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Newsletter of th e European Social ist s in the C ommi tte e of the Re g i ons

NEWS OF THE PES GROUP IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

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FEATURES

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July 2 0 12

PRIORITIES OF THE CYPRUS PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL (1 JULY – 31 DECEMBER 2012)

OTHER VOICES

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PLENARY SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS (15 – 16 FEBRUARY 2012) 5 COR COMMISSIONS: WHAT'S NEW?

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AND NOW OVER TO PES MEMBERS

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NEWS OF THE PARTY OF EUROPEAN SOCIALISTS

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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 | pes-group@cor.europa.eu

Karl-H Hei einz ein in Lamb amb mb m bert e z and d FFra raank nkk Wal Waaalltte ter e Stteinm mei me eiier e er, Lea Le Lea eader der of th t e SPD par p lia pa iamen m tar men taryy Grou Group p in in the he German Bundeestaag

Dear PES Group members, dear friends, his summer of 2012 has so far been a 'mixed bag' for the European Union, both in terms of the weather and in terms of the overall political and economic situation. The economic crisis has come full circle, and shows itself once more to be first and foremost a ' crisis of the banks'. Yet, it is putting at risk not just the banking systems, but the economies of entire countries and the very idea of European integration itself. While the Eurozone tries to save the banks, and itself, jobs are lost, life prospects are destroyed and a whole generation of young people have neither hope nor trust in the political institutions of the EU anymore. We know, however, that only together can we overcome this crisis and if there is really one choice 'without alternatives'; it is the choice for cooperation and solidarity. Fortunately, there is hope, because slowly but surely change is happening. Election results in recent months, in France at national level, as well as in Germany, in Romania, in the UK and in Italy at regional and local level show that voters understand that a choice and must be made: not for the advocates of 'pure' austerity, which is destroying any prospect for recovery and has been playing off one country against another, but for those who argue for responsible but decisive action to re-launch Europe on the path to sustainable and fair growth, and are serious about regulating the financial markets. We have to work hard now to build this alternative future and to make sure that local and regional authorities under socialist and progressive leadership can play their part in bringing this change about.

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lso in the Committee of the Regions these positions can achieve majority support and this is what we will try in the second half of the mandate which will start in July. We thank Mercedes Bresso for her committed and successful work at the helm of our institution, and we are ready to continue our struggle to put the CoR and the local and regional authorities it represents, on the map. We also have to make our voices heard in the process of preparing the fundamental programme of the PES, which will form the basis for the crucial European election campaign in 2014. We do have the great opportunity to be there and to shape the future of our towns, cities and regions, but also of Europe. Through your political ideas and actions, through your experience and enthusiasm, we will succeed. We have to act to save the Europe that we believe in. We need to fight for open borders, functioning institutions, a common market that serves the people, the European Social model and the capabilities of local and regional authorities to deliver. Although there are many clouds on the horizon, the sun may break through! In this sense, I wish all of you and your families a relaxing summer break, and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible just after the summer for our external Group meeting in Rijeka, Croatia, to discuss the industrial renewal which Europe so desperately needs.

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Yours with fraternal greetings,

Karl-Heinz Lambertz President of the PES Group in the CoR


NEWS OF THE PES GROUP IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

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n 15 May, members of the PES Group were invited to the European Parliament to discuss with the S&D Group European policies which concretely address the difficult housing conditions that confront an increasing number of European citizens. PES Group members Alain HUTCHINSON and Ilmar REEPALU and Stephen HUGHES, S&D Group VicePresident in charge of Economic and Social Policy, were among the speakers. In this context, the PES Group presented its publication on a European agenda for social Housing and exhibited the works by Belgian photographer Loïc DELVAULX, which were realised in the framework of the PES Group’s 2010-2011 campaign on Social Housing.

A progressive agenda for

Industrial renewal Extraordinary meeting of the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions

Rijeka, Croatia, 31 August 2012

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he PES Group's extra ordinary meeting will take place on 31 August in Rijeka (Croatia), at the invitation of Vojko OBERSNEL, Mayor of Rijeka and member of the Croatian Social Democratic Party (SDP). It will focus on "A progressive agenda for industrial renewal”. Bernd LANGE, MEP (S&D/Germany), Rapporteur of the European Parliament on Industrial policy, Philippe Herzog, President of Confrontations Europe and former MEP, Branko GRCIC, Croatian Minister for Regional Development and structural funds, Jean-Louis LEVET, Adviser on Industrial policy for the French Socialist Party, as well as PES Group First Vice-president Catiuscia MARINI and PES Group members Margit CONRAD, Michel DELEBARRE and Alessandro COSIMI will be among the speakers.

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t is worth noting that on 5 June, PES Group President Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ opened a public lecture and debate on Concepts for European Industrial renewal with Frank-Walter STEINMEIER, Leader of the SPD parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, organised in the CoR premises by the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung.

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he PES Group photo competition "Life 2.0 – Ready for a new start", inspired by the theme of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, was closed on 30 June, attracting wide interest amongst European amateur photographers. The jury will soon start its selection work.

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he Task Force on Cohesion Policy, consisting of Socialists and Social Democrats of the CoR's COTER commission and the EP's REGI Committee, has produced a common position paper on the future of cohesion policy, which has been officially adopted by the S&D Group at their meeting in Bucharest. Structured around ten key demands, the document insists that a strong cohesion policy is a prerequisite for setting a successful EU growth agenda and underlines the need for this policy to remain accessible to all European regions. The two Groups call for a fair budget and for a stronger territorial focus through increased attention to the urban and rural dimensions. At the same time, they firmly oppose all attempts to make of cohesion policy a punishment tool of macroeconomic conditionality.

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inally, in the framework of the 2012 CoR Open Days, the PES Group will organise on 10 October a workshop that will focus on "Youth (un)employment: Exploring solutions that work". The theme ties in with this year's policy campaign of the Party of European Socialists (PES), carried out jointly with ECOSY - Young European Socialists and focusing on youth unemployment. PES Group members Peter FRIEDRICH, Stavros ARNAOUTAKIS, and Enrico ROSSI will be among the speakers.

