ECR News - 9th edition

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ECR News Committee of the Regions | 9th edition

CONTENTS ECR GROUP OPINIONS Oldřich Vlasák – A strategic vision for our cities and regions


LOCALISM Pavel Branda hosts COTER seminar on crossborder cooperation Gordon Keymer on devolution and the UK

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GROWTH AND JOBS Oldřich Vlasák on innovation and energy security Arnold Hatch on milk quotas Interview with Roger Evans AM – London’s economy and the digital market

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MONITORING LOCAL ELECTIONS Adam Banaszak monitors Albania’s local elections 10 Vytautas Kanevičius monitors Moldova’s local elections 11

ECR GROUP EVENTS ECR Group Bureau meeting on smart cities in Kruszwica 12 ECR Group meeting in Turku on high speed transport networks 13 ECR Group workshop on disaster resilience 14 ECR Group event at 2015 British Conservative Party Conference 15 ECR Group conference on localism 16 ECR political family discusses local dimension of Energy Union 17

MEMBERS ACTIVITIES Daiva Matonienė meets EIB President 19 Władysław Ortyl calls for investments in anti-flood systems 19


ECR Group Secretariat Committee of the Regions

ECR Group President (middle row, first from left) visiting the European Investment Bank with Committee of the Regions’ Conference of Presidents for a high-level meeting with EIB President Werner Hoyer (front row, third from left)

In this edition of our newsletter, you will find examples of how our Group is working to achieve greater localism. Localism is a pillar of good governance and a cross-party concept that underlines the importance of taking decisions as close to citizens as possible. As a Group that prioritises good governance and the protection of the liberties of our citizens, naturally greater localism is something that we are keen to achieve in the EU. We are working with Members of the European and national parliaments affiliated with our political family in order to achieve this. In this newsletter, you will see examples of this work including the Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group meeting and the fringe event of our Group at the British Conservative Party Conference. I am also proud that we will be organising a conference on localism to explore this very concept and its policy implications further. Our Group is also continuing its work to identify and tackle the key challenges our citizens face. As local and regional authorities, we are the level of governance that is closest to the citizens. We see the challenges our constituencies face and know the measures that are helping address them as well as the measures that are proving to be counterproductive. You will find an article on the opinion of the Committee of the Regions that is being drafted by our member Oldrich Vlasák. It is on the important subject of a territorial vision for the year 2050, setting a strategic vision for how the EU can better channel its resources into helping local and regional communities develop in a sustainable manner that contributes to their competitiveness. You will also find examples of our members work ranging from the challenges faced by the dairy sector to monitoring local elections in the EUs neighbouring countries. Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA President of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group Committee of the Regions, European Union

Rue Belliard/Belliardstraat, 101 1040 Bruxelles/Brussel

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

CoR opinions being prepared by ECR members A strategic vision for our cities and regions’ development for the year 2050 Mr Oldřich Vlasák (Councillor of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic/ECR Group Vice-President) is the Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on “Territorial Vision 2050, what future?”. This opinion is due to be discussed and voted on at the COTER Commission meeting on 2 October. Mr Oldřich Vlasák is the former Vice-President of the European Parliament responsible for the European Parliament’s relations with the Committee of the Regions. During his Vice-Presidency, the two institutions concluded a cooperation agreement that outlined areas under which cooperation would be deepened. He was among the first Czech members appointed to the Committee of the Regions as an observer in 2000 prior to being elected as an MEP in 2004. He is now a member of the Committee of the Regions and Vice-President of the ECR Group in the CoR. border regions are the most vulnerable to economic challenges.

Oldřich Vlasák

Our cities and regions are faced with a broad range of challenges. These include demographic challenges caused by an aging population and our shrinking workforce as well as the continuing flow of citizens from rural to urban areas. They also include economic challenges of achieving and sustaining inclusive economic development that benefits urban and rural communities. Furthermore, our cities and regions are affected differently by global trends depending on territorial specificities and context. As noted in the EUs 6th Cohesion Report, “regional disparities have widened during the last few years because the economic crisis has affected regions differently.” As local and regional authorities, for instance, often we can see that our remote and cross-

To address the current challenges, we first need to the collect the data to take stock of the real challenges our cities and regions are facing. Therefore, we need to start by updating our data and using it to develop a framework. It has been 25 years since the last territorial development perspective was adopted at the European Union level. The 1999 document titled “European Spatial Development Perspective” (ESDP), which was adopted at the Potsdam Council by our Ministers at the time responsible for Spatial Planning, provided the EU with a policy framework for sectoral policies of the EU and Member States that have spatial impacts as well as for regional and local authorities. We need a broad Europe-wide consultation on the future territorial vision of the European Union that builds on the 1999 framework and our territorial cohesion work since then. We need a white paper on a future territorial vision. Let me explain what I would like the territorial dimension of policy-making to look like. It is clear that if the EU is to achieve its goals of its growth strategy, it needs more strategic planning to ensure that EU Funds and policies enable the overarching objective defined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Article 174) of developing and pursuing its actions that will lead to strengthening of economic, social and territorial cohesion. The best way to pursue this planning is to adopt a localism led placebased approach, through which the different levels of government can work together to identify and address issues. A place-based approach can be understood as stakeholders engaging in a collaborative



process to address issues as they are experienced within a geographic space, be it a neighbourhood, region or an ecosystem. All levels of government must be open to working with their respective stakeholders and must work together in identifying and addressing the challenges they face. By localism, I mean that we need to take a multi-level governance approach through which the specific roles for actors at different levels of governance can be capitalised on. Spatial planning and development strategies, for instance, should be drawn up at the level closest to the people, which in most cases mean the local or regional levels of government. A territorial vision is also crucial in helping the EU to renew its growth strategy. The current growth strategy of Europe 2020 outlined a strategy with priorities, targets and flagship initiatives that aimed to help achieve growth by the year 2020. We only have five years to go till the end of the current strategy. A renewed strategy needs to be based on stronger participation and ownership at all levels of government. It also requires a territorial vision that takes into account local and regional specifities and strengths through a multi-level governance approach and more transparency and accountability. Local and regional authorities should be responsible for their own communities’ development. They are best placed to able to identify and use their territorial specifities as unique assets, taking agreed European objectives into consideration. The Implementation of local and regional development plans can of course be further facilitated through specific Cohesion Policy instruments, such as Integrated

