LeaDeRs The newsletter of Liberal and Democrat Regional and Local Politicians
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Alliance des Démocrates et des Libéraux pour l'Europe
IN THIS ISSUE Economic government, SMEs, illegal waste, and investment funds: ALDE’s focus at the January 2014 plenary session of the Committee of the Regions Commissioner Lewandowski and MEP Michael Theurer discuss EU budget with the CoR budget commission “In a knowledge-driven economy cities and towns are the engines for growth and jobs in the European Union” – Bas Verkerk
Economic government, SMEs, illegal waste, and investment funds: ALDE’s focus at the January 2014 plenary session of the Committee of the Regions 1-2
Commissioner Hahn discusses EU regional policy with Bas Verkerk
Romeo Stavarache (RO) speaker at European Commission RURBAN seminar
Simone Beissel (LU) represents the CoR at the Union for the Mediterranean in Amman, Jordan 3 “Europe will have to move faster to remain competitive in the bioeconomy” – Rogier van der Sande Upcoming ALDE activities: ALDE-CoR External Group meeting in Ptuj, Slovenia; Open Doors Day; Joint ALDE-CoR and ELF seminar in Hungary on Roma Integration; ALDE seminar on Regional Energy Plans in the Netherlands Ongoing ALDE opinions: Towards an integrated Urban Agenda for the EU; The possibilities and instruments available to local authorities to support the accession process; EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR); Report on Agriculture Genetic Resources from conservation to sustainable use
During the Committee of the Regions’ 105th plenary session on 30-31 January, CoR President Valcárcel, was joined by the European Commission’s President, José Manuel Durão Barroso, and EC Vice-President in charge of Economic and Monetary Aﬀairs, Olli Rehn, to debate the main political and economic challenges in 2014. The debate with CoR members focussed on the state of play and future of the EU’s Strategy for growth and jobs, economic governance, and the ﬁscal consolidation eﬀorts they would like to see Member States and local governments pursue in 2014 and beyond. In response to President Barroso, ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk (NL) pointed out that the ALDE Group believe that to solve the European Union’s economic and budgetary matters, structural solutions such as a European economic government, a European monetary fund and even a resolution fund for the banking union are needed. The Greek Minister for Internal Aﬀairs, Yannis Michelakis, also addressed the plenary to present the main priorities of the EU Presidency. Responding to him was ALDE-CoR Vice President Agnès Durdu (LU), who in her intervention welcomed the objective of the Greek Presidency to explore all possible ways and means to increase the share of funds for the real economy and in particular small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). After all, SMEs are the economic heart of our countries! During the plenary session local and regional politicians from across Europe unanimously called for the EU to introduce far tighter rules on the shipment of waste. The Committee of the Regions adopted a report that plans to amend the existing EU waste shipments regulation. The rapporteur Cllr Paula Baker (UK/ALDE) argues that changes to the current EU regulation must set far more stringent shipping inspections, introduce consistent controls across all EU member states, and increase the power of public authorities.
Cllr Paula Baker (UK/ALDE
Cllr Baker from Basingstoke and Deane Council welcomed the Commission proposals pointing out that the illegal shipment was having dire environmental and social consequences for recipient countries whilst also stiﬂing EU recycling eﬀorts: “When you see what the impact the shipping of illegal waste can have on communities and countries, you can only feel outraged. We simply must do all we can to put a stop to it. Taking concrete steps to renew and reinforce already existing EU regulation is a positive step forward”.
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The Committee argues the current Regulation is outdated and inadequate oﬀering no explanation on how inspections should be carried out. As the shipment of waste is an international activity, without proper enforcement and standardised measurements across the EU it is diﬃcult to ensure consistency with some member states lagging behind. The Committee backs the Commission proposition to introduce an EU-wide deﬁnition of obligatory content and would like to see measurable targets set across the Union to ensure that authorities can review the impact of its inspection plans. The opinion on European Long term investment funds by Simone Beissel (LU/ALDE), municipal Councillor of the City of Luxembourg, welcomes the proposed regulation of the Commission as a positive step towards the funding of the future economy and as an interesting
Commissioner Lewandowski and MEP Michael Theurer discuss EU budget with the CoR budget commission
prospect for the EU2020 targets. The Rapporteur recalls that the European Long-Term Investment Fund (ELTIF) should not be seen as a source of funding that could replace the transfer of national government funding to sub-national authorities. Also, the need for monitoring the implementation of regulation is Simone Beissel (LU/ALDE) highlighted due to its potential to have a major impact on investments patterns. Moreover, she points out that the diﬀering tax-regimes in Members States could be an obstacle to pooling capital into ELTIFs.
exchange of best practices on all levels of governance so as to make the budget more results-oriented.
