to highlight the views and concerns of LRAs with regards to the green economy
to influence the EU interinstitutional debate on this issue
This Committee of the Regions opinion dealt at the same time with two European Commission communications: the "Green Action Plan for SMEs" (COM(2014)440 final), and the "Green Employment Initiative" (COM(2014)446 final).
Following a meeting and other exchanges with the European Parliament rapporteur on the first communication (Green Action Plan for SMEs), Philippe De Backer, several key aspects of the CoR opinion were found in the draft report he presented on 10/02/2015, and remain in the final text adopted by parliament on 19/05/2015. These include: highlighting the need to deploy efforts across the entire value chain; underlining the importance of entrepreneurship culture, highlighting the need to tailor information, training and financing to specific types SMEs, as well as the importance of networks to share knowledge and best practices.
The CoR also conducted exchanges with the rapporteur on the second Communication (Green Employment Initiative), Jean Lambert, which similarly proved useful. Her final report acknowledged the regional relevance of the issue by mentioning "whereas the public sector and local and regional authorities can play a pivotal role in facilitating the transitions to a green economy (…)" and by stating that the EP "notes that some regions are facing more challenges than others […].It also calls on the Member States and local and regional governments supported by the European Union to collaborate with the social partners and collectively implement just transition roadmaps, including solidarity mechanisms for a socially fair, green transition of the local and regional economies[…]". The important role of LRAs in the green economy and in the process of greening the economy, one of the key points of the CoR opinion, is also clearly recognized in Ms Lambert's report, which states that "local authorities can play a key role in promoting job growth in the green economy and more decent and inclusive jobs by: green investment, leveraging the power of public procurement, including the use of social and environmental clauses in public procurement, creating partnerships, including with training institutions, to improve the job/skills match on local labour markets, supporting both green SMEs and greening of SMEs, setting up inclusive green employment programmes that ensure that vulnerable groups will also capitalise on green growth". The report also stresses the important role played by local and regional authorities in the transition to the greener economy in education, infrastructure, supporting local businesses and creating stable employment, The report also takes on board the CoR point "points out that a greener value chain, which involves re-manufacturing, repair, maintenance, recycling and eco-design, can provide considerable business opportunities for many SMEs.
This opinion also led to the publication on 14 October 2015, by EU-level Parliament Magazine of an opinion piece by the CoR rapporteur, Satu Tietari, entitled "Europe must adapt to the green economic revolution". In the article, she reiterates one of the key points of the opinion: that "Local and regional authorities are the best placed to identify and grasp the opportunities that the green economy offers in their area."
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
underlines the pivotal role played by the public sector and local and regional authorities in facilitating the transition to a green economy;
believes that it is vitally important to continue efforts to promote the green competitiveness of SMEs by improving access to finance, providing more information, simplifying legislation, cutting red tape and strengthening a green business culture;
approves of the European Commission's objective of setting up a European Resource Efficiency Excellence Centre in 2015 and of connecting it to a partnership network in all European regions, but calls on the Commission to clarify, with respect to this platform, who these partners will be and how they will be chosen;
also underlines the need to involve local and regional authorities in this process, as they are best placed to understand the specific circumstances and challenges at local and regional level, and to assess who the most relevant local stakeholders are. In this connection, steps should be taken to promote the mapping process for identifying the specific potential of each region able to assist local operators in the identification of investment clusters, measures for self-employment support and training course creation and specialisation in various aspects of the green economy;
suggests that positive discrimination mechanisms be put in place by those local, regional and national authorities that have fiscal powers to the benefit of firms which implement green economy principles and concepts, in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility, including lower levies and taxes, public procurement and tax deductions.