The Conference on the Future of Europe and the role of EU regions and cities 

As the EU body representing the level of government that is closest to citizens, the European Committee of the Regions is committed to playing a significant political role.  

Conference on the Future of Europe

Contents

​​​ About the Conference

"Bringing Europe closer to the people" is the first political priority of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), and the Conference on the Future of Europe is the most important event in achieving this. The conference's multilingual digital platform allows people to engage with one another and discuss their proposals on nine policy topics in the EU's 24 official languages.

As the EU body representing the level of government closest to citizens, the CoR is committed to playing a significant political role in the conference through the active participation of its representatives in the Executive Board and the Conference Plenary . Moreover, some 120+ local and cross-border citizens’ dialogues will be held, and the ideas and recommendations from these will be uploaded to the platform.

The objective of the CoR delegation in th​e plenary sessions of the conference is to reach out to the other 420 delegates to strengthen the role of local and regional authorities in the democratic functioning of the European Union and to promote the territorial dimension of EU policies. Here is an overview of what matters to EU regions and cities in relation to the conference's nine topics of discussion.

Climate change and the environment

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

The objective of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 through the "European Green Deal" needs to be locally adapted. Local and regional authorities implement 70 % of climate mitigation measures and 90 % of climate adaptation policies. EU territories are diverse and therefore a bottom-up approach is needed in order to comply with the principle of subsidiarity, while giving the flexibility required to adapt to different needs. Regions and cities are in a privileged position since they work directly with people and foster citizens' behavioural change towards sustainability.

What does the CoR recommend?

The CoR advises EU institutions on legislation and policies through opinions that take into account the particular situation and needs of local and regional administrations. Issues related to climate change and the environment are dealt with by the Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE) . The political priorities of the European Committee of the Regions 2020-2025 include "Building resilient communities" as one of three key topics. It is based on a recent initiative called "Green Deal Going Local" - a working group composed of thirteen locally and regionally elected representatives.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/GreenDeal

Health

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Local and regional authorities organise and deliver healthcare service on the ground. In many places, they also manage, inspect and finance healthcare professionals and property. Stretched to the limits by the pandemic, these healthcare infrastructures and systems need rethinking in order to become more resilient. They are the very cornerstone of the European Health Union , in which all EU countries prepare and respond together to health crises, where medical supplies are available, affordable and innovative, and all work together to improve prevention, treatment and aftercare for diseases such as cancer.

What does the CoR recommend?

The Committee calls for an open debate on EU health policy architecture. In line with the demands of European citizens, the Committee supported the stand-alone EU health budget and recommended the crisis proofing of health systems. This translates into strengthening EU manufacturing capabilities as well as building strategic stockpile to safeguard access to medicines in normal times and in a crisis. The Committee wants to see faster progress in health prevention and eHealth, and requests that changes be made to cross-border healthcare cooperation in order to make it more accessible and resilient as a key element of border regions' preparedness and response.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/Health

A stronger economy, social justice and jobs

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Disparities between and within EU regions and cities in terms of economic performance and employment vary significantly, which is why the European Union has put cohesion policy and funds in place to reduce such disparities. Moreover, Europe is currently experiencing its most severe health, environmental, economic and social crisis, which affects the EU territory differently and risks widening existing disparities even further. Action at EU level alone is not enough: the key to success lies in the hands of national, regional and local authorities, as well as social partners and relevant stakeholders at all levels. Given the central role of regional and local authorities in the execution of employment and social policies, it is imperative to ensure adequate representation of the local and regional dimension in the design and implementation of EU policies.

What does the CoR recommend?

In general, the CoR advises the EU institutions on legislation and policies through opinions , taking into account the particular situation and needs of local and regional administrations. Issues related to social justice and jobs are dealt with by the Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) . The political priorities of the European Committee of the Regions 2020-2025 include "Cohesion: our fundamental value" as one of three key topics. It relates to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights , which is a key priority area for the Committee, and has been included as one of the priorities of the 2021 work programme. It is also of utmost importance for the CoR since it could define a new work stream for the European Institutions, moving from an intergovernmental approach towards a European decision-making process.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: A stronger economy, social justice and jobs - Conference on the Future of Europe (europa.eu)

EU in the world

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Regions and cities are affected by the EU’s external relations and by related policies such as trade, security, migration, and cooperation with international organisations such as the United Nations and the OECD. They also have partnerships with local and regional authorities outside the EU and are actively involved in EU programmes with enlargement countries, the European Neighbourhood Policy, development cooperation and the relationship with the United Kingdom. The work of the CoR, and its opinions, are nurtured by the discussions and political interactions in the joint bodies the CoR has established with external partners and in dedicated working groups. These bodies enable the CoR to effectively contribute to EU enlargement and neighbourhood policies from a local and regional perspective.

What does the CoR recommend?

The CoR can facilitate dialogue and cooperation with local and regional authorities in third countries by providing expertise and peer-to-peer exchanges to support the development of their capacities and multilevel governance. In so doing, the CoR uses fora such as Joint Consultative Committees and Working Groups , the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) , the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and the CoR-UK Contact Group .

