The European Committee of the Regions' commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) debated on local and regional experiences in facing the current energy crisis during the meeting on 23 November. Members also
adopted the opinion on "Putting people first, securing sustainable and inclusive growth, unlocking the potential of the EU's outermost regions", drafted by Pedro de Faria e Castro (PT/EPP).
Soaring energy prices affect all Europeans, in particular the most
vulnerable. Electricity prices have risen
by 35% in the last year.
that about 35 million EU citizens were unable to keep their homes
adequately warm in 2020. Local and regional authorities as owners of
buildings and public services including schools, hospitals, social housing
facilities and often energy companies, are heavily hit by the crisis.
Higher energy prices are slowly jeopardising their capacity to provide
adequate services to their citizens, with the risk of widening social
COTER members shared with the European Commission experiences from their
communities and highlighted increasing, unprecedented gaps in regions' and
cities' budgets. Many of them are struggling to keep public buildings
heated, in particular schools and hospitals, keep public transport
affordable and support citizens who cannot manage to pay for their energy
bills. Additional costs for heating of public buildings are also putting
the path towards climate neutrality at risk, making new investments more
important than ever to guarantee an ecological and just transition. In the
absence of adequate support, some of the energy-saving measures currently
in place risk becoming unaffordable on the longer term.
The Mayor of Cluj Napoca
(RO/EPP) and Chair of the COTER commission, said: "We need a winter of solidarity in order to have a successful European
spring. Solidarity is the biggest weapon we have at our disposal
against Russia's criminal and illegal aggression of Ukraine. Cities and
regions all around Europe are experiencing the impact of rising energy
prices in their bills. However, we are not asking the EU to divert
money from cohesion policy investments. We ask for fresh money that
could be spent on the ground to help our citizens."
During the debate, the European Commission pointed out the “limited room
for maneuver” given by cohesion policy resources that could be spent to
help citizens and SMEs paying their energy bills. The impact of using
cohesion money in this matter, to be approved by the European Parliament
and Member States, is estimated at between 40 and 300-400 euros per capita
depending on the level of regional development, the European Commission
clarified, referring to resources from 2014-2020 programmes that have not
Local and regional representatives adopted by unanimity the a draft
on the sustainable and inclusive growth of the EU's outermost regions,
which welcomes that the European Commission followed the CoR's
recommendation to adapt the
EU strategy for the outermost regions
in view of the severe consequences of the pandemic. However, COTER members
stressed that the war in Ukraine is putting additional pressure on these
vulnerable regions and is undermining the post-health crisis recovery. They
therefore urge the concerned Member States to support their outermost
regions in building administrative capacity and in boosting skills
development to fully benefit from EU programmes. CoR members underlined
that a sustainable blue economy is one of the major sectors to foster
outermost regions’ economic growth and encourage the entrepreneurship. Five
million European citizens are currently living in these territories,
Adoption of the opinion is scheduled the CoR’s plenary in February 2023.
Pedro de Faria e Castro
(PT/EPP) will present the draft opinion during
the meeting of the European Parliament's Committee of Regional
(REGI) on 30 November.
During the same REGI meeting, CoR rapporteur
(FR/EA), President of the Corsica Regional Assembly, will present the draft
on “Enhancing Cohesion Policy support for regions with geographic and
demographic handicaps”, such as islands and remote areas. The draft opinion
is expected to be adopted at the CoR Plenary next week.
More information on how to follow the REGI meeting can be found
Finally, members of the COTER commission appointed
(FR/PES), Councillor of the Finistère Departmental Council, as first
commission’s Vice-Chair, and
(IT/PES), Minister for Mobility of Milan, as 2nd Vice-Chair.
They also appointed
(FR/RE), Member of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur Regional Council, as
rapporteur on the European Cross-Border Mechanism 2.0,
(NL/RE), Member of the Council of Flevoland, as rapporteur on the “Do no
harm to Cohesion” principle, and
(DE/EPP), District Commissioner of Rhön-Grabfeld, as rapporteur on the
regional and local viewpoint on the Mid-term review of the EU Multiannual
A recording of the COTER commission meeting is available