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No time to lose: we urgently need to roll out the EU budget and COVID-19 recovery package  

​EU cities and regions recall millions of Europeans are waiting for the COVID-19 recovery to be effective on the ground as the German presidency of the Council and the European Parliament today reached a political agreement on the EU budget and recovery package

As announced today, a political agreement on the EU's long-term budget and COVID-19 recovery package has been reached by the German presidency of the Council and the European Parliament’s negotiators. Cities and regions welcome the agreement but underscore the need to roll the agreement out urgently so as to redress the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic. The agreement was announced while the Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions was holding an online meeting on Tuesday, 10 November 2020.

Reacting to today's political agreement on the EU's long-term budget and recovery package between the German presidency of the Council and the European Parliament’s negotiators, Juan Espadas (ES/PES), Mayor of Seville, Chair of the ENVE commission and the Green Deal Going Local working group, said: "Today is a great day for Europe and European solidarity. Cities and regions have been on the frontline of fighting the pandemic and are now ready to get to work to ensure a recovery that focuses on safeguarding people's health, making our cities and regions sustainable and inclusive, and reaching our climate ambitions. We will remain vigilant to ensure a multi-level approach is guaranteed and that the objectives of the European Green Deal become reality."

The ENVE commission meeting started with a Green Deal debate focused on "Achieving the 2030 Climate Targets and supporting a green transition at the local and regional level". The debate included statements from Eva Kracht, Deputy Director General for European Policy at the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, representing the Presidency of the EU Council and Mauro Petriccione, Director-General for Climate Action at the European Commission.

Two representatives of the capitals of the Visegrád Group defended a greater role for local governments in both the Green Deal and the COVID-19 recovery strategy. The Mayor of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski (PL/EPP) and the Deputy Mayor of Budapest Kata Tüttő  (HU/PES) recalled the need to give cities and regions direct access to EU funds and called for direct partnerships with the EU to better plan and implement COVID-19 recovery projects that accelerate the EU's path towards climate-neutrality. Mayor of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski (PL/EPP) has been appointed the CoR representative at the Political Board of the EU Covenant of Mayors.

The ENVE commission meeting discussed the following draft opinions:

On the Green Deal, members discussed the draft opinion 'The impact of climate change on regions: an assessment of the European Green Deal'. Rapporteur Andries Gryffroy (BE/EA), member of the Flemish Parliament said: "To achieve the transition to climate neutrality, the Green Deal must support a bottom-up approach. We demand that mandatory consultations of local and regional authorities are extended to all areas of the Green Deal and that subnational governments are fully engaged in the development and implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans. We firmly believe that regions and cities should be granted easier and direct access to funding and we propose a European Regional Scoreboard to track the progress in the implementation of climate related actions at local level."

On climate adaptation, rapporteur Markku Markkula (FI/EPP) presented the key points of the draft opinion 'Opportunities and synergies of a precautionary adaptation to climate change to promote sustainability and quality of life in regions and municipalities – which framework conditions are required for this?' The former CoR president and Chair of the Espoo City Board declared: "Climate change is a global emergency. Climate adaptation should be tackled together with climate mitigation. Local and regional authorities are committed to delivering a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050. We call on the European Commission to develop a new EU Adaptation Strategy with clear goals and indicators in line with the principles of active subsidiarity and proportionality, sustainability, the latest knowledge, research and innovation. Sustainability should be the 'new normal' for all levels of government, communities, businesses and individuals."

Members had an exchange of views on the opinion 'Powering a climate-neutral economy: An EU Strategy for Energy System Integration'. Rapporteur Gunārs Ansiņš (LV/RE) said:  “The principle 'energy efficiency first' is the top priority for a resource-efficient future in Europe. Our energy system should rely on an ever-growing share of renewable energies, integrate different energy carriers flexibly and be further distributed across Europe. Different energy carriers – electricity, gas and heat – should be allowed to flow seamlessly between households, transport and industry, enabling deeper decarbonisation and thus bringing down the costs for reaching the EU’s 2050 objective of climate-neutrality."

The ENVE members appointed the following rapporteurs:

Dimitrios Karnavos (EL/EPP), Mayor of Kallithea, has been appointed rapporteur for "The 8th Environment Action Programme."

Vincent Chauvet (FR/RE), Mayor of Autun, has been appointed rapporteur for "Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition towards COP 26."

Adam Struzik (PL/EPP), President of the Mazovia Region, has been appointed rapporteur on a "Chemicals Strategy for sustainability."

Background:

Read here the ENVOY bulletin (6 November 2020).

Press Release (22 October 2020) Direct funds for cities and regions remain key for the Green Deal to go local.

Green Deal Going Local (GDGL) is a new initiative of the European Committee of the Regions that aims at placing cities and regions at the core of the European Green Deal and ensuring that both the EU's sustainable-growth strategy and the COVID-19 recovery plans translate into direct funding for cities and regions and tangible projects for every territory. Green Deal Going Local was launched on 15 June 2020 with the creation of a specific Working Group composed of 13 members. Read the press release here.

On 13 October 2020, during a plenary session debate with Frans Timmermans, the European Commission's Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) committed to a new phase of cooperation to accelerate the delivery of the Green Deal in Europe's regions and cities. Read our press release here.  

Cities and regions are already delivering the transition on the ground. Discover 200 Green Deal best practices in our online map.

Contact:

David Crous

+32 (0) 470 88 10 37

david.crous@cor.europa.eu