On 26 February, the European Committee of the Regions' (CoR) commission for territorial cohesion policy and EU budget (COTER) met for the first time this year. During the meeting, the members discussed how Europe's regional airports and a sustainable mobility strategy in the transportation sector can help achieve the European Green Deal objectives and greater connectivity between and within European cities. Members also discussed the experiences and lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis.
European regions have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, particularly in cross-border areas. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, cross-border cooperation between Member States has, at times, been strained. With the increased restrictions on mobility over the past year, the pandemic has also taken a large toll on the European transportation sector, a sector that is already rapidly changing and adapting due to the EU's climate goals.
Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES), vice-president of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region and chair of the COTER commission, said: "Today we discussed the first steps to be taken if we want our transport and mobility systems to contribute to the success of the European Green Deal. These include difficult questions, like the modal shift from road and air to more sustainable transport modes. We must make sure these transformations, and the tough decisions they entail, do not harm the most vulnerable. We cannot one day state our strong support for the European Green Deal and the day after hesitate when it is time to make the difficult decisions which are crucial for our children's future!"
The points discussed at the COTER meeting will feed into the efforts of the European Committee of the Regions to implement the objectives of the European Green Deal in all EU policies. Today, sustainable mobility and air transport were discussed in order to achieve the goal of reducing their negative impact on the climate by 90% by 2050.
The members exchanged views on two upcoming opinions scheduled to be adopted during the CoR’s June/July plenary session:
The sustainable and smart mobility strategy, which seeks to lay the foundations for achieving the EU’s green and digital transformation objectives within the European transport sector, is the main focus of an opinion drafted by rapporteur Robert Van Asten (NL/RE), alderman of the municipality of The Hague.
The challenges and opportunities of regional airports in Europe is the topic of the opinion drafted by rapporteur Wladyslaw Ortyl (PL/ECR), president of the Podkarpackie Region.
Members also discussed their progress implementing the Green Deal at the local and regional level and the COTER commission's involvement in the CoR's Green Deal Going Local Working Group. As part of the CoR's 'Building resilient communities' priority, the CoR launched the Green Deal Going Local Working Group, which aims to place cities and regions at the core of the European Green Deal. The initiative aims to ensure 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. In order to inspire and accelerate action, Green Deal Going Local includes an online map with 200 best practices.
An outlook opinion on the experiences and lessons learned by regions and cities during the COVID-19 crisis, drafted by Joke Schauvliege (BE/EPP), member of the Flemish Parliament, was also discussed to highlight the crucial role of local and regional authorities in the response to the crisis. The opinion aims to provide recommendations to the EU institutions in order to facilitate a successful recovery and to strengthen EU resilience to future crises, based on evidence from the local and regional level.
The experience of different levels of government will also play a crucial part in preparation for the long-term vision on cross-border cooperation. A public consultation was launched within the framework of the European Cross-Border Citizen’s Alliance which aims to improve the life of EU citizens living in border regions.
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