Newsletter o f the European So c ial istt s in the C ommi tte e of the Re g i ons
O c to ber 20 13
NEWS OF THE PES GROUP IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS 02 FEATURES
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL (JULY 2013-DECEMBER 2013) 03 PLENARY SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS (8-9 OCTOBER 2013)
AND NOW OVER TO PES MEMBERS
NEWS OF THE PARTY OF EUROPEAN SOCIALISTS
12 Dear Friends, Welcome to the second ‘half’ of the year, which is, as we know, always shorter than the first one. After the summer, we have all come back to a very busy couple of months which are marked by the preparation of our budgets and, for many of us, by elections. It was good to see so many of you in Burgenland and our thanks go to our hosts and all participants who made the extraordinary Group meeting a great platform to discuss our contribution to the upcoming European election process, and the key issue of how to ‘energise Europe’ in order to make it sustainable. Since then, we have seen a very important election in Germany, and we still have to discuss which lessons to draw from this event. It shows yet again the enormous impact a national election can have on European affairs.
w w w. p e s . co r. e u ro p a . e u Published by | PES Group Secretariat Rue Belliard 101 | 1040 Brussels +32.2.282.22.23 | email@example.com
From now on, all eyes and all our energies should be focussing on the next key electoral appointment: the European elections in May 2014. The challenges are enormous: we need to mobilise people and convince them that this European election is about our future, and that of our continent, and that it matters greatly. We need to explain to them in particular that this election for the European Parliament and the president of the European Commission is a real political choice.
There are different ways to tackle the EU’s problems and to build a European future, and the social-democratic way must be set out clearly, focussing on investing in our people and creating the conditions for fair and sustainable growth. The process for nominating the PES candidate for the office of Commission president has been launched, and we should all play our part in it, so that a truly European candidate can then lead a truly European campaign. The EU financial and political crisis have the effect that the European dimension is becoming much more visible. We now have to work hard to make sure that the European dimension, despite everything the populists may say, remains a positive element of the campaign and a part of our way to shape the future. Local and regional representatives are the most credible ‘witnesses’ to tell this to citizens in all EU member states. The CoR’s activities on communicating Europe such as the Open Days, for example, our work on opinions and our contribution to the European election campaign are all part of this story. With social-democratic greetings,
Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ President of the PES Group in the CoR
News of the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions T
he 2013 PES Group photo competition “Europe, I have something to tell you”, inspired by the theme of the 2013 European Year of Citizens, attracted wide interest amongst European amateur photographers. With more than 1200 entries from all over Europe, this year’s participation has beaten the Group’s all previous records. The jury will select the winning photos in October.
he PES Group held its annual external meeting at the invitation of the President of the Burgenland region, Hans Niessl and of the leader of the SPÖ Group in the Burgenland Parliament, Christian Illedits, in Frauenkirchen, Austria on 12 and 13 September 2013. Under the overall theme ‘Energising Europe’, the meeting consisted of two parts: a public debate on European Elections 2014: What issues for CrossBorder Regions, and a discussion on Europe’s Decentralised Energy Future through Renewables. Key speakers of the public debate held on 12 September were Hannes Swoboda, leader of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, Member of the Salzburg Parliament and Chair of the Socialist Group in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, and PES Group member
Milan Ftacnik, Mayor of Bratislava. Gérard Magnin, Advisor to the French government and Executive Director of Energy Cities, Karin Kadenbach, MEP (S&D Group), Neil Swannick, PES Group Coordinator in the ENVE commission, and other invited speakers from business and research centres involved in preparing the transition to renewable energies took part in the discussion on Europe’s decentralised energy future, held on 13 September. After the debate, the Group participated in a public ceremony which marked the Burgenland Region’s becoming electricity self-sufficient with a large share of renewable energy from wind, water and biomass.
local authorities promote understanding of CSR and help SMEs implementing CSR strategies and practices? How to strengthen dialogue and engagement of policymakers, the business community and the local community? Which public policies can promote a more strategic and integrated approach for developing CSR in SMEs in a specific regional context? How to guarantee funding for CSR initiatives? How can we monitor
inally, in the framework of the 2013 CoR Open Days, the PES Group is organising on 9 October a workshop on “Corporate Social Responsibility: Cities and regions unlocking the CSR potential”. The workshop will present challenges and good practices of public policy in promoting CSR at regional and local level, focusing on CSR in small and medium enterprises. Key questions to be addressed include: How can regional and
and evaluate the impact of CSR initiatives? The PES Group’s ECOS coordinator, Mia De Vits, VicePresident of the Flemish Parliament (Belgium), PES members Claude Gewerc, President of Picardie Region (France), and Albert Bore, Leader of the Birmingham City Council (UK), as well as CSR experts involved in the promotion of CSR on the ground will be among the panellists.
FEATURES NEWCOMERS: CROATIA’S ACCESSION TO THE EU
n 1 July 2013, the EU welcomed its 28th EU Member State, some twenty one years after the international recognition of the Republic of Croatia in January 1992. The country applied for EU membership in February 2003, negotiations were officially launched in October 2005 and the accession treaty was signed in December 2011. A referendum on Croatia’s accession was held in the country in January 2012 and the Croatian Parliament ratified the accession treaty in March 2012. The first European Parliament elections in Croatia were held in April 2013 and the country is now represented by 12 MEPs, 5 of whom belong to the Social Democratic Party SDP. Voters could give a preferential vote to one of the candidates on the lists, and it is Tonino Picula, SDP MEP, who was the most successful candidate in the EP elections. Croatia joined the CoR with a delegation of 9 full and 9 alternate members.