Territorial Investments (ITI) and Community-Led Local Development (CLLD). The regional and local dimension of EU policies can be assessed through Territorial Impact Assessments (TIAs), which can provide data on the potential asymmetric successes and challenges of policies. It is very important that we conduct TIAs and take their results into account when designing and revising policies. I strongly welcome that following the Better Regulation Package published in May, the Commission will be using TIAs as one element of impact assessment. I hope that TIAs will be conducted through the decision-making process be-

fore the final text is adopted because from my personal experiences in the European Parliament, I know that the final adopted text can evolve considerably from the initial proposal made by the Commission. I would like to underline that data collection is crucial aspect in this important task ahead of us. Our Member States and the EU need to channel some of their investment into acquiring the missing statistical data and strongly develop data collection at the the lowest administrative level. If we do not do this, our efforts will be in vain. Without a complete and evolving picture of our regions, it is simply not possible to create ef-

fective policies that address the challenges our cities and regions face. Complete databases will also enable us to make the most of technological innovative solutions that can help us to assess the impacts of EU policies in a rapid, efficient and effective manner. Yet, in this important task we have to be careful not to create administrative burdens in the process of collecting statistical data and in the reporting phases. We must also aim to cut administrative burdens where possible. As a politician who has served under various political leadership roles and seen the damage caused by red-tape first hand, I cannot emphasise the importance of decreasing administrative burdens enough.

Localism External COTER Commission seminar on cross-border cooperation hosted by Pavel Branda in Liberec, Czech Republic Dr Pavel Branda (Deputy Mayor of Rádlo, Czech Republic/ECR Group COTER Commission Coordinator) hosted an external seminar of the Committee of the Regions’ Territorial Cohesion (COTER) Commission. The seminar addressed the topic of cross-border cooperation and took place in Liberec in the Czech Republic on 17 September. ing cross-border cooperation.

Pavel Branda (on the right) and Members of the COTER Commission at the train station on a study visit to see how the Euro-Neisse Ticket project was working

During the external seminar meeting of the Territorial Cohesion Commission (COTER) hosted by the ECR Group COTER Coordinator, Pavel Branda, members of the Committee of the Regions discussed the current-challenges facing cross-border regions in Europe. Ap-

proximately thirty-seven percent of citizens in the EU live in cross-border areas along some 38 internal borders. Through their discussions, members shared their experiences of the challenges faced by these cross-border regions and evaluated the EU tools support-

Dr Branda underlined that European border regions and their citizens continue to face key challenges. “Coming from one of these areas on Czech-German-Polish border, I know from experience that these regions still face certain common challenges. This seminar was useful in not only sharing the experiences of the Liberec region but also in hearing concrete examples from across the EU from my fellow local and regional politicians” said Dr Branda. He further explained that although cross-border regions benefit from various tools that provide assistance to help reduce the negative effects of borders, cross-border regions still need substantial support in addressing the day-to-day obstacles their citizens face. “We need to step-up our current efforts and pay greater attention to cross-border regions” explained Dr Branda.


COTER Commission seminar in Liberec

The seminar presented concrete examples of challenges faced by cross-border regions and offered possible solutions to effectively address them. Points raised included the importance of transport networks and local cross-border cooperation projects such as those between Liberec and its neighboring Polish and German regions i.e. common ticket (Euro-Neisse Ticket), cooperation between universities and the joint symphonic orchestra Europera.

refresh and rebalance the EU’s transport policy, so that cross-border regions and regions of all types and all sizes can benefit from increased mobility beyond Europe’s principal metropolitan centres,” explained ­Cllr ­Keymer. Dr Branda concluded the seminar along with the COTER Commission Chair, Mr Raffaele Cattaneo (President of the Lombardy Regional Council, Italy/ Member of the EPP Group

in the CoR). During his concluding speech, Dr Branda underlined the “need to highlight and enhance the philosophy of crossborder cooperation, to promote our regions and to participate in their development.” He also stated that “cross-border cooperation is broader than the EUs growth strategy Europe 2020. It touches all aspects of our citizen’s lives. We need to be flexible and to have flexible tools to further development of our cross-border regions in the future.”

Among the panellists was Cllr Gordon ­Keymer CBE FCA (ECR Group President), who spoke in his capacity as the Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on mobility in geographically and demographically challenged regions. Cllr Keymer underlined that transport and interconnectivity are vital for the economies of cross-border regions. “As the Committee of the Regions, we called on the European Commission to publish a Green Paper on mobility. A green paper on this important issue would help launch a debate, looking at the cross-border mobility challenges as well. It is the time to

Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (second from left) and Dr Pavel Branda (second from right)



Devolution and the UK Gordon Keymer (Leader of Tandridge District Council, UK/ President of the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions) is a Chartered Accountant and is Chairman of his family firm founded in 1844. He has been a member of the Committee of the Regions since 1998. He has been Tandridge DC Conservative Group Leader since 1991 and council leader since 2000. He was awarded the CBE in 2002 for his services to local government. He became South East England Council’s Chairman in June 2012, completing his three year term in 2015. He was the UK CoR Delegation Leader for nine years from 2006 until 2015. He is also the UK Delegation Leader and Chairman of the Finance Management Committee on the Council of European Municipalities and Regions. There has, however, been a mismatch between the Scottish and UK Parliaments in that Scottish members of the UK Parliament can vote on laws that affect only England whereas English members of the UK Parliament cannot vote on laws covering powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament. All very confusing. “So there will be an English Parliament?” you might reasonably ask. Well – no. An English Parliament has frequently been discussed but no concrete plans have been put forward. “So you are going to adopt a single system with common powers to be devolved from central government to the English cities, counties and districts?” you might then be expected to ask. Another “No”. Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA

Ever since the Scottish referendum a year ago resulted in a vote that showed that Scotland wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom, the issue of “devolution” has been on many government ministers’ and councillors’ minds. Scotland already has its parliament and Wales and Northern Ireland have their assemblies. So the issue of greater devolution is most relevant to England where there is no assembly covering the whole country. We have, of course, got the Greater London Assembly where our ECR member Roger Evans plays an important role as Deputy to London Mayor Boris Johnson. However, the Greater London Assembly only covers Greater London. There were initiatives for elected regional assemblies during the Tony Blair Labour Government but the idea did not have popular support since England is historically a country of cities, counties and districts.

The Government put out a general call for devolution suggestions from across England (excluding London) for powers to be devolved to their areas. A very short period was allowed for these proposals to come forward with a deadline of 4th September 2015 which meant the proposals had to be worked up over the summer. A common EU concept is that trying to work up complex local government proposals during the summer break is not a good idea. Despite the short time allowed, over forty proposals were put to the Government from across England. Most of the country was covered by one of the proposals with some areas included in more than one proposal.