The CoR asks for the stronger involvement of local and regional authorities in EU relations with third countries, in order to respond to the challenges faced by public administrations, both inside and outside the EU.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/EUInTheWorld

Values and rights, rule of law, security

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Local and regional authorities play a crucial role in protecting fundamental rights in a multi-level governance system. Better rights' enjoyment has a positive impact on economic and social development, and it is the best way to gain citizens' trust and enhance their engagement in policy making at all levels of governance. Promoting a culture of respect for the rule of law is therefore a shared responsibility at EU, national, regional and local levels. With regard to "security", the fight against terrorism is part of the broader concept of the European Security Union , and the key role of cities in the protection of public spaces and preventing radicalisation, for example, is highlighted by the EU Pledge on Urban Security and Resilience .

What does the CoR recommend?

The CoR suggests that regions and cities should be involved in promoting a culture of respect of fundamental rights, EU values and the rule of law. In particular, it is essential to strengthen young people’s ownership of these founding elements of the EU. Civic attitudes play an important role in the development of illiberal forms of populism, while education can make a positive contribution towards combating the risks of democratic regression. For example, with regard to the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights , the establishment of contact points at local level could provide guidance for local and regional authorities on how to shape their policies, in full compliance with the Charter, and highlight best practices. Another recent example is the adoption of a CoR opinion on the Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU .

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/ValuesRights

Digital transformation

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Access to digital infrastructure and services varies significantly between and even within EU regions and cities. Digital transformation is crucial for economic and societal development and digital technologies have become imperative for every aspect of our lives. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a growing digital divide across the EU, confirming that the availability and accessibility of digital transformation opportunities has an important impact on cohesion between EU regions and cities.

What does the CoR recommend?

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has been advocating for the concept of "digital cohesion" since the adoption of its opinion Digital Europe for All in 2019. Digital cohesion is seen as an important, additional dimension to the concept of economic, social and territorial cohesion, as defined in the EU Treaty. The CoR is currently examining the status of digital transformation in EU regions as regards disparities concerning infrastructure, internet usage and the availability of e-government services.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/Digital

European Democracy

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Enhancing the democratic functioning of the EU is a way to relaunch the European project. Regions, cities, municipalities and more than one million politicians elected at subnational level play an important role in making European democracy more resilient. A greater involvement of local and regional authorities and the European Committee of the Regions in EU policy-making could bring Europe closer to the citizens.

What does the European Committee of the Regions recommend?

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) supports the further development of the EU principles of "subsidiarity and proportionality", which ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant checks are made to verify that action at EU level is justified, in light of the possibilities available at national, regional or local level. Moreover, the CoR suggests making citizens' participation, as promoted by the Conference on the Future of Europe, a permanent feature and pooling expertise in citizens’ engagement through an EU-wide network of regions and cities.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/Democracy

Migration

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Migration has had a strong impact on EU regions and cities, in particular those on the frontline of migratory flows. These regions and cities are often responsible for the reception and integration of migrants, providing them with vital infrastructure and services. In addition, the demographic situation of all EU regions and cities, including its impact on labour markets and public services, is significant, and will play a greater role in policies delivered at local and regional level.

What does the European Committee of the Regions recommend?

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) calls for a comprehensive migration policy at EU level, which includes the experiences and views of regions and cities in its design and delivery. It should take into account the regional and local input, and include integration, fair return procedures and asylum policies that are be able to respond adequately to current and future migration trends. It also needs to address the root causes of migration, in cooperation with countries of origin and transit, for those in need of humanitarian protection, while protecting the EU’s external borders.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/Migration

Education, culture, youth and sport

Why does it matter to EU regions and cities?

Education, culture, youth and sport meet the essential needs of our societies, whether by encouraging economic and social development through education, mutual understanding through culture and sport, or more inclusive democratic life through youth participation. The role of regions and cities in these fields is crucial and in many Member States, they are in charge of the relevant infrastructures and services. The digitalisation of education and culture, high levels of youth unemployment in some regions and the aggravation of economic and social disparities are some of the most pressing challenges that lie ahead for local and regional governments. Some of these challenges and their regional dimensions may even become more visible and pressing through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does the European Committee of the Regions recommend?

In general, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) advises the EU institutions on legislation and policies through opinions that take into account the particular situation and needs of local and regional administrations. Issues related to education, culture, youth and sport are dealt with by the Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC). The political priorities of the European Committee of the Regions 2020-2025 include "Bringing Europe closer to its people" and "Building resilient regional and local communities" as two of three key topics. In its recent opinion on "Achieving the European Education Area by 2025" , the CoR calls for a better recognition of regional needs and recommends addressing regional disparities in the field of education.

What is the EU doing?

Find out more: Education, culture, youth and sport - Conference on the Future of Europe (europa.eu)


Multimedia

 

Watch more

  • The future is in your hands
    The future is in your hands
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "We need systemic changes to strengthen our health system"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "We need systemic changes to strengthen our health system"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "I hope my son will harvest the fruits of digitalization"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "I hope my son will harvest the fruits of digitalization"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "From climate change to migration, we want to make a change"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "From climate change to migration, we want to make a change"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "Next generations will be even more European"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "Next generations will be even more European"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "Europe was founded on the values of respect for freedom & equality"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "Europe was founded on the values of respect for freedom & equality"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "The future of our planet concerns each & every one of us"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "The future of our planet concerns each & every one of us"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "Today, so many people see their jobs become uncertain"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "Today, so many people see their jobs become uncertain"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "I want Europe to be a welcoming place"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "I want Europe to be a welcoming place"
  • #TheFutureIsYours: "Today we take peace & justice for granted in Europe"
    #TheFutureIsYours: "Today we take peace & justice for granted in Europe"


Follow us

Contact

Directorate for Communication - Local Dialogues Team
Share:
Back to top