Page 1

ECR News Committee of the Regions | 12th edition

CONTENTS PRESIDENT’S LETTER

EU calls for reform of regional policy at Italy conference

2

ECR Group held its localism conference in Lecce, Southern Italy, joining forces with Italian politicians Raffaele Fitto MEP and Mayor Paolo Perrone, in order to further develop a reform agenda for the EU’s regional policy.

ECR LEADERSHIP Rob Jonkman elected as President of the ECR Group Gordon Keymer nominated Patron of ECR Group Cllr Joe Cooney elected Vice President

2 3 3

ECR GROUP OPINIONS

ECR Lecce conference

Greater localism is needed in EU energy policy 4 Rob Jonkman appointed rapporteur on the European Semester 5 Adam Banaszak will lead CoR’s work on disaster risk reduction 5 Arnold Hatch to investigate barriers for young EU farmers6

Daiva Matonienė calls for development of heating and cooling sector in Europe

LOCALISM EU must make public procurement a part of its better regulation agenda 6 ECR calls for reform of regional policy at Italy conference8 ECR discusses future of Europe 2020 strategy 8

CURRENT CHALLENGES UK referendum: An important task ahead of us ECR hosts Brexit talk at UK Conservative Party Conference 2016

Local and regional leaders unanimously adopted an opinion on ‘an EU strategy for heating and cooling’ prepared under the leadership of ECR Group member Daiva Matonienė. The CoR opinion calls on the European Commission to review existing financial support mechanisms and to come up with more concrete policy recommendations on how to develop the heating and cooling sector in Europe.

EU must make public procurement a part of its better regulation agenda The ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions met in Groningen, Netherlands to discuss public procurement and better EU regulation. ECR Group members called for public procurement, a market estimated to be more than €2 trillion, to become part of the EU’s better regulation agenda and underlined that local and regional authorities need to be treated as key partners in the better regulation process.

10 10

MEMBERS ACTIVITIES Władysław Ortyl strengthens EU-Ukraine regional cooperation11 Adam Banaszak attends election observation mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina  11 EU Commissioner helps launch new economic project for Polish region 12 ECR Rapporteurs help conclude UN-CoR cooperation14 The benefits of cleaning up contaminated sites in Lithuania14

MEETINGS CALENDAR

Daiva Matonienė

ECR Group in Groningen

16

ECR Group Secretariat Committee of the Regions

Rue Belliard/Belliardstraat, 101 1040 Bruxelles/Brussel

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

ecr@cor.europa.eu www.ecr.cor.europa.eu


PRESIDENT’S LETTER

ECR Group President Rob Jonkman

If we take a minute to look back, we can state that a lot has happened in the past year. Successful conferences were held in several countries such as Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland. In addition, our members participated in various seminars, conferences and other meet-

ings, where we could bring the ECR under people’s attention. As a group we are very active and visible, which will remain our intention for the following years. However, there were two events that had a great impact. Firstly, the unexpected departure of our President Gordon Keymer, who did not receive a new mandate after the election in his district. This was a very big disappointment. Gordon was a highly respected member of the CoR and the first president of the ECR Group in the Committee. During the European Week of Cities and Regions, we held a well-attended reception as an official goodbye for Gordon, where he was awarded the title “Patron” of our Group. Although Gordon is irreplaceable, a new chairman needed to be elected. I am truly honoured that the group has given me the confidence to tackle this task and I am glad that I can count on the support of everyone, and of the Vice-Presidents Oldrich and Joe in particular. The excellent work of the hardworking staff led by Neva is indispensable.

The second event that had great impact was the referendum in the UK, in which UK citizens decided to leave the EU. That decision must be respected and it certainly does not mean that the UK turns away from Europe. A new model will be found to shape the cooperation between the UK and European countries and it is clear that there will be continued cooperation postBrexit. Brexit is a wake-up call for the EU and it strengthens our vision of “localism” as an important condition to bring Europe closer to our citizens. Connecting on a European level where necessary, but acting locally where possible is our guiding principle. Changes are necessary, in which the ECR has an important task. I would like to wish all members and their loved ones, a good and blessed holiday season and a very prosperous 2017! Alderman Rob Jonkman President of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group Committee of the Regions, European Union

ECR LEADERSHIP Rob Jonkman elected as new President of the ECR Group Dutch Alderman Rob Jonkman was elected the new President of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions. Alderman Rob Jonkman (Member of the Executive Council of Opsterland) has become the President of the centre-right euro-realist ECR Group in the European Committee of the Regions. The Group held its elections on Wednesday 15 June following the loss of President Gordon Keymer’s mandate in the recent local elections in the UK Oldřich Vlasák assumed the role of acting President of the ECR Group during the interim period. Alderman Jonkman said: “I look forward to continuing the work of Gordon Keymer in aiming to achieve greater localism and realism in the EU decision-making process so that decisions are only taken at the EU level when they can bring added value.” Alderman Jonkman has been a member of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions since 2014, and has been the Group’s

