people wherever possible." Mr Lewer gave examples of the reforms that were being achieved through the fruitful cooperation among ECR Group members, such as securing territorial impact assessments of EU legislation so that the local impact could be measured and the ECR Policy Group on Subsidiarity and Localism, working on: better regulation, local opportunities in energy union proposals and a "subsidiarity scoreboard".<br> <br>Bob Neill MP, appointed the local government Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2012, argued it was important to give more powers to local and national governments in order to achieve greater democratic accountability in the EU. "The democratic deficit and unaccountability are massive in the European Commission, when compared with the institutions in the United Kingdom", he said. Underlining the importance of following-up on the Localism Act in the UK, which Mr Neill was involved in as Cabinet Member, he emphasised that "ensuring a strong Conservative voice in the Committee of the Regions plays an important role in changing mind-sets about devolution". <br> <br>Roger Evans AM explained the importance of allowing local policies to be tailored locally. "Local policy should not be dictated by Brussels. Because London is failing to achieve its emissions targets, we will be fined millions of pounds by the EU. However, a lot of pollution is blown across the Channel from Europe and London is being fined for pollution which it did not emit," said Mr Evans. Mr Evans welcomes that the European Commission was changing its approach to regulation by repealing unnecessary rules and issuing new ones only if necessary. <br> <br>The annual Conference of Britain's largest and the world's oldest standing political party brings together party members, the press and the public. The Conference is an occasion for ideas, policies and plans for the year ahead to be presented and discussed. This year's Conservative Party Conference took place in Manchester. The four day event concluded with a speech from the Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron MP.<br> </div>
Using technology to run cities - ECR Group Bureau members in Kruszwica, Poland explore policy options and how public and private sectors can work together http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Using-technology-to-run-cities---ECR-Group-Bureau-members-in-Kruszwica.aspx2015-07-19T22:00:00ZUsing technology to run cities - ECR Group Bureau members in Kruszwica, Poland explore policy options and how public and private sectors can work together <div style="text-align:justify;">The ECR Group Bureau Members met in Kruszwica, Poland on 20 July 2015 to explore how technological solutions can be best used to optimise the performance of cities and to examine the role that the private sector can play in achieving this. </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> <span class=" ms-rtestate-write ms-rtestate-write" id="ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_RichImageField_ctl00_RichImageField_ImageFieldDisplay"><img width="303" height="200" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/3705_img1_img_0083.jpg" alt="" style="border-top:0px solid;height:384px;border-right:0px solid;border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;width:577px;" /></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> ECR Group President Gordon Keymer CBE (Leader of Tandridge District Council, UK) said "this important meeting enabled us to analyse what is happening on the ground in Poland and share our local experiences with each other. Technology holds the potential to make life easier for citizens in urban and rural areas. This meeting enabled us to collect key information that our Group will be using to formulate a policy paper on this subject."</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">The ECR Group Bureau meeting that took place in Kruszwica upon the invitation of Mr Adam Banaszak (ECR Group Treasurer and Coordinator in the Natural Resources Commission in the Committee of the Regions, Vice-President of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie regional assembly) was attended by Cllr Gordon Keymer (President of the ECR Group, Leader of Tandridge District Council, UK), Mr Oldřich Vlasák (Vice-President of the ECR Group, Councillor of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic), Mr Jerzy Zająkała (Vice-President of the ECR Group, Mayor of Łubianka, Poland), Ms Daiva Matonienė (ECR Group Coordinator in the Environment, Climate Change and Energy Commission, Member of Šiauliai City Municipal Council, Lithuania) and Alderman Rob Jonkman (ECR Group Spokesperson on Economic Policy, Deputy Mayor of Opsterland in the Netherlands). Members exchanged best practices in areas such as energy, environment, ICT, and transport with approximately 40 representatives of Polish local and regional administration.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">More than half of the world's population lives in cities and the proportion is growing with this figure expected to rise to over two thirds in the EU. This concentration of people in cities increases the strain on things like public spaces, energy, water and buildings. Technological solutions can help address these challenges in an<span class=" ms-rtestate-write ms-rtestate-write" id="ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_RichImageField_ctl00_RichImageField_ImageFieldDisplay"></span> efficient and effective manner. The EU's current focus is on how technology can help ameliorate the situation in urban areas. As part of its growth strategy to be achieved by the year 2020, the European Union is investing in research and innovation and developing policies to improve the quality of life of citizens and make cities more sustainable.