ECR News - 8th edition

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ECR News Committee of the Regions | 8th edition

CONTENTS SHARING OF BEST PRACTICES AND LESSONS LEARNT Why we need a Carpathian macro-regional strategy 2 Mr Jonkman participates in Asia-Europe dialogue on strengthening governance and capacity building of local authorities


Mr Godek shares local government best practices with Ukrainian counterparts


Ms Daiva Matonienė leads energy efficiency agreement between Lithuania and Ukraine

Gordon Keymer, ECR Group President (on the left) with members of the Conference of Presidents and Jean-Claude Juncker, Commission President (fourth from the right)


Since the start of this year, we have seen a wave of electoral successes for our political family. I would like to take this opportunity not only to congratulate members of our political family for their success but would like to thank our local politicians throughout the EU Member States for their continued hard work in providing grass root support.

CURRENT EU CHALLENGES ECR Group calls on the Commission to make bolder reforms for better regulation


Innovation in rural areas is key to inclusive growth 5 Why we need to give cross-border regions a stronger voice in the EU


Why a combination of free and fair trade measures is most desirable


Recent tragedies in the Mediterranean - what can local and regional authorities do to prevent them from happening again?


NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS & POLITICAL FAMILY ECR political family joins forces to launch a subsidiarity watchdog procedure


Ms Wallace discusses the future of North East England


The race for Mayor of London


Electoral successes of the ECR Group’s political family


Mr Zająkała chairs conference on “cultural heritage and sustainable tourism as key contributors to local and regional development”


The Committee of the Regions opens its doors to the public



ECR Group Secretariat Committee of the Regions

The wave of electoral successes stands as the latest proof of how we are the fastest growing political force in the EU. We not only had our Lithuanian local politicians elected in the March Municipal elections and our Councillors from the UK re-elected on May 2015, but we also saw a wave of national successes. We saw a Conservative victory in the May UK national elections with a Conservative majority government successfully formed as well as Law and Justice Party victory in the May Polish Presidential elections with the former ECR MEP Mr Andrzej Duda being successfully elected into office. We also saw the Finns Party winning the second highest number of seats in the Finnish national Parliament in April, leading to them being a coalition party. Furthermore, in the June elections, the Danish People’s Party gained 15 extra seats in the Danish National Parliament making them the second-largest party. Our message of putting individual liberties above a perpetual centralisation of powers is a strong one that is resonating with our citizens whom we serve. The European Commission has spelled out its intention to ensure quality of legislation and prioritise necessity in its actions. While this is a step in the right direction, we are still not seeing European localism. Local and regional authorities are the level of government closest to the citizens and are the eyes and ears of any system. If we want to achieve EU legislation that is not cumbersome, burdensome or unnecessary, then we have to give local and regional politicians a voice in the inter-institutional approach to better regulation. We must move away from European elitism towards greater localism. Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE President of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group Committee of the Regions, European Union

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SHARING OF BEST PRACTICES AND LESSONS LEARNT Why we need a Carpathian macro-regional strategy - By Mr Władysław Ortyl (Marshal of Podkarpackie Region, Poland) Mr Władysław Ortyl (Marshal of the Podkarpackie Region in Poland) called for the creation of an EU macroregional strategy for the Carpathian Region. Such strategies, launched by the Council, are an important tool to help address common regional challenges faced by EU Member States and third countries. The Carpathian region faces many common challenges, which undermine the region’s economic, social and territorial cohesion. An EU strategy targeting these regions is the appropriate way to help strengthen cooperation and find ways to increase the impact of EU policies and financial instruments. the strengthening of its economic, social and territorial cohesion”.

Władysław Ortyl

A macro-regional strategy is a key EU instrument to bridging the divide between our poorest and our richest regions. It has the potential to make significant contributions to helping the EU achieve greater territorial cohesion. In Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, we state that in order to promote overall “harmonious development, the Union shall develop and pursue its actions leading to

