Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa, Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, and the European Commission's First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, will share their views on the future of the European Union with regional and local leaders in separate debates on 31 January and 1 February. Their speeches will be the political centrepieces of the European Committee of the Regions' (CoR) first plenary in 2018, during which the EU's assembly of local and regional politicians will also set out its views on the future EU budget as well as – amongst others – the EU's cohesion and mobility policy.
The future of Europe and how to pave the way to economic growth (31 January)
The former Mayor of Lisbon and CoR member, Prime Minister António Costa, will discuss the reforms he will be advocating in the European Council on the future direction of the EU. In recent months, he has called for a new set-up of European convergence policy. The CoR will also adopt a resolution on the European Commission's Annual Growth Survey 2018 arguing EU economic growth in the EU is being held back from an under-appreciation of regions and regional disparity and stress the need for EU regional investment - cohesion policy – to remain the EU's main investment tool.
How to involve local and regional governments in better EU law-making (31 January)
Frans Timmermans will also address the CoR on 31 January, setting out the European Commission's 2018 working programme. The debate comes just a few days after the first meeting of the new "Task Force on Subsidiarity and Proportionality" , which is led by the Commission's First Vice-President, and is working to improve the way local and regional authorities are involved in EU-law making. Linked to this, the CoR has tabled a resolution which could show a "Subsidiarity political red card" to the Commission's proposal of diverting resources allocated to cohesion policy 2014-2020 to fund a programme aimed at supporting structural reforms in member states.
EU budget and regional investment after 2020: the view of regions and cities (1 February)
Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, will set out Bulgaria's six month EU Presidency priorities which comes at the beginning of complex negotiations on the next EU budget. With the future of EU regional investment high on the priorities for local and regional governments, the CoR will debate the Multiannual Financial Framework post-2020 – the budgetary plan for the next generation of EU policies ahead of the European Commission's proposals expected in May. Marek Woźniak (PL/EPP), Marshal of the Wielkopolska region, will then present his opinion on the ' Reflection paper on the Future of EU Finances' .
During the plenary, CoR members will also adopt other opinions related to cohesion policy:
Europe on the move (1 February)
"Europe on the Move" is a wide-ranging set of European Commission initiatives that seeks to help modernise EU mobility and transport. CoR members will discuss the local and regional implications of the first series of eight legislative initiatives specifically targeted on road transport. Ivan Žagar (SI/EPP), Mayor of Slovenska Bistrica, presents his draft opinion on "P romoting seamless mobility solutions" focusing on road tolls to better reflect the actual cost of road transport. The second opinion, whose rapporteur is Spyros Spyridon (GR/EPP) of Poros council, considers " Labour aspects of road transport" .
Other opinions to be adopted:
Where: Paul Henri Spaak building – Hemicycle, European Parliament
When: 31 January, 3pm-9pm – 1 February, 9am-1pm
· See the plenary's agenda & documents
· Watch the plenary streamed live on the CoR's website
· Plenary Session media programme