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Speakers from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń outlined main characteristics of cities which are considered to be digital, green, slow, clever, intelligent and creative. They showed practical examples of smart solutions which lead to facilitating access to public services, optimising energy costs, improving waste management and modernising public transport in urban areas. Attention was pointed to a range of solutions including systems of car-pooling, advanced traffic management, smart metering, telecare, e-governance and producing energy from waste. Thereafter academics from the University of Łódź provided the participants with a useful overview of legal foundations of public private partnerships and their use at the regional and local levels.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Adam Banaszak underlined that the seminar was closely linked with the EUs current ongoing priorities. Mr Banaszak explained that under the new EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework for the years 2014-2020), "EU flagship projects are based on the concept of smart cities" and thus "being well-prepared in this field will allow stakeholders to be more effective in applying for EU funds". He added that "in order to be able to implement EU investments it is necessary to focus on public-private partnerships, which help to stimulate development and innovation".</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div>
ECR Group Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák: Innovation and diversified energy mix key to Europe's energy security<img alt="" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/Vlasak.jpg" style="border:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Group-Vice-President.aspx2015-07-08T22:00:00ZECR Group Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák: Innovation and diversified energy mix key to Europe's energy security<div style="text-align:justify;">​<span>ECR Group Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák (Councillor of the City of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic) warmly welcomed European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič's work on the Energy Union, but called for a greater focus on energy innovation, supporting the development of new technologies and improving the existing infrastructure. Mr Šefčovič took part in the 113th plenary session of the Committee of the Regions ​on 8 July. </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Speaking on behalf of the ECR Group, Mr Vlasák explained that all too often, energy is approached from an assumption that we need to de-carbonise our economies by moving away from traditional sources and imposing binding targets that undermine the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. "We would like to see more emphasis on backing technologies that reduce the negative environmental impact of traditional sources like coal", continued the ECR Group Vice-President, citing the examples of carbon capture and geological storage (CCS) and the need to improve the efficiency of coal-fuelled power stations.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Mr Vlasák gave three reasons why innovation and modernisation are crucial in the energy field. </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">He underlined that many of our economies remain dependent on traditional sources. This is the case especially for Germany, which uses more coal to generate electricity than any other Member State; Poland, where 90% of electricity comes from coal; and the United Kingdom, which comes third in the EU in terms of coal consumption. "If the EU continues to focus on moving away from the traditional sources through binding targets, then it will box Member States into committing limited resources to the detriment of another equally important areas", noted Mr Vlasák. </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Secondly, Mr Vlasák highlighted that "the EU energy market remains far too dependent on a few suppliers with whom we have – to put it diplomatically – seriously complicated relations". According to the European Commission, the EU imports approximately 53% of the energy it consumes, including a third of its oil, 39% of its gas and 26% of solid fuels from the Russian Federation. Developments following the Arab Spring have shown that we cannot rely on energy imports from this direction either. Similarly, while there are various pipeline projects to bring Caspian energy to Europe, they are not likely to be operational before 2020 and will not diminish our markets' vulnerability to dynamics in the transit and exporting countries. </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">  </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Third, Mr Vlasák pointed out that demand is increasing annually. The Paris-based International Energy Agency sees Europe's oil imports reaching 78% by 2035.</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">In light of all this, the ECR Vice-President called on the European Commissioner to boost the Commission's focus on research and development and to work with local and regional authorities to help develop regional centres of excellence where regional research can be supported and prioritised. Furthermore, Mr Vlasák urged the Commission not to forget about nuclear energy, from which as much as 27% of electricity in the EU is generated. This includes 77% of all electricity produced in France, 57% in Slovakia, 54% in Hungary, and 47% in Belgium. Other important fields that the Commission should not neglect are combatting electricity transmission and distribution losses, reducing energy consumption, and promoting efficiency in heating and cooling. </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;">Furthermore, the ECR Group Vice-President endorsed the European Commission's work in the field of "smart cities", such as the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. The initiative brings together European cities, industry leaders and representatives of civil society to smarten the EU's urban areas by developing solutions in the fields of energy, ICT and transport. On 20 July, the ECR Group Bureau is due to hold a seminar dedicated to the topic of smart cities in Kruszwica (Poland).</div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;"><div>​</div></div> <div> </div> <div>​​​</div> <div> </div>