Almost a third of the EU budget is put into the EUs Cohesion Policy for the years 2014 till 2020 in order to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and improve citizens’ quality of life. Yet, disparities within the regional economies in the EU persist. One in four EU residents live in regions with a GDP per head, in purchasing powers of the Euro, below 75% of the EU average. There is also a particularly large gap between most of the EU15 Member States and the EU Member States located in the Carpathian region that entered the EU in 2004 and 2007 waves of EU enlargement. Macro-regional strategies help target and resolve issues in a relatively small group of countries and regions and therefore contribute to achieving greater overall cohesion. So far the EU has launched three strategies: the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, and the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region. Also, an EU Strategy for the Alpine Region is in the process of being prepared. The Carpathian region, a mountainous area covering 190 000 square kilometres, continues to face economic, social and territorial challenges. It is one of the least developed parts of Europe, especially in terms of infrastructure and environmental problems. It covers a territory spanning across five EU Member States (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) and two non-EU countries (Serbia and Ukraine). The establishment


of a solid cooperation framework is a key objective for some of the already existing regional initiatives such as the Carpathian Convention and the Carpathian Euroregion. Efforts to promote greater cooperation and cohesion have already been made through joint projects of local and regional authorities, non-governmental organisations, businesses and academia. These ongoing projects, as well as the enduring common challenges faced in the region, are clear indications of the need and demand for greater EU attention to be paid to the Carpathian. At the EU level, Members of the European Parliament have also underlined the need for a Carpathian macro-regional strategy. Tomasz Poręba MEP (ECR/PL) organised two conferences in the European Parliament, attended by representatives of the European Commission, Committee of the Regions and Presidency of the Council of the EU, addressing this important subject. Among the conclusions of the events was the clear need for a separate strategy for the Carpathian. I believe that the Committee of the Regions, as the political assembly of local and regional authorities, should play a role in the elaboration of such strategies. As a member of the Committee of the Regions, I look forward to discussing macro-regional strategies with my fellow local and regional politicians. The position of the Carpathian region demands more recognition within the European Union institutional set-up and this is something we must strive towards achieving.

Mr Jonkman participates in Asia-Europe dialogue on strengthening governance and capacity building of local authorities PLATFORMA, the network of local and regional governments and their associations active in the field of development cooperation between Europe and partner countries, organised an important regional seminar for dialogue and capacity-building of local and regional authorities in Asia-Pacific in the fields of development and local governance. The seminar took place on 29 and 30 April 2015 in Makati City, in the Philippines. It was organised with the support of the European Commission and with the contribution of the UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments), ASPAC (Asia Pacific Network of Science and Technology Centres), CLGF (Commonwealth Local Government Forum) and VNG International (the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities). It aimed to reinforce the capacities of local and regional governments (LRGs) in the Asia-Pacific region and to support their development process. On behalf of PLATFORMA, Mr Rob Jonkman (ECR Group spokesperson on economic policy, Deputy Mayor of Opsterland in The Netherlands, Member of VNG’s Committee on European and International Affairs) addressed the participants during the opening session. More than 60 representatives of local and regional governments, associations of local authorities, European Union representatives and civil society representatives from over 15 countries in Asia-Pacific gathered to discuss how to support development, decentralisation and local government in the Asia-Pacific region. It was also a great opportunity to deepen the understanding of the support mechanisms and instruments available to LRGs, and to share ideas on how to reinforce decentralized cooperation between local and regional actors

from EU Member States and partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Participants of the seminar expressed their ideas on the content of the Communication “Empowering Local Authorities in partner countries for enhanced governance and more effective development outcomes” published by the European Commission in May 2013. The outcome of the event materialised in the form of recommendations on how to further empower local governments in the AsiaPacific region. Moreover, the role that local and regional governments play was acknowledged once again in the context of the European Year for Development. This seminar was the last of a series of events organised by PLATFORMA to foster a bilateral dialogue allowing elected

representatives from local and regional governments to provide the Commission with feedback regarding the EU development policy.

Rob Jonkman

Mr Godek shares local government best practices with Ukrainian counterparts Training in administrative reform and operation of local authorities in Poland took place in Lviv (Ukraine) on 22 April 2015. It was organised by the Marshal’s Office of the Podkarpackie Region Mr Władysław Ortyl (who is also an ECR Member) in cooperation with the Podkarpackie Association of Local Authorities and the Lviv Oblast Council. Roughly 500 representatives from the Ukrainian administration and authorities of all levels from the Lviv Oblast and neighbouring oblasts as well as Ukrainian national authorities took part in the meeting which goal was to present experiences in developing the system of local authorities in Poland. The Polish government was represented by the Consul-General of Poland in Lviv, Dr Jarosław Drozd. Speakers included representatives of various types of local administrative units from the Podkarpackie Region, including Robert Godek, Mayor of Strzyżów.

