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Statement from ECR Group President Rob Jonkman on the ACRE Spitzenkandidat <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Jan%20Zahradil.jpg" width="683" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Jan-Zahradil.aspx2018-11-15T23:00:00ZStatement from ECR Group President Rob Jonkman on the ACRE Spitzenkandidat <p>​As the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Committee of the Regions, we are proudly supporting the Spitzenkandidat of our political family <strong>Jan Zahradil MEP</strong>. </p><p>As local and regional authorities, we look forward to working with our political family's candidate for the May 2019 elections to the European Parliament so as to ensure not only a high turnout for ECR candidates, but also to facilitate a bottom-up engagement of the grassroot supporters of our political parties. </p><p>Our Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe has been the consistent voice of a genuine reform of Europe led by the principle of governance at the most practicable level as underlined in ACRE's Prague declaration. We look forward to working with Jan Zahradil in advocating a euro-realist and euro-localist EU and in ensuring that this message is heard.</p>
Pavel Branda advocates decentralisation of EU financing for the Eastern Partnership and shares lessons learnt from the Czech Republic's economic transformation <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/PBranda.jpg" width="708" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Pavel-Branda-advocates-decentralisation-of-EU-financing-for-the-Eastern-Partnership-.aspx2018-09-24T22:00:00ZPavel Branda advocates decentralisation of EU financing for the Eastern Partnership and shares lessons learnt from the Czech Republic's economic transformation <font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;font-family:"calibri","sans-serif";">“Promoting enhanced cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries requires decentralised solutions. The new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument proposed this year by the European Commission would benefit from earmarking funds specifically for local and regional authorities,” said ECR member Pavel Branda (Deputy Mayor of Radlo in the Czech Republic) during the annual meeting of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP). </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;font-family:"calibri","sans-serif";"> </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;font-family:"calibri","sans-serif";">CORLEAP is the political forum of local and regional authorities from the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries. At the meeting on 24 September in Kiev, Ukraine, CoR members held discussions with their counterparts from Eastern Partnership countries on the Commission proposal, which envisages scrapping the twelve existing instruments for financial assistance to non-EU countries and replacing them with one global instrument with an increased budget. As it stands, the proposal does not envisage any financing dedicated specifically to local and regional authorities from Eastern Partnership countries. It is also very vague as to the level of funding to be allocated to particular geographical regions.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;font-family:"calibri","sans-serif";"> </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black;font-family:"calibri","sans-serif";">In addition to taking part in CORLEAP, Mr Branda attended the meeting of Task Force Ukraine on 25 September, where he shared the Czech Republic's experiences of economic transformation after the fall of communism. Mr Branda stressed that it is often more economically sound to support the development of new companies than to restructure the ones that do not function. He also pointed to the fact that supporting foreign investors “cannot be done at the expense of local business”, which has been the case in the Czech Republic. The Task Force meeting was attended by Ukraine's First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade and the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine.</span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font>
ECR Localism Summit: A New Vision for Europe<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Localism%20summit%20pic1.jpg" width="712" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Localism-Summit_A-New-Vision-for-Europe.aspx2018-09-18T22:00:00ZECR Localism Summit: A New Vision for Europe<p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) today held its first Localism Summit, bringing together leading thinkers and leaders from government and business to advocate for more bottom-up solutions to global trends. Organised under the theme of <a href="/ecr/events/Pages/Localism-Summit.aspx"><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong>'A Glocal Vision for the Future of Europe'</strong></span></a>, the Summit addressed issues such as access to urban services, social inequalities, climate change, disaster risk management and migration.</p><p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">"Our Group believes that empowering communities and developing bottom-up solutions is the best way to prepare for and respond to global trends," said <strong>Rob Jonkman</strong>, President of the ECR Group in the CoR. He added, "localism is about civil empowerment. Understood as taking decisions at the most practicable level, by the individual where possible and by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies, it can help us achieve an improved and better-functioning EU. We need better governance, not bigger government."</p><p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">The summit was held in Lombardy's Milan, Italy. On 22 October 2017 the regions of Lombardy and Veneto held a referendum on more autonomy from the central government in which the vast majority of those participating voted in favour of more power decentralisation. The Summit was attended, among many others, by <strong>Marcin Ociepa</strong> (ECR/PL), Polish Deputy Minister for Entrepreneurship and Technology, <strong>Dario Galli</strong>, Italian Undersecretary for economic development, <strong>Attilio Fontana</strong>, President of Lombardy Region as well as regional ministers for autonomy and culture & immigration and security.