2

Newsletter

spokesperson on economic policy. During the plenary session on June 16, Alderman Jonkman represented the ECR Group in the debate with OECD Deputy SecretaryGeneral Mari Kiviniemi on current and future challenges for European regions and cities. Mr Jonkman called for greater localism in addressing global challenges. He underlined that “we need a place-based approach to identify global trends and challenges in the early stages in order to adequately adapt public policy”. Rob Jonkman has been Alderman of the municipality of Opsterland (the Netherlands) since 2010. Before becoming Alderman, Mr Jonkman has represented the ChristenUnie as council member within the municipality of Opsterland. Mr Jonkman has been a member of the Committee on European and Interna-

ECR Group President Rob Jonkman

tional Affairs within the Dutch Association of Municipalities (VNG) since 2010 and has been a member of the advisory board of the Knowledge Centre Europa Decentraal since 2014.


Gordon Keymer CBE FCA nominated Patron of the ECR Group

Gordon Keymer with Syed Kamall

Gordon Keymer with Rob Jonkman and Marrku Markkula

In recognition of his services to the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions, Alderman Gordon Keymer CBE FCA has been nominated Patron of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions during a farewell party held in his honour. Alderman Gordon Keymer, a founding member of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions and the first President of the Group, was given the honorary title of Patron of the Group. On 11 October, at the margins of the European Week of Cities and Regions, the ECR Group President Rob Jonkman, announced the decision at a farewell reception organised to thank Alderman Keymer for his services during his time as member of the CoR. Alderman Jonkman, ECR Group President, made the announcement during a lunchtime reception. He said: “In recognition of your

services to local government and to the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions, it is my pleasure to announce the decision of our group to make you a Patron of our Group.” Those participating in the reception included President of the Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula, Chairman of the ECR Group in the European Parliament Syed Kamall MEP and Cllr Albert Bore who delivered a message on behalf of the UK delegation to the CoR. The reception was attended by local, regional and EU politicians from across the political spectrum.

Gordon Keymer CBE FCA, former leader of Tandridge District Council (UK) and current Honorary Alderman, was a member of the CoR from 1998 to 2016. During his time in the Committee, he chaired the Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee and led the UK delegation to the CoR for nine years (2006 - 2015). He drafted CoR position papers in his role as rapporteur and helped reform the EU. He is a chartered accountant and has been the chairman of his family’s firm which was founded in 1844. He was awarded a CBE in 2002 for services to local government.

Cllr Joe Cooney elected Vice President of the ECR Group Cllr Joe Cooney, leader of the Conservatives in Pendle Council, has become the new Vice-President of the ECR Group bringing the number of Vice-Presidents to two. Cllr Cooney will share the role with Vice President Oldřich Vlasák. He has been a member of the Committee of the Regions since 26 January 2015 and is a member of the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) and Commission for Economic Policy (ECON). ECR Group Vice President Joe Cooney

He is currently the leader of the ECR UK delegation and member of the UK CoR delega-

tion. His main expertise is in the field of economic and monetary affairs. Back in the UK, Cllr Joe Cooney is a Conservative councillor based in Colne in Lancashire, where he is leader of the Conservative delegation in Pendle Borough Council. His interest in local government surrounds the importance of supporting local economies and providing decent work opportunities for residents.

3


ECR GROUP OPINIONS Greater localism is needed in EU energy policy if we want to achieve efficiency - By Daiva Matonienė Local and regional leaders adopted unanimously on 12 October 2016 an opinion on ‘an EU strategy for heating and cooling’ prepared under the leadership of ECR Group Member Daiva Matonienė. In her opinion and in the article below, Ms Matonienė calls on the European Commission to review existing financial support mechanisms and to come up with more concrete and localist policy recommendations on how to develop the heating and cooling sector in Europe. Heating and cooling in our buildings and industry accounts for half of the EU’s energy consumption and if we want to increase our efficiency, it is an area we must target through a localism approach. Energy efficiency is a target that we can only reach if local and regional authorities are treated as partners.

EU already have climate and sustainable energy action plans, which incorporate low-carbon heat and power production, deployment of renewable energy sources and measures aimed at energy efficiency improvement. At the EU level, we must facilitate the sharing of experiences and best practices.

