EU’s assembly of cities and regions places inclusiveness in Europe’s
Digital Agenda and multi-level dialogue as the only way to reach Europe’s
energy and climate targets
Under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union,
this week Bucharest hosted two high-level events with a strong presence
of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR): the Digital Assembly
2019 and the 12th SET Plan Conference. EU cities and regions
have put inclusiveness at the centre of Europe’s digitalisation
strategy, warning that effective multi-level dialogues are the only way
to deliver the EU’s energy and climate targets as well the UN's
Sustainable Development Goals.
Digital Assembly 2019
EU’s top forum that takes stock of the achievements of the Digital Single
Market (DSM) Strategy, has given support to the CoR claim that the future
DSM must have inclusiveness in its centre. In Bucharest, the CoR presented
“Digital Europe for all”
paper – a series of proposals by the CoR’s President,Karl-Heinz Lambertz and First Vice-President, Markku Markkula- that contributes to the renewal of the
European Commission’s mandate in the field of the Digital Single Market for
the next five years.
As a keynote speaker at the Digital Assembly’s closing session, First
Vice-President Markku Markkula (FI/EPP),
"The digital revolution starts local. We need to ensure that Europe’s
digitalisation is fully inclusive and doesn’t leave any community
behind. It is of key importance that digital and sustainable solutions
are affordable and available for all. We must also connect the internet
of things to the fields of transport, energy efficiency and the
circular economy in order to interlink Europe’s digitalisation to the
completion of the EU’s energy and climate targets and the Sustainable
Amongst the CoR’s
“Digital Europe for all”
proposals is the development of a local
Digital Economy and Society Index
to better encapsulate the variety of ‘digital situations’ of Europe’s
cities and regions. The CoR’s proposals for the digitalisation of the
single market will now be put forward to the incoming Finish Presidency of
the EU Council and be part of the discussions on the
Digital Europe Programme
firstly proposed in June 2018.
In Bucharest, the Chairman of the Tipperary County Council and CoR member Michel Murphy (IE/EPP) received one of the first
vouchers of EUR 15,000 to install free Wi-Fi in his community.
is a fresh EU scheme to provide Wi-Fi free access to local communities.
From 12 to 14 June, Bucharest also hosted the
24th meeting of the CoR’s Commission for Environment,
Climate change and Energy (ENVE)
. In collaboration with the European Commission, the Association of
Romanian Municipalities and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the
EU, the CoR contributed to the organisation of the
SET Plan conference
. Vice-President Markkula emphasised that Europe will not be able to reach
2050 carbon-neutrality, nor deliver the UN's Sustainable Development Goals
, without a close and structured partnership between the European Union,
academia, businesses and the national, regional and local governmental
"Better involving sub-national levels in developing National Energy and
Climate Plans is crucial, and the timing of the incoming Finnish EU
Presidency is critical in this regard. The work of our Romanian
colleagues on the implementation of the Clean Energy Package needs to
be continued, notably as regards the integration of the Energy Union
into Member State’s national policies and more specifically into the
National Energy and Climate Plans. We need to make sure that a
sufficient level of energy and climate ambition is engrained into each
and every one of these plans. Only through structured multi-level
dialogues involving local and regional authorities but also businesses
and civil society will Member States effectively reach a clean energy
declared First Vice-President Markku Markkula at the SET Plan conference
“During the Finnish EU Presidency our cities and regions want to
showcase how the local Energy and Climate plans are drafted and
implemented. The CoR can and will use different instruments in
encouraging the forerunners from all parts of EU to take the lead in
implementing UN SDGs”
, he concluded.
Under the title
‘Making the energy transition happen locally’,
the SET Plan conference has looked at the strategies needed at local and
regional level to accelerate the sustainable energy transition and analysed
currently available investment options to harness the potential of
businesses to create low-carbon innovative economies at the local and
regional level. Delegates have assessed local challenges and solutions
towards the integration of different energy systems and the concrete ways
through which the SET Plan contributes decarbonising local economies.
European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan)
aims to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon
technologies. It seeks to improve new technologies and bring down costs by
coordinating national research efforts and helping to finance projects.
Digital Europe for All roadmap
, signed by the CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz and First Vice-President
Markku Markkula, the CoR presents its suggestions to the next European
Commission, amongst others:
- Develop a European network of Digital Innovation Hubs linked to regional
smart specialisation strategies.
- Use different EU funding instruments, including structural funds, to
reinforce the rollout of Digital Innovation Hubs and high-speed broadband
connectivity in all EU regions.
- Develop regional digital skills alliances with the education and training
sector to match the digital needs of local businesses.
- Use the revision of the public procurement directive to promote the easy
rollout of smart services in close association with the Digital Innovation
Hubs; make optimal use of collective purchasing arrangements and work with
the European Investment Bank to make collective purchasing easier.
- Launch a call to choose smart model villages and regions in each Member
State combined with dedicated training and mainstreaming actions.
- Use new digital solutions at local level for a permanent dialogue with
citizens on matters ranging from cyber security to digital public services.
- Provide a European voucher scheme for e-government audits for 700 small
and mid-size cities whereby experts in local government would provide a
15-day consultancy service to the city council.
- Introduce a set of meaningful indicators that can measure the progress
made at local and regional levels and publish a regular report on the state
of play of the local/regional dimension of the Digital Single Market.
Digital Assembly 2019
is a forum for stakeholders to take stock of the achievements of the
Digital Single Market Strategy, draw lessons and to exchange views on the
contours of a future digital policy. The event is also a great opportunity
to showcase how digital is transforming our societies and economies, and
how it can help bring positive change to our lives. It is co-organised by
the European Commission and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the