For more information on our activities, please visit the website of the PES Group in the CoR at: www.pes.cor.europa.eu


FEATURES Growthless recovery or how to kill a tree by over-pruning

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o one would dare to pretend that Ms Merkel has green fingers. Not even her political friends. Instead, she has managed to impose a trend that has, almost irrevocably, stunted growth in the European garden. Conservative and neo-liberal majorities across the EU, with the German Chancellor in the driving seat, have been hacking the branches of the European economy back to remedy dramatic increases in EU sovereign debts, caused to a very large extent by the financial crisis and the ruthless speculation of deregulated financial markets. The obstinate strategy of excessive austerity-only measures, thought to bring reform in the EU, is proving catastrophic in many parts of Europe, plunging the continent into recession and alarmingly weakening the trunk of the euro-tree. Yet, it would have sufficed for this bunch of accidental gardeners to get better acquainted with the TCIA (Tree Care Industry Association) standards for tree care, which

specify that "over-pruning has a detrimental effect on a tree's health and structural integrity". As debt burdens are rising and growth has, in the best case, ground to a halt across the EU, investors' confidence in Europe's ability to exit the crisis is reaching its nadir. Meanwhile, more than one EU Member States are elbowing their way in the lowest possible grades of the evaluation system of the main credit rating agencies. Ms Merkel's blind focus on austerity and insistence on even greater cuts in countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal, already in a tragic situation, puts the eurozone at a grave risk. Lenders may be ready, for the time being, to grasp probably the only healthy eurozone branch by lending Germany money at a negative interest rate, but this is a clear indication of how serious the crisis is. However, once the eurozone trunk fractured, the entire tree, including its very few healthy branches, will suffer devastating damages.

Over-pruning is one of the worst and most common mistakes in tree maintenance… European Conservatives' recipe for disaster "Large or profuse cuts lead to decay. Smaller cuts throughout the tree’s life are better than large cuts that should have been made many years ago when the tree was small. One large poorly made cut or too many cuts in the wrong places can ruin a tree for life".

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o such thing as admitting one's mistakes. We have heard no apologies from conservative and neo-liberal leaders across the EU for their overly tight fiscal policies that have resulted in 23 million unemployed, with youth unemployment nearing 50% in some EU Member States. Not a word for the asphyxiation of SMEs - making up 99% of all businesses and providing two-thirds of all private sector jobs in the EU – which are closing down by the thousands since people's spending power has been dramatically reduced due to wage

and pension cuts. No remorse for the blind insistence on budgetary consolidation alone, which has strangled the capacity of local and regional authorities to provide basic public services (such as healthcare and education) to citizens, thus seriously undermining people's quality of life and social cohesion. To twist the knife even further in the wound, the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (known as the "Fiscal Treaty"), imposes the so-called "golden rule" on the balance of public accounts, which concerns not only public finances that are under the responsibility of central governments but has a direct impact on public budgets of regional and local authorities. What is more, when it comes to budget allocations for EU policies such as cohesion policy, local and regional authorities are likely to be punished for the economic and budgetary decisions taken by national governments. It is worth reminding that this new inter-governmental Treaty has been drafted outside the existing framework of primary EU law and covers issues which, to a large extent, had already been addressed via EU legislation according to the normal democratic procedures of the EU. Even in the face of the latest eurozone turbulences, caused by Greece's deepening crisis and the €100 billion bailout of Spanish banks, Ms Merkel insists on austerity, and exemplary punishment for those who do not abide by it, in the belief that this is the only way to bring reform in Europe. She practically turns a deaf ear to all those voices that call for urgent measures to jump-start growth, including Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman, who argues that, in the context of the current crisis, politicians’ desire to slash spending is deeply destructive.

A slow rate of annual growth on twigs and trunk means that your tree needs fertilising…The response of European Socialists and Social Democrats "Pruning a nutrient-deficient tree, which is likely to have less foliage and is prone to disease and insect problems, will not make it grow stronger but will cause it stress".

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t could not have been clearer. The symptoms are staring them right in the face, yet Conservatives and Neo-Liberals have been carrying on with austerity measures, indiscriminately chopping the European economy as part of a routine deadwood removal operation. Thankfully, the election of François Hollande, France's first Socialist president since 1988, has marked a clear turning point, firmly putting growth back on top of the political agenda and opening discussions about the mutualisation of EU risks. European Socialists and Social Democrats have been insisting all along that relaunching growth is a condition sine qua non for recovery. Meeting ahead of the June European Council, PES Leaders underlined that growth must be based on a progressive investment programme, the protection of social rights, the creation of jobs, and in particular the fight against youth unemployment. The PES Group in the CoR fully subscribes to the proposal of the Party of European Socialists (PES) for A Pact for growth and jobs in Europe, which consists of three major strands: a) establishing an action plan for growth and jobs in Europe, b) taming the financial markets, building stability, and financing growth and employment, and c) making economic governance accountable and fit for purpose.

The first strand includes measures to combat the alarming rise in youth unemployment, including the European Youth Guarantee, which could be financed in the short term through unspent money from the Structural Funds. The PES requests a new budget line in the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020. Other key proposals are: Strengthening active labour market policies and social rights as well as introducing minimum wages; prioritising education (with at least 6% of national and EU budgets to be spent on education); investing heavily (the EU should dedicate 10% of its budget) in innovation; and last but not least, strengthening Europe's reindustrialisation process by supporting in particular future-oriented sectors. Locally and regionally elected Socialists and Social Democrats, who are the first levels of governance to address the impact of massive job losses caused by stagnant or negative growth, welcome the measures proposed and urge for their immediate implementation in order to restore social and territorial cohesion. Under the second strand, the PES calls for the immediate establishment of a banking union, the separation of commercial from investment banks and the settingup of a European ratings agency. Ensuring fiscal responsibility with smarter rules, reducing public deficits within a realistic timetable, and tapping new revenues through the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax and harmonised green and corporate taxation are also key priorities. Further measures include the increase of the share capital of the European Investment Bank (EIB) by 12 billion and the introduction of project bonds. The PES Group in the CoR fully endorses these proposals as EU regional and local authorities have been gravely affected by the economic and financial crisis, and the resultant drastic budget consolidation and subsequent collapse in tax revenue. Finally, under the third strand, the PES urges for effective European governance, which should rely on better economic coordination for growth, stronger European instruments to support investment, a stronger regulation and supervision of the financial system, a more effective public debt issuance and a better combination of the Community with the national budgets. Socialists and Social Democrats in the CoR stress the need to safeguard the future of the European integration project and fully support deeper economic integration and more synergies between regional, local, national and EU budgets.

To save a dying tree, you need to act immediately, in more than one ways …

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nough with the long dithering over the rescue of the faltering European economy. Enough with Ms Merkel's 'prudent' approach to the deepening eurozone crisis, which is now bordering the financial catastrophe. Enough with the morality lessons to those Member States, and their citizens, over their unacceptable spending habits. The entire European construction is in grave peril because Conservatives and Neo-Liberals have imposed a strategy that has mistaken the European economy for an over-indebted household. If stop spending can do the trick for the latter, it is certain to destroy the former. European Socialists and Social Democrats have a moral obligation to act quickly in order to rebalance the remedy: not just cuts for fiscal discipline, but also investments for sustainable growth. Otherwise, it will not be long before the European tree collapses once and for all.