I strongly believe the European Commission strategy published in February 2016 on heating and cooling is a step in the right direction, but it unfortunately fails to acknowledge the key role played by local and regional authorities. Local authorities are not only involved in the development and management of infrastructure, but are also among the largest energy users. Many towns and cities across the

Through my own experiences as a local, national and EU politician, I have seen first-hand that it is only through the different tiers of government working together that we can achieve our intended results. Our task at the EU and national level is to unleash the potential of the heating and cooling sector in terms of energy savings, sustainability and energy diversification, and those implementing most of the

President Jonkman congratulating Ms Matonienė on the adoption of her opinion

4

Newsletter

ECR Group rapporteur Daiva Matonienė

measures will be local or regional governments. In my home country Lithuania I am directly responsible for the national programme of modernisation of multi-family apartment buildings, which aims to ensure that these buildings are more energy efficient. More than 1,000 buildings have been renovated under this scheme and a further 2,000 are undergoing renovation. We have achieved such great results in these areas because all levels of government – the European Investment Bank, the European Commission and the central government – have worked in close cooperation with local authorities to achieve a multiplier effect. Such a localism approach should also be the guiding principle for the European Commission’s strategy. Additionally, the European Commission has not focused enough in its strategy on innovation in the industry. At the EU level, we must collectively support the development of new technologies, which can efficiently contribute to climate change mitigation.


Furthermore, we must think about how these energy efficiency projects will be financed. Combining the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) financial instruments would be really helpful as it would ensure the procedures are sped up and simplified.

Finally, we also need to remove the administrative and legal barriers that are slowing down the development of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants and networks. Local and regional politicians voted to unanimously approve this opinion during the CoR’s 119th plenary on 12 October 2016.

Daiva Matonienė is a member of Šiauliai City Council in Lithuania and is also the Deputy Minister for Environment of Lithuania. She has been a member of the CoR since 2009 where she is the ECR Group spokesperson on environment, climate change and energy.

Rob Jonkman appointed as rapporteur to improve the governance of the European Semester ECR Group President will spearhead the Committee of the Regions’ work on the Code of Conduct for the involvement of local and regional authorities in the governance of the European Semester. In a vote on 28 September 2016 at the latest Commission for Economic Policy (ECON), Mr Jonkman was appointed a rapporteur on this file. In this opinion, CoR Members under the leadership of Mr Jonkman will make proposals on how to improve European economic governance by giving more powers to local and regional authorities in driving economic reforms. A Code of Conduct will be drawn up in order to help ensure that local and regional authorities are better involved in the European Semester process. The opinion will give some concrete ideas as to what such Code of Conduct should include.

The first exchange of views among the members of the ECON Commission is expected on 2 December 2016. Adoption in ECON is envisaged for 1 March 2017, and adoption in plenary for May 2017. The European Semester is the EU’s annual cycle of economic policy guidance and surveillance, which implements the EU’s economic governance. The European Commission analyses fiscal and structural reform policies of every member state, providing recommendations to members. States then implement the commonly agreed policies, with the Commission monitoring their implementation.

CoR rapporteur Rob Jonkman

Adam Banaszak will lead CoR’s work on disaster risk reduction ECR Group Coordinator in the Natural Resources Commission (NAT) Mr Adam Banaszak (Vice-President of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie regional assembly) was officially appointed in June 2016 as the Committee of the Regions’ spokesperson on ‘Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030’.

CoR rapporteur Adam Banaszak

“Recent tragic events in central Italy are a clear example showing how important it is to invest in protecting our citizens from the effects of disasters in Europe. I was shocked and saddened to see that almost 300 people, many of them children and tourists, lost their lives in the earthquake. As the Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur I will look at how we can better implement in our continent the international framework that was adopted in June this year at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. This will

help us to better prevent and mitigate the impact of disasters in Europe”, said Mr Banaszak. “In this respect I will continue the work of my colleague Councillor Harvey Siggs (UK/ ECR), who was the CoR representative during the Sendai conference and the CoR’s spokesperson on the post-2015 Hyogo framework for action. Building on Harvey’s and my own experience and knowledge, I will ask the Commission to work closely with local and regional authorities on disaster preparedness and resilience. This is

5


crucial as we are the first level of government that responds to disasters”. The opinion will be discussed in the NAT Commission on 28 November, before being adopted in NAT on 2 February 2017. The CoR plenary is expected to adopt it in March 2017.

The European Commission launched on 16 June 2016 an Action Plan to promote disaster risk reduction and its integration in EU policies. One year ago, under the leadership of EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides and with the active involvement of the CoR

rapporteur Cllr Harvey Siggs (Conservative member of Somerset County Council/UK) the EU played a key role in the negotiations of a new international framework for disaster risk reduction, adopted at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan.

