ECR News - 3rd edition

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ECR News Committee of the Regions | APRIL 2014

Contents ECR Opinions Mobility in demographically and geographically challenged regions


Enhancing the sustainability of European cities Opinion on The 7th Environment Action Programme: sustainable cities 3 Opinion on a Quality Framework for anticipation of change and restructuring

Committee of the Regions ECR Group members with Malcolm Harbour MEP 4

Follow-up of opinions 4 MEMBERS’ ACTIVITIES Anticorruption and conflict of interest at local level


High level conference on Coastal and Maritime Tourism 5 Athens Summit


ECR Group in the EU AECR Conference and Council


Territorial Dialogue meeting with the Council and Commission 8

ECR Group Secretariat Committee of the Regions

This month marks the first anniversary of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions. In the year since our establishment in the Committee of the Regions, we have seen our Group grow and established ourselves as the Group of realism and dynamism. We have produced successful opinions that have informed the other EU institutions of the views of local and regional government in the EU. We must continue our work in the years to come. The EU needs us more than ever. With sustainable economic recovery yet to be achieved and growing insecurity in our neighbourhoods, we must continue working hard to deliver growth, jobs and stability. We must continue to work for a leaner and fitter EU. The EU also needs us in this year where the citizens will vote for a new European Parliament and we will see a new European Commission and European Council leadership appointed. It is important that we encourage our electors to vote for the candidates of the European Conservative and Reformist parties so as to ensure their MEPs can guide the EU towards a lower cost, less regulation approach that we are ourselves pursuing in the Committee of the Regions. Cllr. Gordon Keymer CBE President of the ECR Group in the CoR Leader of Tandridge District Council

Rue Belliard/Belliardstraat, 101 1040 Bruxelles/Brussel

Tel: +32 2 282 2257 Fax: +32 2 282 2287


More than one year ago, the Committee of the Regions used to miss a representation of conservative and reformist political thinking. I am more than happy to say that this is not the case anymore and we can celebrate the one year anniversary of the ECR Group in the CoR.

As former mayor of the city of Hradec Králové and a former Member of the Committee of the Regions and as an Executive President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions,


I would like to congratulate the ECR Group in the CoR on its success on key policy areas. Both our Groups have a tough job ahead of them. We are tasked with representing citizens and regions in an EU that is increas-

I am aware of the necessity to have quality representation of local and regional authorities at the EU level. I have, therefore, always supported the formation of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions. Based on the number of reports guided by ECR rapporteurs, it successfully holds its position and covers the EU policies. For example, the Czech representative Pavel Branda’s proposals to the EU Solidarity Fund tabled in the Committee of the Regions were also used in the European Parliament.

I am confident that under Gordon Keymer’s leadership, the principle of subsidiarity as well as sufficient representation of European municipalities and regions will be guaranteed. I am sure that following the elections, the ECR will remain a strong voice of European regions in the Committee of the Regions as well as in the European Parliament.

ingly out of touch with the reality on the ground. I am confident that through our joint efforts, we will continue to be a growing voice of reason in the EU. It is through Eurorealism, pursued by both our Groups,

that we can achieve a new direction for the EU.

Oldřich Vlasák, MEP Vice-President of the European Parliament

Martin Callanan MEP Chairman of the ECR Group in the European Parliament

ECR Opinions Mobility in demographically and geographically challenged regions

has been exacerbated by the difficult economic climate. Regions in islands, mountains at national borders, overseas or with low population density often face the challenge of mobility which in turn means that they are not economic power centres.

The CoR ECR Group President Cllr Keymer CBE is preparing an opinion on mobility in demographically and geographically challenged regions.

Addressing the challenge of mobility is a fundamental to sustainable economic growth.”

Cllr. Keymer noted that “transportation and access are key for sustainable economic growth. It is a fundamental challenge facing some of our regions and

Timetable: An exchange of views will take place at the COTER commission on 5th May, followed by a discussion and adoption of the draft opinion on 10-


Newsletter | April 2014

Mr Gordon Keymer CBE

11July. Formal adoption of the opinion is expected at the CoR Plenary on 6-8 October.

