With over 11 million infected people and more than 270,000 dead in Europe the pandemic crisis highlighted the essential role of all regional, intermediate, and local authorities in delivering public services as close to citizens as possible. They manage all the necessary sanitary actions at the local level such as quarantine measures and contact tracing.
André VIOLA, President of the CEPLI, the European Confederation of Local Intermediate Authorities, and a member of the European Committee of the Regions, stated during his opening speech at the conference «Local Intermediate Authorities: a safety net for our citizens in the global fight against the Covid crisis »:
“Our territories are directly affected by the impacts of socio-economic, environmental, generational, demographic changes that are disrupting the sustainable development of our societies. The Covid crisis has thus emerged in the midst of the difficult context of all the aforementioned challenges. The competences entrusted to the Local Intermediate Authorities lead us to intervene directly with our fellow citizens to mitigate these economic and social impacts. Let’s not forget that a Europe without its local, intermediate and regional authorities is a Europe without its citizens and territories, an empty project with no future.”
On behalf of the largest European confederation of Local Intermediate Authorities: counties, provinces, departments, and all similar local authorities, we call on the EU member states and European Institutions:
1. to coordinate the actions across the EU and set-up adequate financial and sanitary support for local and regional authorities in their fight against Covid-19 and
2. to give Local Intermediate Authorities direct access to the new funding opportunities under the Next Generation EU in order to soften the impact of the negative socio-economic effects of the Coronavirus crisis
3. and together with the European Committee of the Regions to include Local Intermediate Authorities in the future negotiations on the EU Health Union as well as in the Conference for the Future of Europe.
Speaking during the conference President Tzitzikostas remarked, "The presidents of regions and local leaders from every city, province and county in Europe are the unsung heroes protecting lives and economies. They urgently need investment: delays in agreeing the EU budget and recovery plans is putting people's lives and our Union at risk. Let's also make no mistake: a recovery plan which only meets national needs will fail. Regional and local authorities represent half of EU's public investment and one-third of public expenditure and must shape them to meet the real needs of their communities".
Manuel BALTAR, President of Partenalia, President of the Diputación de Ourense, Vice-President of the CEPLI – Spain, said : "Direct financial aid for the self-employed, public buildings at the disposal of medical staff, steering committees to ensure an efficient economic recovery, daily information provided to citizens: the COVID crisis has shown, once again, that the provinces are the structuring elements of our territories and that they are in the best position when it comes to softening the impact of major economic, social and sanitary shocks and to accompanying citizens during such hardships”.
Luca MENESINI, CoR member, said: "During the COVID crisis the Italian Provinces were involved in the management of the emergency. In 2020 the budget that the Provinces allocated to investments increased by 14% compared to the previous year, giving an important contribution to the recovery. This crisis gives us the opportunity to think about a new model of development according to the EU guidelines, but this model must have the local authorities as protagonists".
"The Corona crisis shows once again how important it is to meet challenges in Europe together and in a coordinated manner. Isolating yourself now and suggesting that the threat comes from outside is the wrong path and a fatal signal. What we need is cohesion and solidarity. I am glad that many people have shown their willingness to help each other over the past few months. What works on a small scale must also apply to the big picture: Only united can Europe overcome the crises of our time ", said Hauke JAGAU, President of the Hannover Region, spokesman of the Deutscher Landkreistag – Germany.
Serge HUSTACHE, President of the Province de Hainaut, President of the APW add: "The Provinces have met the great challenges, often unprecedented, which have presented themselves to them. They have been able to take part in an approach of openness and solidarity with other institutional actors confronted with the throes of this crisis".
Andrzej PLONKA (President of Bielsko Biala County, President of ZPP - Poland) said: "Looking at the global scale, combating pandemics depends on the actions taken by international organisations, governments and pharmaceutical companies. But in terms of effective dealing with it, the concrete implementation of the necessary measures are incumbent upon Local Intermediate Authorities, because the territorial scale of their activities predestines them to this role. The intermediate level authorities in many countries are also responsible for hospitals and important elements of the crisis management system. Today's CEPLI meeting clearly proves this thesis."
Alin-Adrian NICA, President of Timis County Council, Member of the European Committee of the Regions between 2007-2020 – Romania, said: "The pandemic prompted a leap forward in the digitalisation process, generated a rethink in EU solidarity policies and funding and highlighted the need for adequate allocations for recovery and transfer of authority to the local intermediate level - the proven safety net for citizens in crisis. We need to capitalise on these opportunities, or else we’ve learnt nothing!“
Jan OLBRYCHT, MEP, co-rapporteur on the 2021-2027 MFF said: "The economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic requires urgent intervention for financial support. Therefore, the role of the Recovery Plan is so vital in preventing the effects of the crisis. Any delay in adopting the EU Recovery Package could have a very serious impact on repairing the economy during the crisis. It should be emphasized that funds for economic recovery will be particularly needed by local and regional authorities, which are at the forefront of fighting the pandemic."