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March-April 2016

The activity report of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions

Editorial

The future of cohesion policy Europe’s cities and regions are facing many thematic challenges, which have a significant impact on the economic, social and territorial landscape of Europe. In the past decades, cohesion policy has proven that it can successfully address these challenges since many of the solutions to them lie at local and regional level. However, broader questions about deepening the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), better regulation and better spending are putting the future shape of cohesion policy into question. “We see, within the EU, some threatening tendencies towards disintegration

Two important tendencies are impacting our decision-making today, while working towards a better functioning European Union. One is a need for a long-term planning in order to better specify the direction in which towards we wish the EU to develop. The other one is an immediate response with to the Europe’s urgencies and crises. I believe that finding the fine right balance between the two is necessary for us in order to continue steering the EU in the right direction ahead, bringing benefits or and added value to our citizens. Lately, we have seen a worrying dominance prominence of the latter crisis response. The day we hoped to leave the financial crisis behind, we woke up with the neighbouring military conflicts in neighbouring Ukraine and Syria. Soon after we saved the euro and avoided a Grexit, a serious migration crisis and Brexit haunt us. With disintegration and disillusionment tendencies in Europe, we should not ourselves be derailed away from cooperation and solidarity that brought peace and stability to our part of the world. Perhaps even more today, it is necessary to focus also on the long-term, credible planning. Strengthening the future EU cohesion policy, completing the digital single market, creating a true energy union or and finding a constructive approach to the MFF’s mid-term review are just some of the topics we feel very much dedicated to, keeping the right balance, while helping to design EU policies. Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the CoR

IN THIS ISSUE

and disillusionment. We cannot afford to move away from cooperation and solidarity. Today it is even more necessary to focus on strengthening cohesion policy, rather than allowing it to be weakened” Michael Schneider, EPP/CoR Group President and European Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on the future of cohesion policy stressed at its conference on the Future of Cohesion Policy, on 3 March 2016. With the intention of entering the discussion on the future of the cohesion policy after 2020 at an early stage, the European Committee of the Regions has undertaken a process of

study and debate. The evidence gathered during this process will feed into President Michael Schneider’s opinion. Markku Markkula, Raffaele Cattaneo, Maria De Diego Durante1 and Barbara Schwarz also participated in this final conference of the series.

SEMINAR

From challenges to models European Committee of the Regions :: Brussels Room JDE 63 :: 13-07-2014 :: 09:30-13:00

The Future of Cohesion Policy

Summit between Turkey and the European Union

A summit between Turkey and the European Union took place on 7 March. Despite good implementation of the Joint Action Plan on migration, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council warned that “the flow of migrants passing from Turkey

to Greece remains much too high and needs to be brought down significantly”. Within this context, Anna Magyar, CoR rapporteur on Enlargement, is pleased that the Commission highlights the issue of migration, as the unprecedented influx of migrants

specifically affects Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, as well as EU Member States. “No solution can be found without joint efforts and mutual delivery of commitments. Dialogue between local communities can help to foster such agreements” she stressed. At their meeting on 17-18 March, EU leaders mainly discussed further steps to address the migration crisis, including the implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan, and priorities for the 2016 European semester. The Netherlands EU Presidency reported on the main initiatives to strengthen the single market.

eskills and entrepreneurship: still an EPP priority New disruptive business models, empowered by digital technologies and an entrepreneurial spirit are drivers of the so-called fourth industrial revolution. To allow companies to fully gasp the opportunities there is a need for Europe to develop the right skills and increase its talent pool to compete for the future. Ahead of the eskills4jobs event “Skilling up for the future of Europe” in the Hague on 16 March, where Markku Markkula, President of the

■ MEMBERS

ON THE

FIELD

European Committee of the Regions, will make a key note address, the EPP Group in the CoR has published a collection of essays from young Europeans making their demands to Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility in the hope that they will be taken on board for the upcoming new skills agenda for Europe.

■ QUOTES

Closing the gap: digital and entrepreneurial skills for all EUROPEAN UNION

Committee of the Regions

FROM THE

EPP

FAMILY

■ INTERVIEW


Ongoing opinions

MEMBERS ON THE FIELD

■ Smart Regions and Cities – Europe of Tomorrow

■ BANSKO – A lesson on nature, tradition, modernity from a leading mountainous city While preserving its nature and long tradition, Bansko has managed to distinguish itself as a competitive and innovative mountain region in Europe according to Mariya Gabriel, MEP and Vice-President of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, who hosted a conference entitled “Bansko – Nature, Tradition, Modernity”, in the Committee of the Regions of the European Union on 14 March. On behalf of the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions,

Anders Knape agreed with the need for better cooperation between mountainous areas in order to develop their potential. “Very often mountainous regions are disconnected from their surrounding areas, hindering economic development. Reliable local transport and communication networks for these areas is a basic requirement for territorial cohesion” he stated while also noting the importance of tourism and the need to make the most of existing EU funds and policies.