Opinion on The 7th Environment Action Programme: sustainable cities Mrs. Daiva Matonienė, Vice-President of the CoR ECR Group, Vice-Minister of Environment of Lithuania, member of Šiauliai City Council, is in the process of fi-

nalising her opinion on sustainable cities. In the past weeks, she met with stakeholders including representatives from the EU Commission and UN-Habitat. Mrs. Matonienė, draft opinion focuses on sustainable urban planning and design, the use of and access to funds while also noting that local and regional authorities must remain involved in these areas. It indicates the local and regional level as the most appropriate level of governance for the implementation of measures for sustainable urban cost-effective way. It also specifies its responsibility for spatial planning and development policy.

Furthermore, Mrs. Matoniene proposes that by 2050, guidelines are set for the sustainability of cities. Mrs. Matonienė noted that “we must be more ambitious and strive for truly sustainable cities. This is crucial for the environment, our health and the prosperity of our cities.” Timetable: Discussion and adoption will take place during commission meeting on 24 April and the adoption is expected at the 25-26 June Plenary Session.

Ms Daiva Matonienė with Mr Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment


Opinion on a Quality Framework for anticipation of change and restructuring Mr Pavel Branda is preparing an opinion in response to the European Commission’s Communication on Quality Framework for anticipation of change and restructuring. One of the main objectives of the Communication is to set out guidelines for anticipating company restructuring and minimising the negative impact of restructuring on workers. The Communication touches on issues related to training and employee skills, the use of EU structural funds, public employment services, public-private partnerships, as well as other fields in which local and regional authorities have recognised competences and expertise. As deputy-major of Rádlo, a municipality situated in the Czech Republic’s highly industrialised Liberec Region that was affected by high levels of unemployment during the recent economic crisis, Mr. Branda noted that “anticipating change is crucial for sustaining jobs.” “We must provide a better match between the skills of jobseekers and the demand of companies” noted

Mr Pavel Branda Mr Branda. “Unfortunately our traditional education systems focus very much on memorising facts and teaching set skills. This is out of sync with the requirement of a flexible and innovative work force.”

sion and adoption on September commission meeting, and the adoption is expected at the Plenary Session in December.”

Timetable: The exchange of views will take place on 16 May, further discus-

Follow-up of opinions EU Solidarity Fund Mr Pavel Branda, vice mayor of the municipality of Rádlo was the rapporteur for the Committee of the Regions Opinion


on the EU Solidarity Fund at a time when many regions across the EU member states were devastated by floods. This included regions in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and

Newsletter | April 2014

the UK. The opinion addressed the key reforms needed to increase the effectiveness of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF). Through the month of March, the Council, European Commission, and Euro-

pean Parliament were negotiating the final changes to the Solidarity Fund regulation. The results of the negotiations (the Trilogue) announced on 19 March revealed that key points from Mr. Branda’s opinion were successfully taken on-board. Mr Branda “welcomed the extension of the deadline for the use of the funds to 18 months.” He noted that “this constitutes more a realistic approach towards the needs of disaster-stricken regions. This is a clear improvement from the existing 12 month deadline.”

Furthermore, Mr. Branda noted that “following the proposal in my opinion and after our hard work as the CoR, technical assistance can now also be used for costs related to the preparation and implementation of eligible operations.” Technical assistance was not an eligible expenditure. “Although the beneficiaries were satisfied with the Fund, day-to-day use re-

vealed its weaknesses which, with the help of CoR´s rapporteur Mr Branda having hands-on experience in using the Solidarity Fund, we were able to tackle and agree in a trialogue a text which will better serve to needs of its users.” Oldřich Vlasák MEP Vice-President of the ­European Parliament

The Trialogue decision also featured the CoR proposal that the Fund should finance the improvement or even relocation of infrastructure. This step will enable local and regional authorities to relocate or improve the functionality of the affected infrastructure to improve its capacity to withstand future disasters.

Member’s activities Anticorruption and conflict of interest at local level Cllr. Gordon Keymer spoke on anticorruption and conflict of interest at local level at a Local Administration Facility seminar co-organisied by the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission’s Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) instrument. The seminar brought together elected representatives and senior administra-

tive staff from municipalities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from 19 to 21 March.

fraud and corruption both as a legal requirement and to help regain the trust of the people in all levels of democratic government.