So what are these proposed devolution schemes? They are very varied so probably best if I give a brief summary of the one covering my own council district of Tandridge. Tandridge is 20 miles south of London and part of Surrey County. Surrey, along with its neighbouring counties of East and West Sussex form a large part of the South East of England between London and the English Channel. They have put in a combined devolution proposal to the Government called 3SC (three southern counties). 3SC covers a population of 2,507,900 with a Gross Value Added – the value of goods and services produced in an area - of £63.5 billion which is bigger than the combined GVA of Wales and Manchester. The aim of the 3SC proposals is, according to its prospectus: “At the heart of our devolution offer is a commitment to work with Government to deliver strong and sustainable economic growth, enhance productivity, transform public services and build on our track record for fiscal efficiency.” Will the 3SC proposal be one that the Government chooses to see worked up to a full blown devolution scheme? We should know within the next few months.”

Departmental cuts mean that the minister responsible for local government, Greg Clark, will be working with a smaller number of officials and it is difficult to see how they will be able to sift through all these devolution schemes. It is expected that fewer than ten devolution proposals will be picked for further development.


Growth and jobs ECR Group Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák: Innovation and a diversified energy mix are key to Europe’s energy security Mr Oldřich Vlasák (Councillor of the City of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic/ ECR Group Vice-President) warmly welcomed European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič’s work on the Energy Union, but called for a greater focus on energy innovation, supporting the development of new technologies and improving the existing infrastructure. raise questions over compliance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. “We would like to see more emphasis on backing technologies that reduce the negative environmental impact of traditional sources like coal”, explained the ECR Group Vice-President, citing the examples of carbon capture and geological storage (CCS) and the need to improve the efficiency of coal-fuelled power stations. Mr Vlasák gave three reasons why innovation and modernisation are crucial in the energy field. He underlined that many of our economies remain dependent on traditional sources. This is the case especially for Germany, which uses more coal to generate electricity than any other Member State; Poland, where 90% of electricity comes from coal; and the United Kingdom, which comes third in the EU in terms of coal consumption. “If the EU continues to focus on moving away from the traditional sources through binding targets, then it will box Member States into committing limited resources to the detriment of another equally important areas”, noted Mr Vlasák. Oldřich Vlasák

Recently the European Commission published the Energy Union Package proposing an EU strategy giving prominence to the “energy efficiency first” principle that puts households and business consumers at the heart of the European energy market. The Energy Union is one of the political priorities of the current Juncker Commission. The Package was presented in July as a step to-



wards implementing the Commission’s Energy Union strategy with a forward looking climate change policy. During Mr Maroš Šefčovič’s (European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union) participation in a Committee of the Regions meeting, Mr Oldřich Vlasák raised his concern with Mr Šefčovič that all too often, energy is approached from an assumption that we need to de-carbonise our economies by moving away from traditional sources and imposing binding targets that

Secondly, Mr Vlasák highlighted that “the EU energy market remains far too dependent on a few suppliers with whom we have – to put it diplomatically – seriously complicated relations”. According to the European Commission, the EU imports approximately 53% of the energy it consumes, including a third of its oil, 39% of its gas and 26% of solid fuels from the Russian Federation. Developments following the Arab Spring have shown that we cannot rely on energy imports from this direction either. Similarly, while there are various pipeline projects to bring Caspian energy to Europe, they are not likely to be

operational before 2020 and will not diminish our markets’ vulnerability to dynamics in the transit and exporting countries. Third, Mr Vlasák pointed out that demand is increasing annually. The Paris-based International Energy Agency sees Europe’s oil imports reaching 78% by 2035. In light of all this, the ECR Vice-President called on the European Commissioner to boost the Commission’s focus on research and development and to work with local

and regional authorities to help develop regional centres of excellence where regional research can be supported and prioritised. Furthermore, Mr Vlasák urged the Commission not to forget about nuclear energy, from which as much as 27% of electricity in the EU is generated. This includes 77% of all electricity produced in France, 57% in Slovakia, 54% in Hungary, and 47% in Belgium. Other important fields that the Commission should not neglect are combatting electricity transmission and distribution losses, re-

ducing energy consumption, and promoting efficiency in heating and cooling. Furthermore, the ECR Group Vice-President endorsed the European Commission’s work in the field of “smart cities”, such as the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. The initiative brings together European cities, industry leaders and representatives of civil society to smarten the EU’s urban areas by developing solutions in the fields of energy, ICT and transport.

Alderman Arnold Hatch shares his views on milk quotas ECR Group shadow rapporteur on “the future of the dairy sector” Alderman Arnold Hatch argues that the European Commission should increase the intervention price for milk producers. Northern Ireland farmers sell their products below the cost of production and many of them face the risk of going out of business. welcome allowing €500 million of EU funds to be used for the benefit of farmers. However, this will not stabilise the market and will not address the cash-flow difficulties in the short term. This is because disbursing money to Member States and to individual farmers will be time-consuming. If it takes too much time, many of our farmers will face bankruptcy. My second concern is that, as indicated above, countries like mine may not benefit enough from the measures due to the strong value of their currency vis-àvis the Euro. Alderman Arnold Hatch (on the right) visiting local farms

The situation in the European dairy sector has been very difficult for many months. Many farmers are being forced out of business due to a global oversupply of milk stemming from the Russian embargo, economic slowdown in China, as well as decreasing oil returns in oil producing countries traditionally importing dairy products.

There are two main reasons why the crisis hit us more and earlier than most EU Member States. Firstly, our market is heavily export-oriented. Out of record-high 2.2 billion litres of milk produced last year, 85% was sold to external customers. Secondly, our problems are exacerbated by the impact of the weak Euro.

These difficulties are felt particularly strongly in Northern Ireland where milk prices are below the cost of production. Many farmers are losing about 7 pence (€11 cents) per litre due to low prices being paid by the processors. 18 months ago Northern Ireland farmers were receiving over 30 pence per litre and many of the most progressive ones made substantial investments.

While the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions agrees with the Common Agricultural Policy being guided by marketbased principles, the dairy industry is now in clear need of support. Both regional and national authorities need to concentrate their efforts on stabilising the situation.

That is why there is an urgent need for the European Commission to find a fast-track solution which would raise the intervention price. I believe it is of special importance to intensify follow-up activities in connection with the Committee of the Regions’ opinion “on the future of the dairy sector” which proposes in art. 34 “that the Commission do the necessary to make the intervention price more reflective of production costs and better attuned to market changes”. As the ECR Group shadow rapporteur on this file, I have successfully advocated that the issue of higher intervention price should be raised by local and regional representatives with Commissioner Phil Hogan during the October’s plenary session of the CoR.

