National governments should involve local and regional authorities in the design of measures to alleviate the impact of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
Increase the size of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve from EUR 5 billion to EUR 6 billion; adapt the support for fisheries to regional impact; provide more flexibility with regard to state aids and involve local and regional representatives in the designing and managing processes of the new instrument. These are the main requests included in the opinion drafted by Loïg Chesnais-Girard (FR/PES), president of the Brittany region, adopted by the Plenary of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).
The European Commission proposed
the creation of a EUR 5 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve to support business, regions and local communities worst affected by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). In an opinion adopted by the Plenary assembly, the CoR welcomes the establishment of the reserve as a tangible expression of intra-European solidarity intending to contribute to economic, social and territorial cohesion. The Committee underlines, however, that local and regional authorities must be placed at the heart of this new financial instrument, as the impact of Brexit differs strongly from region to region.
The rapporteur Loïg Chesnais-Girard (FR/PES)
, president of the region of Brittany, said: "Fortunately, most regions with close ties to the United Kingdom did not wait for the final shape of Brexit last December to anticipate its consequences, but they felt left on their own until now. It is time for the European Union to show, and quickly, that it is ready to protect its citizens and regions. But I am afraid that the amount of EUR 5 billion decided at European level will be insufficient. This reserve will also need to be regionally targeted to be truly effective. Its regional redesigning is essential because this is not only about repairing Brexit damages, but about supporting conversion and shaping new opportunities, notably through vocational training.
Loïg Chesnais-Girard is also the chair of the CoR-UK Contact group
, established in 2020 to ensure that the political dialogue between the two shores of the Channel continues.
The member of the European Parliament Pascal Arimont (BE/EPP)
, rapporteur on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, joined the Plenary debate highlighting that “we have to make sure the help offered by the European Union reaches the countries, regions and people most affected by Brexit. European companies, especially SMEs, which are already suffering from the COVID-19 crisis, should not pay twice for the Brexit debacle. That is why this Reserve is so important and needs to be adopted without delay, so it can be distributed as soon as possible.
In order to better respond to short and medium-term needs and keep cohesion as a European fundamental value, the CoR's opinion includes a series of proposals:
- increase the budget capacity of the reserve from EUR 5 billion to EUR 6 billion, in order to better respond to short and medium-term needs
- increase the funding reserved for fisheries to EUR 1 billion and exempt them from state aid rules
- modify the allocation criteria for fisheries, which should be based on real loss instead of on the proportion of loss compared to the whole fishing sector of a Member State. This would facilitate a fairer financial distribution between the European regions affected, irrespective of the size of the Member State
- provide more flexibility with regard to state aid, to ensure the rapid capacity to intervene in favour of the economic operators most heavily affected. The temporary arrangements made for COVID-19 need to be extended to the direct impact of Brexit
- make the measures to mitigate the disruption caused by the exit of the UK from the Erasmus+ programme eligible for the Brexit Adjustment Reserve financial support
Following the agreement reached by the European Council in July 2020, the European Commission put forward in January 2021 its proposal
for a EUR 5 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve. The financial instrument would be made available via two rounds of allocations, in 2021 (EUR 4 billion) and 2024 (EUR 1 billion). The CoR proposes to increase the second tranche from EUR 1 billion to EUR 2 billion.
In 2020 the European Committee of the Regions established a contact group
for relations with representatives of UK local government and devolved administrations to ensure that political dialogue with these representatives continues after the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The CoR-UK Contact group is chaired by Loïg Chesnais-Girard (FR/PES).
The CoR delegation comprises 12 full members and one observer
, selected to reflect political, geographical and gender balance. The UK representatives of the CoR-UK Contact Group are selected according to agreements between local government bodies and the UK's devolved parliaments, assemblies and governments.
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