Robert Godek

Mr Robert Godek (Mayor of Strzyżów/VicePresident of the Council of the Union of Polish Counties), explained why political contact at the local and regional level was so important. “There is great demand from Ukrainian citizens for the development of democratic structures. The high turnout of representatives of Ukrainian local and regional administration at this training session shows that Ukrainian society is determined to implement internal reforms, despite the tense situation in the East of the country. Polish experience in developing local

authorities could be a great example for efforts undertaken in Ukraine to create government and democratic structures at the local and regional levels as well”, he said. During the training session, issues relating to the operation of Polish municipal, district and regional government and issues concerning administrative re-

form in Poland were discussed. Several speakers shared their knowledge and experience in this area with participants. Representatives of Ukrainian local administration put many different questions to the speakers, bringing up such topics as how to balance differences between poorer and wealthier regions, the possibility for local authorities to cre-

ate development independently and the problems surrounding the territorial division of the state. Guests from Poland attempted to give detailed answers to these questions, drawing on their experience of developing local governance in Poland. Representatives from Podkarpackie local authorities presented the system of local gov-

ernment in Poland and the benefits of the actions of local authorities at various levels for local communities. Mayor Godek gave examples such as district authority investments in Strzyżów. At the end of the meeting the representatives of Ukrainian administration adopted a resolution addressed to the Ukrainian authorities concerning issues such as making use of Polish experiences in reforming the state.

Ms Daiva Matonienė leads energy efficiency agreement between Lithuania and Ukraine Ms Daiva Matonienė (ECR Bureau Member and spokesperson on environment/ Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Environment/ Member of the Šiauliai City Council) has played a crucial role in the successful use of the Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment In City Areas (JESSICA) initiative in her country in the context of energy efficiency. Since 2009, the Lithuanian government has been implementing the JESSICA initiative of the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank, aimed at promoting and financing energy efficiency projects in residential multi-apartment houses. The initially disappointing results were transformed into a great success resulting in many renovations in Lithuania. Moreover, Ms Matonienė’s successful involvement has recently led to signing of a cooperation agreement on energy efficiency between Lithuania and Ukraine. which renovations are carried out by municipalities and their appointed administrators – were introduced. Thanks to these adjustments, the speed and number of the renovations surged tremendously and is currently at its peak with over 3600 investment plans prepared, 1300 contracts for renovation signed and 250 fully completed buildings. Daiva Matonienė (on the left) with Mikheil Saakashvili (on the right)

In 2012, following the lead of Ms Matonienė, changes to the renovation scheme – under

Following this success, Ms Matoniené took part in the Lithuanian delegation who met the highest-ranking officials from the Ukrainian government and from the Odessa Oblast on 1-2 June in Odessa.

Ms Matoniené highlights that “the mission was a great success and offered an opportunity to share best practices in terms of energy efficiency in buildings in Lithuania”. It resulted in signing a cooperation agreement, which will facilitate replicating the Lithuanian experience in Ukraine. JESSICA is a policy initiative which supports integrated and sustainable urban-renewal projects, where a range of sophisticated financial tools are used including equity investments, loans and guarantees, offering new opportunities for the use of EU Structural Funds.

CURRENT EU CHALLENGES ECR Group calls on the Commission to make bolder reforms for better regulation ECR Group President Councillor Gordon Keymer CBE (Leader of Tandridge District Council) called on the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker during the 112th Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions to deliver bolder reforms. While welcoming the Commission’s “Better Regulation Package” that was recently announced, Gordon Keymer noted that “greater European localism” is needed. “We of course very much welcome that the Commission has explicitly referred to territorial impact assessments in the better regulation toolbox and has noted that the CoR will be part of the Regulatory Fitness and


Performance Programme (REFIT) platform. However, we regret that the Commission is putting the CoR into the same camp as trade unions and businesses”, said President Keymer.

