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Local and regional leaders to Šefčovič: ready to join forces for a more resilient, green, just and digital EU  

​CoR members will support the delivery of the European Commission work programme for 2021 with their expertise on the ground and by providing feedback on EU measures' effectiveness.

Local and regional leader called today on the European Commission Vice-President, Maroš Šefčovič, to devote every effort to mitigating the effects of the global pandemic and to bring local and regional authorities to the core of the EU resilience and recovery agenda. They stressed their readiness to actively contribute to the design and implementation of European Commission's key initiatives such as the health related covid-19 response, the Climate Pact or the recovery and resilience facility.

The debate took place during the CoR Plenary session, where Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič presented the first EC foresight report, focussing on resilience and on the Commission's work programme for 2021 – including the EU's efforts to help the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The CoR also adopted a resolution that stresses the necessity to take into account the local and regional disparities due to the crisis and to use the expertise of local and regional governments while designing EU legislation for 2021. CoR members also committed to take an active part in the Conference on the Future of Europe to help shaping the EU's response to current and future challenges through permanent and structured dialogue with citizens.

Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "I thank Vice-president Šefčovič for the excellent cooperation and for involving our Committee in the European Commission's efforts to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. We look forward to working with the whole European Commission's team on concrete projects in 2021. The CoR's Regional and local Barometer 2021 will be a useful tool to secure a regional and local dimension of the Commission's 2021 State of the Union and of the overall EU legislation''.

Speaking at the Plenary, European Commission's Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič said: "The next year will be an intense time for policymaking. It is important that we work together and make the best use of all our resources. The work of the Committee of the Regions is key in ensuring the voices of local, city and regional authorities are properly heard by Europe's policymakers. This is more crucial now than ever, as we seek to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, kick our recovery into gear, and plan the future we want for our Union. We need you to translate the national recovery and resilience plans into action on the ground, bringing projects to life."

The CoR is also committed to contribute to the European Commission Strategic Foresight Agenda in view of the 2021 report. By monitoring the green, digital and socio economic dimension of resilience at local and regional level, it will identify the main vulnerabilities in the European cities and regions as reflected in its first Annual Local and Regional Barometer.

Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), Member of the Regional Parliament of Azores and First Vice-President of the CoR, said: "In every corner of the Union, including the outermost regions, the COVID19 crisis had a strong impact in all sectors. For the sake of results and for the sake of the people we serve there is an unsurmountable and unaddressed need to make local and regional authorities part of the decision-making process and to contribute to the solutions".

The presidents of the six political groups emphasised aspects of the work programme that are of particular importance to their members.

Olgierd Geblewicz (PL/EPP), President of West Pomerania Region and president of the European's People Party group, said: "The comprehensive plan for the European Health Union, announced by President von der Leyen as a response to the health crisis, is essential in strengthening the capacities and preparedness of Member States' health systems. Many regions in the EU, including my region West Pomerania, have significant responsibilities in the field of public health, such as management of hospitals and care facilities, as well as the design of health prevention strategies. It is therefore essential to involve regional and local authorities in preparing the European response to serious health threats, including cross-border threats. Possession of this knowledge in healthcare should not be overlooked. Local and regional authorities have the figures to highlight regional differences and inequalities. We need to jointly coordinate services and develop capacities to protect our citizens with similar resources and means across Europe."

Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES), Mayor of Coulaines and president of the European Socialists Party group, said: "Our territories face the most important challenge in recent times, that is building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic by creating more sustainable, inclusive and democratic cities and regions. Thanks to the Socialists group, the European Committee of the Regions expresses a socially ambitious position, notably respecting fundamental values, including gender equality and LGBTI rights, and on giving 100 000 cities and regions direct access to EU funding for the recovery plan and the migration policy."

Ulrika Landergren (SE/Renew Europe), member of Kungsbaka municipal council and 1st Vice President of the Renew Europe group, said: "Foresight is crucial at every level of government. In West Sweden we are at the forefront when it comes to developing skills for the digital age. In our long-term strategic planning, we put a lot of focus on developing the right skills for the future, not only for our youth, but for the whole workforce as well as for our elderly and disabled people in order to be ready for the future and the green transition. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind when the society is being digitalised more and more."

Władysław Ortyl (PL/ECR), President of the Podkarpackie Region and leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, said: "We are living in extraordinary and exceptional times and the EU's priority should now focus on the health of all our citizens and on getting our economies back on track. The European Commission should accelerate those proposals from its Work Programme that deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and support economic recovery, and delay those that do not support these objectives. This is not the right time for new bureaucratic requirements. It is time for prioritisation, flexibility and cooperation"

Kieran McCarthy (IE/European Alliance), member of Cork County Council and president of the European Alliance, said: "I welcome the European Commission's cooperation with the CoR to ensure a greater involvement of regions and cities in the design and implementation of EU policies. That needs to be done by following the recommendations of the Subsidiarity Task Force, applying the principle of active subsidiarity and mainstreaming multilevel governance principles. The CoR's participation in the Fit for Future platform is a step in the right direction and we count on European Commission's support to put regions and cities at the core of the green and digital recovery initiatives".

Bernd Voss (DE/Greens), member of the regional state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein and co-president of the Greens, said: "We call on the European Commission to implement a minority policy that is in line with the Minority Savepack Initiative. More than 1.3 million people in Europe have supported this initiative and it is time to act".

The CoR already contributes to the EU legislative process for 2021 in the Fit for Future platform: in the Government group with three of its six CoR commission chairs and with the CoR network of Regional Hubs (RegHubs) as subgroup which gathers information from cities and regions through targeted consultations and compiles it into implementation reports of selected EU policies. Lastly, on 4 December the CoR also issued with all European territorial associations a political declaration calling EU leaders for action to make recovery possible urgently.

Contact:

Marie-Pierre Jouglain
Mobile: +32 (0)473 52 41 15
mariepierre.jouglain@cor.europa.eu
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