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PRIORITIES OF THE CYPRUS PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL (1 July – 31 December 2012) high budget deficit and the large exposure of its banking sector to Greece. The main priority of the Cypriot presidency, which is the last Member State in the Trio with Poland and Denmark, will be the completion of the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the adoption of some 80 sectoral proposals accompanying the MFF package. Other key priorities include the conclusion, under the fast-track procedure, of initiatives under the Annual Growth Survey, including the Single Market Act, which has a significant growth potential.

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yprus is taking over the presidency of the EU at a time when its economy is being rocked after a series of downgrades due to the country’s high budget deficit and the large exposure of its banking sector to Greece.

Furthermore, issues related to Justice and Home Affairs (Asylum, Schengen), sustainable development as well as financial services and economic governance will be top on the Cypriot Presidency’s agenda.

Cyprus is taking over the presidency of the EU at a time when its economy is being rocked after a series of downgrades due to the country’s

The Presidency will also seek to adopt Council conclusions that take forward proposals to promote social cohesion, to invest in more and better jobs, as well as new and upgraded skills,

and to strengthen the participatory process and the involvement of local authorities, NGOs and social partners in the implementation of Europe 2020. The Cypriot Presidency will also have to make advancements in the legislative package on cohesion policy, which is linked to the MFF and is of particular interest to the CoR. Finally, the European Neighbourhood Policy will be a major priority, with trade negotiations with Southern Mediterranean countries being of particular interest for Cyprus.

Other voices have learned what is necessary to achieve positive results.

V jko Obersnel Voj

Interview with Vojko Obersnel, Mayor of Rijeka and Head of the Croatian delegation to the CoR. 1. According to you, what impact does Croatia's accession to the European Union have on regional and local authorities in Croatia? Croatia has been working to become a full member of the European Union for a long time now and this process has already had a major impact on local and regional authorities. One of the most important benefits of future membership is surely the access to greater European funding opportunities under Cohesion Policy. Many cities, municipalities and regions have already been very successful in financing various projects from pre-accession funds and

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However, by becoming a full member, Croatian representatives in the EU institutions will be in a position to participate actively in drafting the legislation which is mostly implemented at local and regional level. Representatives from local and regional government are closest to European citizens and this is why they are best placed to express their needs and requirements. Therefore, it is extremely important that they be given the opportunity to discuss European legislation, to make it efficient and easily implemented in accordance to real-life situations. Finally, accession to the EU will surely have a positive influence on life in Croatia's local and regional communities. The funding opportunities and the European experience, if applied successfully, may raise the level of services provided to the citizens and consequently their satisfaction with local and regional authorities. 2. Can you tell us a few words about the decentralisation agenda of the Croatian government? Decentralisation plays an important role in the Working Programme of the Croatian Government for the period 2011 to 2015. The present local and regional government system, with 20 counties (regional level) and 576 municipalities and cities (local level),

leaves many smaller local governments with financial or administrative capacities which are insufficient to deliver services to their citizens. The Government's decentralisation programme, based on the principle of subsidiarity, proposes a broad public discussion with stakeholders which should define three aspects of decentralisation – administrative, functional and financial. Therefore, the Government has established the Committee for Decentralisation, which brings together representatives of ministries as well as associations of local and regional authorities. The Committee meets quarterly to discuss further devolution of authorities and accompanying models of fiscal decentralisation. The final goal is to redefine local and regional authorities in accordance with their economic and administrative capacities and to further decentralise areas of social welfare, education and healthcare. The Croatian Government aims to raise the share of local and regional public finance to 20 or 25 percent, to follow the functional decentralisation. Increasing the efficiency of local and regional governments will motivate citizens to become more involved in creating and implementing local and regional policies, thus further strengthening democracy and liberalisation.


Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions (18 – 19 July 2012) The July plenary session will examine 16 draft opinions, 7 of which by PES rapporteurs.

Cecilia MALMSTRÖM, Commissioner for Home Affairs, will take the floor in relation to recent debates about the reform of the SchengenAgreement and the overall situation regarding asylum and immigration (see opinions below). Andreas MAVROYANNIS, Cypriot Deputy Minister for European Affairs, will present the programme of the Cypriot presidency of the Council of the EU.

Werner HOYER, President of the European Investment Bank, will intervene on the funding of large-scale European projects. Finally, CoR members will adopt a resolution on the CoR priorities, ahead of the adoption of the European Commission’s legislative and work programme for 2013.

OPINIONS IN BRIEF:

European Territorial Cooperation: Petr OSVALD (PES/Czech Republic)

Future cities: Environmentally and social sustainable cities: Hella DUNGER-LÖPER (PES/Germany)

Hellla DUN U GER UN GER-LÖ -LÖPER PER ERR

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is city, Plzeň in the Czech Republic, lies some 80 km away from the German border and has also a strong twinning tradition. There is therefore quite a long expertise behind the draft opinion by Petr Osvald, Councillor of Plzeň, on the European Commission proposal for a regulation on the European territorial cooperation (ETC) objective. The rapporteur highlights that the ETC can make an important contribution to the Lisbon Treaty’s objective of territorial cohesion. Such cooperation can be an effective mechanism for sharing good practices and can improve governance through coordination of sectoral policies, actions and investments on a cross-border and transnational scale. The rapporteur stresses that thematic concentration should not be automatically applied to ETC. Instead, he proposes that the level and potential of individual regions be taken into account and that the level of co-financing for operational programmes within the ETC objective should be raised up to 85% for programmes involving less developed regions, as it is the case in the current programming period. Furthermore, Petr Osvald suggests that ETC activities which are thematically linked to the European Social Fund (ESF) should also be eligible for funding. The draft opinion was adopted by the COTER commission with an overwhelming majority and the adoption in plenary is expected to be uncontroversial.

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he draft opinion of the State Secretary of the Land of Berlin to the Federal Government and for European Affairs was adopted unanimously by the COTER commission and will be presented in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under COTER commission, p.8, and Interviews, p.10).

that this issue is presently covered only by a limited number of secondary law provisions, this proposal aims at reducing legal uncertainty by ensuring a single legal source for the award of concessions, and thereby promoting the proper functioning of the internal market. In his draft opinion, the rapporteur underlines that local and regional authorities, which are responsible for the majority of public spending in Europe, would largely benefit from European regulation in this field. Key points are: a system based on simple, flexible and transparent rules; a clear and more narrow definition of concessions and a clear set of guidelines for the contracting authorities, which should also have the possibility to select on the basis of social, environmental and overall sustainable criteria; and finally, the establishment of a threshold, under which local and regional authorities should be free to develop an SMEfriendly policy. During the discussion in the ECOS commission ALDE and EPP voices opposing any EU action were largely marginalised, and the draft opinion was adopted by majority. Some further amendments are expected in plenary. (Read more under Interviews, p.10).

