The European industrial policy and its impact on regions and cities, including strategies to reskill workers in the framework of the green transition, the reform of the EU economic governance framework and the improvement of the public sector interoperability, were the main topics discussed during the meeting of the Commission for Economic Policy (ECON) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 15 February.
The transition towards climate neutrality implies many challenges for
local and regional economies, especially for those with a high number
of workers in energy-intensive industries. The new Inflation Reduction
Act recently adopted by the US government prompted the European
Commission to table a
Green Deal Industrial Plan
in order to support the fast transition to climate neutrality of EU
industries. However, major concerns remain related in particular to the
automotive sector and the possibility of prioritising EU purchases in
public procurements in the face of competition from China and the
United States, local leaders warned during a debate.
new OECD report published today
(15 February) and presented to the ECON members identifies 41 European
regions as particularly exposed to the transition towards climate
neutrality. The reason is the combination of their high employment
shares and emissions per capita in the most energy-intensive sectors,
such as coke, refined petroleum, paper and pulp manufacturing. “These
exposed regions will have to decarbonise production assets while at the
same time capitalising on opportunities to ensure a just transition for
their workers, for example through reskilling”, highlights the report.
Many of the identified regions are in northern and central Europe.
During the ECON meeting, local leaders also had a first exchange of
views on reform of the EU economic governance framework with
Elio di Rupo
(BE/PES), Minister-President of the Wallonia Region, who is the CoR
rapporteur on the topic. Representatives from the European Commission,
the European Fiscal Board and academia joined the debate, during which
ECON members criticised the Commission’s proposal for a reformed EU
economic governance framework because of its lack of local and regional
dimension. Members recalled that local and regional authorities
for one-third of total public expenditure and more than a half of
public investment in the EU. Some of them asked to set a “golden rule”
which excludes strategic investments from the debt calculation, like
the co-financing of cohesion projects. The rapporteur, Elio Di Rupo,
stressed the need to make the debt-reduction path sustainable and
called for more fiscal flexibility when regions and cities are
investing in local projects that simply implement decisions taken at
national or European level, such as the achievement of
climate-neutrality by 2050.
In addition, ECON members held a first debate on measures to improve
public-sector interoperability across the Union, which will feed into
the opinion drafted by
(IT/ECR), President of the Regional Council of Sardinia.
Interoperability is particularly relevant for local and regional
authorities given that they are the key actors that manage and provide
network or information systems that enable public services to be
delivered electronically. Members highlighted that especially
peripheral regions, such as island or mountain regions, are often not
properly integrated in mechanisms of digital cooperation between Member
States. Their distance to other European regions and cities has to be
considered when establishing effective coordination at all levels of
government in providing public services. Furthermore, the EU
on the Interoperable Europe Act may require significant human resources
and a reskilling of the workforce in order to equip them to carry out
the digital tasks that will fall to regions and cities.
Both opinions are scheduled for adoption at the 19 April meeting of the
The ECON meeting was organised the day after
of the European ministers for economic and financial affairs during
which they discussed on the EU economic governance review. Ministers
may reach a first agreement on the reform in the coming weeks, to be
submitted to the EU heads of State and governments ahead of
European Council meeting
on 23-24 March.
In November 2022, the European Commission presented
for a reformed EU economic governance framework, in order to make it
simpler and more effective. CoR member Di Rupo and the President of the
European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro,
commented the proposal, highlighting that this should address the need for public investment
in cohesion and sustainability.
Interoperable Europe Act
was proposed by the European Commission in November 2022 and introduces
a cooperation framework for public administrations across the EU that
helps build a secure cross-border exchange of data and agree on shared