</p><p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">The Localism Summit welcomed speakers, experts and local and regional leaders from many fields of interest and countries who explored the value and role of the principle of localism in the way our cities and regions are run, in tackling climate change and natural disasters, in combatting social inequality as well as in managing migration and integration. </p><p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">Opening the Summit, President of Lombardy Region <strong>Attilio Fontana </strong>said: “we need more localism and more regionalism. From Lombardy we are calling on the European Commission for greater simplification at the EU level". Deputy President of the Lombardy Regional Council <strong>Francesca Brianza</strong> welcomed the Summit's participants in the region and expressed the desire "to build together a new direction at the EU level listening more to regions and local communities."</p><p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">The timing of the event is of pressing importance as it takes place ahead of the EU elections in May of next year. Concerning this point, <strong>Matteo Bianchi</strong> (ECR/IT), Member of the Italian Parliament and Mayor of Morazzone, underlined that "the citizens of Lombardy recently voted with a majority of over 90% in favour of greater decentralisation of powers. They want to be empowered to decide for themselves how to manage their localities. They do not want big national or EU government."</p><p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">Offering some concluding remarks, <strong>Carlo Fidanza</strong> (ECR/IT), Member of the Italian Parliament and Member of Rosazza Municipal Council said that he has seen "first-hand the importance of reforming the EU. Events such as this Summit play an important role in enabling collective thinking on genuine reform so that the EU is better able to serve its citizens. In light of the upcoming European elections, I can think of no better time than the current to be discussing Europe's future and how we deliver a reformed EU."</p><p lang="ar" style="text-align:justify;">In the coming months the ECR Group will work with policymakers to ensure that localism is accepted and embraced both at the national and EU levels so that it can significantly contribute to addressing global trends that are having a profound impact on the local communities.  </p>
ECR Group President supports Austrian EU Presidency's focus on subsidiarity<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/2.%20Jonkman%20Austrian%20Presidency.jpg" width="688" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Group-President-supports-Austrian-EU-Presidency's-focus-on-subsidiarity.aspx2018-07-05T22:00:00ZECR Group President supports Austrian EU Presidency's focus on subsidiarity<p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">On 4-5 July the ECR members of the European Committee of the Regions met in Brussels to take part in the 130th plenary session. The programme for the two-day plenary saw the adoption of 11 opinions and was full of topical discussions, including one on the Austrian presidency's priorities. In light of the publication of the report of the Task Force on subsidiarity, proportionality and "doing less more efficiently", and of the priorities of the Austrian presidency, ECR Group President Rob Jonkman (Alderman in Opsterland in the Netherlands) called for the EU to place more of a focus on the role of local and regional authorities in the policy-making process, in order to ensure that the EU does more with less, more efficiently and with an emphasis on the level of government that is closest to the citizens.</span> </p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">The Austrian government was represented at the plenary in Brussels by Juliane Bogner-Strauss, Federal Minister for women, families and youth. In her speech to CoR members, Ms Bogner-Strauss stressed that Europe was facing numerous challenges, including international competition, conflict, migration and climate change. She noted that the EU needed to be closer to the citizens. Referring to the presidency's slogan, 'Europe that protects', she explained that the EU needed to strengthen the subsidiarity principle and give local and regional authorities the capacity to find solutions that worked. The EU, in other words, should 'deliver more for less'. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Speaking on behalf of the ECR Group, its president Rob Jonkman welcomed Austria's emphasis on subsidiarity and reminded those arguing for an ever closer union that "an ever closer union does not require ever more regulation". He gave a clear example of how the EU unnecessarily intervenes in areas that are best managed by local and regional authorities, the closest level of government to citizens.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Alongside his comments on subsidiarity, Mr Jonkman also welcomed the presidency's effort to highlight the issue of digitalisation and its importance for the economy. He underlined the key role of local and regional authorities, noting that "modernising our public administration through the use of digital technologies will bring benefits and added value to our citizens and businesses".</span><span lang="EN-GB"> </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Austria assumed the six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July, taking over from Bulgaria. The Task Force on subsidiarity, of which the CoR has been part, published its long-awaited report on 10 July. The document argues that the EU needs a new way of working when it comes to subsidiarity and proportionality, and also recommends that the EU institutions agree on a "focused" multi-annual programme that would "promote a rebalancing" of the EU's work in some policy areas towards "more effective" implementation of existing legislation and away from initiating new legislation.</span><span lang="EN-GB"> </span><span lang="EN-GB">The full report can be accessed online. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p align="left" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:left;line-height:normal;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12pt;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font>