Commenting on Croatia’s accession, PES Group President Karl-Heinz Lambertz stated: “I am delighted to see that a progressive-led country is joining the European family and am looking forward to strengthening ties with the Social Democratic Party of Croatia”. He went on to remind the fruitful discussions on industrial policy held with the Social Democratic Party leader and now PM of Croatia, Zoran Milanovic, during the Group’s external meeting in Rijeka in September 2012, at the invitation of mayor Vojko Obersnel, now Head of the Croatian delegation to the CoR.
Karl-Heinz Lambertz added: “I am particularly looking forward to closely cooperating with the newly appointed progressive Croatian CoR members, who joined our Group. I am sure that they will play a valuable role in bringing in their experience, and in putting forward a progressive European social agenda through their active participation both in the CoR and on the ground”. The President was also very complimentary concerning the gender balance of the Croatian delegation within the PES Group, numbering four women amongst its 7 full and alternate members. The Head of the Croatian delegation to the CoR, Vojko Obersnel noted: “There are many joint initiatives ahead of us, which will help us, from the position of local government and in a spirit of good partnership, take forward the EU in order to provide all European citizens with a better living, especially in the current, still difficult period of time, with the economic crisis continuing to take its toll across the EU”.
The PES Group members of the Croatian delegation are as follows: Vojko Obersnel, Mayor of the City of Rijeka (Head of the Delegation, full member) Snježana Bužinec, Mayor of the Municipality of Jakovlje (full member) Jelena Pavičić Vukičević, Member of the Assembly of City of Zagreb (full member) Blanka Glavica-Ječmenica, Member of the Council of Municipality of Maruševec (alternate member) Ivana Posavec Krivec, Member of the Assembly of Zagreb County (alternate member) Andrija Rudić, Mayor of the City of Kutina (alternate member)
Željko Sabo, Mayor of the City of Vukovar (alternate member)
Lithuanian Presidency of the Council (July 2013-December 2013) T
he Lithuanian Presidency is the second in the Trio of Presidencies having started with the Irish (January 2013 - July 2013) and concluding with the Greek Presidency (January 2014 – July 2014).
and taking forward legislative proposals in the field of financial market reforms. The Presidency’s key task is to implement agreed reforms in terms of economic governance, and to deepen the Economic and Monetary Union.
This Trio comes at the end of the current legislative cycle: the European elections are taking place in May 2014 and the mandate of the current European Commission ends in October 2014. The main overarching objective for the Trio is to strengthen the EU’s capacity to respond to the current economic, financial and social challenges.
Under Growing Europe, the Lithuanian Presidency will seek to further deepen the Single Market by completing the initiatives of the Single Market Act I, advancing the new initiatives under Single Market Act II, and facilitating the Single Market Governance. A dynamic Digital Single Market is also a key priority. The Presidency will also continue work aimed at completing the internal energy market by 2014 and at ensuring that no Member State is left out of the European energy networks after 2015.
The programme of the Lithuanian Presidency is built on three key mottos: Credible Europe, Growing Europe and Open Europe. Under Credible Europe, the Presidency will seek to work towards sounder public finances and greater financial stability for the EU. This includes further developing the Banking Union framework
Summit in November 2013. The continuation of the enlargement process, smarter control of the EU’s external borders and better coordination of the external dimension of EU energy policy are also key priorities. Furthermore, the Presidency will promote free trade with strategic partners such as the USA, Japan, or Canada and it will boost the Common Security and Defence Policy.
Finally, under Open Europe, the Presidency will focus on closer integration of the EU and its Eastern Partners, hosting the Eastern Partnership
Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions (8-9 October 2013) The October plenary session will examine 17 draft opinions, 3 of which by PES rapporteurs. The works will begin on 7 October with a political debate with Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, on the implementation of 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes, followed by the opening session of the 2013 edition of OPEN DAYS focusing on “Europe’s regions and cities taking off for 2020”. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, will be among the key speakers. In the course of the discussions on the opinions, there will also be statements from Danuta Hübner, Chair of the European Parliament’s REGI Committee, and Rimantas Sadzius, Finance Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, representing the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It is worth noting that in the framework of the Open Days, the PES Group will organise a workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility: cities and regions unlocking the CSR potential (Read more under News of the PES Group, p. 02).
OPINIONS IN BRIEF
Social Investment Package for growth and cohesion: Ahmed Aboutaleb (PES/Netherlands)
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he draft opinion by the Mayor of Rotterdam responds to a European Commission’s package setting out the policy framework, actions to be taken by Member States and
the Commission, and guidance on the use of EU funds in prioritising social investment. The opinion reiterates a series of concrete proposals elaborated during the PES Group’s seminar held on 10 June in Rotterdam. They cover in particular the call for a Social Investment Pact (instead of a “package” only), which would set binding targets for Member States’ social investments, as well as a European agenda for Social Housing, and the need to improve the quality and accessibility of social services of general interest on the basis of Article 14 TFEU. The rapporteur also stresses that many local and regional authorities already implement successful programmes to address the challenges mentioned in the Social Investment Package (SIP) and are the main pillar of social security and social inclusion structures and services, and they should therefore be duly involved in the implementation of the SIP. Last but not least, the rapporteur underlines the importance of exploring the use of new financial instruments, such as social investment bonds, to ensure social returns on investment and to increase the leverage of public social investments. The draft opinion was adopted by an overwhelming majority at ECOS commission level.