The European Commission has proposed that two permanent and inclusive REFIT platforms are created – one composed of representatives of Member States and another composed of stakeholders. The Commission proposes that the CoR should be represented in the latter platform, have only 1 representative in a platform of 20 members composed of 18 representatives from outside the formal EU structure like civil society representatives, businesses and trade unions. President Keymer underlined that the Better Regulation Package does not do justice to the CoR’s role in the EU’s formal decisionmaking process, despite the CoR being an advisory EU institution formally consulted under the ordinary legislative procedure with a specialised task on subsidiarity monitoring. “President – do you think it is appro-

priate that despite being part of the formal EU mechanism, we are put in the same camp as stakeholders and social partners? Local and regional authorities implement approximately 70 per cent of EU legislation. Some of our regions represented in the CoR also have legislative powers. Furthermore, the Committee of the Regions has a specialised task on subsidiarity monitoring given to it under the EU Treaties”, stated Cllr Keymer. Localism is one of the founding principles of the ECR Group, defined as “the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level - by the individual where possible and by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies” as well as ensuring that “EU decisions do not exceed the level of intervention necessary.” The ECR Group in the CoR believes that the CoR should be given

the inter-institutional powers to amend and delay EU legislation that is not in line with the principle of subsidiarity.

ECR Group President Gordon Keymer

Innovation in rural areas is key to inclusive growth Mr Jerzy Zająkała (ECR Group Vice-President/Mayor of Łubianka, Poland) chaired a panel discussion on smart rural areas in European regional policy in Gaia, Portugal on June 18. The discussion gathered representatives from the OECD, the European Parliament and the University of Porto. It was an important part of the seminar on innovation and modernisation of rural economy which was organised by the Committee of the Region’s Commission on Natural Resources. Mr Zająkała was the CoR rapporteur on the sustainability of rural areas.

ECR Vice-President Jerzy Zająkała (third from the left) chairing a seminar in Portugal on smart rural areas

During the seminar on smart rural areas, in his opening remarks, Mr Zająkała said that the economic crisis in Europe not only hampered growth but also led to less cohesive development than in the past. Regions whose

economy was dependent on one sector or few businesses suffered most – argued ECR Group’s Vice-President. He also highlighted the positive examples in countries such as Finland, Norway and Germany where some regions

are innovative and able to trade globally. Mr Zająkała underlined that to follow these examples European regions will need to focus on various aspects of rural development, not exclusively on agriculture. He also explained that public authorities should ensure that financing for the rural areas is simplified. The EU approach to increasing the use of digital and telecommunication technologies is often focused of urban areas. However, as

illustrated in the Committee of the Regions’ position paper prepared under the leadership of Mr Zająkała, rural areas have an important accumulative role. Over 23% of the EU’s population lives in rural areas, with a further 35% living in intermediate regions. This figure is even higher in 17 of the 27 EU Member States. For instance - Ireland (73%), Slovakia (50%), Estonia (48%), Romania (46%), Finland, Greece, Lithuania and Denmark (43%).

“If we want to achieve smart growth, then we have to get rural areas onboard. Rural areas have a huge potential in terms of their human resources (cultural and social factors), natural environment and raw materials and other economic resources. If we can make our rural areas smarter, then we will have made a huge step towards bridging urban-rural divide in economic and social terms”, explained Mr Zająkała.

Why we need to give cross-border regions a stronger voice in the EU - By Pavel Branda (ECR Group Spokesperson on Territorial Cohesion Policy/Deputy Mayor of Rádlo, Czech Republic) Cross-border regions are important for the EU. Approximately thirty-seven percent of citizens in the EU live in border areas. Coming from one of these areas myself on the Czech-German-Polish border, I know from experience that these regions still face certain common challenges. To address these, we need greater cooperation among local and regional politicians so as to share our experiences of the strengths and weaknesses of EU programmes and EU legislation. I believe that it is in the border regions where European integration is an everyday reality that affects the daily lives of citizens. of challenges resulting in EU policies and instruments that are not cross-border-region friendly. We saw this with the EU Solidarity Fund revised in 2014, where the initial proposal made by the European Commission in 2013 did not take into account the cross-border nature of disasters. Disasters know no borders. As the CoR rapporteur on this issue, I was able to secure provisions that would help address the cross-border needs of local communities but unfortunately not all crossborder needs were addressed in the final revised version of the EUSF. Pavel Branda

Supporting cross-border cooperation has a clear EU added-value. The EU has dedicated €6.6 billion to 60 programmes aimed at supporting European cross-border cooperation for the period of 2014 till 2020. Through local and regional dialogue, we need to look at these programmes with the aim of sharing experiences in their implementation and helping to shape and improve them. Currently, EU policies do not always sufficiently take into account the cross-border dimension


the upcoming CoR Territorial Cohesion Commission meeting taking place in my town of Liberec in the Czech Republic in September will look at some of these common challenges. As local and regional authorities, we must start working together to pool our expertise and combine it with that of the Association of European Border Regions and other stakeholders.