Oldřich Vlasák, ECR Vice-President: Clean energy transformation will not happen overnight<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/3.%20Vlasak%20Canete.jpg" width="605" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Clean-energy-transformation-will-not-happen-overnight.aspx2018-07-04T22:00:00ZOldřich Vlasák, ECR Vice-President: Clean energy transformation will not happen overnight<p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">In his speech at the July plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, the ECR's vice-president, Oldřich Vlasák, outlined the group's key messages on climate change. The debate was attended by the European Commissioner for Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete. Mr Vlasák, who also serves as a councillor for the city of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic, said that the Commission needed to be more realistic about the pace of change in some parts of Europe. Furthermore, he underlined the need for more action to prevent natural disasters.</span> </p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Mariusz Skiba, deputy mayor of Katowice in Poland, also took part in the debate, which took place ahead of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) which will take place in Katowice on 3-14 December. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Mr Vlasák called on the Commission to respect the diverse EU energy landscape, pointing out that some regions and cities will need more time to successfully transition to clean alternative energy sources. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">He explained that "countries like the Czech Republic and Poland will not be in a position to phase out coal completely in the short term". He also asked the Commission "not to forget that the transformation of the Ruhr, the former coal-mining region in Germany, took more than 60 years, and in our part of the continent we started reducing emissions only after 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell". </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Mr Vlasák warned that phasing out coal entirely in the short run would lead to "blackouts and the loss of thousands of jobs". Furthermore, looking at the wider context, he observed that the Czech Republic, in spite of having received bad press for its coal industry, managed to cut its emissions by 37% in 2014 in comparison to the levels detected in 1990, while at the same time enabling the country's economy to grow. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"> <span lang="EN-GB">The vice-president of the ECR also spoke about the link between the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters hitting our cities and regions and climate change. It was therefore necessary, Mr Vlasák pointed out, to "focus more on increasing our disaster resilience as part of our climate action work". </span></p>
Conservative and reformist local and regional politicians call for structured cooperation after Brexit<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/12%20Downing%20Street.jpg" width="714" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Conservative-and-reformist-local-and-regional-politicians-call-for-structured-cooperation-after-Brexit.aspx2018-06-09T22:00:00ZConservative and reformist local and regional politicians call for structured cooperation after Brexit<p><span class="ms-rteFontSize-2">​ECR Group Members with <span class="st ms-rteFontSize-2"><em><em>Lord Martin Callanan (</em></em>the United Kingdom's <em><em>Minister</em></em> of State for Exiting the European Union) and Andrew Lewer MP at 10 Downing Street, London</span></span></p><p><strong class="ms-rteFontSize-2"></strong> </p><p><strong>Conservative local government and devolved administration from the UK met with their counterparts from other European countries to discuss their future cooperation after the UK leaves the EU.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Committee of the Regions held its external group meeting in London today. The local and regional politicians met at the Local Government Association (LGA) premises to discuss areas where structured cooperation will be needed at the local and regional level. Group members met private sector and had meetings at 10 Downing Street.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The UK and EU will continue to be key strategic partners even after the UK leaves the EU. We face many common global challenges ranging from digitalization to climate change and addressing these requires not only national but also local action. We need to continue working together at the local and regional level in a structured way to share best practices and continue promoting greater localism and free market values", said ECR CoR Group President Rob Jonkman (Alderman in Opsterland, the Netherlands).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Cllr David Simmonds (leader of the LGA Conservative Group) underlined that "local authorities exercise powers in the EU in a way that they do not in the UK. In the EU, local and regional authorities are formally consulted when laws are being prepared.  We (UK) need to ensure that UK local government maintains its positive influence for efficient and effective government in areas currently with the EU. We also need to devolve some of the powers coming back to local government so that local challenges can be addressed through local solutions." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In a panel co-organised with the Think-Tank Localis, President of the Polish region of Podkarpackie Wladyslaw Ortyl and Mayor of the Italian city of Morazzone Matteo Bianchi presented examples of localism from their respective countries. In its second panel, bringing together London Assembly Member Keith Prince and private sector representatives, members of the group looked at the case study of digitalization and how cities like London are using technologies to deliver public services. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Among the issues under discussion was how the future cooperation could be structured in the European Committee of the Regions, the EU's political assembly bringing together 350 local and regional politicians from EU member states. The UK currently has 24 Members in the CoR represented in four out of five political groupings. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Given that the UK will continue to pay into the EU budget until 2020, it would be good if we could continue to take have our seats in the European Committee of the Regions. We need to avoid taxation without representation," said Vice-President of the ECR CoR Group Cllr Joe Cooney (Member of the Pendle Council, leader of UK delegation in the ECR). </p><p>The UK will cease to be a Member of the EU after 29 March 2019. The EU has structured relations with a number of third countries. It remains to be seen what form of cooperation UK and EU will have post-2019.</p>
