welcoming the fact that the European Commission has accepted the challenge posed by the Committee of the Regions and the Outermost Regions, supported by their Member States, of reviewing the former EU Strategy in order to adapt it to the post-pandemic situation, as this recognises the particular vulnerability of these territories to external shocks and the need for aspecific response from the European Union;
requesting the European Commission to take into consideration the negative impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the Outermost Regions, such as the inflation, the increase of the energyprices and food security, among others;
asking the European Commission to extend beyond 2030 the exclusion of the Outermost Regions from the Emissions Trade System (ETS) and to consider the possibility to enlarge the exclusion to the flights within the archipelagos and between them and other Member States issuing tourists;
underlining that sustainable blue economy is one of the major sectors to foster OR´s economic growth and encourage the job creation and entrepreneurship, as well as the need to support the renewal of the ORs artisanal fishing fleet;
recalling that it is not enough to include "safeguard clauses" to ensure fair competition on social,environmental and health issues, it is needed to insert "mirror clauses" to guarantee the same EU standards to the imported products. This reciprocity should also apply to services;
asking the European Commission to involve as observer the European Committee of the Regions in the regular meetings of monitoring the implementation of the renewed Strategy;
The European Commission replied to the suggestions made in the Opinion. The reply was received on 31/5/2023.
Main messages from the reply are the following;
The Commission proposals accompanying the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, currently under negotiation by the European Parliament and the Council, include a strong mechanism for Member States to show solidarity and share responsibility for arriving migrants, in particular unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable persons, including in situations of crises
The Commission proposal for the new Emissions Trading System (ETS) exempts from the ETS aviation all flights between an OR and airports within the same Member State (domestic flights). The Commission has taken into account colegislators’ position and agreed to an exemption from the ETS maritime for sea voyages between OR and ports within the same Member State (domestic sea voyages). Flights and sea voyages within an OR are also exempted from ETS. The new Social Climate Fund will provide financial support to Member States to help vulnerable households, micro-enterprises and transport users affected by the price impacts of ETS in the buildings’ and road transport sectors.
When preparing their Social Climate Plans, Member States are asked to analyse the effects of the new ETS at territorial level taking into account geographic specificities, such as the OR. The LIFE programme can also support OR projects in biodiversity, circular economy, climate change and clean energ
transport users affected by the price impacts of ETS in the buildings’ and road transport sectors. When preparing their Social Climate Plans, Member States are asked to analyse the effects of the new ETS at territorial level taking into account geographic specificities, such as the OR. The LIFE programme can also support OR projects in biodiversity, circular economy, climate change and clean energy
The Commission recognises the OR specific connectivity challenges. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) 2021-278 provides more favourable conditions for OR projects with a co-financing rate of up to 70 % and attention to the OR in the award criteria. The Commission has proposed to revise the Trans-European Transport Network Regulation to reflect the OR connectivity needs, making additional ports, urban nodes and roads eligible for CEF support.
The Commission has committed itself in the OR Communication to mapping regional cooperation opportunities and challenges per basin, to identify key areas for cooperation, to develop opportunities and support collaboration between the outermost regions and their neighbours. In this context, the Commission has fostered a series of exchanges between the outermost regions and their neighbours, per basin, in climate related actions.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the Commission Communication "Putting people first, securing sustainable and inclusive growth, unlocking the potential of the EU's outermost regions" and stresses the need for coordinated action by supranational, national, regional and local authorities and for swift implementation of the proposed measures;
- welcomes the Commission communication's observation that the ORs do not resemble, either in fact or in law, other European regions with specific geographical characteristics, such as islands, mountain areas or regions with low population density;
- draws attention to the urgent need to address the significant social and economic inequalities of the ORs compared to mainland Europe and calls on the European Commission to support these regions in the process of convergence with the rest of the European Union;
- calls for account to be taken of the major impact of the Fit for 55 legislative package on the competitiveness and connections of the ORs;
- points out that the ORs are isolated energy systems which cannot be connected to the mainland, and calls on the European institutions to promote the energy autonomy of these regions;
- highlights the ORs total dependence on reliable and affordable air and sea transport for the mobility of their inhabitants and for the supply of essential goods, and calls on the Commission to assess the need to provide support for the transport sector as an additional instrument to offset the disadvantages and losses arising from the costs of passenger and freight transport;
- calls for pragmatic and tailored solutions to be adopted as a matter of urgency, systematically applying Article 349 of the TFEU, in order to avoid the objective of economic, social and sustainable recovery being undermined.