This opinion could assess the recently adopted report “on the implementation of the European Commission Communication on a stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions” (COM 2020/104).
The opinion could also take a closer look at the ways and the first results of the actions implemented by the European Commission, the discussions within the established Platforms and the initiatives taken by the Member states and the outermost regions so far.
In addition, the opinion could provide concrete input on how to adapt the proposed measures of the strategy and the 21 proposals for the EU programmes 2021-2027 to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus crisis to the reality of the outermost regions. Some key decisions are required in areas such as Cohesion policy or TEN-T with a high impact on the outermost regions.
The European Commission followed the CoR's recommendations and committed a study on the preliminary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the outermost regions which is on-going and will be finalised in Autumn 2021. The findings of this study will feed into the evidence base and data collection for a new Communication which would update, adapt and strengthen the existing strategic partnership with the outermost regions to recent developments and EU priorities with a focus on sustainable, green, digital and fair recovery.
In line with the CoR's request to update the EU's Strategy on the Outermost Regions, the European Commission launched a Roadmap for this purpose on 12 May 2021. You can find the Roadmap under the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13018-Update-of-the-strategic-partnership-with-the-outermost-regions-_en
The new Communication on an updated EU's strategy is expected by 2nd quart of 2022, coinciding with an event of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The European Parliament Committee on Regional policy hosted a discussion on an own initiative report drafted by Mr Stephane Bijoux (FR/RE), on 25 May 2021. The rapporteur Mr Angel Victor Torres Perez had the opportunity to present the main recommendations included in the opinion. In this sense, the EP report makes a direct reference to the CoR's opinion. It was adopted by the EP plenary on 4 October 2021.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the interim report, published in March 2020, which reviews the progress made on implementing the Commission's Communication of 24 October 2017 on a stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU's outermost regions and appreciates the European Commission's commitment to working in partnership with these regions;
- regrets, however, that the Report does not constitute an in-depth assessment of the strategy for these regions, or an opportunity to remedy the omission of a number of measures in policies that are essential to their development, such as cohesion policy and, in particular, the EU's social pillar;
- recognises the need to adapt this strategy in the light of the serious consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic, which have had a greater impact on these regions as they are heavily dependent on tourism and on their connectivity with other parts of the world, meaning that economic recovery is expected to take longer;
- highlights the importance of applying the tailor-made approach proposed by the European Commission in its 2017 communication, given the fragility of these territories in various sectors and the need of building on the outermost regions' assets;
- notes that social issues have always been at the heart of the challenges facing the Outermost Regions, exacerbated by the devastating effects of the current crisis on their labour markets, which heightens the need to place growth and employment at the heart of any strategy for these regions;
- welcomes the Commission's express commitment to pay particular attention to the ORs under the European Green Deal, taking into account their vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, as well as their unique assets, such as biodiversity and renewable energy sources, and hopes that specific measures to this effect will be adopted;
- emphasises that the outermost regions, among others, are on the front line as points of entry for irregular immigrants from their immediate neighbourhood and warns of the major impact that the management of migratory flows is having on all of their public policies, especially with regard to the implementation of reception or accompanying measures for unaccompanied minors;
- calls on the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to take account of the ORs in the discussions on the future of Europe and in the development of future European policies, ensuring that Article 349 TFEU is applied fully and effectively.