The Global approach to migration and mobility: Nichi VENDOLA (PES/Italy)

Award of concessions contracts: Henk KOOL (PES/Netherlands)

Henk KO KOOLL

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he draft opinion by the Vice-Mayor of the City of Den Haag responds to a European Commission proposal for a directive. Given

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he draft opinion of the President of the Puglia Region responds to a European Commission communication aimed at strengthening the dialogue and operational cooperation with non-EU partner countries through so-called

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"mobility partnerships", which are focused on facilitating and organising legal migration. The communication proposes effective and humane measures to address irregular migration, and makes concrete steps towards reinforcing the positive development outcomes of migration for both home and host countries. In his draft opinion, the rapporteur highlights that regional and local authorities are key actors in the implementation of this global approach, which must centre on migrants and on respect for human rights in source, transit and destination countries alike. The rapporteur considers that the right to leave any country, including one's own, is a fundamental human right. He also stresses the delicate balance between the idea of allowing for 'selective immigration' with a view to addressing skills shortages in the EU on the one hand, and the urgent need to reduce brain drain in the countries of origin, on the other.

(which determines which EU state is responsible for examining an asylum application) and, more concretely, proposes that the so-called relocation system of recognised refugees, currently functioning on a voluntary basis, should take into account regional disparities and become, under certain circumstances and conditions, mandatory. Last but not least, he underlines the need for improved accountability of those EU bodies working on the protection of the EU’s external borders, such as Frontex, when it comes to the respect for human rights. Despite the sensitivity of the issue of asylum and recent debates (notably in the context of different national election campaigns), the opinion has not been subject to much controversy in the CIVEX commission. Some further amendments are, however, to be expected on this issue. (Read more under Interviews, p.11).

Creative Europe Programme: Gábor BIHARY (PES/Hungary)

The draft opinion was adopted by overwhelming majority by the CIVEX commission. Given the overall sensitivity of the migration issue, in particular in the context of the most profound economic crisis in the EU since its foundation, further amendments and debates are to be expected for the vote in plenary. (Read more under Interviews, p.11).

involved from the very beginning in the formation of actions aimed at mitigating – and not only adapting to – climate change. He therefore proposes a series of concrete amendments to the text of the European Commission proposal, aimed at creating a spatial/regional context for green house gas emissions and projections and low carbon development plans. This crucial point of the opinion has also been taken up by the European Parliament's rapporteur on the issue, Bas EICKHOUT MEP (NL/Greens-EFA). CoR rapporteur SWANNICK finally stresses the important role of the European Environment Agency (EEA), which should be responsible for centralising emission data and making it transparent and accessible to the public, while providing further expertise on the global impact of European emissions. The opinion was adopted by majority by the ENVE commission and is not likely to prompt much controversy in the CoR plenary. (Read more under Interviews, p.11).

Connecting Europe Facility: Ivan ZAGAR (EPP/Slovenia)

Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum: Theodoros GKOTSOPOULOS (PES/Greece)

Gábor Gáb or BIH BIHARY ARYY

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DUC members adopted unanimously the draft opinion of the Member of Budapest General Assembly, and adoption in plenary will follow the simplified procedure (Read more under EDUC, page 9, and Interviews, page 10).

A mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions: Neil SWANNICK (PES/United Kingdom) Th od The Th dorros GKOTSOPO OPOULOS

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he draft opinion of the Municipal Counsellor of the Municipality of Pallini (Attica) responds to a European Commission communication aimed at reinforcing practical, technical and financial cooperation, moving towards a better allocation of responsibilities and an improved governance of the asylum system, and concluding the creation of a genuine Common European Asylum System by 2012. In his draft opinion, the rapporteur underlines the urgency to set up an improved EU legislative framework, which is based on the principles of solidarity and fair burden-sharing among Member States. He highlights that local and regional authorities are often the first contact point for asylum seekers and should therefore become more actively involved in the design and implementation of asylum policy. Moreover, he calls on the European Commission and the Member States to overhaul the Dublin Regulation

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he draft opinion of the Member of Manchester City Council responds to a European Commission proposal for a regulation aimed at revising EU rules on climate mitigation with a view to meeting the EU's climate and energy targets for the period 2013-2020. In his draft opinion, the rapporteur stresses that regional and local authorities are a key source of expertise on climate mitigation, and should be

BBer e naaarrd SOUL OU U AGE A

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he draft opinion of the Mayor of Slovenska Bistrica responds to a European Commission proposal for a regulation aimed at providing a single funding instrument for the transport, energy and telecommunication sectors. By financing large-scale projects worth €50 billion in total, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) should strengthen competitiveness in the internal market, stimulate private investment and allow for innovative financial instruments, such as project bonds. The rapporteur stresses the need for coherence between projects financed by the CEF and those financed by the Cohesion Fund. Consequently, he insists that CEF funding must be fairly allocated between all EU Member States and regions, thereby fully respecting the national quotas set for the Cohesion Fund. He is also concerned about the expected impact and leverage effect of the CEF funding measures on the regional and local public financing earmarked for infrastructure investment. During the discussion in the COTER commission, Bernard SOULAGE, CoR rapporteur on the TEN-T networks, tried to clarify the objective of the CEF and its link with the cohesion policy mechanism. The draft opinion was adopted only by a narrow majority. Additional PES plenary amendments insist on the need for projects with strong European added value, which could not be carried out without EU support, whether they are implemented in rather prosperous or less developed countries.


Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure: Heinz LEHMANN (EPP/Germany)

of noise-related operating restrictions at EU airports. The rapporteur stresses that airports are an indispensable part of a modern and efficient transport network and make an important contribution to economic development, employment and tourism in individual regions, while also strengthening the territorial cohesion through improved regional connectivity. The discussion of the draft opinion in the COTER commission evidenced political divide. Amendments tabled by PES member Bernard SOULAGE, advocating an approach based on quality services and high social standards for employees while opposing further market liberalisation of ground handling services and the introduction of purely market-based instruments for the allocation of slots were rejected. The PES will strike back on these issues in plenary.

the different strands so as to ensure, inter alia, that LIFE-funded climate projects do not have an adverse effect on biodiversity and vice-versa. She also welcomes the establishment of long-duration "Integrated Projects", covering areas larger than a region, as a means of addressing a wide variety of issues through a strategic, structured relationship with other EU funding streams. Last but not least, following suggestions from ENVE members, the rapporteur proposes to increase the co-financing rate for projects funded under LIFE to 85% in economically lagging or transition regions, as defined in the structural funds regulations, and advocates a substantial budget increase for the programme. In the ENVE commission, the draft opinion was adopted by majority and will probably not generate great numbers of amendments for the plenary.

