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Brexit: EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier joins local leaders
On 22 March shortly before the United Kingdom is expected to launch negotiations to leave the EU, Michel Barnier, the European chief Brexit negotiator, will discuss the implications of the UK's decision for cities and regions with members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). The day after, local and regional authorities are to set out their position by voting on a Brexit resolution.

Debate on the future of Europe

The first day of the plenary will also see the EU's assembly for local and regional politicians debate the European Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe with three leading members of the European Parliament.with three leading members of the European Parliament. The debate on the Future of Europe forms part of the CoR's wider, ongoing political reflection on the EU's direction - a process whereby it's hosting scores of citizens' dialogues across the EU this year. The debate will benefit from the contributions of two MEPs who have authored reports on reform of the EU – Guy Verhofstadt (BE/ALDE) and Elmar Brok (DE/EPP) – and of MEP Jo Leinen (DE/S&D), President of the European Movement International, the largest pan-European network of pro-European organisations.

The plenary will be streamed live on the CoR's website | Plenary media programme

Other points on the agenda:

Sendai Framework: managing the local impact of natural disasters

On 13 October last year, the CoR and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) signed a five-year Action Plan to support EU cities and regions in taking more concerted action to reduce the impact of natural disasters. The Action Plan, which was signed on the International Day for Disaster Reduction , seeks to translate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 into ideas for local and regional governments. Adam Banaszak (PL/ECR), vice-chair of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Assembly, is the rapporteur of an opinion on this Action Plan which stresses the need for supporting the development and promotion of local platforms on disaster risk reduction. Prior to the vote, members will exchange views with Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

Cooperation of health systems

The opinion on Integration, cooperation and performance of health systems prepared by Birgitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP), Member of Dalarna County Council, focuses on how the EU should support the Member States and their local and regional authorities in their efforts to improve public health and develop healthcare, and how cross-border cooperation can help to develop European health systems. Adequate and sustainable funding of care is of vital importance in guaranteeing good coverage, access and quality. The rapporteur draws particular attention to mental health problems and chronic diseases, which generates the majority of costs for healthcare and other welfare systems.

Sustainable food policy

The President of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano and Regional Councillor Arno Kompatscher (IT/EPP) is rapporteur of an opinion which aims at promoting more sustainable food production and consumption patterns, but also the establishment of a link between food and other policies. The EU sustainable food policy needs to be democratically framed, designed with a common long-term vision and based on the latest scientific insights, in line with a multilevel governance approach. This opinion proposes initiatives and measures that will support EU food policy from a local and regional perspective. Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner in charge for Health and Food safety, will exchange with members.

Smart specialisation

To develop 'smart specialisation' strategies that make effective use of their region's assets and resources, local and regional authorities need to work together to create value chains, Mikel Irujo (ES/EA), Head of the Navarra delegation in Brussels, argues in his opinion. To help achieve that, the current regulatory framework needs to be reformed with an eye to developing synergies between financial instruments and regional policies, as well as to advance efforts to harmonise the design, drafting, implementation, monitoring and follow-up of strategies. European Parliament rapporteur Ramón Luís Valcárcel Siso (ES/EPP) - also vice-president in charge for communication - will take part in the debate.

On the same day the CoR will also host a conference on Metropolitan areas in the future cohesion policy.

This conference aims at stressing the role of major cities and metropolitan areas in EU Cohesion Policy and the management of Structural Funds. The discussion will serve the purpose of evaluating the contribution of metropolitan cities to the implementation of the current EU policies and funds, and defining how their role may be reshaped in the coming post-2020 Cohesion Policy. More information here.

Other opinions/resolutions to be adopted:

Practical information:

Where: The European Parliament Hemicycle – Paul Henri Spaak building - 60 rue Wiertz, Brussels

When: 22 March, 2:45-8:45pm; 23 March, 9am-1pm

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