Arnold Hatch to investigate barriers for young EU farmers On 10 May 2016 during the Commission on Natural Resources (NAT), European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the Committee of the Regions member Alderman Arnold Hatch was appointed rapporteur on ‘supporting young European farmers’, with his opinion looking at ways to reduce barriers to farming that would incentivise young people into pursuing a career in farming. Mr Hatch, who represents Armagh, Banbridge & Craighavon Council, proposed the own-initiative opinion to investigate the main barriers young farmers are facing in the EU. Mr Hatch said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to provide an opinion on this important issue. Currently, young farmers across the EU are facing significant challenges such as limited access to agricultural land and outdated infrastructure. With only 7.5% of all farm managers in the EU aged 35 or below, I look forward to analysing in-depth these issues and more.” The opinion will feed into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) mid-term review ex-

Alderman Arnold Hatch

pected to take place in mid-2017. The NAT Commission is likely to discuss Mr Hatch’s opinion and vote to adopt it during the Commission meeting on 28 November in Brussels. Alderman Arnold Hatch was first elected to Craigavon Borough Council in 1978 and served as Mayor during the year 1984/85 and as Deputy Mayor on two occasions 2008/9 and 2012/13. On the new Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council he is Chairman of the Environmental Services Committee. In the Committee of the Regions he is the ECR Group Deputy Coordinator in the Natural Resources Commission.

LOCALISM EU must make public procurement a part of its better regulation agenda The European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the Committee of the Regions met in Groningen, Netherlands to discuss public procurement and better EU regulation. ECR Group members called for public procurement, a market estimated to be more than €2 trillion, to become part of the EUs better regulation agenda and underlined that local and regional authorities need to be treated as key partners in the better regulation process and not stakeholders. Oldřich Vlasák (Councillor of the City of Hradec Králové, ECR Group’s Vice President) underlined that “the procurement market represents a potential of 2 trillion Euros of EU added-value”. Mr Vlasák said: “At a time when our citizens are increasingly feeling disengaged with the EU, we cannot afford not to make public procurement part of our better regulation agenda.”

6

Newsletter

The meeting brought together representatives of the different tiers of government and experts in the field. Speakers included Peter Van Dalen MEP, Malcolm Harbour (Chairman of the UK Local Government Association Working Group on Innovation in Public Procurement), Gordon Keymer (CoR rapporteur on better regulation), Drs Fenna BeekmansPols (Director of Europa Decentraal, member of the stakeholder group of the Regulatory

Fitness Platform) and Prof Dr Mr Hans Vedder (Professor of Economic Law, Faculty of law, University of Groningen). Rob Jonkman (Member of Executive Council of Opsterland, ECR Group President) said: “Today we saw that EU legislation is not achieving its intended results and the way to address that is to look at the local and regional bottlenecks.”


composed of trade unions and social stakeholders did not do justice to the importance authorities in achieving better regulation. Henk Staghouwer (member of the Executive Council of the Province of Groningen) said: “Local and regional authorities implement approximately 70% of EU legislation yet the Commission seems to think we should be put on an equal footing as non-governmental stakeholders. This needs to change”. Malcolm Harbour, former Chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, agreed that the Commission had to take into account the enforcement angle. ECR Group members discuss public procurement in Groningen, Netherlands

“If the Commission is serious about better regulation, then it must engage local authorities who are important in enforcing EU law”, Mr Habour stated. Giving the example of the sharing economy, Mr Harbour added: “Commission guidelines on the sharing economy recognise that things like AirBnB and Uber are coming under local government control. As the sharing economy develops, their role is going to become more important.”

President Rob Jonkman in discussion with ECR members during a working lunch in Groningen

“EU institutions need to be working more closely with us as local and regional government to help ensure EU legislation that is better designed to our communities’ needs.” The potential that innovation holds in helping deliver cheaper and more cost effective services to citizens was underlined, as was the potential that public procurement rules can bring in helping drive sustainable and smart solutions. Members stressed the importance of the Committee of the Regions as a member of the stakeholder group of the European Commission’s REFIT Platform. However, it was acknowledged that giving local and regional authorities a single seat in a Platform mainly

ECR Group members in conversation at Groningen, Netherlands

7


ECR calls for reform of EU regional policy at localism conference in Italy The ECR Group’s latest localism conference looking at the future of the EU’s regional policy took place in Lecce in Southern Italy on Friday 21 October. The event held at the famous Teatro Paisiello boasted an impressive line-up of speakers, including Raffaele Fitto MEP, President of Conservatori e Riformisti, and Mayor of Lecce Paolo Perrone. Welcoming participants to his home province of Lecce, Raffaele Fitto MEP said: “The cohesion policy is a very important instrument and Italy is one of its main beneficiaries. However, current decisions made in the EU do not match the needs of local populations. To change this, we need to ensure a stronger voice for local and regional authorities at the EU level by enhancing the role of the Committee of the Regions.”