Baku summit: Building a shared future <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/12.%20Baku.jpg" width="703" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Baku-summit---Building-a-shared-future-.aspx2018-06-09T22:00:00ZBaku summit: Building a shared future <p style="text-align:justify;">​<span lang="EN-GB">ECR Members Matteo Bianchi (Mayor of Morazzone and Member of Italian Parliament) and Juraj Droba (Chairman of Bratislava Self-Governing Region) spoke at the Baku Summit in Azerbaijan on 8-9 June in the localism panel. The panel looked at how localism can help improve the economy and governance of a locality. It also looked at the kind of local action required by current global issues and challenges. The panellists underlined that in the current multi-level governance system, each government has a role to play and that in order to be effective, the system needs to be bottom-up.</span></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">The Baku Summit was organised by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe. It brought together leaders from politics, business, government, academia and the not-for-profit sector from across Europe and the world, in order to shape the debate on our shared future.  The Summit explored the topics of the digital economy, economic freedom, connectivity through transportation, education transformation, local governance and energy security .</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">The localism and governance panel was featured as the closing panel discussion. The panellists were Mr Matteo Bianchi, Mr Juraj Droba, Mr Elmar Valiyev (Mayor of Ganja city in Azerbaijan) and Mr Max Rangeley (Ediyor at the Cobden Centre). The panel moderated by Neva-Sadikoglu-Novaky (Secretary-General of the ECR Group in the European Committee of the Regions).</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Localism is a founding principle of the ECR Group in the European Committee of the regions and is featured in the founding documents of the ACRE family; it is featured in the Reykjavik Declaration of ACRE and the Prague Deceleration of the ECR Group in the European Parliament. Localism is the idea that in governance, decisions should be taken at the lowest practicable level, by the individual where possible and by national authorities in preference to supranational bodies. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">According to Mr Droba, reshaping the EU and its neighbouring countries into entities that truly work for the citizens will only happen if political activity is conducted at the lowest meaningful level. "Localism prevents governments from making decision which do not reflect people's wishes. The further away from the citizens decisions are made, the less they reflect people's preferences", explained Mr Droba.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Matteo Bianchi MP agreed that a localist approach is the best way to achieve economic development. To illustrate his case, he used the example of Northern Italy: "Coming from Lombardy, I see that public spending is much more efficient when decisions are taken close to the citizens instead of being taken in Rome or in Brussels. Studies show that if all public services in Italy were run as efficiently as in my region, Italy would save four billion EUR a year".</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">The Mayor of Ganja explained that local government is one of the cornerstones of Azerbaijan's constitutional system. Under President Aliyev, Azerbaijan has also taken strong measures to decentralise, including referenda in 2009 and 2016 that voted to increase local governance through the introduction, and then empowerment, of municipalities. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Max Rangley underlined the economic argument in favour of greater localism and explained how global trends like the digital revolution and the digital economy can revolutionise local governance. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font>
Now is the time to reform and improve the EU's Cohesion Policy says Oldřich Vlasák <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Vlasak%20Cretu.JPG" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Now-is-the-time-to-reform-and-improve-the-EU's-Cohesion-Policy-says-Oldřich-Vlasák-.aspx2018-06-06T22:00:00ZNow is the time to reform and improve the EU's Cohesion Policy says Oldřich Vlasák <p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>The European Committee of the Region's (CoR) </strong><strong>Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy (COTER)</strong><strong> held a meeting on 6-7 June in Bulgaria, the country currently presiding over the Council of the EU. Bringing together representatives and elected officials from the EU Member States, the meeting took place against the backdrop of the publication of the EU's budget proposal for the period 2021-2027, as well as sectoral legislation on the future of the EU's Cohesion Policy.</strong> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">This was a crucial meeting, as the CoR, the voice of local and regional authorities (LRAs) in the EU, will play an important role in providing expertise during the legislative process. Members of the COTER Commission had a chance to exchange views with the European Commission's representative, Mr Von Breska from DG REGIO, responsible for drafting the proposals that will determine the future of cohesion spending.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the meeting ECR Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák (Councillor of the City of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic), COTER's Deputy-Coordinator of the ECR Group, underlined the importance of local and regional authorities in administering Cohesion Policy and called for more simplified rules so as to lower the administrative burdens. He also noted that while the Czech Republic remains, under the new proposals, one of the main beneficiaries of the EU's Cohesion Policy, the country's allocation will be decreased significantly – by a quarter. This is partly due to its successful economic performance. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Vlasák welcomed the success of the Czech Republic. He warned, however, against unfair redistribution of funds among EU Member States, which could give the impression that countries that do their homework and achieve better economic results get penalised. "Success in the EU should be rewarded," he added. Furthermore, in order to ensure better delivery of EU funds and to match spending with priorities, national authorities should be able to enjoy greater flexibility". "Member States should be allowed to move funds between programmes that they consider most beneficial to their citizens," he concluded.    </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The EU budget, as well as the particular legislation on Cohesion Policy, will now have to be agreed on by the EU Member States, as well as by the European Parliament. While the European Commission and some Member States, such as Germany, would like the negotiations on the budget to be wrapped up before the EU Parliamentary elections in early 2019, it seems unlikely that the different positions will be aligned in such a short time.  </p>