Responsible business package: Satu TIETARI (ALDE/Finland)

EU financial instrument in Home affairs: Samuel AZZOPARDI (EPP/Malta)

Heerman mann n KUHN HN

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n its proposal for a regulation on trans-European energy infrastructures (TEN-E), the European Commission sets out its priority corridors for the transport of electricity, gas and oil. The main objectives are to connect those Member States which are almost isolated from other European energy markets, to strengthen existing cross-border interconnections and to integrate renewable energy into the network. However, the proposal does not put forward any concrete initiatives on renewable energies and is largely centred on infrastructure initiatives involving gas and oil pipelines. The CoR draft opinion, elaborated by the Member of the Saxony Landtag, was unfortunately also rather weak with regard to concrete political messages in this direction. Therefore, in the ENVE commission, PES/ENVE coordinator Hermann KUHN tabled a series of amendments which call for a clearer focus on sustainable development as a key prerequisite for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, boosting energy efficiency and increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption. The draft opinion was adopted by a majority of ENVE members and should now be adopted in the plenary with only a few further amendments. In particular, the role of Carbon-Capture-and-Storage (CCS) technology, and subsidiarity questions regarding the streamlining of planning permission procedures, may be subject to further debate.

Airport Package: Roland Werner (ALDE/Germany)

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he draft opinion of the Member of S채kyl채 Municipal Council responds to a package of five European Commission proposals addressing the need for more sustainable economic growth: an introductory communication, a proposal to revise the Accounting Directives, a proposal to revise the Transparency Directive, a communication on Corporate Social Responsibility and a communication on the 'Social Business Initiative'. The rapporteur highlights the need to encourage and assist SMEs so that they adopt social and socially responsible perspectives in their current activities. He also calls for the support of regional industrial policy that contributes to socially responsible growth and makes better use of a region's potential. The draft opinion was adopted by majority and no major controversy is expected in plenary.

Horizon 2020: Markku MARKKULA (EPP/Finland)

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he draft opinion of the Member of Espoo City Council was adopted unanimously by the EDUC commission and will be submitted for adoption in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under EDUC, page 9).

Establishment of a Programme for the environment and climate action (LIFE): Kay TWITCHEN (NI/United Kingdom)

EU financial instrument in justice and citizenship: Giuseppe VARACALLI (ALDE/Italy)

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oth draft opinions were adopted unanimously by the CIVEX commission and will be presented in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under CIVEX commission, p.8).

Union civil protection mechanism: Adam BANASZAK (EA/Poland)

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he draft opinion of the Member of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Assembly responds to a European Commission proposal for a Decision, aimed at reinforcing cooperation between the Member States and the Union in the field of civil protection, including also relevant funding provisions. The rapporteur welcomes the focus of the mechanism on four main cornerstones, that is, prevention, preparedness, response and the external dimension. He also stresses that local and regional authorities, who are usually key participants in the management of crisis situations, should be involved in disaster response at an early stage. To this effect, the rapporteur proposes to establish a European platform for exchange of information and experiences on dealing with disasters. In the NAT commission, voices rejecting European action in this field on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity were defeated. The draft opinion was adopted by majority.

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he draft opinion of the Saxon State Secretary for Transport responds to a European Commission Communication on airport policy and three proposals for regulation, reforming the rules for ground handling services at airports, the allocation of slots and the introduction

n her draft opinion, the Member of Essex County Council welcomes the focus of the European Commission proposal for a regulation on the future LIFE programme, which introduces a flexible top-down approach, and establishes two distinct sub-programmes with clearly identified priorities, covering Environment and Climate Action. The rapporteur highlights that LIFE constitutes an important instrument in helping to fund local and regional environmental policies and projects with a European added value. Furthermore, she stresses the need to foster synergies between

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CoR Commissions: What's new? aims at simplifying funding arrangements and providing more coherence and consistency across the full range of activities funded. While stressing that local and regional authorities have a special interest in the issues dealt with in the programmes, the draft opinion does not provide any concrete proposals. Amendments tabled by PES/CIVEX coordinator Marc SCHAEFER and PES members Uno ALDEGREN and Lotta HAKANSSON HARJU, calling for funding for town twinning, making a reference to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, and urging to promote gender equality and prevent violence against women, were largely supported by CIVEX members.

CIVEX (27 April, Brussels)

N hi VENDO Nic DOL O A

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he CIVEX commission adopted by majority the draft opinions on Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum by Theodoros GKOTSOPOULOS (PES/Greece) and on the Global approach to migration and mobility, by Nichi VENDOLA (PES/Italy) (Read more under Plenary, p.5, and Interviews, p. 11). The draft opinion on EU financial instruments in Home affairs by Samuel AZZOPARDI, Mayor of Victoria (EPP/Malta), was adopted unanimously. The relevant European Commission proposals for regulation aim at improving the way EU financing in the field of Home Affairs is delivered, by reducing the number of financing instruments from six to two (an Asylum and Migration Fund and an Internal Security Fund), and by simplifying access rules, in order to react more rapidly to crisis situations and focus on results. The rapporteur generally welcomes the proposals considering that they constitute an important step towards a Common European Asylum System. He stresses, however, the need to involve local and regional authorities and relevant organisations and stakeholders from the planning stage, since it is them who are often responsible for the programme implementation on the ground.

Mar arcc SCHA AEFE EFERR

Furthermore, CIVEX members adopted unanimously the draft opinion on the EU financial instruments in justice and citizenship by Giuseppe VARACALLI, Mayor of Gerace (ALDE/Italy). It responds to a European Commission proposal for regulation which

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need to be socially and economically linked with their surrounding areas. The draft opinion was warmly welcomed by members of the COTER commission and its adoption in plenary is expected to be uncontroversial The COTER commission adopted by majority the draft opinion on European Territorial Cooperation, by Petr OSVALD, Plzeň City Councillor (PES/Czech Republic) (Read more under plenary, p.5.). COTER members also adopted by majority the draft opinions on the Connecting Europe facility, by Ivan ŽAGAR, Mayor of Slovenska Bistrica, (EPP/ Slovenia) and on the Airport Package, by Roland WERNER, Saxony's State Secretary for Transport (ALDE/Germany) (Read more under plenary, p.X). Furthermore, COTER members had an exchange of views on the working document on the Common strategic framework, by Marek WÓZNIAK, Marshal of the Wielkopolska region (EPP/Poland).

ECOS (26 April, Brussels)

Lotta Lot ta HAK HAKANS ANSSON ANS SON HA HARJU RJU

Finally, PES member Lotta HAKANSSON HARJU, Member of Järfälla Municipal Council (Sweden), had an exchange of views with CIVEX members on her working document on 'Global Europe', a package of European Commission proposals on Financing EU External action for the period 2014-20120, consisting of one communication and a series of proposals for regulations related to the relevant instruments.