The EU support package announced on September 7 is a step in the right direction. I


Roger Evans AM talks about London’s economy and the digital market Roger Evans AM (Deputy Mayor of London, UK/ CoR and ECR Group Bureau Member) has been a member of the Committee of the Regions since January 2010. He is a member of the London Assembly for Havering and Redbridge and has been the Deputy Mayor of London since May 2015. Prior to becoming Deputy Mayor, he was the Chair of the London Assembly and held this one year post starting from May 2014. He moved to London in 1987 and was elected to Waltham Forest Council in 1990. He became the youngest ever leader of the Conservative group in 1994. Having worked for the Royal Mail in various roles for 10 years, Mr Evans funded himself through a law degree, being called to The Bar in 1997. He was first elected to the London Assembly in 2000. Until 2008 he was the Conservative spokesman for Transport and the Chairman of the Transport Committee. In September 2007 he was elected Deputy Leader of the Conservative group at City Hall and became leader in September 2008. Mr Evans is a member of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation Board and a trustee of the Trust for London. He is a published author, with his book Gremal Quest printed in 2007. He is a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and was a legal advisor to the IT recruitment company Spring. com until his election to the London Assembly.

We are in a post-crisis environment when many cities also face budgetary restrictions. Could you briefly tell us how you coped with these challenges? doing incredibly well compared to the EU with an economy that is larger than that of Austria, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland and larger than Denmark’s and Portugal’s combined. Globally speaking, London remains one of the top five most successful cities in the world by total GVA. As the Greater London Authority, we have an economic team that compromises 11 economists from a variety of backgrounds ranging from academia to The City to monitor the performance of our capital cities economy. The data and analysis of our GLE Economic team forms a basis for our policy and investment decisions.

Roger Evans AM

As the Greater London Authority, we have worked with experts in the field to identify the challenges facing our city and have subsequently taken the necessary measures in collaboration with businesses to address them.

While London has not been immune to the effects of the financial crisis, I am proud to say that London has remained an economic engine for growth and has continued to attract investment despite the crisis. Despite the economic downturn, London saw its share of UK Nominal gross value added (GVA) rise from 19.8% in 1997 to 22.8% in 2012. Furthermore, London’s economy is expected to almost double in size over the next 20 years. London is also



We also team up with external experts. For instance, we all know that small and medium sized enterprises are the key to economic growth. Without SMEs, growth and job creation is simply not possible. In turn as the Greater London Authority we teamed up with the London Enterprise Panel to try to understand what the state of play was in relation to SME finance in London. We jointly commissioned a study, which reviewed the current supply and demand for different types of finance in the capital and identified the size and type of current gaps in order to assess the evidence as to whether a new publicity-backed initiatives for SMEs in London can be justified. The study illustrated the worsening failures and funding gaps since the beginning of the economic downturn

and helped us to identify 5 possible areas in the market suitable for possible intervention.

Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy.

London also works closely with business to deliver its economic strategies. Our Mayor has a business advisory panel, the London Enterprise Panel (LEP) that was set-up in 2012 to contribute to the delivery of the

works with London’s boroughs, business

Chaired by the Mayor of London, the LEP is the body through which the Mayoralty and Transport for London to take a strategic view of the regeneration, employment and skills agenda for London.

In London, we also have a unique system of governance that contributes to the city’s success. Chancellor George Osborne is pushing for more devolution as one way of replicating London’s economic success in other cities throughout the UK.

Regarding new investment, could you please present us with some of your key initiatives? In London we have been trying to support business led growth. We have seen great successes, especially in the technology sector overall and financial technology sector in particular. Tech companies in general also raised 80 percent of total funding and 70 percent of deals while the financial technol-

ogy sector is responsible for a record hike in venture capital being poured into London’s start-up scene. London and Partners, a public-private partnership created with backing from the Mayor of London and designed to promote the

Capital outside the UK, announced in July that of the £94 million (€130 million) Venture Capital funding raised during the first half of the year, £75 million (€103 million) was invested into London businesses and of that, 40 percent was being directly invested into local financial technology.

What are the most recent developments in the field of high tech investment? It is a combination of factors that enable London to possess high investment potentials that as local government we try to help unleash. For instance, London is global financial center and is also the home to a cluster of start-ups known as Tech City or Silicon Roundabout. Tech City attracted more than 115,000 new companies in April 2013 alone. In London, we are currently seeing

the merging of these two strengths through the financial technology sector. In an interview earlier this year, Eileen Burbidge (partner at early stage venture fund Passion Capital and the Mayor of London’s tech ambassador) said that the city has become such a tech powerhouse because it excels over other tech hubs around the world. She explained that London combines the technology and digital innovation of Silicon

Valley with the Wall Street financing heritage of New York and the policy making of Washington DC - all in one phenomenal city. In the UK, our national policies have also helped. The Government runs a Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), which gives an initial 50 pence income tax break for investments up to £100,000 (€138 000) capital gains deferral and loss relief. Investing across a range of schemes can mitigate risk.

London is becoming more and more a hub of digital economy and biotech. How do you support and accompany these developments? London is the digital capital of Europe. London is the digital capital of Europe. In London we saw technology clusters flourishing and stepped in on a national level to help them grow even faster. Tech City UK was launched in Shoreditch in 2010 by our UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, to support the East London tech cluster known as Silicon Roundabout. Since then, Tech City UK has grown its support to Greater London and other cities around the UK. Five years since the launch of this initiative, new

research shows London has cemented its position as the most important tech hub in Europe and is forecast to boost its economy by £18 billion (€25 billion) in 2015. The digital economy is also a key driver of growth and jobs for the UK and London. Between 2013 and 2014, 15 per cent of total companies formed in the UK were digital companies and digital companies are responsible for 1.45 million of jobs. In London, the technology and information sector employs approximately 382,000 people.

hub for the capital’s thriving digital industry. Sponsored by IBM, and created by Gust, the “Tech.London” website includes all the latest information and resources that people in London can use to access opportunities in the tech sector, connect with each other, and grow their businesses. Content includes London’s latest start-ups, investors, events, jobs, classes, blogs, videos, workspaces, accelerators, incubators, and other tech or start-up resources.

To help the digital sector to grow even more, in June 2015, our Mayor launched an online


The figures produced by Oxford Economics show that the number of companies in London’s digital technology sector has grown by 46 per cent since the launch of the Tech City programme. The sector now employs almost 200,000 people, 17 per cent more than in 2010. A major stimulus to London’s digital technology came in 2014 when the Mayor of London released the “Smart London plan”, in which a team of experts set out how they believe new technology and innovation can be used to help the capital work in a better way. Those plans include for example establishing a Smart London Innovation Network that will bring London’s entrepreneurs and innovators together with the organisations already delivering and financing London’s new infrastructure and services. Some other activities of the “Smart London plan” include the following:

• Launching a Smart London Innovation Challenge that asks entrepreneurs, researchers, businesses and Londoners to develop creative solutions to challenges posed by the growth of the capital; • Increasing the uptake of computer science in the capital’s schools and doubling the number of businesses taking on technology apprenticeships; • Ensuring London has one of the fastest wireless networks in the world; • Working with London’s boroughs on ‘smart approaches’ to shared challenges through freeing London’s local level data and scaling up innovations across London; • Creating a ‘Smart London’ export programme that will sell London’s expertise to the world.

