Local leaders team up with Slovenian Presidency, Commission and European Parliament to speed up EU recovery plans implementation

Local leaders team up with Slovenian Presidency, Commission and European Parliament to speed up EU recovery plans implementation

The first High-Level Forum on Regional Recovery and Resilience made proposals on how to improve the governance and avoid overlaps with cohesion policy

​​​Regional and local leaders gathered in Lipica (SI) on 24 September to discuss how to timely deliver recovery investments on the ground and avoid delays and overlapping among EU policies. Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, and Slovenian Minister of Finance, Andrej Sircelj, as well as leading members of the European Parliament stressed that only by working with regions and cities national recovery plans can succeed. 

Opening the High-Level Forum, jointly organized by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the President of the CoR, Apostolos Tzitzikostas , said: ” The Recovery and Resilience Facility resources are starting to reach Member States. It is now our shared duty to put to work every single Euro of tax-payers’ money invested for our recovery. We need a real partnership between EU, national, regional and local players despite regulations being not sufficiently clear on regions and cities involvement. The Committee is carefully monitoring the implementation of the Facility on the ground and its coordination with cohesion policy. Our citizens’ expectations and needs cannot be overlooked with top-down decisions.”

Andrej Šircelj,Minister of Finance of the Republic of Slovenia, stated: ” I believe that we can achieve great results with a successful implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The best results will come only from inclusive cooperation. This crisis has taught us how to cooperate in difficult times – on local, regional, and international levels. Now, we just have to imagine what we can achieve with cooperation in promising times and make a step in that direction.”

EU Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, underlined the CoR’s ” constructive engagement in shaping the final design of the RRF” and the vital importance of a strong partnership among the different levels of governments in the forthcoming phase. ” More than two thirds of all national recovery and resilience plans have already move to the implementation phase. Local and regional authorities will be key to make these plans a reality and we will continue to encourage Member States to effectively involve them” he said, ” the RRF funds and cohesion policy must complement and not substitute each other: additionality and absorption are the keywords here.”

The Forum discussion will feed into the CoR opinion on the RRF implementation, led by Mr Rob Jonkman (NL/ECR) and scheduled for adoption by the Commission for Economic Policies (ECON) on 29 September. The Committee has provided a first assessment of national recovery plans’ preparation and will present its findings on the impact of the pandemic on regional and local communities in the EU Annual Local and Regional Barometer 2021, to be presented on 12 October during the 19th European Week of Regions and Cities.

You can re-watch the opening and the first panel discussion of the High-Level Forum on Recovery and Resilience here.

The High-Level Forum took place on the occasion of an external meeting of the CoR bureau in Lipica, Slovenia. Ahead of the bureau, the CoR Young Elected Politicians (YEPs) Programme organised an event on Cohesion Policy where young local leaders from all across the EU were joined by CoR members, the Slovenian State Secretary for Development and European Cohesion Policy Monika Kirbiš Rojs, European Commission’s representatives and other prominent speakers.

You can re-watch the YEPs event entitled Cohesion as a value-Benefits and costs for young people of transitioning to a post Covid-19 world here.

VOICES FROM THE HIGH-LEVEL FORUM ON REGIONAL RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE
(following the order of the interventions):

Aleksander Jevšek (SI/PES), Vice-President of the CoR Slovenian Delegation and Mayor of the Municipality of Murska Sobota , said: ” The efficient use of each euro from the Recovery and Resilience Facility depends to a large extent on partnership with local and regional authorities. To make the most of the resources coming from both recovery instruments and cohesion policy programmes, national governments must listen to cities and regions and trust them that this money will be spent transparently.”

Michael Murphy (IE/EPP), Mayor of Clonmel and Chair of the CoR Commission for Economic Policy (ECON), said: ” The challenges we face are not ‘one size fits all’, they differ in kind and in intensity across European regions, cities, towns and rural areas. We need tailored solutions, implemented together with the local level. A top-down approach to the recovery would mean that investments and reforms might simply not match the reality of opportunities and challenges on the ground.”

