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Ukraine crisis: EU Commissioner Füle and Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister to take floor at CoR Plenary

​Also on the agenda: EU Commissioner Andor to discuss unemployment in Europe and CoR to adopt Charter for Multilevel Governance

During the Committee of the Regions' (CoR) April plenary session, CoR President Valcárcel will be joined by Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, and Volodymyr Groysman, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, also responsible for Regional Policy, to debate the way forward for the new Ukrainian government. The speakers will specifically focus on decentralisation and support for Ukraine's regions. Following the debate, they will be open to questions from the media on 2 April at 5.30 pm (press conference).

CoR members will also welcome EU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Employment and Inclusion, László Andor, and consider how best to tackle unemployment in Europe which has spiralled from 7.1% in 2008 to 10.9% in 2013. The reformed European Social Fund, the Youth Guarantee, as well as the idea of an EU-level unemployment insurance scheme, will be among the hot topics of the debate.

The first day of the plenary on 2 April, CoR members will engage in a debate with Commissioner Füle on the EU's neighbourhood policy, with particular emphasis on the role that the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) play in this context. In light of the current crisis in Ukraine, the situation for local and regional authorities, including structural reforms in the field of decentralisation and local self-government, will also be a major focus of discussion. On the same day, Commissioner Andor will debate with Europe's local and regional leaders how best to use the EU's tools – such as the new European Social Fund, the EU's Youth Guarantee, social indicators and the proposal for an EU-level unemployment insurance scheme - to tackle rising unemployment.

Cities and regions to adopt EU-wide Charter for Multilevel Governance

CoR members will look to adopt a Charter for Multilevel Governance in Europe which seeks to facilitate greater participation by local and regional authorities in the exercise of European democracy. The Charter will be a non-binding political instrument - launched by the CoR but open to all European institutions - that sets out a moral commitment by public authorities to implement the values, principles and processes of multilevel governance. The aim is to call on all levels of governance (local, regional, national, European and international) to recognise the contribution of core principles such as subsidiarity and partnership to ensure effective implementation of their policies.

EU enlargement
 
CoR members will debate and vote the draft opinion of Arnoldas Abramavičius (LT/EPP), Mayor of Zarasai District Municipality, on the EU enlargement strategy towards the Western Balkans, Turkey and Iceland, from the point of view of local and regional authorities. As well as providing country-specific recommendations, the draft opinion calls on the European Commission to provide a comprehensive analysis of the state of local and regional self-government in candidate and potential candidate countries as a key tool for assessing progress toward decentralisation. Following the Vilnius Summit at the end of November 2013, the Mayor asks the Commission to clearly identify a European perspective for those countries within the Eastern Partnership that are aiming to join the EU.
 

EU state aid rules and energy poverty

Gusty Graas (LU/ALDE) will lead the energy debate presenting his opinion which calls for a change to EU state aid rules. Mr Graas, Member of Bettembourg municipal council, will argue aid must focus on bolstering renewable energy to tackle climate change and so calls for a ban of using EU funds to subsidise fossil fuels. Christian Illedits (AT/PES), member of the Austrian Burgenland regional parliament, will also turn his attention to energy setting out ways to tackle the growing problem of energy poverty which, it is estimated, affects 50m-125m citizens across Europe. His opinion will call for an EU-wide definition of energy poverty and propose using structural funds to increase alternative energy and support those regions most affected. 

Ban free plastic bags & deliver 80% reduction by 2020

In her opinion on plastic bags, Cllr Linda Gillham (UK/EA) from Runneymede Council will argue that the Commission proposals lack ambition: there must be binding rather than voluntary EU level reduction/prevention targets and the introduction of a ban of free lightweight bags by 2020. Mandatory charges for thicker multi-use plastic bags must be introduced with EU-wide targets of 35 bags consumed per person per year to be achieved by 2020 ensuring an 80% reduction.

The plenary will be held in the European Commission's Charlemagne Building (Room GASP).
Debates will be streamed live on www.cor.europa.eu.

For more information, please contact:

Pierluigi Boda                                David French
(IT, EN)                                          (EN)
Tel: +32 2 282 2461                         Tel: +32 2 282 2535
Mobile: +32 473 85 17 43                  Mobile: +32 473 85 47 59

Nathalie Vandelle                          Carmen Schmidle
(FR, EN)                                          (DE, EN)
Tel: +32 2 282 2499                         Tel: +32 2 282 23 66
Mobile: +32 473 86 05 30                  Mobile: +32 494 735787

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