Speaking at the Congress of the Regions of France, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, president of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), called for the regions to be brought into the governance of the EU recovery plan in order to act effectively against the coronavirus pandemic and urgently speed up the economic recovery
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, governor of the Greek Region of Central Macedonia and president of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) spoke today at the Congress of the Regions of France, at the invitation of Renaud Muselier, president of the Congress. In his speech, he presented the EU-wide
regional and local barometer, drawn up by the
European Committee of the Regions, to the presidents of the regions and France and to Clément Beaune, Minister of State with responsibility for European Affairs. He warned of the danger that the coronavirus pandemic may have a devastating impact on the revenues of sub-national public authorities: in France alone, losses could be estimated at some EUR 7.5 billion in 2020. The crisis is exacerbating social and economic inequalities throughout the Union, and in France particularly, and its economic impact will generate glaring disparities from one region to another. The widening gap between rural and urban areas presents a clear threat to the cohesion of the Union - not least in digital terms. He strongly advocated decentralising the management of recovery funds and a green and digital transition, and argued for greater cross-border cooperation, including in the field of public health.
Annual Regional and Local Barometer, prepared jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the CoR, reveals that the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating existing social and economic disparities within the EU. EU cohesion policy, including the REACT EU instrument and the simplifications through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII), is key to fighting this trend and spearheading the economic, social and environmental recovery of Europe, as well as building resilience and overcoming regional disparities.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, CoR president and governor of the Region of Central Macedonia (Greece), explained that
"the barometer we have just published seeks to gain a clearer picture of what people need, and to provide them with the right answers. It is of the utmost importance that EU investments to cover urgent needs arising from the pandemic should continue uninterrupted - if necessary until 2024 - and should be channelled via the regions. Europe, the Member States and the regions have to undertake an unprecedented planning task: they must implement the current operational programmes under the Cohesion Policy for another two years and, at the same time, draw up and launch the new programmes for the 2021-2027 period, ensuring that they are properly coordinated with national recovery and resilience programmes".
Renaud Muselier, president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region and president of the Association of Regions of France which organised the congress, pointed out that
"In this health, economic and social crisis, the European Union has shown that is is there for its citizens: of the EUR 100 billion of the "France Recovery" plan, EUR 40 billion has come from an entirely new European support mechanism ".
Apostolos Tzitzikostas expanded on the need to involve the regions in designing and implementing EU recovery plans:
"No recovery plan that fails to take account of the diversity of our towns and regions, or which is not based on national responses, will get anywhere! The regions must be closely involved in recovery initiatives, as they better than anyone else know what works on the ground. In the same way that the virus attacks us locally, we must fight back locally".
Lastly, the CoR president highlighted the significance of cohesion policy in coping with the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis, and the importance of the French regions to the preparation and future implementation of the policy:
"A powerful cohesion policy is key to the new start that Europe needs. The European Committee of the Regions will continue to work for cohesion policy to be recognised as the cornerstone of economic recovery in France and in the European Union".
The Barometer offers a snapshot of the impact of the social, economic and health crisis on EU's regions and cities. Its facts and findings are complemented by a survey of sub-national finances conducted jointly with the OECD, and by a public-opinion poll on the role and impact of regional and local authorities on the European decision-making process.
According to the
poll of over 26 000 Europeans conducted by Kantar in the first two weeks of September,
Europeans trust local and regional governments more than they trust national governments or the EU, both in general and in their response to the pandemic. They would like local and regional governments to have more influence on EU decisions relating to health, to employment and social affairs, and to education, training and culture. In France, 54% of those asked trusted their local and regional leaders. The figures were 36% for national politicians and 39% for EU leaders. More than 70% of those polled feel that local and regional authorities do not have enough influence in the European decision-making process. The full results of the survey for France can be found
find out more about the annual regional and local barometer:
REACT-EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe) is a European Commission initiative, launched on 28 May 2020, that continues and extends the crisis response and crisis repair measures delivered through the
Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and the
Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus of 13 March 2020. REACT-EU should contribute to a green, digital and resilient recovery of the economy.
The REACT-EU package provides for EUR 55 billion in additional funds that will be made available to the
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2014-2020, the
European Social Fund (ESF), as well as the
Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). These additional funds will be provided by Next Generation EU during 2021-2022 and, from 2020, by a targeted revision of the current financial framework. The European regions will also help frame the national recovery programmes supported by the new recovery and resilience mechanism, which should mobilise grants and loans amounting to more than EUR 670 billion up to 2026.
European Committee of the Regions opinions on the EU recovery plan:
REACT-EU package», rapporteur Mieczysław Struk (PL/EPP), President of the Pomorskie Region.
EU4Health Programme, rapporteur Nathalie Sarrabezolles (FR/PES), President of the Finistère Departmental Council.
Recovery plan for Europe: Recovery and Resilience Facility and Technical Support Instrument, rapporteur- general Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES), President of the Socialist Group at the CoR and Mayor of Coulaines.
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