How space technologies improve sustainable energy management <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/18.%20Daiva1.JPG" width="707" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/How-space-technologies-improve-sustainable-energy-management-.aspx2018-06-06T22:00:00ZHow space technologies improve sustainable energy management <table width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-default" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:100%;"><p style="text-align:justify;">How can space technologies contribute to Europe's energy transition? To what extent can satellite applications enable more sustainable energy management systems? In what ways can satellite applications support cities and regions in the daily management of urban services? These are some of the questions addressed by our Member Daiva Matonienė (Member of Šiauliai City Council in Lithuania) at a workshop co-organised by the European Committee of the Regions, the European Space Agency and Eurisy, a non-profit organisation which aims to make satellite services and space applications more accessible to public bodies and businesses.</p></td></tr><tr style="text-align:justify;"><td class="ms-rteTable-default"><p>With a particular focus on local and regional needs, the workshop held on 6 June assessed the possible contributions of space assets in responding to the needs of the energy sector and discussed best practices to make space-based data and services available to potential users operating in the energy sector.</p><p>The event was chaired by ECR Group Member Daiva Matonienė, former Vice Minister of Environment of Lithuania and CoR spokesperson on renewable energy and the internal energy market in electricity. </p><p>In her opening speech, Daiva Matonienė said: "Space technologies can play a great role in reaching the EU's energy and climate objectives but its potential must be maximised through innovative mechanisms that attract private investments. Space policy needs to be solidly based on a long-term strategy. Success will be ours if public authorities of all levels closely cooperate with businesses to further develop space industry public-private partnerships."   </p><p>Decarbonising the economy by 2050 will require huge efforts by energy companies and policy-makers to achieve the goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring competitive and secure energy supplies. Ms Matonienė and other CoR Members consider that facilitating synergies between the energy and space sectors is crucial in order to reach our climate and energy targets, both at EU and at international level. </p><p>The event was also the occasion to showcase specific applications of space technologies. Participants presented space assets helping to secure energy systems and support energy operators.</p><p>The event was part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2018. Every year the European Commission's Directorate General for Energy organises the event dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. This year's main theme was "clean energy for all Europeans". <br></p></td></tr></tbody></table><p>​</p>
ECR president speaks at the Liberal Convention in Madrid<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/10.%20acre.jpg" width="692" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-president-speaks-at-the-Liberal-Convention-in-Madrid.aspx2018-06-02T22:00:00ZECR president speaks at the Liberal Convention in Madrid<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>The ECR Group in the CoR organised a localism panel at the 2 June Liberal Convention that took place in Madrid, Spain. The convention was a global gathering of free market and libertarian think tanks, hosted by the New Direction foundation. </strong><strong>“</strong><strong>The importance of a bottom-up system that does not infringe on liberties is crucial for the future of Europe</strong><strong>"</strong><strong>, underlined ECR President Rob Jonkman (Alderman in Opsterland in the Netherlands) when participating in the debate on localism.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The conference took place in the Spanish capital of Madrid and ahead of the 2019 European elections, brought together leading free marketeers to discuss a global agenda for strengthening and developing free markets. The event also aimed to inspire a new generation of free market supporters.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Central governments and EU institutions often suffer from a deficit, both fiscal and democratic. Localism helps to overcome these challenges. When combined with the free-market capitalist system, it makes societies wealthier, freer, happier and more efficient. Local and regional representatives are the best problem-solvers and the most trusted level of government by citizens. That is why as the ECR Group we are so keen to promote the need to take decisions at the lowest practical level." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Participating in the debate on localism, apart from Mr Jonkman, were Radosław Fogiel (Chair of the European Young Conservatives, Member of the Masovian Regional Assembly in Poland); Maru Pardal (Secretary General of the Youth of the European People's Party) and Daniel Martinez (Leader of Spain's Libertarian Party). The discussion was moderated by Neva Sadikoglu-Novaky, Secretary General of the ECR Group in the European Committee of the Regions. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Convention was hosted in Madrid, Europe's fifth largest city. Madrid provided a fitting location for such a wide-reaching summit, as it serves as a continental bridge to the Americas, and a crossroads between the north, south, east and west of Europe.</p>