Rob Jonkman (NL/ECR), CoR rapporteur on The implementation of the RRF, said: ” Europe’s recovery, the digital and sustainable transition depend on the direct involvement of local and regional authorities . Therefore, they need to be structurally involved in implementing the recovery plans . As the involvement varies among member states, we must share our experiences and learn from each other.”

Alexandra Geese (DE/GREENS), Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on the Technical Support Instrument (TSI), said: ” A socially inclusive, green and digital transition poses multi-faceted challenges that can only be addressed with an active role of local and regional authorities. The Technical Support Instrument gives local and regional authorities the opportunity to create tailor-made knowledge: asking experts to set out bespoke strategies and roadmaps, organizing seminars and workshops or learning from each other’s best practices. Climate-tracking, gender budgeting and open-source solutions to promote digitalized and highly accessible administrations are only a few examples for the many tailor-made solutions the TSI can facilitate.”

María Del Valle Miguelez Santiago, Vice-President of Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and Regional Minister for Enterprise, Employment, Universities and Spokesperson for Murcia Region, said: ” Regions are key players in delivering the EU’s climate and digital priorities and their competences relate to multiple recovery plans’ objectives. Having a clear understanding of the investment needs at territorial level, regions deserve a role within the relevant political decision-making fora to define and implement the recovery funding. It is for this reason that in the coming months we can provide added value for an efficient use of European funds and achieve the desired targets.”

Hanna Zdanowska (PL/EPP), Member of the CoR ‘Green Deal Going Local’ working group, said:

” 75% of EU citizens live in cities that are the main producers of greenhouse gas emissions. But they are also the hubs and sources of action and innovation both in the areas of mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The global forum on climate action taking place in Glasgow represents an important opportunity for local and regional leaders to showcase what cities and regions can do and are already doing to reach climate-neutrality.”

Zvone Černač, Minister for Development and European Cohesion Policy of Slovenia, said: ” An essential objective and a challenge at the same time is to establish a framework which will ensure synergies between short-term and long-term mechanisms on the one hand, and simplify implementation procedures on the other, with local and regional authorities playing a key role alongside national governments.”

Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES), Chair of the CoR Commission for Territorial Cohesion policy and Budget (COTER), said: “Europe has made an unprecedented effort to limit the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. But money is not all. Let us not forget the method: partnership and multi-level governance have proved its worth with cohesion policy. Renationalisation of European policies through the Recovery Plan is not the solution. Let’s trust regions to protect citizens and SMEs.”

Juraj Droba (SK/ECR), CoR rapporteur on Engaging local and regional authorities in the preparation of the 2021-27 Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes, said: ” Partnership, along with the subsidiarity, is the most important principle from the cities and regions’ perspective and we must ensure it is fully implemented in all stages of the new programming period.”

Ulrika Landergren (SV/RENEW E.), Chair of the CoR Commission for Natural Resources (NAT), said: ” For several years we have seen a growing gap between the attention paid and the funds available to urban areas and to rural areas. Unfortunately, the European Commission adopted its long-term vision for rural development only after the funding programmes until 2027 were set. The CoR will be supporting the Commission in this vision but we cannot wait until 2028! We need to close the gap between rural and urban areas now.”

Eddy van Hijum (NL/EPP), CoR rapporteur on SMEs Strategy, said: ” We as local and regional authorities can be a partner for the European Commission by being in contact with our SMEs and with local authorities such as chambers of commerce. If we want to achieve the goals that have been set and to come back stronger after COVID-19, we need to be partners in this transition. From the smallest SMEs in our home regions to the Commission, we all have a role to play make the transitions work.”

Source: Local leaders team up with Slovenian Presidency, Commission and European Parliament to speed up EU recovery plans implementation (europa.eu)

Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/nl/photos/europees-parlement-straatsburg-1265253/

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