“In a knowledge-driven economy cities and towns are the engines for growth and jobs in the European Union” ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk (NL) speaker at high-level conference “Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe”
Implementing the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 was the focus of debate between members of the Committee of the Region’s (CoR) commission on the EU Budget (BUDG) and budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski. As stressed in several opinions, the CoR is concerned by the increasing “structural deﬁcit” of the EU and delays in the reimbursement of the investment operated by regions and cities on EU co-ﬁnanced projects. Chaired by ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk (NL), the commission witnessed Lewandowski reassuring that the EC is committed to paying the current 2013 payments backlog – estimated to be for more than €20bn – by next June. Replying to Agnès Durdu (LU/ALDE), CoR rapporteur on the 2015 annual budget, the Commissioner also predicted that: “We might have to go very close to the limit of the MFF ceiling and we don’t exclude using additional ﬂexibility if needed”. With regard to the timing of the procedure, the May elections could end up delaying the usual schedule but “all stakeholders will have the time to provide their contribution”. The main obstacles to implementing the EU budget were also addressed in a discussion with the chair of the European Parliament Committee for Budgetary Control (COCOBU), Michael Theurer (DE/ALDE), who in his intervention emphasised the need to have an
More than two thirds of EU citizens live in urban areas – but does policy making in the EU reﬂect the realities of today’s Europe? As calls grow for an EU Urban Agenda, the European Commission hosted a main conference and a series of side events to debate how Member States and EU institutions should work together to ensure that cities play their full role in European development – and that their needs are fully reﬂected in policy making. “CITIES - Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe” which took place on 17-18 February provided a forum to shape a debate that matters to all of us. Representing the CoR was ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk who in his intervention at the workshop “Urban strengths and challenges: what priorities for an EU urban agenda?” organised jointly by EUROCITIES and CEMR (Council of European Municipalities and Regions) said: “Innovation and new economic activities have their origins in the cities and therefore they are major assets for the EU in international competition with other continents. Europe should provide its cities
and towns policies, funds and legislation to help them respond to societal challenges.” In his capacity as the rapporteur for the CoR opinion “Towards an integrated urban agenda for the EU” he also pointed out that an EU urban agenda would recognise the importance of cities and towns in achieving European policy objectives.
Commissioner Hahn discusses EU urban policy with Bas Verkerk ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk, CoR rapporteur for the CoR opinion “Towards an integrated urban agenda for the EU” met with Commissioner Hahn on 13 February in preparation for the Urban Forum (CiTIEs: Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe) on 17 and 18 February. They discussed challenges and opportunities for urban areas in Europe as well as the EU response in the ﬁeld.
Romeo Stavarache (RO) speaker at European Commission RURBAN seminar
Sustainable urban-rural partnerships can be an important tool for territorial cohesion by ensuring better connectivity between rural and urban local economies and communities. They can help to further economic development, reduce urban sprawl and land take, make service provisions more eﬃcient over larger territories and reverse negative demographic trends in rural areas.
In a seminar organised jointly by EP Urban Intergroup and the European Commission on 28 January, the results of the “RURBAN” preparatory action were presented by the Commission representatives. The aim of this seminar was to discuss the way beneﬁts of ruralurban partnerships can be fully taken into account in the 2014-2020 programming period of the European Structural and Investment funds. The involvement of regional and local stakeholders in RURBAN and the role of cohesion policy in stimulating rural-urban partnerships are of vital importance. At the seminar the CoR was represented by Romeo Stavarache (RO/ALDE) in his capacity as the rapporteur for the CoR
own-initiative opinion on Urban-rural partnership and governance which was adopted at CoR plenary 8-9 October 2013. In his statement Mr Stavarache (Mayor of Bacău Municipality) pointed out that urban-rural partnerships make proper and reasonable use of the potential for territorial development and link up partners to promote local development spanning the entire area. Both urban and rural partners must be aware of the long-term beneﬁts of the partnership or the partnership will not last. Functional regions and cross-border urban-rural partnerships are in a category of their own. Mr Stavarache supports the view that the crossborder approach should be used as a point of reference for drawing up multiannual development programmes in cross-border functional regions
Simone Beissel (LU) represents the CoR at the Union for the Mediterranean in Amman, Jordan – “a constructive dialogue is essential in order to preserve the delicate balance between the neighbouring countries of the Mediterranean Sea” The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean held its 10th plenary session on 9 February on the topic of the Syrian refugees with the view of notifying the international community of the precariousness of their situation. Simone Beissel (LU/ALDE) attended the plenary session in her capacity as a municipal Councillor of the City of Luxembourg and as the representative of the Committee of the Regions. In the course of the session, the bureau adopted a resolution for a political solution of the situation in Syria, calling for the involved parties to reach a diplomatic agreement. At the end of the assembly, Mrs Beissel noted that “a constructive dialogue like this is essential in preserving the delicate balance between the neighbouring countries of the Mediterranean Sea.” The bureau also conducted a review of the rules of the Parliamentary Assembly, adoption the budget for 2014 and 2015, and presented the results of committee meetings. Speakers at the plenary session included among others Mr Atef Tarawneh (President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean), H.E. Dr Mohammad Al-Momani (Jordanian Minister of State for Media Aﬀairs and Communications), H.E. Mr François ReybetDegat (Deputy Director, Middle East and North Africa Bureau and Deputy Regional Refugee Coordinator, UNHCR).
