This opinion is an own initiative opinion of the CoR proposed by the ECR group. It aims at providing an assessment of the real situation of metropolitan regions and reflect on how to support them while paying attention to rural areas and those areas lagging behind. Metropolitan regions are seen as wealthy engines of EU economies, however their budget revenues sometimes bear only the slightest relation to their economic success and they face a number of key challenges.
The main objectives of the opinion are:
To bring better visibility and recognition of the challenges faced by metropolitan regions and their contribution to achieving the goals of cohesion policy;
To highlight the importance of the metropolitan regions within the preparation, design, implementation and monitoring of the Cohesion Policy after 2020;
During the preparation of the opinion, the rapporteur Mr Juraj Droba met a number of stakeholders, in particular representatives from different European metropolitan regions. He participated in the annual conference of the European Metropolitan Authorities Association (EMA) in Lyon (France) on 4 June 2019 as well as in several events organised by Eurocities (which chairs a working group on Metropolitan regions).
An EPRS briefing and an external study commissioned by the CoR to OIR supported the preparation of this opinion. The study was published by the EU Office of publications and the European documentation center of the university of Almeria.
As a follow up to the adoption of the opinion in plenary on 4/5 December 2019, the rapporteur, Mr Droba, will host a COTER external seminar in Bratislava, in May 2020 on The challenges and position of metropolitan regions in the cohesion policy. This seminar will provide the opportunity to discuss the challenges of metropolitan regions and possibilities of funding with various experts and politicians, including local experts and politicians and exchange best practices. The seminar is organised in coordination with the REGI commission of the European Parliament, REGI members will participate in the COTER seminar, which will enable COTER members to outreach MEPs and communicate some key messages on an issue, Metropolitan regions, which is currently not very high on the agenda of the EP.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that although metropolitan regions (MRs) are seen as engines of Member States' economies as well as hubs of research and innovation, they have to address economic, fiscal and territorial challenges, while at the same time grappling with an expanding demand for quality public services and limited financial resources. This has a marked effect on the population's overall quality of life. Budget revenues in some MRs bear only the slightest relation to their economic success and high GDP;
- points out that, MRs have greater challenges to face linked to the quality of the environment and adaptation to climate change, urban poverty and social inclusion, youth unemployment, integration of migrants and criminality. The housing crisis impacts MRs and particular attention needs to be paid to MRs undergoing economic transition;
- points out that MRs often also include rural areas. It is very important to work on well-functioning urban-rural connections within MRs and to avoid uncoordinated policy making;
- underscores the importance to acknowledge the added value of metropolitan collaboration in achieving common objectives in reducing regional disparities. By concentrating resources and expertise, MRs can help distributing wealth and benefits in a given area and forging more efficient urban-rural links;
- highlights the role of metropolitan regions in cohesion policy. Calls for MRs to be directly involved in the framing of cohesion policy and the implementation and evaluation of operational programmes and EU projects;
- points out that because of their relative wealth, MRs are constrained in drawing cohesion policy fund; supports the European Commission's proposal to increase the option of a financial transfer between categories of regions from 3% to 15% of a Member State's total allocation. The GDP per capita does not give the full picture about the level of development; recommends using the Social Progress Index (SPI) methodology to identify the most pressing challenges in MRs that need to be financed by cohesion policy funds.