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he ECOS commission adopted by majority the draft opinion on the Award of concessions contracts, by Henk KOOL, Vice-Mayor of the City of The Hague (PES/Netherlands) (Read more under plenary, p.5, and interviews, p. 10). ECOS members also adopted by majority the draft opinion on the Responsible business package, by Satu TIETARI, Member of Säkylä Municipal Council (ALDE/Finland) (Read more under p plenary, y p.7). p

COTER (11 May, Brussels)

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he COTER commission adopted unanimously the draft opinion on Cities of tomorrow: sustainable cities on environmental and social levels, by Hella DUNGER-LÖPER, Berlin's State Secretary for European Affairs (Germany). The dossier was referred to the CoR on a request by the Danish Presidency and is a follow-up opinion of the 5th Summit of the Regions and Cities, held in Copenhagen in March 2012. In her draft opinion, the rapporteur stresses that cities need to respond to a large variety of challenges, such as combating social exclusion, adapting to demographic and climate change, and providing housing, education, sustainable public transport and social services for all. She therefore advocates a strong urban dimension in the future cohesion policy and calls for structural support policies which allow for multi-fund and integrated investment policies, based on local needs and set up in partnership with the cities. The rapporteur also underlines that, in order to promote balanced territorial development, cities

Alain Ala in HUT HUTCHI CHINSO NSON N

The PES Group obtained the rapporteurship on a key political dossier concerning the Posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services. The draft opinion will be elaborated by Alain HUTCHINSON, Member of the BrusselsCapital Regional Parliament (Belgium).


ENVE (17 April, Brussels)

Claude Cla udette ude tte BR B UNE U T-L T-LECH ECHENA ECH ENA NAULT NA AULTT

Moreover, PES Group member Claudette BRUNET-LECHENAULT, Vice-President of the Saône et Loire General Council (France), was appointed rapporteur for the owninitiative opinion on the Statute for a European foundation.

Finally, ECOS members had an exchange of views on three working documents elaborated by EPP members: the 2014-2020 Programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (by Witold KROCHMAL), the Public procurement package (by Catarina SEGERSTEN-LARSSON) and the Agenda for adequate, safe and sustainable pensions (by Paul LINDQUIST).

Yoo oomi m REN mi ENSTR STRÖM ÖM

The rapporteur reiterates the major role of local and regional authorities in the implementation of the new programme. Out of the 47 amendments, 22 were tabled by EDUC/ PES coordinator Yoomi RENSTRÖM and Mia DE VITS (PES/Belgium) and sought to address several stylistic issues and the lack of legislative amendments. They were overall welcomed by the rapporteur and adoption in commission proved uncontroversial.

EDUC (23 April, Brussels)

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DUC members adopted unanimously the draft opinion on the Creative Europe Programme 2014-2020, by Gabor BIHARY (PES/ Hungary). The European Commission's proposal for a Regulation brings together the current Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus programmes, including a new Financial Facility, aimed at improving access to finance for SMEs and organisations in the cultural and creative sectors. The sectors covered represent 4.5% of total European GDP and account for some 3.8% of the workforce. Beyond their direct contribution to GDP, they have positive spill-over effects on other sectors of the economy such as tourism and ICT. The EDUC commission also adopted unanimously Markku MARKKULA'S draft opinion on Horizon 2020, the EU's new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, covering the period 2014-2020. Its overall aim is to turn scientific breakthroughs into innovative products and services while drastically cutting red tape through the simplification of rules and procedures. Funds will focus on making the EU a world leader in science and enable it to secure industrial leadership in innovation. Important investments are also foreseen in six key areas, which represent major concerns shared by all Europeans: Health, demographic change and well-being; Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy; Secure, clean and efficient energy; Smart, green and integrated transport; Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; and Inclusive, innovative and secure societies.

Ann Ann An nne KA KA ARJ AR RRJA ALLLA ALA AINEN INE NEN

Furthermore, EDUC members held an exchange of views on the working document by Anne KARJALAINEN, Member of Kerava City Council (PES/Finland), on the European Commission's communication on Open Data and the proposal for the review of the Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information. The working document raises concrete questions such as the problems encountered by local and regional authorities in accessing, collecting, processing and re-using data produced by national authorities, the criteria that should be laid down for public data so that it can be used widely, the question of data transparency and reuse in addition to the legislation on intellectual property rights and privacy and the importance of open data in regional development. They also discussed the working document of Ursula MÄNNLE, Member of the Bavarian State Assembly (EPP/Germany) on the European Commission's Data Protection Package, consisting of a communication, a proposal for a Directive and a proposal for a Regulation. The working document explains the background of the package, and raises concrete practical questions facing local and regional authorities.

Neeil SWAN Nei N SWAN WA WA ANNIC NICK

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he ENVE commission adopted by majority the draft opinion on a Mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions by Neil SWANNICK, Member of Manchester City Council (PES/UK) (Read more under plenary, p.6, and interviews, p. 11). ENVE members also adopted by majority the draft opinions on Guidelines for transEuropean energy infrastructure, by Heinz LEHMANN, Member of the Saxony Landtag (EPP/Germany) and on the Programme for the environment and climate action (LIFE), by Kay TWITCHEN, Member of Essex County Council (NI/ United Kingdom) (Read more under plenary, p.7). The PES Group obtained the rapporteurship on the European Commission communication Towards a 7th Environment Action Programme and the European Commission report on the Implementation of the Soil Thematic Strategy. The draft opinions will be elaborated by Nilgun CANVER, Member of London Borough of Haringey (UK), and Corrie MCCHORD, member of Stirling Council (UK), respectively. Finally, ENVE members had an exchange of views on two working documents: Regional-specific approaches to climate change by Luciano CAVERI(ALDE/Italy), and the Energy Roadmap 2050 by Ugo CAPPELLACCI (EPP/Italy).

NAT (14 June, Rovaniemi, Finland)

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he NAT commission adopted by majority the draft opinion on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism by Adam BANASZAK (EA/Poland) (Read more under plenary, p. 7). NAT members also adopted by majority the draft opinions on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) by Pierre MAILLE, President of the General Council of Finistère (PES/France) and on a Maritime strategy for the Atlantic Ocean area by Paul O'DONOGHUE, Member of Kerry County Council and South West Regional Authority (ALDE/Ireland).