ECR Group calls for a sustainable EU approach to migration<img alt="" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/15_Jerzy%20Zajakala.jpg" style="border:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Group-calls-for-a-sustainable-EU-approach-to-migration.aspx2015-06-03T22:00:00ZECR Group calls for a sustainable EU approach to migration<div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span>During the Committee of the Regions plenary session, Mr Jerzy Zajakała (Mayor of </span><span>Ł</span><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">ubianka</span><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"> in Poland, Vice-President of the ECR Group) expressed deep sorrow due to the recent tragic events in the Mediterranean Sea. </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"> </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">Mr Zajakała called for the legal distinction between economic migration and asylum and refuge to be respected. "Seeking asylum and refuge is something completely different to economic migration. The two areas require different approaches and solutions," said Mr Zajakala. </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"></span> </div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"></span><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">During the Committee of the Regions 'plenary session, Mr Zajakała underlined that local and regional authorities need to be able to share the challenges they face within the EU while working at the local and regional level to assist Member States in addressing the root cause of the tragedies. Mr Zajakała emphasised, however, that the CoR should contribute to the debate where it has expertise only. </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"> </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">Mr Zajakala explained that "some of the local and regional authorities are struggling to cope with the surge in the number of people trying to enter the EU illegally through the Mediterranean Sea. They should share and voice their experiences. However, most importantly, we must make full use of our local and regional platforms with the EUs Southern neighbourhood such as the</span><span class="Heading1Char"><span style="font-size:12pt;color:#222222;line-height:120%;"> </span></span><span class="st"><span lang="FR-BE" style="font-size:12pt;color:#222222;line-height:120%;">Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly, </span></span><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">to look local and regional governments can help prevent human trafficking, smuggling and criminal Groups and how we can help in encouraging stability and peace in the EUs neighbouring regions."</span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"> </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">"The ECR Group position on issues relating to Justice and Home Affairs is clear", stated ECR Group President Gordon Keymer (Leader of Tandridge District Council). "The CoR should not be commenting on issues, such as visa regimes and security budgets, which are not a local or regional competence and therefore not areas in which we have expertise."</span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"> </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">According to UNHCR data, more than 26,000 migrants have entered Italy alone in the first four months of 2015. Although this number does not differ substantially from the corresponding period in 2014, many more people have lost their lives in the sea this year. Member States responded in the Council with calls for increased emphasis on tackling root causes of migration, including fostered cooperation with third countries and providing additional funds for EU operations, while the European Commission tabled a proposal to create a temporary resettlement scheme for migrants. The ECR Group advocates a "firm but fair" approach to migration – Member States should try to cooperate in protecting Europe's borders and offer help to those who are in real need of protection.</span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">  <table class="ms-rteTable-default ms-rteFontFace-5" cellspacing="0" style="font-size:1em;width:100%;"><tbody><tr class="ms-rteTableHeaderRow-default ms-rteFontFace-5"><th class="ms-rteTableHeaderFirstCol-default ms-rteFontFace-5" rowspan="1" colspan="1"><div style="text-align:justify;">​<span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"><strong>LOCAL AND REGIONAL PLATFORM BETWEEN THE EU AND NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES</strong></span> <div style="text-align:justify;"><div> </div> <div><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;">The Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) bring together local and regional politicians from the EU and the EUs neighbouring countries. It is a platform for dialogue and aims to support and complement EU relations with these countries.</span><strong> </strong></div></div></div></th></tr></tbody></table>  </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:120%;"> </span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span></span> </div>