The 6th cohesion report also almost did not cover cohesion of cross-border areas. The 7th cohesion report, planned for 2017, presents a key opportunity for cross-border regions to ensure that their interests and needs are better addressed this time around. I believe it is time for EU local and regional politicians from border regions to jointly identify and address some of these common challenges they face. I very much welcome that

EU Cross-border Cooperation programmes, 2014-2020

Why a combination of free and fair trade measures is most desirable - By Mr Roger Evans AM (ECR Group Spokesperson on Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs/Deputy Mayor of London) Traditionally, fair trade has been approached as an alternative to free trade. In reality, fair trade follows free market principles and should therefore be seen as a specialty trading channel within the free market. Fair trade follows the free market principles of demand, supply and competitiveness and is simply a way of providing consumers with a choice. In London, we have seen that a combination of free and fair trade policies are often most desirable. It is free trade not fair trade that will pull people out of poverty. However, we should not restrict people’s options and allow them to have the choice to pay more for certificates that illustrate an ethical and sustainable approach. of marginalized people. This black and white picture remains outdated. Fair trade is an alternative speciality trading channel within the free market. It follows the free market principles of demand, supply and competitiveness. Therefore, it must not be understood as an alternative to free trade but rather as a choice offered to consumers within our free market systems. In London, we have seen that a combination of free and fair trade is often most desirable, both for affordability and for developing the economy of supply countries. Roger Evans

In the past, fair trade was approached as an alternative to free trade. While fair trade was seen as a way of empowering marginalised people and improving the quality of their lives and interfering with the free market, free trade was seen as a an overall economic growth approach that was not always to the benefit

The benefits of fair trade come at a price. It means higher prices for local citizens and can also be costly for the developing countries. The study conducted by Institute for Economic Affairs called “Fair Trade without the Froth” explains, while fair trade is unlikely to harm the free market by distorting it, its development benefits are limited. There is a levy on the wholesaler as well as a certification charge for producers, which starts at approximately €2,250 and is a huge sum for producers in the poorest countries. Furthermore, when we look at the

details of fair trade, we see that plantations and large family firms generally cannot be certified as fair trade products because for some commodities, such as coffee and cocoa, certification is available only to small-scale producer organisations (cooperatives of small producers). It is also worth noting that not all products produced as fair trade can be sold as such. As shown in various studies, when the benefits of fair trade increase, it becomes harder to sell products like coffee as fair trade. Our international development policies must be based on promoting economic growth, wealth creation and free trade exchanges in global markets. Free trade is key to economic growth, fair trade has its role to play within the remits of the free market principles. Having participated in the Committee of the Regions’ plenary debate on this subject on behalf of my political group, I remain convinced that greater efforts are needed to align the EU discourse more closely with the experiences of local governments. Let us fully align our language and policies to indicate that fair trade and free trade are not in opposition to each other but that they can complement each other.

Recent tragedies in the Mediterranean - what can local and regional authorities do to prevent them from happening again? The ECR Group President and Vice-President expressed deep sorrow due to the recent tragic events in the Mediterranean Sea where those seeking to enter EU Member States have lost their lives. “These recent events are a tragedy. In order to prevent such tragedies in the future, we must tackle the heart of the problem. We need to promote peace and stability in our neighbourhood and we must work with countries of origin to prevent human trafficking, smuggling and criminal groups. As the Committee of the Regions, we have two platforms (CORLEAP and ARLEM), through which we engage in a dialogue with EU Member States’ Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods. We must use these to do our part in helping prevent these tragedies”, stated Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE (ECR Group President/UK).

However, most importantly, we must make full use of our local and regional platforms with countries of origin.”

Jerzy Zająkała

Mr Jerzy Zająkała (ECR Group Vice-President, Mayor of Łubianka/Poland) explained that “some of the local and regional authorities are struggling to cope with the surge in the number of people trying to enter the EU illegally through the Mediterranean Sea. They should share and voice their experiences.