EU Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change Neil Swannick (PES/United Kingdom)
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he draft opinion of the Labour Member of Manchester City Council was adopted unanimously by the ENVE commission and will be presented in plenary under the simplified
procedure. A number of amendments will be presented by the PES Group to further enhance the text (Read more under ENVE, p. 09, and Interview, p. 10).
Green Infrastructure Annabelle Jaeger (PES/France)
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he draft opinion by the member of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur takes as its basis a European Commission’s communication aimed at implementing the EU’s biodiversity strategy through the protection and improvements of Europe’s natural capital. The communication supports the deployment of green infrastructure in urban and rural areas, argues for more effective use of green infrastructure and for the exchange of best practices, highlights the need to improve the availability of data and expertise, and calls for the development of innovative financing mechanisms to support investments in green infrastructure projects. The PES rapporteur Annabelle Jaeger welcomes the European Commission’s proposal as a key step towards including biodiversity concerns on an equal footing into the overall development of an EU policy for sustainability. She also stresses the primary role of local and regional authorities in defining and implementing green infrastructure projects, by integrating them in their spatial and urban planning strategies, and by involving stakeholders and local communities. The rapporteur also urges the Commission to swiftly draw up concrete implementation guidelines on integrating green infrastructure into other EU policies, and highlights the need to better monitor and assess the impact and the often positive cost-effects of green infrastructure, in particular in comparison with the traditional ‘grey’ infrastructure. Last but not least, she emphasises the urgency of providing sufficient EU funding for green infrastructure projects, and of ensuring that the impact of different kinds of infrastructure on biodiversity is taken into account in all supported projects. The draft opinion was adopted by overwhelming majority in the ENVE commission, but some debate will continue in plenary some further amendments are likely to be tabled (Read more under interviews, p. 11).
Annual EU budgetary procedure 2014 Luc Van Den Brande (EPP/Belgium)
and available data such as CO2 emissions, as well as calling on the Commission to publish a study on the impact of new technologies choices on labour intensiveness. The opinion was adopted byy majority j y byy ECOS members.
he opinion by Luc Van den Brande (on the annual EU budgetary procedure 2014 is the output of a long-standing EPP idea that the CoR should become more involved in the EU interinstitutional annual budgetary procedures and execution, whilst the CFAA commission would remain competent for all issues related to the annual CoR budget. At the end of the day, the 2014 test-case is not very conclusive. The draft opinion remains indeed rather general and refers to many issues which are part of the MFF negotiations rather than the annual budget 2014. More importantly, the negotiations on the MFF have first considerably delayed the procedure for the budget 2014 and then have forced the actors of the budgetary procedure to a last-minute sprint, which is too fast for the CoR’s normal procedures. Mr. Van den Brande’s draft opinion was thus presented to the BUDG commission after the Council of the EU had adopted on 2 September its position on the 2014 EU draft budget. It is therefore excluded that the CoR opinion, adopted at the October plenary, when the annual budgetary procedure 2014 should be close to completion, would have any impact. The PES Group is therefore going to table an amendment requesting that any future CoR opinion on an annual budget of a year X should be presented ideally before the European Commission adopts its draft annual budget in April of the year X-1, or at least prior to the presentation of the draft budget by the Council in July of the year X-1.
CARS 2020: Action Plan for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry in Europe Christian Buchmann (EPP/Austria)
hile welcoming in general the European Commission’s communication, which proposes an Action Plan for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry in Europe, the draft opinion by the Styrian regional government minister stresses the need to better take account of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which play an important role in the automotive industry as innovators in the supply chain and in creating jobs. He also emphasises the important role of structural funds, which should also be used for training of employees, and reiterates the CoR’s call for more flexible instruments to support firms in difficulty (relevant opinion on State aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty drafted by Christophe Rouillon, PES/France). The rapporteur also calls on the industry to step up the development of alternative propulsion technologies and to enable the marketing of practical solutions so that climate goals can be reached. The ECOS commission adopted the amendments tabled by PES/ECOS coordinator Mia De Vits, proposing the development of European guidelines on financial incentives to promote clean vehicles, which must be based on objective
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Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan Pawel Adamowicz (EPP/Poland)
he relevant European Commission’s communication aims at fostering a culture of entrepreneurship in Europe by providing better access to finance, delivering high quality business support services, creating role models and reaching out to specific groups. The draft opinion by the Mayor of Gdańsk underlines the need for greater involvement of regional and local authorities, who play an important role in key areas of the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan (education and training, provision of transparent administrative practices, creation of a supportive environment for entrepreneurs, and promotion of entrepreneurship), and are responsible for shaping regional entrepreneurial strategies. The rapporteur also stresses the role of SMEs as the main driver for job creation and economic growth in Europe. The ECOS commission adopted the opinion by majority and endorsed the PES amendments reiterating the CoR position for a new category of mid-sized enterprises (relevant opinions on Industrial policy by Claude Gewerc and Regional state aid by Jean-Paul Denanot), which could receive appropriate rates of aid, higher than those for large enterprises and lower than those for SMEs. No major controversies are foreseen in p plenaryy session.