Digital revolution for all <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/25.%20Grzybowski.JPG" width="696" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Digital-revolution-for-all.aspx2018-05-31T22:00:00ZDigital revolution for all <p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>Right across the European Union, work is well underway to improve residents' access to broadband internet. Paweł Grzybowski, the Mayor of Rypin (Poland), is actively participating in this process. In Brussels, he represents the ECR Group on the recently created Broadband Platform, while in Kujawsko-Pomorskie he is working effectively to eliminate internet access "white spots". </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"A fast internet connection is crucial to developing local communities' intellectual potential and competitiveness. That's why we need to eliminate the internet access 'white spots' within the European Union," said Mr Grzybowski, noting that the most significant problems with access to broadband internet in Poland and other parts of Europe occurred mainly in small communities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Thus the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions have launched a joint platform to help bring high-speed broadband to all European regions, including rural and sparsely populated areas where there is not enough market-driven development. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"In the region where Rypin is located, aside from the implementation of large infrastructure projects like 'Infostrada Kujaw i Pomorza', which are intended to improve communications and transmission speeds, work still needs to be carried out in smaller towns. In particular, the fibre-optic backbone is in need of further development as there are still widespread shortcomings in this area. Exchanging experiences within the European Committee of the Regions made me realise that similar problems also exist in other countries. We European local and regional elected representatives can pool our experiences of how best to cope with these challenges." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In Brussels, Paweł Grzybowski stressed that in some locations, fibre-optic networks cannot be built or are too expensive. In such cases, LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a good solution, enabling some locations to be served more easily and at a lower cost. </p>
Bringing Eastern countries closer to the EU<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/14.%20Branda.jpg" width="610" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Bringing-Eastern-countries-closer-to-the-EU.aspx2018-05-29T22:00:00ZBringing Eastern countries closer to the EU<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>Two weeks before the European Commission unveiled its long-term funding proposals for the European Union's foreign policy, ECR Member Pavel Branda together with other local and regional leaders from Eastern Partnership countries outlined their expectations as to the future EU budget. </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Pavel Branda – ECR Group representative in the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) and Deputy Mayor of Radlo in the Czech Republic – called for more funds to be allocated to cross-border and people-to-people programmes. "This type of EU programme provides clear value for people in EU and non-EU countries. It removes prejudices, encourages trade and improves our safety. However, such programmes are not easy to formulate. The most important thing is that they are adequately financed and managed in a bottom-up way. Local and regional authorities need to be given ownership of these programmes rather than see their role marginalised," said Mr Branda. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The European Committee of the Regions, which set up CORLEAP in 2010, also adopted detailed recommendations for national leaders with regard to strengthening civil society in Eastern Partnership countries. Mr Branda pointed to the fact that although it is important that politicians exchange experiences on this topic, it is not enough. In his words: "Political leaders change, local communities stay. Under the umbrella of the Eastern Partnership, the EU needs to prioritise fostering cooperation among universities, schools, disaster relief services and non-governmental organisations."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">CORLEAP members who attended the meeting on 29 May included six members of the CoR and five representatives from Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine). The next CORLEAP meeting is planned for September this year and will take place in the capital of Ukraine. It will be held back-to-back with a meeting of the CoR's Ukraine Taskforce. The taskforce's most recent meeting, held in Brussels in March, led to the establishment of five city-to-city or region-to-region partnerships, managed by the German development agency GIZ and funded by the European Commission's "ULEAD with Europe" programme for Ukraine.</p>
Subsidiarity Task Force: ECR’s Roberto Ciambetti calls for closer involvement of national and regional parliaments in EU decision-making<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/11.%20Ciambetti.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Subsidiarity-Task-Force.aspx2018-05-28T22:00:00ZSubsidiarity Task Force: ECR’s Roberto Ciambetti calls for closer involvement of national and regional parliaments in EU decision-making<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>The European Committee of the Regions has hosted a hearing of the Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and "Doing Less More Efficiently", providing an opportunity for the members of the Task force to listen to the views of national and regional parliaments on the key issues within its remit. ECR member Roberto Ciambetti (President of the Regional Council of Veneto in Italy) urged the task force members to come up with specific proposals which would increase the participation of regional and national parliaments in decision-making at EU level.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the task force meeting on 28 May, Mr Ciambetti underlined that currently neither national nor regional parliaments are happy with how subsidiarity monitoring is working in the EU. "To begin with, the time available to national parliaments and regional parliaments to give their opinion on EU legislation is too short. It should be increased from the current 8 weeks to at least 12 weeks. The EU needs to introduce a "green card" (which would encourage the Commission to submit legislative proposals) and a "red card" (which would grant the power of veto, with the appropriate quorum). This would help increase the involvement of national parliaments and regional parliaments in the pre-legislative phase of the EU's decision-making process and enable us to achieve a more bottom-up system", said the ECR member from Veneto.