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LeaDeRs The newsletter of Liberal and Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

DECEMBER 2012

IN THIS ISSUE

Message from the ALDE-CoR President

Message from the ALDECoR President: Nobel Prize, MFF, Energy, Citizen rights ALDE activity at the November 2012 plenary session of the Committee of the Regions

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ALDE-CoR at the ALDE Party Congress

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ALDE-CoR supports the candidacy of Praxoula Antoniadou-Kyriacou in the upcoming presidential elections of Cyprus

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“Mit Wachstum gegen Populismus –Liberale Losungsansatze fur Europa“ “Fighting populism with economic growth –liberal solutions for Europe” 6 European Commission conference ‘New Skills for a European Bioeconomy’ session chaired by Rogier Van Der Sande (NL/ALDE)

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On behalf of the liberal group, I would like to start by congratulating the European Union as a whole – both its citizens as well as its institutions – for having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I am delighted that the CoR has been invited to the reception ceremony in Oslo. Unfortunately, the EU is not able to celebrate ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk on all fronts. We still do not have an agreed budget for the years 2014-2020. It is frustrating that while there is a clear majority that recognises that some key solutions lie at European level, there is reluctance to provide the EU with the necessary resources. In this context, it is important to keep in mind that local and regional authorities often do not share the view of their national governments on the subject of the EU budget. This is because we are often direct beneficiaries of the various EU funds and we know the added value they bring for growth. In the Committee of the Regions there are many people who are willing to work to ensure that the national governments understand that if ever there was a time when a robust EU budget was needed, now would be it! Concerning the European Commission’s work programme, we globally welcome its content but there are still areas of concern for us.

Alin Nica (RO/ALDE) presents preliminary findings of the Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform survey

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Upcoming ALDE activities: LeaDeR awards; Liberal councillors of Brussels

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Ongoing and upcoming ALDE opinions: Rethinking education; European Political Parties

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Firstly on energy, we would like to see a clearer commitment by the European Commission on policies aimed at developing a modern grid infrastructure; we would also like to see measures facilitating the spread of micro-production of energy and its integration into the distribution grids. If we want to achieve our energy objectives and have a fully operational internal energy market, now is the time to act - we cannot wait any longer.

EUROPEAN UNION

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The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

Secondly, 2013 sees the European Year of Citizens. My group has been approached by some citizens who have exercised their right to free movement and residence in the EU. The citizens rightly point out that they have been denied their full rights because legislation in some Member States means that they lose the right to vote in their national elections. They are also denied the right to vote in the national elections in the EU state in which they work and pay taxes. The consequence of this is that we have citizens unable to exercise their vote in any national elections. Added to this is that in some cases they have children who take the nationality of their parents. These are children who have been born and brought up in the Member State of residence. The children are left with no rights to vote in either of the national elections. It is time that we accept

that an EU citizen is an EU citizen no matter where they live within the Union. The Year of Citizens is therefore the time to launch an initiative to ensure that any EU citizen has full voting rights wherever they choose to live within the EU, without any discrimination because of their nationality. The people who have exercised their right to free movement within the EU are often the best champions of the Union. But they must believe that the EU fights and works on their behalf. That is why ALDE-CoR has successfully amended the CoR opinion on the promotion of EU citizens’ electoral rights and raised this matter with President Barroso, as reflected below. We will continue to champion the cause of citizen rights especially through 2013.

ALDE activity at the November 2012 plenary session of the Committee of the Regions

share the same concerns and same objectives.” Mrs Ansari had taken the opportunity of Mr Barroso’s presence at the plenary of the Committee of the Regions to present the European Commission’s 2013 Work Programme, to share with him the concerns of citizens who have

Barroso responds favourably to ALDE-CoR’s call for an initiative to extend voting rights of EU citizens; ALDE-CoR champions innovation in agriculture, a sustainable bioeconomy, and community led development Responding to a call by ALDE-CoR Vice-President Doris Ansari for a new EU initiative to allow EU citizens to vote in national elections in the Member State in which they reside regardless of their nationality, President Barroso said: “Although this is a matter for national legislation, we can use the European Year of Citizens next year to push for all things that have to do with more rights for our citizens, and that is a matter where we

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Bas Verkerk

ALDE-CoR Vice-President Doris Ansari and President Barroso


DECEMBER 2012

approached ALDE-CoR. In her address to President Barroso, she explained how in numerous cases national legislation deprives many citizens who have chosen to exercise their right to free movement and residence within the EU of the same voting rights as their fellow Europeans.