Dr. Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, addressed the European Democrat Students (EDS) on the topic of “Smart Regions and Cities – Europe of Tomorrow” during their Winter University in Berlin. He highlighted the significance of EDS’ resolution on Smart Cities at a time when regions were increasingly connected and Europe increasingly urbanised. He also claimed that educational opportunities in digitalisation and entrepreneurship needed to be increased in the future in order to make Europe more competitive. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of the Schengen area, both as one of the founding pillars of the European community and a prerequisite for the EU´s typical interregional cross-border co-operation. He closed his speech by saying “the EU means that we do not want borders”.

CIVEX

■ Protection of Refugees, Hans Janssen Adoption foreseen April 2016 ■ Enlargement Strategy 20152016, Anna Magyar Adoption foreseen June 2016

COTER

■ Mid-term revision of the Multiannual financial framework, Luc Van den Brande Adoption foreseen June 2016 ■ The future of Cohesion Policy beyond 2020, Michael Schneider Adoption foreseen 2017

ECON ■ Follow-up to the five Presidents’ report: Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union, Paul Lindquist Adoption foreseen April 2016 ■ Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy, Neale Richmond Adoption foreseen April 2016 ■ European Deposit Insurance Scheme, Hans-Jörg Duppré Adoption foreseen October 2016 ■ Bridging the Investment Gap: How to Tackle the Challenges?, Markku Markkula Adoption foreseen February 2017

■ Łódź for Expo 2022

SEDEC

■ Local Authorities call for new measures on milk market regulation Kicking off the candidacy of Łódź for the Expo International in 2022 on 10 March, Hanna Zdanowska, President of Łódź, explained the proposal for revitalisation is the main topic. “Revitalisation is an extremely important process, through which cities not only across Europe but all over the world may regain their former glory, and Łódź is the leader of this in Poland. We have provided former industrial sites with new functionalities and revived the city centre. As we have been conducting revitalization projects for a long time, enriched with the knowledge and experience in

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this field we would like to actively participate in the global debate on urban problems and ways to overcome them.”

CoR members’ discussion with the chair of the European Parliament’s AGRI Committee, Czesław Adam Siekierski, addressed the issue of milk price volatility. Jesús Gamallo, representing the region of Galicia, took the opportunity to call for new measures to guarantee fair prices for farmers and more measures in milk market regulation. During his speech, Mr Gamallo defended the specific circumstances of Galicia. It is Spain’s major milk-producing region and ranks ninth in EU28. Galicia produces 2.5 million tons of milk a year and has nearly 10.000 producers, represent-

The activity report of the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions

ing over half Spain’s producers. Mr Gamallo therefore stressed that Galicia’s milk sector is competitive and he further insisted on the need for price stability and transparency in the food chain in order to ensure the capacity to adapt to the new situation after the end of milk quotas.

■ Modernisation of the EU copyright rules, Arnoldas Abramavicius Adoption foreseen April 2016 ■ State of play of the EU response to the demographic challenge – Experiences and demands from Europe’s cities and regions, Juan Vicente Herrera Campo Adoption foreseen June 2016

ENVE ■ Delivering a New Deal for Energy Consumers, Michel Lebrun Adoption foreseen April 2016 ■ Waste Legislation Review, Domenico Gambacorta Adoption foreseen June 2016

NAT ■ Tourism: a driving force for regional cooperation across the EU , Hanspeter Wagner Adoption foreseen Oct 2016


Murcia to share water management expertise with ARLEM partners on 3 May The Region of Murcia has a strong European and Mediterranean vocation and therefore a firm commitment with the objectives of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM). “In the framework of its competences, the Region of Murcia is ready to offer know-how to contribute to economic integration and democratic reform in the Mediterranean through different approaches such as environment, energy, health or

migration. Particularly committed with the challenges in the field of water management, we would also like to maximise the potential of our Campus Mare Nostrum, the International Excellence Campus for Higher Education and Research, which makes the Region of Murcia a pole of international, high-quality education, science, business and culture in the Mediterranean area.” Pedro Antonio Sánchez López, President of the Autonomous Community of Murcia.

Ukraine Week: the path to reform Ukraine on its way to e-governance

Volodymyr Groysman, Chairman of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, was praised for his commitment to reforming Ukraine through decentralisation, during an address from Markku Markkula, President of

the European Committee of the Regions, on 1 March. His intervention was made to members of the Ukrainian Rada as part of Ukraine Week, organised by the European Parliament.

Since the Maydan revolution Digital Reform is a reform, new, not only to the current government, but to the whole country in general. Electronic documents turnover, digital signature, electronic registration of governmental permissions, open information on tenders, electronic petitions to the President, cyber security, and many other tools have been developed during recent two years. The common achievements of the Administration of the President, the Verkhovna Rada and the Agency on E-governance of

Ukraine, under the involvement of international experts, among them Michal Boni, Member to the European Parliament, the first Minister of Administration and Digitalization of Poland, have been actively working on development and adaptation of the current Ukrainian legislation to requirements of European Union. It has been highly important in order to effectively use the time and resources, which Ukraine has, fighting with armed conflict at the East of its territory still. During the conference we would

like to represent the common achievements of Ukrainian and European Parliament on Digital Policy of Ukraine. At an event in the Committee of the Regions on 19 April, participants will be able to actively discuss main milestones and develop common future strategy in order to join our efforts to support Ukraine in the most effective way. Michal Boni hosts a presentation of the Digital Strategy for Ukraine on 19 April at the European Committee of the Regions.

