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Stronger ties between the European Commission and local authorities are "a win-win endeavour"  

​​EU's cities and regions are looking forward to strengthening further their cooperation with the European Commission in the fields of research and innovation, education and culture. Through the Joint Action Plan which enters its second year, regions and cities will play their part in the success of the European Year of Youth 2022, in strengthening democratic values through education, in the New European Bauhaus initiative, in delivering the EU Missions, in reinforcing the territorial dimension of the European Research Area (ERA) and the synergies between Horizon Europe and Structural Funds, as well as in developing a new pilot project of smart specialisation strategies for sustainability (S4).

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, joined the members of the European Committee of the Regions' SEDEC Commission for the presentation of the first monitoring report of the Joint Action Plan, which was signed in November 2020 between her services (DG RTD, JRC and EAC) and the SEDEC Commission. The report concludes that close collaboration between European and local level is crucial to raise awareness and visibility for EU policies and programmes and to maximise the positive impact of EU action in Europe’s regions and local communities.

"We have achieved a great progress in our Joint Action Plan in only one-years’ time", Commissioner Gabriel said. "Together we have managed to amplify our initiatives at the regional and local level across Europe to further advance on building the European Research Area, the European Education Area and boost innovations in accelerating the green and digital transition. We will continue combining efforts at EU, national, regional and local level, on creating synergies between research and innovations, education, culture and youth, to the benefit of all regions and citizens."

"The Joint Action Plan is a win-win endeavour: it has increased the ownership of European initiatives by CoR members, while giving the European Commission the opportunity for a reality check at grassroots level of their proposals", Anne Karjalainen, Chair of CoR's Commission for Social Policy, Employment, Education, Culture and Research (SEDEC), said. "The success of our long-standing collaborative projects, such as the Knowledge Exchange Platform  and Science meets Regions are another source of satisfaction. I look forward to new networking initiatives to be held in our regions and cities in the fields of culture, universities, youth, the ERA HubsEuropean missions and the New European Bauhaus, for the upcoming year", the Kerava City Council Chair concluded.

Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), Member of Espoo City Council and rapporteur of an upcoming CoR opinion on the EU Missions, stressed that the SEDEC Commission's working programme in 2022 must build around the Joint Action Plan and the support the Commission is providing to actions at local and regional level. "EU missions are a concrete example of working with cities and regions to deal with global problems", Mr Markkula said. The SEDEC Commission is currently also preparing an opinion on the New European Bauhaus initiative with the lead of Cork City Councillor Kieran McCarthy (IE/EA).

At the meeting held on 13 December, SEDEC members also looked into the European Commission's proposal for an EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027, which sets the target of zero work-related deaths by 2030. The opinion drafted by Sergio Caci (IT/EPP), Mayor of Montalto di Castro, points out that the new strategy needs to respond to the changes in working environment arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and the green and digital transitions, taking into account also psychosocial risks and covering all categories of workers. It regrets that the scope of application of the strategic framework excludes self-employed workers, such as atypical workers and platform workers, and calls for this aspect to be included in the new directive proposal on platform work.

"The closest possible cooperation between regional and local authorities and the EU and the relevant national authorities, coupled with the exchange of experience and good practices, will drive progress on occupational safety and health and help build a culture of prevention. Therefore, we are calling on the Commission to create a dedicated digital tool to which regions and cities can refer when they consider it appropriate or necessary to provide guidance to the European legislator on health and safety at work", rapporteur Mr Caci said.

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