Rogier van der Sande

Henk Brink

In addition, the plenary of the Committee of the Regions has unanimously adopted the opinion presented by Henk Brink (NL, ALDE) on the European Innovation Partnership: Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability. The opinion, which was drafted jointly by Anne Bliek de Jong (NL, ALDE) and Mr Brink, emphasises the need to pursue innovation, research and development of agricultural production, notably to enhance its efficiency, productivity growth and sustainability. The rapporteur identifies food safety and security, reduction of productivity, and improvement in quality, as key challenges that the whole of European Union will be facing in the near future. Against the backdrop of Europe 2020, which provides us with the timeline, and in light of the negotiations on the next MFF 2013-2020, the rapporteur wishes to impress upon the Member States the need to put these objectives into a partnership contract and to provide the needed resources to achieve these goals. Two additional ALDE opinions were adopted unanimously at the CoR plenary session. The opinion

by Rogier van der Sande (NL/ALDE) on the EU strategy for a sustainable bioeconomy in Europe calls for an increased contribution from the regions to help with the shift towards a bioeconomy. The rapporteur is of the opinion that Europe needs to do more to implement research and innovation in order to transition from a fossil economy for raw materials and energy to a bio-based economy. The rapporteur highlights that he sees the regions as first executers of the European Bioeconomy strategy as they are working from practice to sharpen the strategy. The CoR shares the European Commission’s views that the bioeconomy is a key element for smart and green growth and that it contributes to the objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy as well as the flagship initiatives of the innovation union. It welcomes the fact that the Commission’s initiative takes account of the regional dimension of the bioeconomy, all the more so since strategies to support the development of the bioeconomy have so far mainly been developed by national governments. Graham Garvie’s (UK/ALDE) opinion on Community led local development (CLLD) emphasised that the objective of CLLD is to empower local communities throughout Europe to play an active role in implementing EU policy objectives and in particular the Europe 2020 strategy. Regions and cities welcome CLLD as one of the more ground-breaking aspects of the future cohesion policy. The opinion stresses that it represents the only provision within the new common regulations where real

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LeaDeRs

The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

synergies at delivery level are specifically foreseen in the implementation of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Fisheries Fund and the Cohesion Fund. This can make the CLLD a “one-stop-shop” for local beneficiaries. The rapporteur underlined that this is an exciting new concept that will give more consistency and visibility to EU Cohesion Policy on the ground at local level.

DECEMBER 2012

was decided. The ALDE-CoR group is delighted to announce that the President of the network on a two-year mandate is Flo Clucas, former ALDE-CoR President. In addition to successfully amending resolutions on

Flo Clucas

Graham Garvie

ALDE-CoR at the ALDE Party Congress The ALDE group in the CoR took part in the annual congress of the European liberal democrats in Dublin on 8-10 November. The congress saw a number of changes made to the party’s structure. As of 10 November 2012 what used to be known as the ELDR Party now holds the name ALDE Party. At the congress a number of elections were held, among which the position of the new Chair of the European Liberal Women’s Network

energy transition, transeuropean transport networks, and small businesses, ALDE-CoR hosted a seminar on “How much economic growth and security can the energy transition provide?” with the following speakers: Mikhail Kasyanov, former Prime Minister of Russia; Marc Guerrero, representative of the Government of Catalonia; and Piet de Vey Mestdagh, member of the Committee of the Regions. The seminar was chaired by ALDE-CoR 2nd Vice President, Paul O’Donoghue. Key messages delivered included: • The cost of sustainable energy prices must become competitive compared to less sustainable energy resources: Experience from the Netherlands shows

From left to right: Piet de Vey Mestdagh, Paul O’Donoghue, Mikhail Kasyanov and Marc Guerrero

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DECEMBER 2012

that there can be a decline in the price for sustainable energy. Solar energy and heat exchange storage can nowadays operate without subsidies, but there is still a need for policies incentivising sustainable energy production, such as a high CO2 price. Here the EU has a clear role to play.

ALDE-CoR supports the candidacy of Praxoula Antoniadou-Kyriacou in the upcoming presidential elections of Cyprus

• The energy war that started in 2000, in which energy supply from Russia was cut off highlighted the problems of countries such as Slovakia and Italy with very few own natural gas resources. The EU and Russia are mutually dependent on each other when it comes to energy. If there is trust, this dependence is not bad. For the moment, the Russian government does not provide that trust, but sooner or later the current regime will change and it should then be possible to assure the Russian supply of energy to the EU. • Regions and municipalities need to implement ambitious targets and policies aiming at combating and adapting to climate change. Catalonia is a good example where the following measures have been put in place: 1) a climate change bill of Catalonia; 2) clear quantitative targets aiming at reducing energy consumption in public buildings; 3) a number of voluntary agreements with 100 different organisations. • The importance of involving citizens in the energy transition: Experience from Ireland and the Netherlands shows that people initially are worried when wind turbines are set up as it could potentially disturb both them and the natural beauty. If citizens get the possibility of buying shares in the company installing the wind turbines, there is clearly a better understanding for both the problems and the environmental and economic benefits that can be reaped from such installations..

Antoniadou Kyriacou

In a letter dated 6 December 2013 the ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk endorsed the candidacy of Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou in the upcoming presidential elections of Cyprus in February 2013. In the letter, Mr Verkerk expressed his admiration for Ms Kyriacou’s passion and energy for the Cypriot cause and shared her analysis that reunification of the island is the right and only way forward. He drew parallels with the reunification of Europe and stated that both communities on the island would benefit from more economic and political integration, which at a time of economic crisis would provide a huge stimulus to the economy. Acknowledging the sensitivity of the situation, the ALDE-CoR President concluded that Cyprus needs a President who has the tact and understanding of people’s life stories to be able to unify all Cypriots. Finally, Mr Verkerk remarked on the fruitful cooperation between the United Democrats and ALDE-CoR. The two parties held a joint seminar on 6 September in Nicosia on How reunification of Cyprus can help the country out of the economic crisis/ The relaunch of the economy in Europe: how the reunification of Cyprus can contribute to a stronger economy, to which the Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Communal Democracy Party, Mr Mehmet Çakici MP was also invited.