ECR MEP Raffaele Fitto with ECR Group President Rob Jonkman

The EU’s regional policy accounts for approximately one third of the total EU budget, with the policy aiming to support all regions and cities across the EU with job creation, economic growth and sustainable development. Despite this, the EU’s current regional policy has been hindered by the lack of strategic programming, centralisation, inflexibility, and not responding to the needs of small localities. ECR Group President Rob Jonkman said: “Our conference has illustrated the urgency in reforming the EU’s regional policy along a more bottom-up, place-based approach. Local and regional government must have a voice in this process. Currently, the EU is trying to do good but is not fully delivering. The solution is decentralisation.” During the conference, the example of the management of the Xylella fastidiosa outbreak was presented as a case study to demonstrate how a lack of localism can harm the economy. The outbreak, first reported in 2013, is a virus that results in olive trees no longer being able to produce olives, affecting

8

Newsletter

ECR Group members attending our localism conference in Lecce, Italy

olive oil producers in Mediterranean countries. The virus heavily impacted the south of Italy, whose economy is reliant on the olive industry. “If local government had been more effectively involved, we could have better tackled the crisis”, said Francesco Bruni, Member of the Italian Senate for Puglia. Speaking in the first panel discussion on the EU’s current regional policy, Paolo Perrone said: “We are not empowering regional and local government enough, which under-

mines the effectiveness of EU Funds. This can be addressed by reforming regional policy, putting the emphasis on localism and streamlining procedures.” Other speakers at the ECR event were Zoltan Kész MP, Member of the Hungarian Parliament, Antonio Palmisano from LUISS University, Oldřich Vlasák, Vice-President of the ECR CoR Group and Pavel Branda, ECR CoR Coordinator for Commission for Territorial Cohesion and the EU Budget.


ECR discusses future of Europe 2020 strategy at EUWRC As part of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2016, the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions hosted a workshop discussing the future of the EU’s Cohesion Policy.

Participants for the ECR EUWRC event (from left to right): Andrew Lewer MEP, Jerzy Zająkała, Professor Ian Begg, Oldřich Vlasák

Entitled ‘The post-2020 growth and jobs agenda – what do local and regional authorities want?’, the discussion looked at the future of growth in the EU following the end of the Europe 2020 strategy. Adopted by European leaders in June 2010, the Europe 2020 initiative, closely aligned with the EU’s cohesion policy, came into fruition at a difficult time amidst the Eurozone debt crisis and other unfortunate circumstances. It sets out five ambitious objectives – on employment, innovation, education, social conclusion, and climate/ energy – which member states must adopt into their own national targets.

The aim is to deliver growth in these areas, but with a rapidly changing economy in Europe and several internal and external problems, the 2020 strategy has so far failed to deliver on the expected degree of political influence it was first hoped to achieve. With its midterm review now up, its lack of success has led to some questioning whether a medium-and long-term growth strategy is still relevant. During his welcoming speech to the audience, Chair Gordon Keymer CBE FCA said: “Local and regional government plays an important role in delivering EU growth targets that relate to their areas of competence. It is important to remember that lo-

cal and regional government are not only affected by approximately three quarters of EU policies but that they manage two thirds of all public investments.” Looking to find answers and offer solutions, our panellists debated the issues surrounding the current strategy, and asked how a new programme can be interpreted for post-2020 that will support growth and jobs at local and regional levels. The current strategy was largely based on European and national targets, so there is a real opportunity for regional and local authorities to play an important role in shaping negotiations for any future strategy. Chaired by Patron of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions Gordon Keymer CBE, the panel featured Andrew Lewer MEP, ECR Group Coordinator in the European Parliament Regional Development Committee, and Jerzy Zająkała, Mayor of Łubianka in Poland since 1990. Joining them was Professor Iain Begg from the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, and ECR Group Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák.

ECR Group EUWRC workshop

The event took place on 11 October 2016 in Brussels. The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual joint event between the European Commission’s Regional Directorate and the Committee of the Regions.

9


CURRENT CHALLENGES UK referendum: We have an important task ahead of us - By Rob Jonkman Concerning the decision of the British people to leave the EU, the President of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions, Rob Jonkman (NL) underlines the importance of the task ahead. UK citizens have decided to leave the European Union. While I would have hoped that it would have not come to this, it is a decision that we must respect. The type of relationship that the UK will have with the EU will be discussed and defined in the years to come. Local and regional government will have an interest in this process. Our work will continue as the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions and I look forward to our continued work with our British colleagues. The task ahead of us is an important one. We must continue our collective work to push

for a better functioning EU. We need greater European localism and euro-realism. We cannot have perpetual centralisation of powers in Brussels but rather we need a system that respects the powers of our local, regional and national levels of government. Decisions should be taken at the level closest to our citizens and should only be taken at the EU when a clear added-value can be demonstrated. The ECR family, currently the fastest growing political family in Europe, will continue to grow. We will continue our work to achieve a better functioning EU for the benefit of all its citizens and partners.