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Long-term financing of the European economy Uno Silberg (EA/Estonia)
he draft opinion of the Councillor of the Rural Municipality of Kose l responds to a European Commission Green Paper aimed at improving long-term financing and investment in the European economy. Whereas the draft opinion highlights the need to pay greater attention to local and regional circumstances in provisions and measures on long-term financing and investment, it is rather incoherent and lacking a clear focus. The opinion was adopted by majority and ECOS members endorsed PES amendments reiterating the CoR’s call for the separation of current spending and investment in the budget deficit calculations so as to avoid investments with long-term net benefits being impeded
4th Railway Package Pascal Mangin (EPP/France)
he draft opinion by the Member of Alsace Regional Council responds to a legislative package aimed at enhancing the quality and efficiency of rail services by removing remaining legal, institutional and technical obstacles and improving, the performance of the railway sector and its competiveness. The draft opinion addresses a number of issues that have local and regional relevance, in particular regarding the opening of domestic passenger markets to competition, which also implies changes to the rules for awarding public service contracts, and to the provisions on infrastructure governance. At COTER commission level, PES shadow rapporteur Bernard Soulage had tabled a series of amendments, some of which were politically sensitive, in particular on the remits of public service obligations and the date of entry into force of the package. These issues are expected to be intensely debated once again at the CoR plenary session.
Urban-rural Partnership and Governance Romeo Stavarache (ALDE/Romania)
he draft own-initiative opinion by the Mayor of Bacău Municipality addresses the issue of territorial planning organised at the level of administrative territorial units (versus «functional areas»). However, it does not consider the interdependence of the urban-rural dimension in a plethora of areas (such as transport, commuting, education, healthcare, water and waste services, business transactions, access to natural resources, culture and leisure activities), which, if not properly addressed, may have a negative impact on territorial cohesion. The rapporteur makes a series of proposals, including setting up a legal and financial framework at regional, national and European levels to foster the development of partnerships; better linking the provision of public services and business opportunities created by urban/rural collaboration; recognising functional regions and cross-border urbanrural partnerships as eligible for funding in the framework of the European Structural Funds. At COTER commission level, the draft opinion was adopted by majority. There are no major controversies expected for the plenary.
opinions (in particular, the General regulation by Catiuscia Marini, and the Multiannual financial framework post-2013 by Mercedes Bresso) and with the CoR stance on key political issues, such as macro-conditionality and the performance reserve. On the two latter issues, the PES COTER members managed to remove ambiguities from the draft opinion. However, the text still has to be significantly improved at plenary level.
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Local Authorities in Development Cooperation Hans Janssen (EPP/Netherlands)
he draft opinion of the Mayor of Oisterwijk was adopted unanimously by the CIVEX commission and will be presented in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under CIVEX, p. 08).
A framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management Paul O’ Donoghue (ALDE/Ireland)
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Recommendation of local and regional authorities for better spending in the new financial perspective 2014-2020 Alberto Nuñez Feijoo (EPP/Spain)
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esponding to a referral by the Lithuanian Presidency of the European Council, the draft opinion by the President of the Autonomous Community of Galicia lists a number of elements on how to increase better spending, including: decentralised implementation; greater internal flexibility in the reallocation of programme resources; alternative approaches of standard costs as a model for approval and justification of spending; and private co-financing, bonds and loan-based instruments to complement cohesion policy. However, the substance of the text lacks coherence with previous CoR
he draft opinion by the Member of Kerry County Council and South West Regional Authority responds to a European Commission proposal for a directive aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of maritime and coastal activities and the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources. However, the proposed directive, which proposes a framework for a systematic, coordinated, inclusive and crossborder approach to integrated maritime governance, has raised reservations in several national and regional parliaments, contesting both its necessity and added-value. Whereas the S&D rapporteur in the European Parliament, Isabelle Thomas (France) supports the general approach of the directive, she calls for due consideration to be given to the existing instruments within Members States. Following the inter-institutional debate and the discussion in the NAT commission, which adopted the opinion by majority, further PES plenary amendments will be put forward in plenary.
The Sustainability of Rural Areas
Industrial Policy for the Space Industry Adam Struzik (EPP/Poland)
Jerzy Zająkała (EA/Poland)
he draft own-initiative by the Mayor of Łubianka looks at a series of EU policies which have an impact on rural areas and on their sustainable development, and which are funded either under the second pillar of the Common Agriculture Policy or by the structural and cohesion funds. The rapporteur highlights the importance of functional links between those areas and urban areas, and advocates setting up territorial partnerships between rural and urban municipalities. He also stresses the need to better address a series of new challenges, such as the effect of climate change, biodiversity loss and other environmental problems, the diminishing countryside, particularly the amount of agricultural land, as well as the issue of the ageing population. At the NAT commission meeting, the draft opinion was adopted by majority following a series of compromise amendments, but further PES amendments, aiming at harmonising the opinion with the CoR position on the CAP reform, are to be expected in plenary.
Guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks Alin-Adrian Nica (ALDE/Romania)
he draft opinion of the Mayor of Dudeştii Noi, to be adopted via the accelerated procedure due to the tight inter-institutional calendar, responds to the European Commission’s amended proposal for a regulation. The European Commission had already issued guidelines on this topic in November 2011 and Mr. Nica was the CoR rapporteur (opinion adopted by the May 2012 CoR plenary). The guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks are part of the European Commission’s «Connecting Europe Facility» (CEF), a plan to fund investment with a view to improving Europe’s transport, energy and digital networks. On the basis of the European Council conclusions of 8 February 2013 on a new Multiannual Financial Framework, which set the budget for “CEF Digital” at EUR 1 billion (whereas the initial Commission proposal was 9.2 billion), the Commission now proposes to modify its proposal for a Regulation. The modified proposal focuses the CEF intervention on a smaller number of digital service infrastructures, based on a stringent set of criteria for prioritisation, and a limited contribution to broadband via financial instruments, with a view to leverage private investment as well as investment from public sources other than CEF. The rapporteur-general welcomes the guidelines, recognising that he priorities set out in the amended proposal (high-speed networks, cross-border public services, access to PSI and multilingual services, safety and security and smart energy services) are all domains in which the cities and regions are simultaneously actors, providers and beneficiaries. He also welcomes the fact that the amended proposal duly acknowledges the role of local and regional authorities. Adoption by the plenary is not expected to be controversial.
s the draft opinion of the Marshal of the Mazovia Region was adopted unanimously by the ENVE commission, it will be presented in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under ENVE, p. 09).
Green Paper on a European Strategy on Plastic Waste Linda Gilham (EA/United Kingdom)
he draft opinion by the Member of Runnymede Borough Council broadly welcomes the European Commission’s proposals on plastic waste, but points to a lack of overall coherence and to slow strategic planning in the context of the overall waste policy. The opinion supports the adoption of a ban on the landfilling of plastic waste by 2020 and clear recycling and recovery targets, but also acknowledges that there are big differences in performance between Member States to date. The rapporteur also calls on the European Commission to adopt in future reviews an integrated approach to all plastics including electrical waste (WEEE), end-of-life vehicles (ELV) and packaging, and she supports the introduction of specific and achievable targets for the recycling and recovery of plastic waste, to be harmonised in all relevant EU directives. At ENVE commission level, a series of amendments tabled by Hermann Kuhn were adopted, highlighting in particular the importance of waste prevention. The opinion was adopted by majority. Further PES amendments in plenary will focus on a ban on plastic bags, on the controversial proposal to make ‘pay-as-you-throw’ schemes for bulky waste compulsory, and on the numerous chemical components of different kinds of plastic which need to be either clearly labelled in order to facilitate recycling, or banned if they are too dangerous.
Local and regional authorities’ perspective on shale / tight gas and oil Brian Meaney (EA/Ireland)
he draft own-initiative opinion by the Councillor of Clare County and Mid-West Regional Authority takes an overall critical stance on the exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons. He stresses that local and regional authorities should possess the right to exclude sensitive areas (e.g. potable water protection zones, villages, arable land, etc.) from possible Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development activities. Moreover, local and regional authorities should be strengthened in their autonomy to decide about the banning or licencing of Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development in their territory. He also calls on the European Commission to identify gaps and shortcomings in existing environmental provisions applicable to unconventional hydrocarbons affecting local and regional authorities, and requests that unconventional hydrocarbons projects should be systematically made subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The ENVE commission adopted the amendments tabled by PES members Hermann Kuhn and Neil Swannick, advocating the transition towards renewable energies, and stressing that unconventional hydrocarbons are not sustainable in terms of climate change and long-term energy supply. The opinion was adopted by majority. Further amendments in plenary are to be expected as the issue is controversial, and divisions along national lines - with some countries or regions having banned exploration of unconventional hydrocarbons, while others are very keenly pursuing it - are likely to become visible in the debate.
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COR commissions : What’s new? CIVEX (Bolzano, Italy, 8-9 July 2013)
he CIVEX commission held its meeting in Bolzano-Bozen at the invitation of Luis Durnwalder (EPP/Italy), Chair of the Bolzano Autonomous Provincial Executive, and Herwig Van Staa, President of the neighbouring Tirol Regional Assembly (EPP/Austria). CIVEX adopted unanimously the draft opinion on Local Authorities in Development Cooperation, by Hans Jansen, Mayor of Oisterwijk (EPP/ Netherlands). The opinion responds to a long awaited European Commission communication which recognises and develops the position of local and regional authorities as partners in EU development policy, in cooperation with, but distinct from other partners and actors such as central governments and civil society organisations. A key concern of the CoR in this opinion is to strengthen the role of local and regional authorities in the recipient countries, in particular by including a reference to them and their role in any agreement on priorities or delivery of development aid between the EU and partner countries. This requires appropriate support (both political and financial) to decentralization and the empowerment of LRAs and their associations in the partner countries. The opinion is not controversial and adoption in p y is expected p y plenary to run smoothly.
incidents of Member States re-introducing border controls in response to migration movements. The working document takes a critical approach to the Commission’s proposals both for fear of excessive limitations to privacy, and regarding the cost-effectiveness of the planned electronic system. The rapporteur also stresses the fundamental need for trust between Member States, which is essential to make the common border area work. The working paper also highlights the need to involve more closely local / regional actors, in particular those in border areas who already have close links with territories on the other side of the Schengen borders.
which is crucial to meeting the challenges of demographic change and increasing global competition. In the afternoon, CIVEX members studied the positive experience of the Tyrol-TrentinoAlto Adige European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), which shows how this relatively new instrument can be used successfully to improve the lives of citizens in the participating territories, if both the organisational structures are put in place and the political commitment is there. On the following day, (Tuesday, 9th July), CIVEX members held a seminar on ‘Multi-level governance in practice at local and regional levelDecentralised policy strategies in the European Year of Citizens 2013”, which discussed practical experience with the existing instruments and structures for cooperation at different levels.