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Ciambetti also called for territorial impact assessments to be strengthened and made more credible through the use of more micro-level regional data, both by strengthening the EUs applied research programme (European Spatial Planning Observation Network) and by investing in the work of the Joint Research Centre, which currently deals more with macro-level analysis, but fails to establish the possible impact of a policy based on the characteristics of a particular territory. "Data collection at regional level is challenging and requires resources, but the resulting territorial impact assessment would be a valuable source of information for the whole EU. An accurate and high quality impact assessment is also fundamental in providing fact-based evidence when calculating European added value". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The President of Veneto Regional Council also proposed creating a separate consultation procedure between the Commission, national parliaments and local and regional authorities and distinguishing them from those aimed at other stakeholders. "It is necessary to create a proper multilevel negotiating system, through which the competent and democratically elected levels of government can work together. It is through such a system that we can achieve the most democratic and representative results", concluded Mr Ciambetti.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The European Commission created a Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and "Doing Less More Efficiently" in November 2017. Under the chairmanship of the Commission's first vice-president Frans Timmermans, the task force includes three members from national parliaments and three members from the CoR. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Task Force has been asked to make recommendations on how to better apply the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in the work of the EU. It has also been asked to identify policy areas where decision-making could be devolved or returned to the Member States, and find ways of better involving regional and local authorities in EU policy-making and delivery.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Task Force is meeting on a monthly basis from January to July 2018. It will present its findings in the form of a written report to President Juncker by 15 July 2018. The Commission has indicated that it will follow this up by presenting a policy communication in the autumn of this year.</p>
CoR leadership visits Irish Parliament and UK-Ireland boder<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/33.%20Ireland.jpg" width="673" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/CoR-leadership-visits-Irish-Parliament-and-UK-Ireland-boder.aspx2018-05-23T22:00:00ZCoR leadership visits Irish Parliament and UK-Ireland boder<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>ECR Group Vice-President Adam Banaszak attended the fact-finding mission of the CoR's political leadership in Ireland and Northern Ireland on 23 May led by the President of the CoR. During the visit, the CoR delegation met Ireland's Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee TD, members of the Irish Parliament's Committee on European Union Affairs, representatives of the regional assemblies of Ireland and Northern Irish local Councillors. The meetings showed that on the ground, citizens are deeply concerned by the possible negative consequences of the UK's withdrawal and what it might mean for the peace agreement. </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The European Committee of the Regions has been providing input and evidence to the EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator on the local and regional impact of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The leadership of the CoR, it's Confernce of Presidents, have been leading the work of the CoR in this area. In addition to travelling to different parts of the UK and meeting with representatives of UK's devolved administrations and local authorities, the CoP decided to look at the Irish border and visit both Ireland and Northern Ireland upon receiving an invitation from Ireland's national parliament and Northern Ireland Local Government Association. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The fact-finding mission focused on the implications of the UK's withdrawal from the EU on the peace process, business and cross-border cooperation. Representatives of the five political groups met Irish national and local politicians as well as Ireland's Europe Minister in Dublin, Ireland following which they met Northern Irish local government in Newry, Northern Ireland.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The fact -finding mission showed how citizens on both sides of the UK and Ireland border are keen to see the UK's withdrawal generate as minimal a change as possible to the current flow of goods and services taking place. “The meetings demonstrated importance of achieving an ambitious agreement" that enables a genuine and continuous partnership after the UK ceases to be a member of the EU", said ECR Member Adam Banaszak  (Deputy Chairman of Kujawsko-Pomorskie region in Poland and ECR Group Vice-President).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Underlining the wider European context Adam Banaszak said “thousands of people migrated from my region to the island of Ireland. They settled down, established families, and contributed massively to the local economies. I would like to see a new form of ambitious cooperation agreed as soon as possible between the UK and the EU so that these people do not need to feel uncertain about their future".   </p>