Rob Jonkman, President of the ECR Group

ECR hosts Brexit talk at UK Conservative Party Conference 2016 Following the UK referendum result, the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions asked what’s next for local government in the UK following Brexit. Hosting its second fringe event at this year’s British Conservative Party Conference, the ECR Group held a panel discussion on the topic of ‘Local government and the EU – what next’. After Britain voted to leave the European Union, localities and authorities in the UK are likely to face major changes to the way they are funded and supported. With UK authorities currently earmarked to receive £3.6bn from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund between 2014 to 2016, questions remain on how localities can maintain funding and support during the negotiations. The debate therefore discussed current funding and also asked how, in the likely event of loss of funds from the EU when Britain leaves, financial support may be ob-

10

Newsletter

The Conservative Party Conference 2016 took place at the Birmingham ICC

tained for local and regional authorities in a post-Brexit Britain. Addressing the fringe audience, ECR Group President Rob Jonkman said: “It is a pleasure to participate in the Conservative Party Conference and I am grateful to have this opportunity to discuss why British local government will remain important for Europe.” Our esteemed panel included Chairman of the ECR Group in the European Parliament

Syed Kamall MEP, as well Cllr Joe Cooney, Vice-President of the ECR Group in the CoR and leader of Pendle Council, and Andrew Lewer MBE MEP, Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands/ Chairman of the Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group. The discussion took place at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham on 3 October 2016.


MEMBERS ACTIVITIES Władysław Ortyl strengthens EU-Ukraine regional cooperation Over 3,000 participants from 50 countries took part in the 26th Economic Forum in Krynica (Poland). Władysław Ortyl – Marshal of the Podkarpackie region and member of the ECR group in the Committee of the Regions – participated in the discussions and also signed a prestigious agreement regarding the organisation of the Europe-Ukraine Forum. ‘United or Divided? Europe in the Face of the Challenges of Tomorrow’ was the theme for this year’s forum, taking place from 6 to 8 September 2016 in Krynica. For Marshal Ortyl, the key event was the signing of an agreement between the regional government of the Podkarpackie region and the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies regarding the Europe-Ukraine Forum, to be organised by the Podkarpackie region in January 2017. This agreement, signed by Marshal Ortyl and Zygmunt Berdychowski, Head of the Programme Council of the Institute for Eastern Studies, proposes that the next meeting – and the subsequent four meetings – are to take place in Podkarpackie. The agreement was signed in the presence of Marek Kuchciński, Marshal of the Polish Sejm, and Dawid Jackiewicz, the Polish Minister of Treasury. Marshal Władysław Ortyl said he was “delighted” with the agreement. Mr Ortyl said: “I am delighted that such an important event will be taking place in our

ECR Group member Władysław Ortyl honours Speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński MP

region. We are continuing our cooperation with Ukraine”. “This forum will undoubtedly be a platform for Ukrainian partners and the rest of Europe to exchange experiences and contacts, as well as providing a setting for dialogue on the future of the European Union’s relations with Ukraine.” The Europe-Ukraine Forum is one of the most important conferences that has been held since 2007. It is mainly concerned with Ukraine’s modernisation, reforms to its state and economy, and questions relating to international security, ethnic minorities, cultur-

al heritage, and Ukraine’s relations with the European Union. This last issue – particularly in the wake of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – is of great importance in terms of ensuring the security of Europe as a whole. Following the prestigious agreement, Mr Ortyl added: “We recently returned from the Festival of Partnership in Lviv. We expect our region’s cooperation with Ukraine to have a stronger economic basis.” The Krynica forum is also known as the “Polish Davos”. Over 150 panel discussions, lectures and debates took place over three days in the centre of Krynica.

Adam Banaszak attends election observation in Bosnia and Herzegovina By invitation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, ECR Group member Adam Banaszak participated in the Election Observation Mission’s recent observation of local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, acting as spokesperson for the Committee of the Regions. Members of the public went to the polls for the country’s local elections on 2 October 2016, electing local mayors and council members. Despite some irregularities and a few violent incidents, polling was largely car-

ried out in a calm and orderly manner, in-line with international standards. Adam Banaszak, mission spokesperson for the EU Committee of the Regions, attended the mission alongside four other CoR mem-

bers, who together made up a 32 member delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. The group visited around 150 polling stations throughout the country, observing the elec-

11


tions and the work of the Polling Stations Commissions. Adam Banaszak said: “The EU has an international commitment to strengthening democracy, which was why it was important for members of the Committee of the Regions to attend this Election Observation Mission.” “As a country earmarked for future EU membership, Bosnia and Herzegovina must improve its democracy, human rights and rule of law, in accordance with the EU’s enlargement policy and pre-accession instruments. By observing the elections and working with local authorities, I hope we can show our commitment to helping Bosnia and Herzegovina improve in these key areas.”