COTER (Dunkirk, France, 11-12 July 2013)
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Following on from this, PES member and CIVEX Chair António Costa, mayor of Lisbon (Portugal), had an exchange of views with CIVEX members on his working document on the EU Smart Borders Package, which consists of three legislative proposals to set up an “exit-entry system” for the Schengen area with its own database with information on people crossing the EU’s external borders, and a registered travellers’ programme (for frequent travellers from third countries to the EU). The draft working document sets the debate in the wider context of the “governance of Schengen”, which has been a topical issue recently, particularly in relation to the different
Furthermore, CIVEX members held an exploratory debate on the working document on the EU Citizenship Report 2013, by Theodoros Gkotsopoulos (PES/Greece), which – in the context of the 2013 European Year of Citizens examines key actions in six main areas proposed by the citizenship report. The document lays emphasis on the particular challenge of developing EU citizenship in the face of the current economic crisis, in which a growing number of citizens feel alienated from the EU. The rapporteur specifically stresses the need to empower citizens to exercise their rights (including the promotion of the participation in democratic processes), which requires major efforts not least from local and regional authorities, to provide appropriate information to citizens. Last but not least, CIVEX members examined the working document on Migrant Researchers, Students, Volunteers and Other Groups, by Dimitrios Kalogeropoulos (EPP/Greece), which addresses a proposal for a revision of the existing legislation in this field, in order to make the EU more attractive as a destination for certain groups of ‘highly qualified’ 3rd country nationals. The working document stresses that more needs to be done in order to better equip the EU and the Member States in order to attract migration,
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he COTER commission, which - at the invitation of PES member Michel Delebarre, Mayor of Dunkirk (France) - took place in Dunkirk, adopted by majority the draft opinions on the 4th Railway Package, on Urban-rural Partnership and Governance, and on Better spending, by Pascal Mangin (EPP/France), Romeo Stavarache (ALDE/Romania), and Alberto Nuñez Feijoo (EPP/ Spain), respectively. The opinions on the 4th railway package as well as on Better Spending are expected to raise further political debates at the CoR’s October plenary session. The PES Group’s First Vice-President and President of Umbria region (Italy), Catiuscia Marini, was appointed rapporteur on the Regional airport guidelines.
ENVE (Vilnius, Lithuania, 2 September 2013)
T Last but not least, the PES Group secured the rapporteurship on a series of key dossiers: Public employment services (rapporteur: Mick Antoniw, Member of the National Assembly for Wales, UK), the EU’s Roma strategy (rapporteur: Roger Stone, Councillor of Rotherham, UK) and the Action plan on steel (rapporteur: Daniel Kersch, Mayor of Mondercange, Luxemburg). In conclusion of the COTER meeting, PES member Alessandro Cosimi, Mayor of Livorno (Italy), presented his working document on Ports Policy. The document welcomes the Commission’s overall approach, but stresses the need to take into account the diversity of ports in the EU and raises a series of questions regarding the role of local and regional authorities regarding funding, state aid calculations and public service obligations. In the meantime, it has been confirmed that with MEP Knut Fleckenstein from Hamburg, the Socialists will also be in the driving seat in the European Parliament. The two rapporteurs have already committed to closely working together. COTER members discussed the topic further within the framework of the seminar on the Contribution of European ports to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy. The seminar was addressed by the French Minister for Transport and Maritime Affairs Frédéric Cuvillier and the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Johan Vande Lanotte. The seminar highlighted the role of European ports as generators of growth and employment and their contribution to urban/local and regional development, as well as the challenges that European ports and maritime transport face in terms of sustainable development.
ECOS (Graz, Austria, 27-28 June 2013)
he ECOS commission adopted by overwhelming majority the draft opinion on the Social Investment Package for growth and cohesion, by Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam (PES/Netherlands) (Read more under Plenary, p. 04, and Interviews, p. 11). Furthermore, ECOS members adopted by majority the draft opinion on the Action Plan for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry in Europe, on the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, and on Long-term financing of the European economy, by Christian Buchmann (EPP/Austria), Pawel Adamowicz (EPP/Poland), and Uno Silberg (EA/Estonia) respectively (Read more under Plenary, p. 05).
Alongside the ECOS meeting, the host region of Styria, run by social democrat MinisterPresident Franz Voves, organised a seminar on the future of the European automotive industry. Socialist MEPs Bernd Lange (Germany) and Jörg Leichtfried (Austria), who also happens to be the EP rapporteur on the gigaliner dossier, addressed the audience. Both insisted on the need for a broad technology mix as well as on the recycling dimension in order to make progress on the path to greener cars. Mia De Vits, PES/ECOS coordinator, raised the issue of anticipating changes in work force intensity and the need to coordinate fiscal incentives for green cars. These issues will be discussed further at the CoR October plenary in relation to the opinion on Cars 2020, presented by the Styrian Minister Christian Buchmann (EPP).