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AND NOW OVER TO PES MEMBERS

Hen Kool Henk He ol

How would regional and local authorities, who are responsible for the majority of public spending in Europe, benefit concretely from a proper legal framework for the award of concessions? Henk Kool, Vice-Mayor of the City of Den Haag (Netherlands): Concessions enable specific entrepreneurs to earn a living. Consequently, they should be awarded transparently and on a non-discriminatory basis. In addition, certain public services are executed through concessions and competition between entrepreneurs is therefore necessary to guarantee a high level of services. At the current time, concessions are covered by numerous European and national legal provisions, but there is no structural legal framework. This leads to legal uncertainty. All these issues require a European-level solution, in the form of a legal framework on concessions. The proposal should take into account four main points: • The current definition of concessions is too broad, with some public activities, such as licences, falling within its scope. A clear and narrow definition is necessary. • Numerous stakeholders have expressed their concerns that the proposal might become complex, like the public procurement directives. The proposal should only address the main issues. Also, local and regional authorities should be given the freedom to choose which – social and green – criteria they wish to set out. • A higher threshold. Local and regional authorities should be free to develop their own policy, for example an SME-friendly policy, under the threshold. • There is a greater need for flexibility in concessions than in public procurement, because concessions normally have a longer duration. Also, risks during the execution of the contract lie with the entrepreneur. This makes concessions less predictable.

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Hellla DUN U GER UN GER-LÖ -LÖPE PER ERR

In your draft opinion, you underline that towns and cities have a pioneering role to play in creating an economically dynamic and inclusive Europe. Could you illustrate this with a concrete example from your own city, Berlin? Hella Dunger-Loeper, Berlin Land Plenipotentiary for Federal and European Affairs : Berlin's experience with neighbourhood management has been excellent. Underlying this is the idea of an integrated city development policy which focuses the efforts of all available players on stabilising disadvantaged neighbourhoods: all administrative departments, local businesses and – above all – the mobilisation and participation of local people. In this area too, cities need European backing. Urban development means investing not only in concrete, but also in participation and cohesion. The environmental and social aspects of the built environment in towns and cities cannot be dissociated from one another. Therefore I am calling for these subjects to be fed into the negotiations on the new shape of the EU structural funds, forcibly if necessary. We need cohesion policy to be geared to towns and cities. They are the carthorses of an economically dynamic and social Europe. Therefore the Berlin senate welcomes the fact that the Commission and Member States are taking significantly more account of the town and city dimension. If we are to breathe life into the new EU strategy for growth and employment (Europa 2020 Strategy), towns and cities must pay a key role. The challenges and opportunities for Member States are heavily concentrated in towns and cities in particular. In any case, the Commission should not miss the target and limit the leeway for those responsible for the programme.

G or Bih Gá Gáb Bihari ari

How can the role of local and regional authorities be strengthened in "Creative Europe", the new framework programme for the cultural and creative sectors? Gábor Bihari, Member of Budapest General Assembly (Hungary): "Creative Europe" brings together the existing Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus programmes for the period 2014-2020, facilitating the distribution of cultural products, creating a single online market for audiovisual works and helping to unlock the job creation potential of the cultural and creative sectors. The programme also creates a new financial facility and proposes a significant increase in the budget devoted to the cultural and creative sectors. The proposed total budget for the framework programme is EUR 1,801 billion, a 37% increase compared to the current budget. The Committee of the Regions welcomes this new facility, but would like the Commission to produce more precise definitions, especially regarding the legal framework and the criteria for application of the facility. The audiovisual sector is very important, and not just in terms of growth, competitiveness and employment. Local and regional authorities can successfully incorporate the cultural and creative industries into their development strategies, which also help to strengthen local economies. This is particularly true in the case of innovation strategies and social outcomes. The CoR would also stress the need to ensure the right balance between the allocation of resources for major, large-scale projects and the financing of measures and activities focused at local and regional level. We also urge the Council and the European Parliament to give cultural players more of a say in decision-making rather than placing too much emphasis on the financial sector in implementation. The CoR therefore wishes to be involved in the process of monitoring the programme and its performance results, and emphasises the regional dimension of the quantifiable indicators for the general and specific objectives.


and consequently help to further consolidate economic and social cohesion. Europe, historically an area of asylum and multicultural coexistence, must display the necessary solidarity between its Member States if its unified position on crucial political issues, such as how to handle g migration, is to be reaffirmed at international level.

Neil Swa Neil Ne Nei wannic wan n k nic

T doros Gkotssopo Theod The op ulos

What would be the concrete European added value of a strengthened role of regional and local authorities in the mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions?

What are the benefits of controlled, mandatory relocation of recognised refugees and asylum seekers? Theodoros Gkotsopoulos, Municipal Councillor, Pallini, Attica: Since people in this situation do not always come from the same countries, a huge additional burden sometimes falls on the countries situated on the EU’s external borders close to crisis points (e.g. Malta, Italy and Greece in recent years). Since they share common borders, EU Member States should display solidarity with regard to asylum issues, helping those countries that are under pressure. The voluntary relocation pilot project in Malta represents an initial step in the right direction. The benefits of relocation that is mandatory under certain circumstances (request from the Member State in question, findings of the early warning mechanism and an opinion from EASO, consent of the people concerned) are: better protection of human rights by preventing the humanitarian emergencies that may occur when thousands of people converge upon countries that cannot cope with sudden, large-scale population movements; • effective compliance with international and European declarations and treaties on the protection of people suffering persecution, facilitating both the procedure for granting asylum and safe residence for them within the EU; • the relocation of refugees and potential asylum seekers in EU Member States that have the capacity to take them could help to meet the social and economic needs that may arise in these countries

Nic icchi Ven ndol d a

As President of a region which faces considerable migration challenges, could you describe the advantages of an effective global approach to migration and mobility? Nichi Vendola, President of the Puglia region (Italy): Immigration is a global issue with a strong local impact. Only by managing immigration at global level through sensible, intelligent mobility policies, in keeping with the principles of development cooperation, can we deal effectively with the daily challenges of reception and integration. To achieve this, provision must be made - including at European level - to ensure that local and regional authorities are fully and effectively involved, so that the various tiers of government can work in synergy and the concerns of all those dealing with migration on a day-to-day basis are heeded. The global approach to migration and mobility recently adopted by the European Commission offers a holistic view of migration and forms the basis for the development of coherent measures. I hope that it will also be an opportunity to review some rather questionable aspects of EU migration policy: for example, the fact that more emphasis is placed on border control than on developing credible programmes for managing migration flows.

Neil Swannick, Member of Manchester City Council (UK): The consensus of international opinion since COP 17 in Durban last year is that we must keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Centigrade. This is going to be a difficult task and even a 2 degree rise will result in significant distress for some of the world’s most vulnerable peoples over the next 50 years. But how is this going to be achieved? And who can make that happen? Of course global leadership through the UN is essential; the European Union and all national governments must be encouraged to take radical steps now. But most importantly, our citizens need accurate and accessible local information and support to be able to change their behaviour and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Unless data is available for each city, town and village, people cannot develop local strategies or measure their progress and local and regional political leaders cannot lead. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions we produce depends on factors such as where we live, how rich we are and upon policy decisions such as energy sources. This is why the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gases in a way which is “spatially resolved” or “spatially identified” will enable citizens to play their part, and for local and regional authorities, as the closest to the people, to add value to the global battle against climate change.

