Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia, currently holding the Presidency of the EU Council, remotely attended the Plenary of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), discussing with regional and local authorities how to address local communities' needs. He told local and regional politicians that the top priority of his country's presidency of the Council of the European Union is to stop the pandemic and support the EU's economic recovery. Prime Minister Janša also thanked the European Committee of the Regions for excellent cooperation during the first half of the Presidency and for a great discussion in June already when State Secretary Gašper Dovžan presented the Presidency priorities to the Bureau, as well as congratulating the Committee members on their flagship "European Week of Regions and Cities" event.
"I would like to express my sincere thanks for the opinions the Committee has prepared at the request of the Slovenian Presidency," stressed Prime Minister Janez Janša. The Slovenian Presidency's priority is ensuring an effective response to the COVID19 pandemic and on strengthening resilience to possible future pandemics, and there is a strong focus on the new framework for responding to health emergencies (HERA).
"Most healthcare is generated at local level, and I agree that it makes no sense to talk about a Health Union without taking into account the actual centre of gravity of the health system. We can also draw from a rich treasury of good practice when it comes to the green transition," said Prime Minister Janez Janša, adding that "the green transition cannot be carried out without a serious and systematic inclusion of the local and regional levels."
In conclusion, he also touched upon the Conference on the Future of Europe, which is one of the main priorities of the Slovenian Presidency, during which the Council of the EU will continue to work towards the ultimate success of the conference, with citizens at its centre. "The debate needs to be broadened beyond Brussels and the European capitals and to include as many Europeans as possible from all corners of the Union. That is why your active involvement is so important," said Prime Minister Janša.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas (EL/EPP), President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of Central Macedonia, presented to the Prime Minister the 2021 edition of the EU Regional and Local Barometer, sharing concerns that the prospects of recovery in regional economies are being hampered by a wide gap between spending and revenues – amounting to 180 billion euro – and the insufficient involvement of regional and local authorities in the design and implementation of National Resilience and Recovery plans.
President Tzitzikostas said: "It is an honour to welcome Prime Minister Janša. We must continue to work together so that Europe delivers a just, green and fair recovery for every region and city. This will require not only investment, but also unprecedented cooperation and solidarity between all levels of government: EU, national, regional and local. Our shared principles, and in particular the EU fundamental value of cohesion, must guide our efforts. We ask the Slovenian Presidency to support our action to make the Conference on the Future of Europe an inclusive exercise. We must also avoid spatially blind recovery plans that ignore local authorities. The EU must move towards building a European Health Union that will also be key to increase our communities' resilience. We expect the Slovenian Presidency and the European Commission delegation to the COP26 to include in the Glasgow Declaration a clear reference to the key role of regional and local authorities in fighting climate change."
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