Citizens' dialogue on counteracting natural disasters <img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/dialog_12.jpg" width="619" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Citizens'-dialogue-on-counteracting-natural-disasters-.aspx2018-05-22T22:00:00ZCitizens' dialogue on counteracting natural disasters <p style="text-align:justify;"> <span lang="EN-GB">Efforts to build resilience to disasters were the focus of a conference held by the European Committee of the Regions and the administration of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region on 22 May at the Marshal's Office in Toruń. During this event, Paweł Grzybowski – a Member of the ECR Group and Mayor of Rypin – and Rosalind Cook of the United Nations signed a document formalising Rypin's accession to the UN's disaster readiness campaign.</span> </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Citizens' dialogues are an essential feature of the "Reflecting on Europe" campaign launched by the European Committee of the Regions. The "Citizens' dialogue: building resilience to disasters" conference held in Toruń aimed to examine the new United Nations framework for disaster risk reduction, and the new European system in this field, from a local and regional perspective.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Mayor Paweł Grzybowski emphasised that the venue and subject of the meeting were not coincidental. "In August last year our region was hit by a powerful storm, which caused considerable damage. We asked the European Commission for help from the EU Solidarity Fund in covering part of the cost and we greatly appreciate the assistance received. At the same time, by holding conferences such as today's, we want to show that, while receiving outside help, we are also making every effort to be as well prepared for disasters as possible."</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">The topic of the Toruń citizens' dialogue is linked to the fact that Rypin and the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region have been awarded certification by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) as part of their "Making Cities Resilient" campaign. This campaign aims to help improve disaster response – including by means of education and investment in adequate safeguards and by collaborating with partners, with the main focus being on the exchange of knowledge and experience.  Rypin is one of the first towns in the region to join this undertaking. </span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">"I view Rypin's accession to the UN campaign to build resilient cities as an obligation towards our residents: as a local authority, we are making every effort to constantly improve our capacities in terms of preventing and mitigating the effects of natural disasters. For this to be fully possible, we need the support of residents, NGOs, the uniformed services and academia, as well as national authorities and international organisations such as the EU and the UN," concluded Mr Grzybowski.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Representatives of local authorities, the security services, the scientific community and regional institutions, as well as the scouts, took part in the conference.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">The meeting also heard about the activities of the "Salutaris" local government association, which was set up on the initiative of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region. This association of local authorities, which has been operational for five years, has a solidarity fund – a resource that provides rapid, one-off, financial aid to municipalities and counties affected by disasters. The organisation currently includes 54 local authorities from the region, and the provincial authority.</span></p><div style="text-align:justify;"><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></div><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-GB">Members of the ECR Group have been actively involved for many years in the work of the European Committee of the Regions to improve emergency disaster response. Mr Adam Banaszak (Vice-President of Poland's Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Assembly) is the rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions for the review of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.</span><span lang="EN-GB"> </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font>
Paweł Grzybowski to Commissioner Avramopoulos: Countries in Central and Eastern Europe are actively taking part in the EU efforts to meet the challenges of the migration<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/4.%20Grzybowski.jpg" width="709" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Pawel Grzybowski to Commissioner Avramopoulos.aspx2018-05-22T22:00:00ZPaweł Grzybowski to Commissioner Avramopoulos: Countries in Central and Eastern Europe are actively taking part in the EU efforts to meet the challenges of the migration<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>At the March plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, Paweł Grzybowski – a Member of the ECR Group and Mayor of Rypin in Poland – spoke during the debate with the European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos. In his statement, he emphasised Central and Eastern European countries' active efforts to provide humanitarian aid and to easing tensions in Eastern Europe.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mayor Grzybowski mentioned the (in his view) harmful allegations from the European Commission that Poland and other countries in the region had shown a lack of solidarity with those countries most affected by the migration crisis. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"First, we should not equate solidarity with participation in the EU's relocation mechanism. All forms of assistance count. The Polish people, and the Polish government, believe that direct on-site aid is the most effective measure." In this context, the Mayor underlined the Polish government's support for the European Investment Bank's Economic Resilience Initiative. Poland is the largest contributor to this initiative. Paweł Grzybowski also pointed out that the "United Right" (Zjednoczona Prawica) government in Poland had quadrupled humanitarian aid contributions in comparison to the previous ruling coalition (Civic Platform and Polish People's Party).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Secondly, Mayor Grzybowski urged Commissioner Avramopoulos not to equate solidarity solely with openness to migration from the south. "Remember that the conflict in Ukraine has already claimed more than 10 000 lives. Over 1.5 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced. Since 2014, when the conflict in Ukraine broke out, Poland has taken in around 1.5 million Ukrainian citizens. Some families fled the fighting, others the economic collapse. Many of them have found work and a sense of security in Poland," he said.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The ECR Group Member concluded that countries in Central and Eastern Europe were actively helping non-EU countries. However, they are doing so in what they consider to be the most effective manner, and in line with society's expectations.</p>