News of the Party of European Socialists The PES Presidency met on 10 May and 29 June to discuss preparations for the forthcoming PES Congress, due to take place in Bucharest (Romania) on 27-29 September, and the organisation of the work leading to the elaboration of the PES Fundamental Programme for the 2014 European elections. In the Allain Ala in HUT HUTCHI CHINSO NSON N wake of François

Hollande, France's seventh president and second Socialist president under the Fifth Republic, the PES Presidency adopted on 10 May the declaration 'A new momentum for Europe - Respecting Democracy means a European Growth Agenda'. The PES urged for a swift end to 'austerity only' measures and called for actions that foster growth and investment, while putting solidarity before sanctions and protecting people. Representing the PES Group in the CoR, Alain HUTCHINSON expressed the Group's full support to the PES call for a European Growth Agenda.

On 10-12 May, the PES organised a 3-day training event for PES Activists, mainly coming from PES City Groups, with a view to teaching them how to structure campaigns and make them successful. The first day of the event, which focused on three key components - face to face, online and Cla Claud laaude udette d tte te ABELA BALDACCH te HINO IN action campaigning

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– was hosted by the PES Group in the CoR at the CoR Headquarters. Presenting the Group's activities and political priorities, PES Group Vice-President in charge of Communication Claudette ABELA BALDACCHINO emphasised the potential mutual benefits from a closer cooperation between PES Group members and City Groups. On 11 May, the PES launched a major campaign to fight youth unemployment. 'Your future is my future - A European Youth Guarantee now!' calls for every young person in Europe to be offered a job, further education or workfocused training at the latest four months after leaving education or after becoming unemployed. Expressing the PES Group's full support to the campaign, Mia DE VITS underlined that European solidarity is essential in effectively addressing this huge challenge. She also stressed the urgent need for regions and cities to work together and learn from those practices that have proven their worth in different parts of the EU such as Austria, Finland and Luxembourg. The PES Group in the CoR will be organising a workshop dedicated to youth unemployment in Brussels, on 10 October, within the framework of Open Days. The PES alternative to a growth strategy was at the heart of the discussions of the two PES Leaders' meetings held before the Informal European Karl-H l-Hein l-H Hein in nz LAM AM ERTZ AMB Council of 23 May and ordinary European Council of 28 June. The PES progressive European investment strategy is built on three main axes: (i) an action plan for growth and jobs in Europe, (ii) taming financial markets, building stability, and financing growth and employment, and (iii) making economic governance accountable and fit for purpose. The overall aim is to stop austerity-only policies while gradually bringing both private and public investment to pre-crisis levels. PES Group President and PES Leader Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ reminded the catastrophic effects of continuing austerity measures on the ability of regions and cities to provide basic services to citizens and urged for action to jump-start growth in the EU. He warned, however, that growth must not be an end in itself, but the means of creating jobs in order to keep the economy going.

In May-June, several PES thematic configurations held meetings with a view to elaborating their contribution to the PES Fundamental Programme, which will focus on five broad themes: Fair Economy, Equal Societies, Active Democracy, a Just World and Gender Equality. On 20-21 June, the PES organised four Policy Forums, dedicated to the first four themes mentioned above. These working meetings brought together external partners (such as NGOS and social partners), who had been consulted on the fundamental programme, and members of PES networks. The aim was to present the state of play in the preparation of the programme and to have an exchange between the different actors who have contributed to the same topics. At its meeting of 8 May, the PES Environment and Climate Change Network discussed the PES progressive energy vision for 2050. Key recommendations include constructing a European Super Smart Electricity Grid and completing the European internal energy market, making Europe less dependent on nuclear power, phasing out all sources of fossil energy by 2050, boosting renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency while reducing energy use. Other issues discussed were a common PES position on the Sustainable Development Conference Rio 20+ and ways to decarbonise transport. Speaking on behalf of the PES Group in the CoR, Neil SWANNICK, rapporteur on the European Commission's proposal for a directive on the monitoring and reporting on greenhouse gases, underlined the need to develop national action plans to combat climate change which are sensitive to the differences between regions. The main topic discussed by the PES Migration and Integration Network, gathering in Brussels on 30 May, was migrants' voting rights and their participation in party structures. The PES will evaluate the level of integration of people with ethnic or migrant background within PES parties on the basis of three main criteria: party membership, party candidates on national and European elections and party leaders and executive structure members. It is worth noting that the PES Presidency decided on 10 May 2012 to appoint Emine BOZKURT MEP (PvdA, The Netherlands) as rapporteur on this issue. The Network on Migration and Integration will closely follow the progress made throughout the year and the final report will be presented to the yearly Conference of PES Secretaries General on 23 November 2012. Marc SCHAEFER, PES Group coordinator within the CIVEX commission, underlined the importance of civic participation of migrants at local and regional level, which is a prerequisite for progressive and inclusive societies.

The PES Youth Unemployment Working Group met twice, on 9 May and 19 June. The May meeting focused on the political strategy behind Ia BO Ian Ia BORG RG the PES campaign. Participants had the opportunity to hear a presentation about the Austrian youth guarantee and discussed the instruments for job creation for young people, ways to effectively match demand and supply, as well as the advantages of the dual education system. Other key items on the agenda were the cost of financing youth guarantees and the division of competences between the European and the national level. Participants at the June meeting got a more detailed update on what is going on in the different member parties and how much progress has been made on the introduction of youth guarantees and other policy proposals. Speaking on behalf of the PES Group in the CoR, Ian Borg highlighted the key role of local and regional authorities for the successful implementation of the youth guarantee and expressed his firm belief that it constitutes a unique progressive policy tool that enhances young people's employment prospects. Moreover, he warmly welcomed the decision of his party, the Malta Labour Party, to put youth guarantee at the heart of its political priorities and to introduce it, once in government. Meeting on 6 June, the PES Task Force on Arab revolutions heard an assessment of the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) and had exchanges on concrete initiatives to support the progressive movements in the region. It is worth noting that on 7June, the Global Progressive Forum (GPF), the PES, the S&D Group and the FEPS organised in the European Parliament a joint seminar on constitutional reforms in the Arab World. The aim was to bring together members of the constitutional assemblies and constitutional experts from both sides of the Mediterranean. Taking the floor on behalf of the PES Group, Bernard SOULAGE highlighted the importance of decentralised governance in the democratisation process. Finally, PES Women held their statutory meeting on 19 June to discuss their contribution to the PES Fundamental Programme and the state of play in gender equality issues in the EU, including trafficking and measures for quotas in order to achieve better gender balance in boardrooms and senior management of the EU's biggest companies.

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