EDUC (Brussels, 16 September 2013)
DUC members adopted the draft owninitiative opinion on Disability, Sport and Leisure: a major element of the Sport for All project, part of the Europe 2020 strategy, by Jacques Blanc, mayor of La Canourgue (EPP/France). The rapporteur calls for a clear definition at European level of the terms “adaptive sport” and “sport for people with disabilities” while arguing that, in order to integrate people with disabilities, the concept of “Disability, Sport and Leisure” should be analysed and discussed on the basis of the experiences of European local and regional authorities. The EDUC commission also held a general exploratory debate on the draft opinion on the European Commission’s amended proposal for a regulation on Guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks, by Alin-Adrian Nica (ALDE/Romania). This is a priority dossier for the Lithuanian Presidency, which has opted for a fast track procedure for its adoption. Therefore, Mr. Nica was appointed rapporteur-general in order to meet the tight inter-institutional calendar (Read more under Plenary, p. 07).
he ENVE commission adopted by unanimity the draft opinion on the EU Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change by Neil Swannick, Member of the Manchester City Council (PES/ United Kingdom) and PES/ENVE coordinator. It responds to a European Commission’s communication aimed at providing guidance on technical capacity building and funding available to help Member States develop comprehensive adaptation strategies, as well as integrate adaptation measures into EU policies and programmes.
In his draft opinion, the rapporteur expresses his deep concern that the efforts to maintain global warming at a maximum of 2°C may not be sufficient and that adaptation to climate change becomes therefore all the more urgent. The PES/ENVE coordinator calls for a multi-level governance approach and a more explicit recognition of the role of regional and local authorities in delivering climate change adaptation responses. The rapporteur cites as examples the development of green infrastructure, and the need to build resilience of key infra-structures such as rail or electricity lines and housing developments. He also emphasises the importance of environmental education and adaptation capacity building, as well as the exchange of experience through networks, such as the EU Covenant of Mayors. The draft opinion also stresses that, while adaptation measures must be sensitive to growth and competitiveness, this must not come at the expense of social welfare and health, in particular regarding vulnerable groups. A couple of further amendments are likely to be tabled in the plenary session to sharpen some of the key messages of the opinion, also with a view to the CoR’s contribution to the November International Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (COP 19) (Read more under Interview, p. 10). ENVE members also adopted by majority the draft opinions on Green Infrastructure, and on the European Strategy on Plastic Waste, by Annabelle Jaeger (PES/France) and Linda Gilham (EA/ United Kingdom) respectively (Read more under plenary, p. 07, and interviews, p. 11). The draft opinion on Industrial Policy for the Space Industry by Adam Struzik, Marshal of the Mazovia Region (EPP/Poland) was adopted unanimously. It underlines the key role of the space industry as a catalyst for innovation and a competitive,
knowledge-based element of the EU’s economy, while stressing the important role of local and regional authorities in supporting the space industry, in their capacity as users of spacebased services and often as actors in research and development. A number of amendments proposed by PES member Hermann Kuhn and adopted unanimously by the ENVE commission have helped to bring out the focus of the opinion more clearly and stress the need, as far as local and regional authorities are concerned, to ensure inter-regional cooperation and exchange through networks such as the Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies (NEREUS).
Last but not least, ENVE members took part in a conference on Local perspectives for a sustainable energy sector– Europe 2020 and beyond. The event, which was co-organised with the Lithuanian presidency, gave members and guests the opportunity to discuss the key challenges of reconciling the needs for sustainable, reliable and affordable energy. It forms part of a series of seven conferences on the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy, organised by the CoR in 2012/13. The last one, dedicated to the Innovation Union will take place in November. The results of these events will feed in to the CoR’s contribution to the mid-term review of the EU 2020 strategy in 2014.
NAT (Kaunas, Lithuania, 18-19 July 2013)
he NAT commission adopted by majority the draft opinions on a Framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management and on the Sustainability of Rural Areas, by Paul O’ Donoghue (ALDE/Ireland) and Jerzy Zająkała (EA/Poland), respectively (Read more under Plenary, p. 06). The topic of the second dossier was further developed at the seminar on the “Challenges for local and regional authorities in the implementation of rural development policy under the new multiannual financial framework”, which NAT members attended.
Regions and Cities supporting
Europe2020 Europe’s growth strategy
And now over to PES Members Neil Swannick, Member of Manchester City Council (United Kingdom):
From your point of view representing a large metropolitan authority, what are the key elements which are missing from the European Commission’s proposal for an EU Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change, and what do you see as the most important concerns for local and regional authorities trying to respond to climate change on a European scale?
It is becoming increasingly clear to European regional and local authorities that extreme weather events are not only the problem of developing countries and that they are already being called upon, as first responders, to deal with the effects of inevitable climate change in their cities and regions. Flooding in June this yea due to heavy rain affecting the Elbe and Danube, covered hectares of land and threatened cities in Poland, Germany, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic - in many cases exceeding the the disastrous «once in a century» floods of 2002. The Commission communication on an EU Strategy on Adaption to Climate Change does not reflect the urgency which is now being felt or address the potential impact of global climate change on migration (of humans, flora and fauna and diseases), supply chains and food security. Investment decisions by global companies will inevitably take into account the vulnerability of the location to risks such as flooding, or energy supply or ICT disruption, and insurers will factor in preparedness and adaptation to their calculation of insurability and premium.. Whilst the focus of the Commission communication is to persuade Member States to prepare viable national adaptation strategies (with the threat of legislation if insufficient progress has been made by 2017), the opinion argues for a multilevel governance approach which also sets targets for implementation of adaptation measures at all levels over the next four years.