ECR Group President Keymer calls on Commission President Juncker to make bolder reforms – "We need bolder reforms for better regulation. We need European localism"<img alt="" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/17827944734_4d76087f54_crop.jpg" style="border:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Group-President-Keymer-calls-on-Commission-President-Juncker-for-bolder-reforms-–-We-need-bolder-reforms-for-better-reg.aspx2015-06-03T22:00:00ZECR Group President Keymer calls on Commission President Juncker to make bolder reforms – "We need bolder reforms for better regulation. We need European localism"<div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span style="font-size:11pt;">ECR Group President Gordon Keymer CBE (Leader of Tandridge District Council) called on the  President of the European Commission Jean-Claude <span>Juncker</span>, during the 112<sup>th</sup> Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions to deliver bolder reforms. While welcoming the Commissions</span> <span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:11pt;">"Better Regulation Package" that was recently announced, <span>Gordon<i> </i></span>Keymer noted that "</span>greater European localism" <span>was</span> needed.<span style="font-size:11pt;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"> <span style="font-size:11pt;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span style="font-size:11pt;">"We of course very much welcome that the Commission has explicitly referred to territorial impact assessments in the better regulation toolbox and has noted that the CoR will be part of the </span><span lang="EN" style="font-size:11pt;">Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) platform. However, we regret that the Commission is putting the CoR into the same camp as trade unions and businesses" said President Keymer.</span><span style="font-size:11pt;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:11pt;"> </span><span style="font-size:11pt;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:11pt;">The European Commission has proposed that two permanent and inclusive REFIT platforms are created – one composed of representative of Member States and another composed of stakeholder<i>s</i>. </span><span style="font-size:11pt;">The Commission proposes that the CoR should be represented in the <span>latter</span> platform, have 1 representative in a platform of 20 members composed of 18 representatives from outside the <span>formal </span>EU<span> structure<i> </i></span>like civil society representatives, businesses and <span>trade unions</span>.</span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:11pt;"> </span><span style="font-size:11pt;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:11pt;">President Keymer underlined that the better-regulation package does not do justice to the CoR's role in the EU's formal decision-making process, despite the CoR being an advisory EU institution formally consulted under the ordinary legislative procedure with a specialised task on subsidiarity monitoring. "President – do you think it is appropriate that despite being part of the formal EU mechanism, we are put in the same camp as stakeholders and social partners? Local and regional authorities implement approximately 70 per cent of EU legislation. Some of our regions represented in the CoR also have legislative powers. Furthermore, the Committee of the Regions has a specialised task on subsidiarity monitoring given to it under the EU Treaties," stated Cllr Keymer.</span><span style="font-size:11pt;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:11pt;"> </span><span style="font-size:11pt;"></span></div> <div style="text-align:justify;margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;line-height:16.5pt;"><span style="font-size:11pt;">Localism is one of the founding principles of the ECR Group, defined as "the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level - by the individual where possible and by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies" as well as "EU decisions do not exceed the level of intervention necessary." The ECR Group in the CoR believes that the CoR should be given the inter-institutional powers to amend and delay EU legislation that is not in line with the principle of subsidiarity.</span></div>
Policy Group on Subsidiarity and Localism: ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament join forces to bring EU decisions closer to citizenshttp://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Policy-Group-on-Subsidiarity-and-Localism-ECR-Group-in-the-Committee-and-the-Regions-and-the-European-Parliament-join-force.aspx2015-04-15T22:00:00ZPolicy Group on Subsidiarity and Localism: ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament join forces to bring EU decisions closer to citizens<p class="ms-rteFontFace-5"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:115%;"><strong>T</strong><span><strong>he ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament are going to be working together in a new policy group on subsidiarity and localism. The main objectives of the policy group, chaired by Andrew Lewer MBE MEP, will be to pool the local, regional, national and EU expertise of the ECR political family to help ensure that decisions are taken at the lowest practicable level. The policy group will consider the cost and impact of centralising decisions in Brussels, provide recommendations on inter-institutional planning and anticipate future milestones. </strong></span><span><strong> </strong></span></span></p> <p class="ms-rteFontFace-5"> </p> <div style="text-align:center;"><img alt="Launching Event" src="/ecr/PublishingImages/Launching-event_new.jpg" /> </div> <div style="text-align:center;"><em> From left to right: Gordon Keymer CBE, Andrew Lewer MBE MEP, Jan Zahradil MEP, Roger Evans</em></div> <div> </div> <div><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:115%;"><span><span>The ECR Group political family is at the forefront of generating forward-looking policy proposals to desi<span class=" ms-rtestate-write ms-rtestate-write" id="ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_RichImageField_ctl00_RichImageField_ImageFieldDisplay"></span>gn a European Union that can support its Member States by focusing on areas where common action can offer added value to achieve shared goals.