“Europe will have to move faster to remain competitive in the bioeconomy” – Rogier van der Sande In its Communication “Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe”, the European Commission announced in 2012 the establishment of a European Union Bioeconomy Panel. The
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Bioeconomy Panel was set up with the aim to support interactions among diﬀerent policy areas, sectors and stakeholders in the bioeconomy. It consists of experts with experience from academia, national administrations and from stakeholder groups relevant to the bioeconomy. In order to review the implementation of the European Bioeconomy Strategy, the second plenary meeting of the Bioeconomy panel took place on 12-13 February. Rogier van der Sande (NL/ALDE), member of the Executive Council of the Province of Zuid-Holland, participated in the stakeholder meetings as a CoR representative.
The CoR shares the European Commission’s views that the bioeconomy is a key element for smart and green growth and that it and contributes to the objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy and the ﬂagship initiatives on the innovation union and a resource-eﬃcient Europe. In this regard, Rogier van der Sande, rapporteur for the CoR opinion on the same topic, has stressed that: “Europe will have to pick up the pace and move faster in order to remain competitive in the bioeconomy, as other countries around the world are putting similar strategies in place and actively stimulate market initiatives (e.g. China, the US).”
Upcoming ALDE activities
On 11 April 2014 the ALDE-CoR external group meeting will be held in Ptuj, Slovenia at the invitation of ALDE member Štefan Čelan (SI). ALDE-CoR will be promoting European Liberals at EU institutions’ Open Doors Day. On 17 May, on the occasion of Europe Day, the Committee of the Regions will open its doors to the public along with other EU institutions. The ALDE-CoR Group staﬀ and ALDE-CoR members will explain to the visitors what the EU does for its citizens. Come and visit us on the ground ﬂoor of Jacques Delors Building on 101 Rue Belliard.
The ALDE Group in the CoR will be co-hosting a seminar with European Liberal Forum (ELF) on Roma Integration in Hungary at the invitation of István Sértő-Radics (ALDE/HU), date to be confirmed
ALDE 2014 seminar on Regional Energy Plans will be held on the 15th of September in Northern Netherlands provinces of Drenthe and Groningen at the invitation of Mr Henk Brink (NL/ ALDE), Member of the Executive Council of the Province of Drenthe. Central themes of the seminar will be the role of regions and municipalities in:
Smart Cities & Regions (ICT & sensor technology, heat, gas, power networks, micro-generation) Gas in transition: Power-to-gas, LNG, Biogas Cross-border cooperation (innovative energy communities, f-shore wind, power-grid development and research)
Ongoing ALDE opinions
Own-initiative opinion Towards an integrated Urban Agenda for the EU by Bas Verkerk (NL) Adoption at CoR plenary 25-26 June 2014 Opinion on EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) by Gian Mario Spacca (IT) Adoption at CoR plenary 25-26 June 2014
Opinionon Agriculture Genetic Resources from conservation to sustainable use by Giuseppe Varacalli (IT) Adoption at CoR plenary 25-26 June 2014 Own-initiative opinion on The EU Budget 2015 by Agnès Durdu (LU) Adoption at CoR plenary 25-26 June 2014
JCC FYROM Opinion on The possibilities and instruments available to local authorities to support the accession process by co-rapporteur Jasna Gabrič (SI) Adoption foreseen end of 2014
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