ECR member Adam Banaszak representing the CoR in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Other findings from the mission include a concern regarding the level of transparency of procedures, particularly with regard to vote counting. The issue of political allegiance is also a problem, as allegiances are often based on ethnic identity and nationalistic attitudes. More responsibilities for local self-government are also crucial for the future. “I was pleased to see that changes to the electoral system have been implemented, including new procedures such as ‘correct counting’ in case of doubtful results reported by polling stations, however it is clear that there is still lots of work to do in the future”, Mr Banaszak added. Adam Banaszak will present his report on the mission to CIVEX (Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs) at their next meeting on 24 November 2016.

Adam Banaszak speaking with Renate Zikmund and Stewart Dickson at press conference

EU Commissioner helps launch new economic project for Polish region ECR member Władysław Ortyl, Marshal of the Podkarpackie region in Poland, signs a promising new document with European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu to help boost the region’s economy. The new initiative, called ‘Lagging Regions’, is a joint scheme with the European Commission, the Polish Ministry of Development and two regional Polish authorities; Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie. Expert advice is also offered from the World Bank.

12

Newsletter

Commenting on how she was proud to see the initiative launched in the Podkarpackie region, Commissioner Corina Crețu said: “There are many challenges ahead of us, but I am confident that the project will be a success.”

The Commissioner went on to praise the work of the Podkarpackie authorities who have helped develop the region’s economy by forging stronger links between the regional authority, academia and businesses.


“We attach great importance to the cooperation between the regional authority, academia and business, aimed at the development of common projects. This initiative is, among other things, designed to do just that. Podkarpackie will be a good example”, Commissioner Corina Creţu added. Under the initiative, each region had to carry out an analysis and identify areas where action was urgently needed in order to boost economic growth, which was then presented during a meeting between EU, Polish government and regional representatives in late February this year. Three main action points for the Podkarpackie region were drawn up from the meeting to help facilitate growth; 1) strengthen the commercial exploitation of the research infrastructure of the University of Rzeszów and the Rzeszów University of Technology; 2) increase the competitiveness of businesses in less-developed regions; 3) improve financial products for businesses.

Commissioner Corina Creţu and ECR member Władysław Ortyl

For the first task, an inventory will be drawn up of the universities’ infrastructure and services, together with a study on the region’s businesses and R&D services. By working with the Commission and the Ministry of Development, the aim is to identify and eliminate formal and legal barriers to the commercial activities of academic bodies, and make the best use of existing infrastructure to provide R&D services for the region’s businesses. Other tasks will include increasing competitiveness of companies and the greater use of financial engineering instruments, such as a loan and guarantee fund for SMEs. Commenting on the launch, member for the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions Władysław Ortyl thanked Commissioner Creţu for the initiative. Marshal Ortyl said: “It is very important for our region. We certainly face a lot of challenges, but the project is a major investment in the future and will certainly benefit the development of Podkarpackie region.” The Lagging Regions initiative, created in 2015, aims to support less-developed re-

Commissioner Corina Creţu and ECR member Władysław Ortyl launch Lagging Regions project in Podkarpackie

gions in Europe that currently receive Cohesion Policy funding. The implementation

started in May 2016 and the programme is scheduled to end in February 2017.

13


Building disaster resilient communities: ECR Rapporteurs help conclude UN-CoR cooperation Rapporteurs Adam Banaszak and Harvey Siggs, as the spokespersons of local and regional authorities in Europe on disaster risk reduction, helped launch a five year cooperation between the European Committee of the Regions and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The ceremony, which took place on 13 October on the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), saw the CoR’s President Markku Markkula and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction Robert Glassser sign a joint Action Plan to strengthen the implementation and coordination of disaster risk reduction actions at the local and regional level in Europe. The ceremony started with statements made by the European

Committee of the Regions’ rapporteurs Adam Banaszak and Harvey Siggs, who outlined the need for coordinated action. The Action Plan aims to translate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (a voluntary international agreement to disaster management policy and operations) into ideas for local and regional governments. As the CoR’s rapporteur for the opinion on a ‘Post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action’, the

ECR’s Harvey Siggs (leader of Mendip District Council and Member of Somerset County Council) helped bring together the views of local and regional authorities across Europe to create an opinion on disaster resilience. Cllr Siggs provided input to the new international disaster risk reduction framework and helped formulate the 10 essentials for its implementation. Cllr Siggs also presented the view of Europe’s local and regional authorities at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai in 2015. Commenting at the official signing ceremony, Cllr Siggs said: “The CoR opinion on disaster resilience prepared under my leadership underlined the need for a focus on prevention, preparedness and resilience, whilst highlighting the key role of local and regional authorities.” “With natural disasters costing the EU close to €100 billion since 2005 and affecting over 30 million people of which 150,000 have been killed, this goes to show that disasters are only going to continue in coming years. I am therefore pleased to see the UN and the EUs assembly of local and regional representatives coming together today for this important signing ceremony.”