</span></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:115%;"><span><span> </span></span></span></div> <div><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:115%;"><span><span><span class=" ms-rtestate-write ms-rtestate-write" id="ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_RichImageField_ctl00_RichImageField_ImageFieldDisplay"></span></span><p><span>"</span><span>In the new mandate, we will continue to actively work with our political family in the EU to achieve a better working EU. We will be working to increase the EU's democratic accountability, its competitiveness and growth, to ensure full respect of the principles of subsidiarity, greater localism and a strong voice for local and regional government in guiding EU policies" said <span>Councillor </span></span><span>Gordon Keymer</span><span>, President of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions.</span></p> <p><span>With the aim of developing new ideas that can change Europe for the better in a demanding international environment, the ECR Group in the European Parliament and the Committee in the Regions will be working together in Policy Groups such as the Policy Group on Subsidiarity and Localism.</span><span> The ECR Group member Cllr Roger Evans (Chairman of the London Assembly) as member of the Committee of the Regions’ Subsidiarity Steering Group strongly welcomed the establishment of this new Policy Group that will be chaired by former Committee of the Regions member, Andrew Lewer MBE MEP. </span></p> <p> <span>“Such policy groups play an important role in helping new ideas and solutions to be developed. We established policy groups in the London Assembly that delivered many successful results and I look forward to being active in this new Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group to help deliver a better functioning EU,” </span><span lang="EN-US">said Cllr Roger Evans, member of the Committee of the Regions' Subsidiarity Steering Group.</span></p> <div style="margin-bottom:0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:130%;"><span>A large number of policy fields are covered by existing EU legislation. These legislative acts usually contain review clauses allowing for the monitoring of the impact and effects of legislation. “We have a strong interest in </span><span lang="EN-US">providing well researched statements that can be trusted about what impact - negative or positive - EU legislation is having in local communities once it has been adopted” explained Andrew Lewer MB<span class=" ms-rtestate-write ms-rtestate-write" id="ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_RichImageField_ctl00_RichImageField_ImageFieldDisplay"></span>E MEP. </span></div> <div style="margin-bottom:0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:130%;"><span lang="EN-US"></span> </div> <div style="margin-bottom:0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:130%;"><span lang="EN-US"></span> </div> <div style="margin-bottom:0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:130%;"><span>The Policy Group on Subsidiarity and Localism shall develop its own “subsidiarity score board” indicating the areas in which it is more practicable for the matter to be handled by local or national authorities in preference to the EU. The Policy Group <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">shall enable local, regional and national mandate </span><span class="ms-rtestate-write ms-rtestate-write ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" id="ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_RichImageField_ctl00_RichImageField_ImageFieldDisplay"></span><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">holders from the ECR Group’s political family to collectively anticipate and implement EU legal provisions on subsidiarity and proportionality, and facilitate the contribution of national parliaments.</span></span><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0"> </span></div> <div class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="margin-bottom:0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:130%;"><span><span lang="EN"></span></span> </div> <div class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0" style="margin-bottom:0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:130%;"><span><span lang="EN">The Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) President Jan Zahradil MEP, commented at the launch of the new policy group: </span><span lang="EN">“we have always favoured the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level – by the individual where possible, by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies. Our political family is at the forefront of generating forward-looking policy proposals to push decision-making back towards citizens and reverse the relentless centralisation of legislative power in the hands of distant and opaque EU institutions.”</span><span class=" ms-rtestate-write ms-rtestate-write" id="ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_RichImageField_ctl00_RichImageField_ImageFieldDisplay"></span></span></div></span></span></div>