In terms of the biotech sector, we are seeing that London is becoming again increasingly friendly and interesting for biotech companies. The amount of funding received by UK life science companies reached a 10-year high last year, indicating Britain is finally starting to catch up with the US in biotech, and thus preventing the migration of companies overseas. Thanks to investments and entrepreneurial reforms, London in particular is now competes directly with New York in this areas. In the past, UK life science companies complained of a lack of risk capital compared with the US. In London, we are keen to address this grievance and are currently planning a £10 billion (€ 14 billion) boost investment in life sciences. The Fund would invest in a wide portfolio of drugs at different stages of development, which would help spread the high risks involved in biotech thus helping further attract investment.

Monitoring local elections ECR Group Member Adam Banaszak participates in Election Observation Mission in Albania Mr Adam Banaszak (Vice-Chairman of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Assembly, ­Poland/ ECR Group Bureau member) participated in the election observation mission for the local elections that took place in Albania on 21 June.

The members of the Committee of the Regions actively participate in Election Observation Missions (EOM) organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to monitor electoral processes in different countries so that they meet democratic standards. This summer two delegations of the Committee of the Regions were invited to observe local elections in Albania (21 June) and Moldova (9-15 June).

Election Observation Mission in Albania



ECR Group member Mr Adam Banaszak together with four other CoR members had a chance to observe the first local elections in Albania after administrative reform in 2014 that reduced the number of municipalities from 373 to 61 in the country. The 2015 local elections were regarded as a test on the country’s ongoing progress in the reform of the local government as well as in the fight against corruption, organised crime and establishing the rule of law. In Mr Banaszak’s opinion, “In these local elections Albania did not take a chance to

show that the country accepts all European values”. Many procedural irregularities were reported by the observers in their final report, including the presence of political activists in the corridor, which some perceived as a form of intimidation. It was also reported that polling booths were not accessible for disabled people. The turnout was 53%, much lower than in the past elections. The Socialist Party won the elections in 38 out of 51 municipalities. Adam Banaszak (on the right)

ECR Group Member Vytautas Kanevičius participates in Election Observation Mission in Moldova ECR member Vytautas Kanevičius (Mayor of Kazlų Rūda, Lithuania) took part in the electoral mission to Moldova on 9-15 June. In the country with a population of 3 million, local elections were conducted to elect 898 mayors and 11 680 councillors. Councillors in Moldova are elected under a proportional electoral system without a threshold, and mayors are elected under a two-round majoritarian system. These elections were very important for the future of the Republic of Moldova as they took place in the context of the Ukraine conflict as well as separatist movements in Gagauzia and Transnistria. Voting did not take place on the territory controlled by the Transnistrian authorities. Vytautas Kanevičius (on the right) monitoring local elections in Moldova

The delegation of the Committee of the Regions agreed that the polling took place in a largely calm and peaceful manner with the exception of some incidents. The political campaign was lively and generally free. According to the final report, the elections were well administered despite the fact that the law was changed after the date of elections had been announced.

Vytautas Kanevičius (left) and observation mission members with local election candidates


ECR Group events Using technology to run cities - ECR Group Bureau members in Kruszwica, Poland explore policy options and how public and private sectors can work together The ECR Group Bureau Members met in Kruszwica, Poland on 20 July 2015 to explore how technological solutions can be best used to optimise the performance of cities and to examine the role that the private sector can play in achieving this. Speakers from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń outlined the main characteristics of cities, which are considered to be digital, green, slow, clever, intelligent and creative. They showed practical examples of smart solutions which lead to facilitating access to public services, optimising energy costs, improving waste management and modernising public transport in urban areas. Attention was pointed to a range of solutions including systems of carpooling, advanced traffic management, smart metering, telecare, e-governance and producing energy from waste. Thereafter academics from the University of Łódź provided the participants with a useful overview of legal foundations of public private partnerships and their use at the regional and local levels.

ECR Bureau meeting in Kruszwica

ECR Group President Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (Leader of Tandridge District Council, UK) said “this important meeting enabled us to analyse what is happening on the ground in Poland and share our local experiences with each other. Technology holds the potential to make life easier for citizens in urban and rural areas. This meeting enabled us to collect key information that our Group will be using to formulate a policy paper on this subject.”

of the ECR Group, Mayor of Łubianka, Poland), Ms Daiva Matonienė (ECR Group Coordinator in the Environment, Climate Change and Energy Commission, Member of Šiauliai City Municipal Council, Lithuania) and Alderman Rob Jonkman (ECR Group Spokesperson on Economic Policy, Deputy Mayor of Opsterland in the Netherlands). Members exchanged best practices in areas such as energy, environment, ICT, and transport with approximately 40 representatives of Polish local and regional administration.

The ECR Group Bureau meeting that took place in Kruszwica upon the invitation of Mr Adam Banaszak (ECR Group Treasurer and Coordinator in the Natural Resources Commission in the Committee of the Regions, Vice-President of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie regional assembly) was attended by Cllr Gordon Keymer (President of the ECR Group, Leader of Tandridge District Council, UK), Mr Oldřich Vlasák (Vice-President of the ECR Group, Councillor of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic), Mr Jerzy Zająkała (Vice-President

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and the proportion is growing with this figure expected to rise to over two thirds in the EU. This concentration of people in cities increases the strain on things like public spaces, energy, water and buildings. Technological solutions can help address these challenges in an efficient and effective manner. The EU’s current focus is on how technology can help ameliorate the situation in urban areas. As part of its growth strategy to be achieved by the year 2020, the European Union is investing in research and innovation and developing policies to improve the quality of life of citizens and make cities more sustainable.



Mr Adam Banaszak underlined that the seminar was closely linked with the EUs current ongoing priorities. Mr Banaszak explained that under the new EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework for the years 2014-2020), “EU flagship projects are based on the concept of smart cities” and thus “being well-prepared in this field will allow stakeholders to be more effective in applying for EU funds”. He added that “in order to be able to implement EU investments it is necessary to focus on public-private partnerships, which help to stimulate development and innovation”.

Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (on the left) and Mr Adam Banaszak (on the right)

ECR Group external meeting in Turku, Finland on the role of TEN-T high speed transport networks in delivering growth and jobs The ECR Group will be meeting in Turku, Finland on 20 October to discuss the role of Trans-European Transport Networks, high speed transport networks in delivering growth and jobs. This external meeting of the Group is taking place in Turku, Finland upon the invitation of Mr Ilpo Haalisto (Local Councillor of Nousiainen, Finland/ ECR Group Bureau member and Deputy Coordinator in the Economic and Social Policy Commission).

