1) Rethink the EU democratic model to better reflect the role and responsibilities of regional and local authorities
2) Manage societal transformations such as global pandemics, digital and green revolutions, demography
3) Foster cohesion and make it the compass for all EU policies
Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted a resolution on 2 July setting out its three priorities for the
next five years. The political assembly aims to make the European Union more
resilient, sustainable and cohesive, by strengthening the involvement of
involving regions and cities in EU policy-making and implementation.
1) Democracy and the future of the European Union
The first priority aims to bring the EU even closer to people with the help of regional and local leaders. All EU and national decisions should be taken as close as possible to citizens, in line with the subsidiarity principle. The Committee will also continue to push to ensure future EU legislation reduces administrative burden and implementation costs for regions, cities, towns and villages.
2) Building resilient local and regional communities
The second priority focuses on the current challenges villages, cities and regions face: managing the pandemic, and the green, digital and demographic transformation, including migratory flows. Successfully tackling these challenges is only possible if all of Europe's local communities become more resilient.
3) Placed-based EU policies
The third priority highlights cohesion as a fundamental value that needs to become the compass of all EU's policies. The lesson to be learnt from the COVID-19 crisis is that cohesion is more than just money: it is a value that leads sustainable economic growth, creates long-term quality employment and delivers place-based policies that meet citizens' needs.
Read the Committee's five-year priorities brochure
Apostolos Tzitzikostas (EL/EPP), Governor of Central Macedonia and President of the European Committee of the Regions since February, said: "The one million local and regional elected politicians are both Europe's foundation and its safety net. We are on the frontline helping citizens overcome the worst moments of crises and steering recovery. The recent pandemic has shown that all levels of governance must better work together to offer solutions that secure and improve the life of our people. Two-dimensional model Europe, based on EU institutions and national governments, has shown its limits. The EU needs to change and renew its construction in a three-dimensional way to fully reflect the local and regional governments' role in EU decision-making. This is the strong message we will bring to the Conference on the Future of Europe."
Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), President of the Azores and First Vice-President of the CoR, said: "For the next five years, the CoR will lead the way and reaffirm the priorities of the cities and regions for the future of our Union. We will be working with the remaining European institutions as well as with our European, national and local partners. Our mission is also to bring the EU closer to where citizens live: their cities and regions."
The presidents of the four smaller political groups emphasised aspects of the shared priorities that are of particular importance to their members.
François Decoster (FR/Renew Europe), member of the Regional Council of Hauts-de-France and president of the Renew Europe group, said: "Now, more than ever, we need ambitious investment. Our objective is that, even more than in the past, EU investment should be of benefit to local economies, local communities, and the local environment. This is an ambition that unites all political groups in the CoR. And, as liberals, we in Renew Europe believe such investment should and will help to safeguard a fair, free and open society that seeks to balance liberty, equality and community."
Władysław Ortyl (PL/ECR), President of the Podkarpackie Region and leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, said: "We in the ECR seek to conserve what is good and reform what needs to change. Climate change obliges very difficult decisions, so, as members of the ECR, we will emphasise the necessity of ensuring that the transition to a greener economy is supported by adequate financing and allows for flexibility. It is clear to us that certain elements of the EU's Green Deal require revision and improvement. Failure to do so would come with substantial industrial and social costs to our local communities."
Kieran McCarthy (IE/European Alliance), member of Cork County Council and president of the European Alliance, said: "The European Alliance is a champion of local communities and has always fought to ensure that places at risk are not left behind in the European project. We are glad that others in the European Committee of the Regions will continue to work with us over the next five years in fighting for the livelihoods of smaller cities and municipalities and rural and island communities, and in using respective local cultures, experiences, and ways of life as the basis of Europe's renewal. The EU stands for solidarity and our communities strongly need the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity in this time of major global challenges. The need for practical roadmaps for resolving such challenges is essential now more than ever."
Satu Haapanen (FI/Greens), a member of Oulu City Council and co-president of the Greens, said: "This resolution is, we hope, a recognition by all political groups that we must act quickly, comprehensively, and collectively to prevent a runaway climate catastrophe. Experience shows us that the more deeply communities embrace a green agenda, the more they realise the economic and social benefits, so we urge all local leaders to seize the opportunities in the European Green Deal and for cities and regions to have direct access to EU funds. The Green Deal needs to be a social deal as well. We are deeply concerned that young people – a generation driving climate politics forward and the generation that will be worst affected by global heating – are suffering so much from coronavirus crisis. We are therefore glad that the other political groups in the CoR will join us in pressing for a stronger Youth Guarantee and for the creation of a European Child Guarantee so that every child at risk of poverty or social exclusion has access to free healthcare, a free education, free early-childhood education and care, decent housing, and adequate nutrition."
Early follow-up to the resolution will come at the CoR's next plenary session, in October, when President Tzitzikostas will present the first Annual Local and Regional Barometer, an evidence-based assessment on issues of special concern to EU regions and municipalities. The first Barometer will consider the state of local democracy and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution – entitled 'Resolution on the European Committee of the Regions' priorities 2020-2025: A Europe closer to people' – is available on the CoR website.
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