In light of the recent developments in the regions neighbouring the Member States of the European Union, there has been a high increase in the number of individuals seeking to enter the EU with many losing their lives at sea. According to the 2014 risk analysis of the EUs Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the EU (FRONTEX), detections of illegal border crossing at the EU external borders increased sharply in 2013 compared to 2012, rising from 75,000 to over 107,000. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), so far in 2015, more than 35,000 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived by boat in southern Europe and some 1600 have died. In 2014, around 219,000 people crossed the Mediterranean, and 3,500 lives were lost. Member States responded in the Council with calls for increased emphasis on tackling

root causes of migration, including fostered cooperation with third countries and providing additional funds for EU operations, while the European Commission tabled a proposal to create a temporary resettlement scheme for migrants. The ECR Group advocates a “firm but fair” approach to migration. Jerzy Zająkała, speaking at the June Plenary Session, noted that “while trying to address the matter, the EU must respect the legal distinction between seeking asylum and refuge and economic migration. The two are completely different and therefore require different approaches and solutions. We need realism for sustainable migration.” “The ECR Group position in the CoR on issues relating to Justice and Home Affairs is clear”, stated ECR Group President Gordon Keymer (Leader of Tandridge District Council). “The CoR should not be commenting on issues such as visa regimes and security budgets, which are not a local or regional competence and therefore not areas in which we have expertise.”

LOCAL AND REGIONAL PLATFORM BETWEEN THE EU AND NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES The Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) bring together local and regional politicians from the EU and the EUs neighbouring countries to foster the dialogue between partners.

NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS & POLITICAL FAMILY ECR political family joins forces to launch a subsidiarity watchdog procedure The policy group of the ECR Group’s political family met on June 3 to discuss the European Commission’s recently announced Better Regulation Package and what it meant for local and regional authorities and the principle of subsidiarity. The package’s impact assessment guidelines and ‘toolbox’ explicitly refer to Territorial Impact Assessment as being part of the new approach. The Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group, chaired by former Committee of the Regions member Andrew Lewer MEP (ECR/UK), launched a subsidiarity watchdog

Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group meeting attended by MEPs and CoR members including Dan Hannan MEP and Amjad Bashir MEP.


“We must ensure that the day-to-day experience of local and regional mandate holders is taken into account by the administration in Brussels without making the consultation process a new piece of bureaucracy. For this reason, as ECR Group politicians in the EU, we are launching a local and regional watchdog procedure on EU legislation to ensure that the local impact of legislation is truly taken into account”, said Andrew Lewer MEP.

From left to right on the podium – Cllr Gordon Keymer, Andrew Lewer MEP and Roger Evans AM.

procedure calling on local and regional authorities to make full use of this new

assessment process and report any concerns they have with EU legislation.

Gordon Keymer, ECR Group President and Deputy-Chair of the policy group, said “as ECR local and regional elected politicians, we look forward to further contributing to the evaluation of EU legislations impact and will be following this new procedure closely.”

Ms Wallace discusses the future of North East England Councillor Judith Wallace (Conservative Group leader of North Tyneside Council) attended a working lunch on 11 May, as part of the North East in a Global Europe (NEIGE) programme. The working lunch, held at the Northern Counties Club in Newcastle upon Tyne, was sponsored by UK Trade and Investment and Europe Direct. “The meeting provided an excellent opportunity to widen knowledge of recent developments, successes, opportunities and challenges for North East England, both within a European context and in wider terms”, said Cllr Judith Wallace.

Judith Wallace

The event, hosted by Consul for France and Chairman of NEIGE, attracted a diverse public including the Consul for Sweden Josephine Chexal, the Consul for Germany Caroline Theobald, a local MEP, councillors

from Newcastle City Council and a representative of an Anglo-Russian trading consultancy. The timing was particularly useful, given the recent formation of a Conservative majority government in the UK, and thus the certainty of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Many of the participants agreed the campaign for this referendum has already begun. “Exchanging point of view with people from the public, private and university sector is an enriching experience, as it provides different perspectives on recent developments within society”, Cllr Judith Wallace concluded.

The race for Mayor of London On 5 May 2016, London is due to elect its next Mayor. The current Mayor, ­Boris Johnson, was elected as an MP in the 2015 UK general elections and has announced that he will not be running for a third time. “The race for Mayor of London is important. London, as the capital city, generates approximately 22 per cent of the UK’s GDP and has a population of 8.6 million that is expected to reach 11 million by 2050. I believe that the interest of the city will be best served by a Conservative Mayor who will continue the excellent work of the

current Mayor Boris Johnson,” commented Mr Roger Evans (Deputy Mayor of London and Subsidiarity Coordinator of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions). The main powers of the Mayor of London include promoting economic development, wealth creation, improving the environment and setting out strategic decisions of the

Greater London Authority. Also, in certain cases, the Mayor may act as the planning authority for London with the power to approve or reject planning applications for large developments. The President of the ECR Group in the European Parliament, Syed Kamall MEP for London, has put his candidacy forward.