Ilpo Haalisto in Turku shipyard, Finland

ECR Group members will be meeting in Turku, Finland to discuss the role of TransEuropean Transport Network (TEN-T) high speed transport networks in delivering growth and jobs. The meeting, which is taking place in Finland upon the invitation of Mr Ilpo Haalisto, will bring together policymakers and experts. TEN-T is the EUs new transport infrastructure policy that connects the continent between East and West, North and South since January 2014. This policy aims to close the gaps between Member States’ transport networks, remove bottlenecks that still hamper the smooth functioning of the internal market and overcome technical barriers. It promotes and strengthens seamless transport chains for passenger and freight, while keeping up with future technological trends. This project aims to help the

economy in its recovery and growth, with a budget of €26 billion up to 2020. It is a an ambitious project to modernise and ‘knit together’ today’s patchwork of national parts into a smooth-running network that connects all corners of Europe while making the best use of all the different means of travel. With the TEN-T, the EU plans to establish a core network by 2030, filling in missing cross-border links and making the network ‘smarter’, while making sure all projects contributing to the core network are implemented as a priority. At EU level two sets of funding instruments make financial support available to projects implementing the TEN-T: the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF); and the Cohesion Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

also for the competitiveness of Europe as a whole. If we are to compete internationally, then we need the transport connections that can serve as trade routes”, explained Mr Haalisto. Members of the ECR Group are also due to meet the Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini to discuss this important subject with him personally. “It is a pleasure to be having this meeting in such a significant place as Turku, which is not only an important port for trade but also Finland’s oldest city. Europe’s transports networks will have to make effective use of both land and sea connections,” stated Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (ECR Group President).

“Transport connections are vital not only to a community’s economic development, but


ECR Group workshop on disaster resilience in the Committee of the Regions On the occasion of the international day for disaster resilience, the ECR Group is organising a workshop as part of Open Days, the 13th European week of cities and regions. The workshop will bring together local, regional, EU and international practitioners, policymakers and experts in the field, in order to analyse the new international framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2050 and its implications for European local and regional authorities.

Cllr Harvey Siggs giving an interview at the margins of the UN meeting in Sendai

Disasters are socially and economically devastating. They can be local, regional, national or international in scale and impact. Between 2002 and 2012, disasters were responsible for more than 80,000 deaths and cost around €95 billion in the EU alone. The frequency of severe flooding across Europe is set to double by 2050, while it is the often unreported more recurrent, smaller local disasters that have the biggest impact on people and communities.

Group is due to analyse the implications of the new Framework for Europe.

At the EU level, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU Solidarity Fund and the EU Cohesion Policy are existing tools that help Member States better prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. At the international level, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction aims to serve as a blue print to help build resilience globally. This new international framework was adopted recently on 18 March 2015 at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction coordinated by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The workshop hosted by the ECR Somerset floods, UK (2013)



The workshop is going to be chaired by Cllr Harvey Siggs (Leader of MENDIP District Council, UK/Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on “post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action: Managing Risks to Achieve Resilience). Speakers include Ms Paola Albrito (Head of the UNISDR Regional Office for Europe), Mr Ian Clark (Head of Unit Policy and Implementation Frameworks, DG ECHO, European Commission), Dr Swenja Surminski (Senior Research Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science), Dr Pavel Branda (Deputy-Mayor of Rádlo municipality, Czech Republic/ CoRs “EU Solidarity Fund” rapporteur) and Mr Adam Banaszak (Vice-President of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Assembly, Poland/ CoRs “EU Civil Protection Mechanism” rapporteur).

Defending the rights of Member States, local authorities and citizens in the EU – the ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions presents its work at the Conservative Party Conference and Chairman of the Justice Select Committee) and Andrew Lewer MBE MEP (Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands/ECR Coordinator in the European Parliament for Regional Development and Culture and Education Committees/Chairman of the Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group).

From left to right: Dr Syed Kamall MEP, Roger Evans AM, Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA, Andrew Lewer MBE MEP, Bob Neill MP

The ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions hosted a fringe event at this years’ British Conservative Party Conference, presenting how it is working to defend the right of Member States, local authorities and citizens within the EU. The event brought together Councillors representing local government in the EU, a Member of Parliament and Members of the European Parliament. Panellists presented the importance of the joint work of the different tiers of government in reforming

the EU and achieving greater localism. The event was chaired by the President of the ECR Group in the CoR, Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (Leader of Tandridge District Council). The panellists were Roger Evans AM (Deputy Mayor of London/ Bureau Member of the ECR Group in the / Member of the CoR Subsidiarity Steering Group), Syed Kamall MEP (Chairman of the ECR Group in the European Parliament) and former CoR members Bob Neill MP (Member of Parliament for Bromley & Chislehurst

Presenting the activities of the newest political Group in the Committee of the Regions, Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA explained the leadership role assumed by the ECR Group members in reforming the EU. “The CoR advises the Commission, Council and European Parliament in the legislative process. Our Group members have been CoR rapporteurs on important dossiers, helping reform them. For instance, we helped reform the European Fund that provides disaster assistance to Member States and their local communities in the aftermath of floods – the EUSF. Through the report prepared under the leadership of our ECR member, we made concrete proposals on how the Fund use could be made easier to use and how it could correspond better with the realities that our Councils face on the ground. We worked closely with our Group in the European Parliament and I am proud to say that we managed, with them, to achieve the reform we were seeking.” The panel discussed the importance of decisions being taken as close to citizens as possible. Syed Kamall MEP, Chairman of the third largest political group in the European Parliament, highlighted the need to reform the EU and the importance of greater localism. He also underlined the importance of the joint work and good relations between the ECR Group Members in the EP and the CoR in achieving this. “We need to make sure that powers come back to EU Member States and are exercised as close as possible to the people. This means bringing competences not only to countries, but also to local councils”, he explained.

Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA, Andrew Lewer MBE MEP, Bob Neill MP


Cllr Keymer also underlined the important role of local government in ensuring that decisions are taken at the EU level only when necessary. “As the CoR, we have the powers to take the EU to Court if a decision taken at the EU level would have been more effectively handled nationally of locally. Our Group has been active in monitoring this in the CoR and have raised concerns relating to binding EU targets being imposed on local Councils, for instance. We also work with our Group in the European Parliament through the Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group in addressing the subsidiarity angle of EU legislation.” Andrew Lewer MBE MEP stated that “the EU’s structural funds account for 35% of the EU budget and this spending needs quite radical reform. I call for it to be part of the UK’s reform negotiations ahead of the In/Out Referendum in order to put the greatest possible pressure upon EU institutions to take the need for change seriously.” Recalling that “localism” is one of the founding principles of the ECR political family, he said “we have achieved closer working relations between our ECR Members in the EP and in the CoR. This helps greatly with our mission to devolve power down to the level closest to the people wherever possible.” Mr Lewer gave examples of the reforms that were being achieved through

the fruitful cooperation among ECR Group members, such as securing territorial impact assessments of EU legislation so that the local impact could be measured and the ECR Policy Group on Subsidiarity and Localism, working on: better regulation, local opportunities in energy union proposals and a “subsidiarity scoreboard”.

However, a lot of pollution is blown across the Channel from Europe and London is being fined for pollution which it did not emit,” said Mr Evans. Mr Evans welcomes that the European Commission was changing its approach to regulation by repealing unnecessary rules and issuing new ones only if necessary.

Bob Neill MP, appointed the local government Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2012, argued it was important to give more powers to local and national governments in order to achieve greater democratic accountability in the EU. “The democratic deficit and unaccountability are massive in the European Commission, when compared with the institutions in the United Kingdom”, he said. Underlining the importance of following-up on the Localism Act in the UK, which Mr Neill was involved in as Cabinet Member, he emphasised that “ensuring a strong Conservative voice in the Committee of the Regions plays an important role in changing mind-sets about devolution”.

The annual Conference of Britain’s largest and the world’s oldest standing political party brings together party members, the press and the public. The Conference is an occasion for ideas, policies and plans for the year ahead to be presented and discussed. This year’s Conservative Party Conference took place in Manchester. The four day event concluded with a speech from the Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron MP.

Roger Evans AM explained the importance of allowing local policies to be tailored locally. “Local policy should not be dictated by Brussels. Because London is failing to achieve its emissions targets, we will be fined millions of pounds by the EU.

Roger Evans AM

ECR Group in the Committee of the Regions organises conference on localism ECR Group will be organising its first conference on localism in January 2016 in Budapest, Hungary. The conference will bring together conservative local, national and EU politicians and experts to discuss the role of local government in achieving a competitive and democratic system of governance that protects civil liberties and empowers citizens. The ECR Group will be holding its first conference on localism, which will look at what localism means for our systems of governance. It will look at the role of local government in building a system of governance that empowers individuals and protects their liberties and the important role of the different tiers of government and their degree of empowerment. Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (ECR Group President) explained that, “localism is about

empowering the individual and allowing decisions to be taken as close to our citizens as possible. A system of governance that protects citizens’ liberties is one that intervenes at the right level and only when necessary. This conference will aim to bring together politicians and experts from across Europe to engage in a dialogue about what greater localism means in practical terms and how we can better achieve it.” The Conference is due to take place in Budapest, Hungary in January 2016. It is due to bring together local, national and EU politicians and experts, who will discuss conservatism and localism, sustainable local policies, sound public



finance and innovation and entrepreneurship for what is expected to be an annual event. “We would like to use this conference to share and further develop ideas about what localism means for our systems of governance. In the EU, regional and local governments are responsible for approximately 1/3 of all public expenditure and 2/3 of all public investment. Yet, the EU has only recently started to look at the local and regional impacts of its legislation and is yet to involve local and regional authorities in its decision-making process on investment projects to be targeted on the ground”, said Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA.

The local dimension of the Energy Union - the ECR political family call for a more decentralised EU approach to energy policies The Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group, which brings together ECR Group Member of European Parliament and Committee of the Regions, met on September 15 to discuss the local context of the EU’s Energy Union strategy. The meeting brought together members of the UK parliament, Members of the European Parliament, local and regional politicians and experts in the field to discuss the most pressing challenges and identify solutions in the run-up to the Commission report to the European Council on progress towards the Energy Union ahead of the European Council meeting in December 2015. Among the speakers was Lord Howell (former UK Energy Minister), Professor Friedbert Pflüger (Director of the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) at King’s College London), and Mr Marek Gróbarczyk (European Parliament rapporteur on the Energy Union). Energy Union. Also, for the Energy Union to be successful, it will have to move beyond binding targets. Currently, the UK, France and the Netherlands are set to miss their renewable energy targets set for the year 2020 for instance. We have to ask ourselves if the way to generate greater energy to meet the growing demands is by forcing targets and monitoring them furiously.”

From left to right: Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA and Adam Banaszak with the EP rapporteur on the Energy Union, Józef Gróbarczyk MEP (PL/ECR)

The Energy Union features high on the EU agenda. The European Council made the Energy Union one of its five priorities and reiterated the goal of building an Energy Union during its October 2014 meeting. The European Commission also made the ‘Framework strategy for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy’ one of its ten priorities for its 2014-2019 mandate. The Energy Union package published by the Commission and the corresponding Council Conclusions have important local and regional dimension. Local and regional authorities within the EU are pursuing and implementing policies to meet targets and objectives set by the EU: increasing renewables to minimum 27% of EU energy use and improving energy efficiency by a minimum of 27% by 2030. The Commission is due to report to the European Council on progress towards the Energy Union ahead of the European Council meeting in December 2015. It is against this backdrop that the local and regional aspects of the Energy Union were analysed.

The European Commission has set out plans to address Europe’s energy insecurity and high energy prices by focusing on five dimensions while developing the Energy Union. These five dimensions are as follows - security of supply, a fully-integrated internal energy market, energy efficiency, emissions reductions, and research and innovation. Opening the conference organised jointly by the ECR Group’s in the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions on September 15, Andrew Lewer MBA MEP (Chairman of the Subsidiarity and Localism Policy Group) highlighted that the Energy Union Package has an important local dimension that required greater analysis in the EU. Mr Lewer MEP explained that “aspects of the EU Energy Union will be implemented locally. Each measure has a compliance cost that has to be met by local authorities. We need to take a closer look at if binding targets are really in line with the principle of subsidiarity when designing and implementing the EU

During the first session, current policy challenges were identified and discussed. The session chaired by ECR Group President Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA (Leader of Tandridge District Council) included Lord Howell (Chairman of the Windsor Energy Group and the UKs former Minister for Energy), who was a key-note speaker. Dr Fraser Cameron (EURussia Centre Director), Cllr Kay Twitchen (ECR Group Deputy Coordinator on ENVE and Essex County Council, Deputy Cabinet Member) and Prof. Friedbert Pflüger (Director, European Centre of Energy and Resource Security, King’s College, London) as panellists, identified challenges of supply and geo-strategy ranging from sustainable sources, the Russia factor and the turmoil in the Middle East. Cllr Twitchen underlined the additional challenges created for local authorities through binding targets and underlined the importance of a bottom-up localism approach. Cllr Twitchen explained that “binding targets impede economic growth and social progress. They box local and regional authorities into committing their limited funds into one area at the expense of other equally important areas. Local and regional authorities should be given the flexibility to adjust their budgets to the local needs. No region is the same and a