QUOTES FROM THE EPP FAMILY

The Commission is working with the national and regional authorities to identify how different EU instruments like the Structural and Investment Funds, the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund can help [with the arrival and integration of refugees.

“The EPP will play an active role in creating a fair and inclusive Pillar of Social Rights... We wholeheartedly support a more social Europe.” Daul Joseph Daul, President of the European People’s Party

Thyssen Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

“We will constructively lead the debate on EU-UK negotiations because we want a positive result.” Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament

March-April 2016

3


Local and regional authorities’ role in making the E.U. accessible to EU citizens An interview with Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness 1. The European Commission has chosen to focus on a limited number of priorities such as the Digital Single Market, the Energy Union and the Capital Markets Union, all of which are highly ambitious. What are your thoughts on this approach? Europe is facing unprecedented challenges. In this context, our responses need to ambitious in order to place Europe in the forefront of this change. A socially- and economically- inclusive Union is a principle that requires efforts in increasing competitiveness of European economies and companies as well as strengthening skills of European labour and citizens. Through the Digital Single Market project the Commission acknowledges that digital competencies and infrastructure form an integral part of social and economic inclusion in an environment of technological change. The financial crisis, on the other hand, illustrated the need to further strengthen the economic foundation of the European Union and the Single Market. The Capital Markets Union project ensures more diversified sources of finance for companies and particularly for SMEs to overcome the current investment gap. Finally, a secure and competitive European economy needs to be built on an affordable and climate-friendly energy provision that is resilient and stable. Europe’s growth will take place in the context of a transition into a low-carbon economy, an increased use of renewable energies and greater energy efficiency. Under the presidency of Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission has placed its focus on ten strategic priorities. The Digital Single Market, the Energy Union and the Capital Markets Union are essential components of these priorities with jobs and growth being the top priority. 2. Despite the vast challenges that Europe is facing, citizens are still asking for more Europe. Can you explain this? Europe is facing challenges, yet the scope of the migration crisis and the cross-border nature of terrorist threats show that no

Member State can deal with this situation alone. In order to address these challenges, we must deploy the full range of our diplomatic, economic, defence and security efforts. This means dedicating the appropriate funding to improve the management of our external borders, exchanging information to fight and prevent migrant smuggling, and developing new online tools to prevent individuals from becoming radicalised, everywhere on the continent. These objectives can only be achieved through effective co-operation and co-ordination of our efforts. And in these circumstances, solidarity is more needed than ever. EU citizens are conscious of that reality and this why they are asking for a stronger and more united Europe to protect them. 3. The structural funds are arguably the most visible sign of EU support in Europe’s regions and cities. Do you think that projects supported by the Investment Fund can also serve to better promote EU priorities on the ground? Structural and regional funds are indeed an important channel through which the EU delivers wellbeing to its citizens and ensures viability of the Member State economies. In the next few years, under the current Regional Policy framework set from 2014 to 2020 two separate but complementary funding sources, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) will invest side-by-side in Member States and their regions. With investment in Europe currently 15% below the pre-crisis level, the EFSI and the ESIF form part of Commission’s effort for a coordinated and collective response to counter this investment gap. Although EFSI and ESIF are two separate mechanisms, they complement each other by targeting largely same strategic sectors, providing financial support for SMEs and mid-caps, and operating in strategic sectors including transport, energy and the digital economy, environment and resource efficiency; human capital and research and

innovation. The funding through EFSI and ESIF is an important way to deliver EU policy to promote our core objectives on the ground. By focusing on strategic sectors and industries across the European economy, these funds reinforce President Juncker’s idea that Europe needs to be big on big things and small on small things. 4. Do you think that local and regional authorities have a role to play in getting citizens on board and enthusiastic about the European project? Local and regional authorities are already playing a huge role in making the E.U. accessible to all EU citizens. For many citizens, local authorities are acting as the front door to the European project, raising awareness on decisions taken at the EU level and playing an active part in the implementation of EU funds and projects. Over the course of a few decades, local and regional authorities have also contributed to make the Europe a reality for many cross-border workers, by facilitating the emergence of trans-border zones and ensuring that their rights are duly respected. Regional authorities across Europe

are also playing an increasing role in economic development of their territories and hence constitute an essential part of our EU growth, investment and employment strategy. More generally, I think that local and regional authorities enable EU-wide dynamics and projects to be anchored in various networks, in a very concrete manner, and in a way which best fits the aspirations of local communities. In that sense, they represent the first gateway to the European project and should help generate the enthusiasm we need to develop it further.

Secretary General: Heinz-Peter Knapp | Editor in chief: Kathryn Owens, kathryn.owens@cor.europa.eu, +32 2 282 2400 | Press Officer: Dominik Krakowiak This issue is also available at www.epp.cor.europa.eu | Join us on

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rEPPorter newsletter, March-April 2016  

The activity report of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions. Articles include the future of cohesion policy, EU-Turkey Sum...

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