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Local and regional leaders ask Prime Minister António Costa to support socially fair EU recovery and promote local authorities' involvement in national plans  

​The Social Summit in Porto must affirm a strong commitment to the European Pillar of Social Rights and its headline targets, involving all levels of government

Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa addressed today the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) to present the priorities of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency and discuss with representatives of EU's cities and regions ahead of the Social Summit in Porto at the end of the week. Members of the CoR stressed that all levels of government need to work together to reach the targets of the European Pillar of Social Rights and to ensure a fair recovery from the Covid-19 crisis throughout Europe, respecting the principle of cohesion as a fundamental value in the EU. They expressed their dissatisfaction for the lack of reference to the regional and local dimension in the Porto Declaration draft, and asked the Portuguese Presidency to promote full involvement of local and regional authorities in the preparation and implementation of national recovery and resilience plans.

Prime Minister António Costa said: "The Committee of the Regions is the local and the European levels brought together in one. It is therefore a key partner for the success of Europe's fair, green and digital recovery. We all know that recovery will only be successful at Union level if it is successful at local level. And this will only be possible through a decentralised implementation, allowing a swift and efficient execution of available funds and at the same time safeguarding a response in line with the needs of the economic fabric of regions and cities, and the expectations of our citizens. It’s time to turn the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights into actions and ensure that they support the Union in achieving its strategic objectives, notably the twin green and digital transition. Without economic recovery and a solid growth in decent jobs there is neither social nor territorial cohesion."

Apostolos Tzitzikostas , President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "I thank Prime Minister Costa - a regional leader himself and a former Member of our Committee - for bringing his invaluable contribution to our Plenary. Regions and municipalities are essential in building a strong and resilient social Europe which will guarantee that the green and digital transitions are fair and which will facilitate recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. In this sense, the effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights can only succeed if all levels of government, from European to local, are working together, respecting the principle of active subsidiarity. The Social Summit in Porto at the end of the week will be a decisive moment and we cannot understand why the draft Declaration does not make any reference to the local and regional dimension. As the Portuguese Presidency requested the European Committee of the Regions to work on a referral on this topic, we count on your support to reflect it in the final Declaration. Member States and European institutions should involve local and regional authorities in the preparation of the national recovery and resilience plans and ensure that they are oriented towards creating jobs, strengthening social resilience, protecting the most vulnerable and ensuring equal opportunities for all. We must guarantee that the EU delivers concrete solutions to people's problems on the ground."

The CoR First Vice-PresidentVasco Cordeiro, who will lead the CoR delegation in Porto, said: "The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects are a wake-up call that reminds us all about the need for a stronger and fairer Europe. It is more necessary than ever to work to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Porto Social Summit is going to stress how important all levels of governance are to achieve its objectives."

The Portuguese Council presidency had requested the CoR to provide its contribution on the local and regional dimension of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The opinion presented today stresses that the effective implementation of the Pillar is of the utmost importance and can only succeed if all levels of governance, from European to local are involved, respecting the principle of active subsidiarity. It also calls to improve monitoring at sub-national level through a regional social scoreboard in order to ensure that the Social Pillar is implemented at all levels and that regional investments are geared towards achieving the principles of the Pillar.

Rapporteur Anne Karjalainen (FI/PES), Member of Kerava City Council and Chair of the CoR's SEDEC Commission, said: "Europe is seeing the biggest health, social and economic crisis of a generation, a crisis that is putting European solidarity to the test. A fair recovery for Europe relies on a fully operational European Pillar of Social Rights, protecting all citizens and being applied across the Union. Local and regional authorities are key levers in the effective implementation of the Pillar, which plays a decisive role when it comes to strengthening and restoring the social resilience of cities and regions."

First Vice-President Vasco Cordeiro and SEDEC Commission chair Anne Karjalainen will represent the CoR in the high-level conference of the Porto Social Summit this Friday. Mr Cordeiro will intervene in the panel "Work and employment" on 7 May at 15:00-17:00 (GMT).

More information

Prime Minister Costa – CoR member between 2010 and 2015 in his capacity as Mayor of Lisbon - attended the CoR plenary just days before the Social Summit of the Heads of State and Government taking place in Porto on 7-8 May. EU leaders meeting in Porto are expected to agree on specific quantitative targets and timelines to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, proclaimed in 2017 in Gothenburg. As specified in the Action Plan presented by the European Commission in March, the aim is to strengthen the EU's social dimension as Europe is recovering from the deepest crisis for decades and facing new challenges linked to the green and digital transitions. A key instrument will be the Recovery and Resilience Facility which will make €672.5 billion in loans and grants available to support reforms and investments undertaken by Member States and their regions

The Recovery and Resilience Facility aims at mitigating the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and making European economies and societies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the green and digital transitions. Member States are in the process of preparing their recovery and resilience plans that set out a coherent package of reforms and public investment projects.


Lauri Ouvinen

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