Europe rooted locally is the only way forward to renew the EU, according to the
Following the European elections and ahead of the new term of the European Commission, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has put forward its expectations and proposals for the EU's new legislative mandate for 2019-2024. In a resolution adopted on 26 June 2019, the CoR argues that for the EU to regain citizens' trust and address major current challenges, EU decisions and policies must be anchored locally and local and regional authorities involved at all stages of EU decision-making.
CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz, said: "The nearly 100 000 local authorities and 300 regions of the European Union, represented in the EU by the European Committee of the Regions, are key partners to increase citizens' ownership and strengthen trust in the Union. Reinforcing the Union's democratic foundation cannot be envisaged without their proper involvement at every stage of EU decision-making. We need to radically rethink the way the EU works so it is closer to the citizens. That's why we ask for the creation of a permanent mechanism for citizens' dialogue and an EU based on multi-level governance, better law making and active subsidiarity", the President added.
The CoR first Vice-President, Markku Markkula, stressed: "The Committee is sending a strong message to the EU institutions highlighting the importance of listening to the citizens' vote at the last European elections: there is a call for changing the way to prioritise EU policies, by increasing cities and regions involvement in the decision making. This would help achieving better sustainability of policies, such as climate neutrality by 2050 to be ensured in partnership with cities and regions."
To further strengthen the legitimacy and democratic foundation of the EU, the CoR also urges the European institutions to respond to its call for setting up a structured and permanent system of citizens' consultation. Such mechanism would be based on a long-term strategy, with the involvement of both local and regional authorities and the civil society.
The CoR also calls for establishing a systematic feedback mechanism on the implementation of EU policies at local/regional level, with the involvement of local and regional authorities. The CoR is currently testing such mechanism via its pilot project of so-called "regional hubs".
The CoR's proposals for the upcoming new EU mandate also include the following:
A competitive Europe
· Giving priority to the development of an overarching "Digital Single Market for all" strategy, with dedicated actions for the local economy and local digital services, and working toward closing the "innovation gap" in Europe by providing dedicated EU funds for connecting territories and building regional research;
· Further developing a European Industrial Policy focusing on the promotion of place-based solutions and interregional innovation investment;
· Encouraging a more systematic use of qualified majority voting, in particular on tax matters, to facilitate the fight against tax avoidance.
Encouraging a cohesive and social Europe
· Building cohesion within the EU, including a strong EU's cohesion policy beyond 2020 benefitting from adequate funding, a reinforced EU social dimension, better urban/rural linkages to address the territorial divide, and relevant measures to tackle demographic changes;
· Agreeing an ambitious and politically binding "EU Urban Agenda", and better consideration to the urban dimension of EU policies;
· Considering the adoption of a Code of Conduct to involve the local and regional authorities in the European Semester, following the example of the one adopted in the context of Cohesion Policy;
· Building a Common Agricultural Policy that is fair, sustainable and based on solidarity, and developing a comprehensive EU Rural Agenda;
· Addressing the social dimension of the digital economy, in particular through better regulation of the working conditions of platform work.
Fighting for a sustainable Europe
· Making the Sustainable Development Goals the overarching development strategy for the EU and formally recognising the role of local and regional authorities in delivering a sustainable Europe;
· Strengthening the involvement of cities and regions when adopting climate-related decisions to ensure that the EU's position reflects the needs, capacities and potential of all EU territories;
· Paying greater attention to the growing problem of energy poverty in many EU regions and cities;
· Developing appropriate co-financing at European level to address missing links in transport infrastructure to enable better accessibility of all regions;
· Further promoting the development of regionally sensitive indicators to better measure progress on certain aspects of the circular economy.
Integration of migrants and refugees
· Given the responsibilities of cities and regions in the reception and integration of migrants, the CoR asks for increased direct EU funding for European cities and regions in this area;
· Better communication at all levels of the costs and benefits of immigration and integration, notably through the support of cities and regions' networks for the integration of migrants such as the new CoR initiative "Cities and Regions for Integration" launched earlier this year.
· Proposals of the European Committee of the Regions for the new European Union legislative mandate – Draft resolution of the CoR
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