Cllr Keymer spoke on the activities of the Committee of the Regions in the field of fighting against corruption and discussed practical examples of fraud and how they were dealt with. He underlined that local and regional authorities have a major role in fighting

High level conference on Coastal and Maritime Tourism Mr Adam Banaszak, CoR Rapporteur on Blue Growth, ECR Group Bureau mem-


ber and Vice President of the Assembly of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region in Poland, opened the afternoon session of a high-level conference organised by the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission organised on coastal and maritime tourism. During this event, which took place on 10-11 March 2014, Mr Banaszak outlined the importance of tourism and pointed out that last year more than 52% of all foreigners and almost 90% of citizens in the EU chose Europe as a destination for their holidays. He said that European authorities cannot afford to sit back and think that Europe will remain a traveller’s first choice. Mr Banaszak outlined the challenges of ensuring an ageing society continues travelling and of accessibility. “We must meet the needs of all kind of tourists” noted Mr Banaszak. He further outlined that coastal and maritime tourism needs an ambitious policy framework: “at the local and regional level, we are ready to take the leadership of the change and make sure that the strategy is interpreted and implemented in our regions, provinces and municipalities (…) It is by no means an easy process, but we need now, more than ever, to build a new model of sustainable and responsible tourism, capable of meeting current and future demands.”

Mr Adam Banaszak

level representatives from the EU institutions including Malcolm Harbour

MEP, Chairman of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee

Athens Summit Representatives of local and regional authorities, EU institutions, the Greek government and stakeholders gathered in Athens for the 6th Summit of Regions and Cities. Held on 7-8 March, the Summit brought together, high-


Newsletter | April 2014

Malcolm Harbour MEP at the Athens Summit

and the ECR Group in the European Parliament. Dan Jiránek, ECR Vice-President and Member of the Budget Commission, noted that “the Summit underlined the urgent need to increase our competitiveness so that we can deliver the much jobs and growth. We need economic fitness and regulatory fitness and this is best achieved through local and regional authorities’ involvement.” The Summit, organised by the Committee of the Regions and the Region of Attica, addressed the local solutions to recovery. Taking place over two days, it saw the adoption of the “Athens Declaration” by the Committee of the Regions Bureau. The Declaration contains seven recommendations for an improved EU growth strategy (Europe 2020).

Athens Declaration – 7 recommendations for recovery 1 Give the strategy a territorial dimension: 2 National Reform Programmes in partnership: 3 Making multi-level governance the standard approach: 4 Aligning the European Semester with genuine long-term investment 5 Using the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiatives for enhanced policy coordination 6 Mobilising funding for long-term investment, ensuring better spending 7 Strengthening administrative capacity for more effective implementation. Malcom Harbour MEP, As the Chairman of a Committee heavily involved in Europe 2020, spoke at the workshop on getting delivery right and underlined

the important role of local and regional authorities. He underlined the importance of identifying the “missing links” for the delivery of growth, jobs and recovery and working on them with local and regional authorities. “A key example of where we can work together is the recently introduced instrument on innovation partnership procurement.” The concluding Summit panel included speeches from the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD and Dimitris Avramopoulos, Greek Minister for National Defence.

Mr Dan Jiránek (left) and Mrs Daiva Matonienė (right)


ECR Group in the EU AECR Conference and Council European Conservatives and Reformists and friends gathered in Brussels at the margins of the EU Summit on 21 March for the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) Conference and Council meeting. During the Council meeting, Council members unanimously adopted the Reykjavik Declaration underlining the AECR’s commitment to individual liberty, national sovereignty, parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, private property, low taxes, sound money, free trade, open competition, and the devolution of power.

Territorial Dialogue with Council and Commission – ECR President stresses greater localism is needed for a successful growth strategy On 14 March, ECR Group President Gordon Keymer represented the ECR Group in a territorial dialogue meeting with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner in charge of inter-institutional relations and administration. Taking place before the European Summit, the dialogue served as a forum for the mem-

bers of the Committee of the Regions’ Conference of Presidents to express the key issues they felt the Summit needed to address. Cllr. Keymer, underlined the need to focus on increasing the EUs regulatory fitness. Underlining that local and regional authorities are responsible for the implementation of approximately 70% of EU legislation, he noted that “as local authorities, we are in charge of implementing most EU legislation. We know what works and does not. For a growth strategy to deliver the intended results, local authorities must be fully involved in planning and carrying it out.” Cllr. Keymer also strongly welcomed the response by Mr. Šefčovič, proposing joint Commission-CoR collaboration in cutting red tape.

Territorial Dialogue with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič

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