A strong European initiative is needed to make fresh money and concrete
means available to provide long-term support for regions and cities who are
welcoming Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war. The request came up during a
debate between local leaders and representatives from the European
at the meeting
of the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (
). CoR members welcomed the initiatives taken so far by the EU institutions
to cope with the emergency, and in particular the
allowing regions and cities to redirect cohesion funds towards initiatives
for refugees. However, several members, in particular from Polish regions,
underlined the need for fresh money as the cohesion resources for the
2014-20 period have already been all allocated or spent.
(PL/ECR), president of the Podkarpackie Region, pointed out that borders
regions like his own, are not only using their public resources to assist
people in needs, mainly women and children, but they are also starting to
experience consequences on their own economy. "Many tourists have cancelled
bookings as war is so near. So here we also need support. Many sectors have
been hard hit economically by this war," he stated.
(RU/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and former Prime Minister of Romania,
highlighted that, at the local and regional level, there are "partnerships
with cities from Moldova and Ukraine in order to help them on the ground",
but also that "it is crucial we don't make a difference between registered
and unregistered refugees in order to be able to help all Ukrainian
citizens entering the EU."
(SK/PES), Mayor of the Slovakian city of Košice, underlined the efforts of
his region in giving the best possible assistance to people fleeing
Ukraine: "We will continue to help refugees, but we need an immediate and
direct support from the European Union to do so. We need a real European
The debate follows the emergency meeting of the leaders of the CoR six
political groups in Rzeszów, near the Poland's border with Ukraine,
, President of the CoR, Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion
and Reforms, Younous Omarjee, chairman of the European Parliament's
committee on regional development, and Tetiana Yehorova-Lutsenko,
Head of Kharkiv Regional Council. Leaders
called for common rules
and fast-tracked access to maximize the impact of €17 billion EU support
package on the ground.
In addition, COTER members adopted the draft opinion on "
The new EU Arctic strategy
" which rejects a further cooperation with Russia in the Arctic area and
puts the need of a secure, stable and peaceful Arctic in the foreground.
They underlined that existing cooperation structures must be maintained to
ensure peaceful collaboration at the intergovernmental level. The
(FI/RE), member of the Oulu City Council, said that "since Russia's
invasion in Ukraine, the operational environment in the Arctic has changed
radically. All cooperation with Russians at the Northern region has been
suspended and the report seeks to take account of EU sanctions on Russia."
Rapporteur Vehkaperä further stressed that the rights of indigenous people
and the protection of natural resources of the Arctic remain the main focus
of the opinion. Climate change is strongly affecting this region which
makes a sustainable development of the Arctic crucial. Local and regional
leaders emphasized the strategic economic advantage of the Arctic region
for the EU due to the availability of raw materials and the geostrategic
aspects, but stressed the need for economic know-how and specific
resources. The draft opinion is planned to be adopted in the CoR plenary
session in June.
Furthermore, CoR members had a first exchange of views on the following
8th report on economic, social and territorial cohesion
" and "
The next generation of own resources for the EU budget
(FR/PES) as rapporteur, "
Guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport
" with rapporteur
(FR/PES) and "
The New EU Urban Mobility Framework Rapporteur
(LU/Greens) as rapporteur.
The COTER commission appointed
Pedro Chaves de Faria e Castro
(PT/EPP) as rapporteur for the opinion on "An updated EU's Outermost
Regions Strategy" and
(HR/EPP) as rapporteur for the opinion "Towards a macro-regional strategy
in the Mediterranean".
The EU's member states this week gave the green light to changes in rules
governing the disbursement of long-term regional development funding, to
enable the use of these funds to address the needs of refugees. This
flexibility means, for example, that schools and hospitals will be able to
access money that was left over from the EU's budget for 2014-20, or that
is available from the COVID-19 economic recovery package. Applications will
also be received for activities that began on 24 February 2022, the date on
which Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. European
institutions estimate that the set of changes will make almost €17 billion
Following the invasion of Ukraine and in line with the EU restrictive
the Commission has suspended
the cooperation with Russia and Belarus in the European Neighbourhood
Instrument cross-border cooperation programmes (
) and their participation in programming of the 2021-2027 Interreg NEXT
In the period 2014-2020, within the framework of the Interreg NEXT
programme, there were a total of 7 cross-border cooperation projects
between EU Member States and Russia, co-financed by the European Union:
Kolarctic Programme (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia), Karelia Programme
(Finland and Russia), South East Finland-Russia Programme (Finland and
Russia), Estonia-Russia Programme (Estonia and Russia), Latvia-Russia
Programme (Latvia and Russia), Lithuania-Russia Programme (Lithuania and
Russia) and Poland-Russia Programme (Poland and Russia). Russian
authorities also participated in
Interreg Baltic Sea Region
Similarly, in the same period the following INTERREG programmes existed
with the participation of Belarussian local authorities; Latvia – Lithuania
– Belarus ENI CBC and Poland-Belarus-Ukraine CBC, as well as the
participation in Interreg Baltic Sea Region.