London Tower Bridge. Source:

Electoral successes of the ECR Group’s political family

ECR member Joseph Cooney (third from right) campaigning with Andrew Stephenson MP (fourth from left)

The ECR Group’s political family has seen a wave of electoral successes in recent elections that have taken place. Among those successfully elected are Members of the ECR Group in the CoR: from Lithuania Daiva Matonienė (Member of Šiauliai City Municipal Council), Jonas Jarutis (Member of Kupiškis District Municipal), Zinaida Tresnickaja (Member of Visaginas Municipal Council) and Vytautas Kanevičius (Mayor of Kazlų Rūda); from the United Kingdom Joseph Cooney (Leader of Pendle Council), Dee Sharpe (Member of East Riding of Yorkshire Council), Harvey Siggs (Member of Mendip Council) and Judith Wallace (Member of North Tyneside Council). Municipal elections were held in Lithuania on March 1, together with first direct mayoral elections in the history of the Baltic country. All four Lithuanian ECR members in the Committee of the Regions were successfully elected. Among them was Mr Vytautas Kanevičius, who won the


mayoral election in Kazlų Rūda. Prior to being elected Mayor, Mr Kanevičius was the municipal leader. On 19 April national elections took place in Finland. The Finns Party, affiliated to the ECR, became the second biggest party in Finland.

This resulted in the first Finnish government including the Finns Party, in a coalition with the Centre Party and conservative NCP. Less than a month later, on 7 May, general and local elections were held in the United Kingdom. The Conservative Party obtained an absolute majority during the general elections. The Conservatives were considered the clear winners of the local elections as well, including

British ECR members of the Committee of the Regions who achieved very positive results. Soon after that, on 10 May, presidential elections took place in Poland. Whereas most polls suggested that Bronisław Komorowski would secure re-election, the Law and Justice candidate Andrzej Duda won the first round of elections. In the second round, Mr Duda obtained 51.55% of the votes and was successfully elect-

ed the next President of the Republic of Poland. Yet the ECR’s successes have not stopped there. The Danish People’s Party, also part of the ECR Group, significantly increased its voting share during the Danish national elections held on 18 June. The party has now become the leading formation in the centre-right alliance.

Mr Zająkała chairs conference on “cultural heritage and sustainable tourism as key contributors to local and regional development” ECR Group Vice-President Mr Jerzy Zająkała chaired a conference on cultural heritage and sustainable tourism as key contributors to local and regional development in Santander, Spain on 29 – 30 April. The conference was organised by the CoR’s Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC). The event served as a follow-up to the adoption of the CoR recommendations on the Commission’s communication which paves the way for “an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe”. It gathered policymakers from different tiers of government, representatives of the European Commission, cultural heritage organisations and academia.

Jerzy Zająkała

SEDEC members called for further efforts to fully exploit the potential of cultural heritage and sustainable tourism as strategic instruments in terms of local and regional development. Arguing that the role of cultural heritage is still underestimated in Europe, EU local and regional politicians expressed their support for the “European Year of Cultural Heritage”. They also asked for making full use of European funding

earmarked for cultural heritage and for finding new ways of financing its promotion. Cultural heritage - encompassing resources inherited from the past in all forms (natural, built and archaeological sites, monuments, historic cities, artworks, museums etc.) - is of major economic importance for the tourism industry in Europe. It brings annually approximately EUR 335 billion in revenue and many of the 9 million jobs in the tourism sector are directly or indirectly connected to it. In the Cantabria region alone, the sector generated 524 EUR million in 2014, whilst providing 22,000 jobs.

The Committee of the Regions opens its doors to the public The Committee of the Regions opened its doors to the public on 9 May, along with the other EU institutions, as part of the Open Doors Day. The ECR Group participated in the event with a stand and presented the youngest political Group of the Committee of the Regions to the public. All visitors had the possibility to pick up a leaflet presenting the ECR Group and its views and to pick up the Group’s newsletters as well as to fill out a short quiz about the Group.

ECR Group members after a Group meeting (from left to right) – Pavel Branda, Paweł Grzybowski, Adam Banaszak, Jerzy Zająkała, Roger Evans, Gordon Keymer, Dee Sharpe, Ilpo Haalisto, Robert Godek, Harvey Siggs, Judith Wallace, Rob Jonkman




















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