The ECR’s Harvey Siggs and Adam Banaszak help launch cooperation agreement between CoR and UNISDR

Also in attendance was the ECR’s Adam Banaszak, who has recently been appointed CoR rapporteur on an ‘Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030’. Having already worked on improving EU instruments for responding to and managing disasters as rapporteur on the ‘Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism’ in 2012, Mr Banaszak said he was “looking forward” to taking steps to help the EU manage risks and achieve resilience.

CoR President Markku Markkula and the UN’s Robert Glasser sign Action Plan

14

Newsletter

Mr Banaszak said: “More than one third of the EUs budget is dedicated to the EUs cohesion policy and one could argue that it is our moral obligation to invest with resilience in mind. If we do not invest with resilience in mind and if EU money delivers unsafe buildings, then we are risking citizens’ lives – and that is unacceptable.”


The benefits of cleaning up contaminated sites in Lithuania - By Daiva Matonienė As a politician who has a role at the local level in Šiauliai, the national level as DeputyMinister and the EU level as a member of the CoR and rapporteur on environmental dossiers, I have seen first-hand the importance of the different tiers of government working together. This is especially true for sustainable urban and rural development. I would like to present a case study from my country on the cleaning of contaminated water and the role that technology has played in this area. in most cases are located in urbanised territories. In urban areas the groundwater resources must be protected from contamination. In Lithuania, this is ensured by setting wellhead protection zones, as well as through the appropriate management of geo-pollution hazards.

ECR member Daiva Matonienė

Groundwater in particular is an essential element of all ecosystems and plays an important role in public water supply in Europe. Among the EU Member States using the highest percentage of groundwater for public water supply is my home country Lithuania (100%), but also Denmark (100%), Italy (93%), Hungary (90%), Poland (70%), and the United Kingdom (35%). The percentage of groundwater public water supply has been increasing in big European cities in recent years. All potable water resources in Lithuania are extracted from groundwater aquifers and the wellheads for public water supply

In 1997, the Lithuanian Geological Survey (LGT) developed a very beneficial program for the inventory of potentially contaminated sites (PCS). By the end of 2015, the database of PCS contained information about more than 12,000 potentially contaminated sites. The results of the hazard evaluation showed that 30% of the sites classified as “potentially contaminated” are possibly environmentally hazardous, whereas around 10% of the sites are extremely hazardous. The study results are worrying – they demonstrate that the area (groundwater and/or soil), which might have been polluted with chemicals may account for as much as 0.43% of Lithuania’s territory (280 km2). The Lithuanian Geological Survey (LGS) decided that this data requires it to take action, hence its project titled “assessment of contaminated sites in urban areas“. The project was carried thanks to financing from the EU Cohesion Policy Fund from the 20072013 financial perspective.

The results of numerous investigations and remediation plans were presented to municipalities, in which contaminated sites have been uncovered. The results showed that some of the sites representing the highest risk are located in my home city Šiauliai. Based on this information, Lithuanian municipalities like mine were presented with the opportunity to apply for financing of remediation of the contaminated sites. The aim of the project was to better protect natural resources (particularly water resources, landscape and biological diversity) and make them more accessible for local residents. The LGS carried out 250 preliminary and 100 detailed site evaluations in the years 2010-2015. The results provided basis for the development of a Management Strategy for Contaminated Land and for establishing the financial needs necessary for its implementation. The project was a success story – it led to a discovery of many potentially contaminated and contaminated sites. Lithuanian example highlights the need for such projects in all Member States, which are heavily dependent on groundwater for household use.

The city of Šiauliai, along with other Lithuanian municipalities, has benefited from EU funds to clean up contaminated sites

15


MEETINGS CALENDAR MEETING

PLACE

DATE

CoR PLENARY SESSION

BRUSSELS

10-12 OCTOBER

CoR European Week of Regions and Cities

BRUSSELS

10-13 OCTOBER

BORAS, SWEDEN

18-19 OCTOBER

LECCE, ITALY

21 OCTOBER

BRUSSELS

14 NOVEMBER

CESKE BUDEJOVICE, CZECH REPUBLIC

15-16 NOVEMBER

Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX)

BRUSSELS

24 NOVEMBER

Commission for Natural Resources (NAT)

BRUSSELS

28 NOVEMBER

Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER)

BRUSSELS

30 NOVEMBER

Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE)

BRUSSELS

1 DECEMBER

Commission for Economic Policy (ECON)

BRUSSELS

2 DECEMBER

CoR BUREAU

BRUSSELS

6 DECEMBER

CoR PLENARY SESSION

BRUSSELS

7-8 DECEMBER

Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE)

ECR Localism conference

CAFA

Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC)

To subscribe to our newsletter, please email: ecr@cor.europa.eu

Follow us on

@ECR_CoR

ECR News - 12th edition  

12th edition of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Committee of the Regions newsletter.