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LeaDeRs

The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

“Mit Wachstum gegen Populismus –Liberale Losungsansatze fur Europa“ “Fighting populism with economic growth –liberal solutions for Europe”

DECEMBER 2012

• Economic growth should be led by the private sector; • Regional cooperation can be a great source of wealth, unlocking the potential of regions previously drawn apart by national boundaries; • The European internal market is important, but given global growth, Europe needs to stand together in negotiating trade agreements with the other major actors if it wants to retain its bargaining power in a changing world.

European Commission conference ‘New Skills for a European Bioeconomy’ chaired by Rogier Van Der Sande (NL/ALDE) Dr Jürgen Martens

ALDE member Dr Jürgen Martens, State Minister of Justice and for European Affairs of Saxony, was invited to be a speaker at the European Liberal Forum workshop titled “Fighting populism with economic growth – liberal solutions for Europe”. The workshop was held in Belfast and aimed at linking the growth topic to populism in order to examine if and how these two concepts interact in the European context. Dr Martens pointed out that while Saxony has struggled with the rise of populist parties it has simultaneously experienced tremendous economic growth. However, an important lesson to be learned from the rise of populist parties is the need to address the concerns of citizens facing either perceived or real insecurity through the process of globalisation. The main conclusions that were drawn during the workshop could be summarised as follows: • Populists feed on insecurity, democratic deficits and complicated counterarguments; • Liberals must take up lost topics, speak clearly and exemplify the benefits of Europe;

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Rogier Van Der Sande

Rogier Van Der Sande, in his capacity as the CoR rapporteur on Innovating for sustainable growth: A bioeconomy for Europe, chaired the seventh session of the conference «New skills for a European Bioeconomy». The conference, hosted by the European Commission in Brussels on 20-21 November 2012, was geared towards mobilising not only the bioeconomy stakeholders but also those active in education and training to discuss the role of skills development in driving and facilitating the transition towards a bioeconomy and seizing the employment opportunities that this transition entails.

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DECEMBER 2012

The conference aimed to outline the new skills needed, the pathways for their acquisition, as well as how new skills, know-how, competences and capacities could be optimally put to work to drive change and develop new models for the future of the bioeconomy sectors.

Alin Nica (RO/ALDE) presents preliminary findings of the Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform survey

indicates a necessity to make the following changes to the Youth on the Move initiative: • Provide life-long learning for teachers • Give more attention to non-formal learning and education and the communication of it • Deepening cooperation between institutions at EU, national and local levels.

The Committee of the Regions’ Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform has carried out a survey among EU local and regional authorities on the Flagship Initiative “Youth on the Move”. The outcome of this survey will be discussed in a CoR Conference on 13 December 2012, the first of a series contributing to a mid-term assessment of the strategy. Ahead of this conference, Alin Nica (RO, ALDE) in his capacity as ALDE Coordinator of the Europe2020 platform presented the preliminary findings of this survey at the EDUC commission meeting on 22 November.

Alin Nica

During his presentation Mr Nica pointed out that a preliminary summary of the survey results shows that the local and regional authorities are very committed to fight against youth educational failure and unemployment. However, Mr Nica also emphasised that the survey

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LeaDeRs

The newsletter of Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians

DECEMBER 2012

Upcoming ALDE activities

On 18 December the ceremony of the LeaDeR Awards (Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians Awards) will be taking place in the Jacques Delors Building of the Committee of the Regions. ALDE Party President Sir Graham Watson will be handing out the awards together with the ALDECoR President Bas Verkerk.

After having brought together ALDE members with liberal councillors from Brussels communes in January last year, the success of the initiative has led to a second meeting being held on 8 February 2013. This year’s meeting will be held between ALDE members and liberal councillors in Brussels districts who have an energy portfolio. Topics that will be discussed include, but are not limited to: how best to implement the energy transition and its potential to create jobs and economic growth at a local level, what could be the political and economic implications of the energy transition and how to encourage citizens to apply energy efficiency measures?

On 21 June 2013 the External Group Meeting of the ALDE-CoR group will be held in Dresden, Germany at the invitation of ALDE members Dr Jürgen Martens and Roland Werner, as decided by the Group at its November meeting.

Ongoing and upcoming ALDE opinions

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Opinion on Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socioeconomic outcomes by Fiona O’LOUGHLIN (IE) Adoption at CoR plenary in April 2013

Opinion on the Statute and funding of European Political Parties and Political Foundations by István SÉRTŐ -RADICS (HU) Adoption at CoR plenary in February 2013

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ALDE-CoR December 2012 newsletter