How do projects related to green infrastructure contribute to the protection of biodiversity in your region, and what is their importance from a European perspective? Annabelle Jaeger, Member of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Regional Council (France): In France, green Infrastructure is available today in our Regional Ecological Coherence Schemes (SRCE), deriving from national legislation relative to the so-called Green and Blue Framework. These schemes are a real breakthrough when it comes to taking into account biodiversity in urban planning documents. We consider that urbanization, soil sealing and habitat fragmentation are the main threats to biodiversity. It is therefore essential to act at the level of public policies in order to preserve animal and plant species, as well as all the habitats that are necessary for their survival. The great achievement of SRCE is their dynamic and functional approach. They allow to understand at regional and interregional level the integrity of the «green matrix», that is to say, structures and functions necessary to sustain plant and animal life but also needed to ensure the quality of life of human societies. In this context, the implementation of a SRCE is a real planning policy. At European level, the landscape is changing in the same way because of continuous human development. Urban expansion and the construction of roads and energy infrastructure have damaged and fragmented valuable ecosystems. Green infrastructure projects are implemented at local, regional, national or cross-border level. However, in order to optimise the functioning of green infrastructure and maximise its benefits, these different levels should be interconnected. This way, the benefits will be considerably strengthened. This is why the Committee of the Regions expects a clear and long-term commitment from the EU vis-à-vis the development and deployment of green infrastructure. Green infrastructure provides an innovative framework for reconciling human development (economic, social, cultural, scientific) with the preservation of the planet’s living fabric. Local and regional authorities, which are on the front line in their capacity as spatial planning developers, must mobilise and take up the biodiversity challenge!
To what extent have the Lithuanian Social Democrats helped to shape the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union? Gediminas Paviržis, member of the Vilnius district municipal council (Lithuania): Lithuania is the first Baltic state to assume the presidency of the Council of the EU. This is a major challenge for our country. During preparations for the presidency that lasted the entire year, we also coordinated with countries that held the presidency previously, and especially with Ireland, which passed the baton to Lithuania at an event in Vilnius to mark the handover. Lithuania has taken over the presidency at a time when a whole series of regulations needs to be drawn up, debated and passed to stabilise the EU’s new financial outlook. The Lithuanian presidency’s most important tasks and objectives are aimed at making Europe more credible, prosperous and open. To achieve these objectives we need financial stability, economic growth, lower unemployment – especially among young people – and transparency and security in Europe and its neighbouring countries. I’d like to come back to your question about the work of the Lithuanian Social Democrats (LSDP) and explain how they’ve left their mark on the Lithuanian presidency. The great responsibility of the LSDP is also an honour, because in October last year the party emerged victorious from the general election and has since led a majority coalition government comprising other parties of the left. Issues related to the Council presidency frequently appear on the party leadership’s agenda; ministers and parliamentary committees are working on the common EU priorities and organise conferences and meetings. Numerous seminars and training sessions were organised for civil servants in advance, while meeting spaces were prepared and plans drawn up for receiving guests, managing their transportation and accommodation and providing them with suitable working conditions. In all areas of work you will find Social Democrats who have been responsible for a significant amount of the behind-the-scenes work. In recent years, Lithuania has been able to overcome the economic crisis under its own steam, with a profound sense of responsibility, organisational talent and empathy for the people, and has since climbed to the top of the table in terms of recovery and economic growth. However, the Social Democrats believe that the time has come to relax austerity and shift the focus towards boosting production, creating jobs and increasing consumption. I’m certain that the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council will be a success. This half-year also holds considerable challenges for our parties, who are committed to cooperating to carry out the tasks and achieve the objectives before them (Read also the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council, p. 03).
News of the Party of European Socialists PES Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers met on 27 June, ahead the European Council of 27-28 June, in order to give a concerted and substantial push to combat youth unemployment in Europe. To this effect, they called for concrete actions to implement the Youth Guarantee at European and national level, for the frontloading of the funds allocated to the scheme (EUR 6 billion), as well as for additional funding to extend its scope and impact.
Yoo omi Renström m
democracy, equality, solidarity and Open Europe. Intervening at the workshop on the European Youth Guarantee, Yoomi Renström stressed the key role that local and regional authorities play in framing and implementing measures to promote youth employment, providing young people with opportunities and support, and exchanging good practice. She also underlined the importance of actively involving young people and youth organisations when drawing up youth strategies.
The 2013 edition of the YES – Young European Socialists Summer Camp took place in Izmir, Turkey, between 14 and 21 July. The Summer Camp, which is a major annual event of the PES youth organisation, brings together some 1000 young socialists and social democrats from all over Europe, exchanging ideas and sharing experiences around numerous workshops, political seminars and conferences. The key themes of this year’s edition, which is hosted in Turkey at the invitation of the PES sister party CHP (Republican People’s Party), were employment,
POLITICAL BALANCE IN THE COR
36.3% Political Groups
■ PES ...................................................................128 ■ EPP ...................................................................128 ■ ALDE .................................................................. 50
■ EA ...................................................................... 17
■ ECR .................................................................... 11 ■ NA ....................................................................... 7
■ To be appointed .................................................. 12
TOTAL CoR ..............................................................353
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