From left to right: Cllr Harvey Siggs, Oldřich Vlasák, Ilpo Haalisto, Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE FCA, Lord Howell, Andrew Lewer MEP, Cllr Robert Gordon CBE, Cllr Kay Twitchen OBE, Cllr Judith Wallace, Cllr Joseph Cooney

one-size-fits-all approach is not helpful.” The second session analysed policy solutions. The session was kicked-off with a key-note speech from Mr Marek Józef Gróbarczyk MEP (EP rapporteur on the Energy Union) where he outlined the key points from, his report in the European Parliament and gave insight into the interinstitutional debate. Speakers included Ambassador Arne Walther and Daiva Matonienė (CoR rapporteur on sustainable cities, Deputy Mayor of Šiauliai, Deputy Minister of Environment of Lithuania). Ms Matonienė underlined that “many of our regions face common challenges and we need a strong bottom-up approach in addressing these. It is only through a bottom-up approach that we can achieve greater market integration, help to build citizens’ trust, and put an end to energy isolation of our regions and countries.” Ms Matonienė also reiterated the Committee of the Regions’ Climate Change, Environment and Energy Commission’s call on national energy regulatory bodies to include local authority representatives. The panellists concluded that energy concerns can only be addressed by using a strong bottom-up approach with energy policies coordinated at the EU level that have the appropriate degree of flexibility. It was underlined



that the European Commission should identify best practices together with local authorities with panellists noting that a “one size fits all” approach was not the best way of making the most of our different local contexts. It was underlined that the EU has a huge list of binding targets, some of which put the principle of subsidiarity into question. Furthermore, it was underlined that the local impact of these targets is sometimes poorly assessed and that a territorial impact assessment for binding energy targets is needed. Overall, the panellists underlined that while social and environmental concerns are important, four additional challenges that the EU energy market has been facing include: (1) affordability; (2) reliability; (3) decarbonisation; and (4) localism and subsidiarity. It was underlined that when deciding about policy solutions, only an assessment based along these five interlinked strands could produce good results. Furthermore, panellists concluded that energy diversification is key to this process. Apart from renewables, it was noted that governments should not forget about building smarter nuclear power plants, carbon capture and storage technology, developing more efficient coal-fired power stations, building new pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. The panellists concluded that only by using different solutions the EU will be able to successfully bring down the cost of energy.

Panellists also emphasised the need to focus on the development of new technologies that may help counterbalance the environmental impact of carbon sources, with carbon capture and storage given as a key example. It was underlined that according to all scientific projections, Europe will not be able to replace coal, gas and oil with clean sources for a long time. Renewable energy is very important but it is still difficult to store. Some of the speakers mentioned that the EU should therefore adopt a “technology-neutral approach to decarbonisation”, meaning that the Union should not discriminate against any source of energy implying that each country should be allowed to determine its own energy mix and decide on its own approach to decarbonisation. Some panellists also underlined the potential of technologies, such as geological storage, that reduce the negative environmental impacts to almost zero noting that it was the type of technology the EU must channel its invest towards and further develop. Also, among the main conclusions of the event was the call for regional centers of excellence to be supported by the EU as a means of capitalising on local and regional specifities and research. Overall, the event enabled policymakers and experts to collectively identify the range of challenges facing the energy market and outline the type of bottom-up approaches that would help address these challenges efficiently and effectively.

Members Activities Ms Matonienė meets the President of the European Investment Bank to discuss renovations of apartment buildings in Lithuania Ms Daiva Matonienė, in her capacity as Lithuania’s Deputy Minister for Environment, has been involved in renovations of apartment buildings since 2012. Her leadership on the renovation scheme was acknowledged by the President of the EIB who called it “one of Europe’s success stories”. Mr Werner Hoyer, the President of the European Investment Bank, visited Vilnius on 18 September to meet with Ms Daiva Matonienė – Lithuania’s Deputy Minister for Environment and ECR Group Coordinator in the ENVE Commission. Mr Hoyer congratuled Ms Matonienė on successfully implementing the renovation scheme in her home country, which he called “one of Europe’s success stories”. He also said that the implementation of the programme in Lithuania should serve as an example for other Member States. Ms Matonienė explained that the success stems from involvement and cooperation among all sixty Lithuanian municipalities. “This shows how important it is for the local authorities to become active project participants rather than just observers”, said the ECR Group Coordinator. Over 370 blocks have been already renovated

in Lithuania and 1,000 additional renovations are under way. For this purpose, more than €240 million was allocated and €150 million was earmarked. Mr Hoyer highlighted that the renovations programme is among the EIB’s priorities in the Baltic state. The EIB is working closely with the Ministries of Environment and Finance to improve the energy efficiency of old apartment buildings. The programme is financed by the so-called JESSICA Fund. The Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas Fund (JESSICA), is an initiative of the European Commission developed in co-operation with the EIB and the Council of Europe Development Bank. It supports sustainable urban development and regeneration through financial engineering mechanisms.

Daiva Matonienė

Mr Władysław Ortyl calls for investments in anti-flood systems in Poland ECR Group Member Mr Władysław Ortyl (Marshal of Podkarpackie voivodeship, Poland) presented representatives of World Bank and Council of Europe Development Bank with the plans to secure the Wisła river basin. Mr Władysław Ortyl, Marshal of the Podkarpackie region in Poland, called for more in-

vestments in anti-flood systems in his region (voivodeship) during a meeting he organised in September with representatives of the World Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank. Participants were presented with existing investment plans concerning securing the basin of the Wisła river. Visitors inspected parts of Poland, which are most vulnerable to floods. As regional leader, Mr Ortyl pointed that these lands are predominantly agricultural and industrial, and that many international companies are present in the area. He said that “investments are needed to protect local communities and the business sector”.

Marshal Władysław Ortyl

Out of the two crucial projects, called “Wisła stage 1” and “Wisła stage 2”, only the latter has so far secured co-financing from the World Bank. The main goal of the meeting was to present the former project concerning the expansion of the right embankment of the Wisła river from Tarnobrzeg up until the border with Świętokrzyskie voivodeship. Mr Winston Yu, representative of the World Bank, said that the projects will be analysed. He added that he was surprised to see how big the areas vulnerable to floods are, and that he was impressed by the flood prevention plans in place.

The Marshal thanked companies who operate in the region for supporting the local economy despite the risks. Mr Ortyl said that some businesses made the decision to relocate due to this insecurity.









































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