Coinciding with the 21st edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 157th Plenary session between the 9th and 11th of October. The session marked the penultimate Plenary of the year and featured strong Irish engagement over the course the three-day session, including the presentation and adoption of Irish Delegation member Cllr. Dan Boyle’s opinion on the European Consumers’ Protection Package.
The formal opening of the EWRC coincided with the start of the CoR Plenary and featured contributions from President of the European Committee of the Regions’ Vasco Alves Cordeiro, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira, as well as Chair of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament Younous Omarjee.
Day two began with statements on the on-going Israel/Palestine conflict. Following the statements, the Plenary session formally opened with a debate on a Health Union for Europe and its regions. This debate saw the first Irish intervention of the day when Cllr. Kate Feeney urged for a “Common [European] approach to mental health” and suggested that in order to achieve this “our cities and regions must be supported”.
Following the sessions opening debate there was a presentation of five opinions, including Irish Delegation Cllr. Dan Boyle’s European Consumers’ Protection Package. Cllr. Boyle’s opinion seeks to amend the European Commission’s proposals for a right to repair to include a local and regional perspective. The aim of the proposal is to ensure that consumers are empowered to make better informed decisions and play an active role in the ecological transition. Cllr. Boyle asserts in the opinion that granting consumers the right to repair would be instrumental in advancing Europe’s industrial transition and strengthening its resilience and open strategic autonomy.
The opinion was adopted with several amendments.
The afternoon saw several Irish Delegations interventions on the Plenary floor.
During the debate on “UNFCCC COP28: the role of subnational authorities in keeping climate ambition on track”, Cllr. Aoife Breslin intervened highlighting the value of clear and understandable language in discussions surrounding climate change, noting “there is an onus on us as local leaders to be concise and consistent in our language used when talking about the threat posed by climate change”.
Speaking during the debate on the “Review and proposal for the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027”, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy urged that any revision to the MFF would ensure that “funds are more accessible” to local and regional authorities.
Following voting on the five opinions the Plenary was presented a draft resolution on the SDGs in EU regions and cities in the aftermath of the EU Voluntary Review and 2023 UN discussions. During this debate Head of Delegation Cllr. Michael Murphy welcomed the resolution noting that it will act as a “milestone for future work”.
The final Irish intervention of the day came from Cllr. Kieran McCarthy speaking on the opinion “Mentoring: A Powerful and Meaningful Tool for the Europe of Tomorrow”. During the debate Cllr. McCarthy highlighted the work done by the Cork Enterprise Office and their mentoring programme, noting that the programme benefits from EU ERDF funding.
Cllr. McCarthy also intervened during the opening debate of day three, on “The State of Regions and Cities”. Cllr. McCarthy used his intervention to make an impassioned call for Europe to work with its local and regional authorities.
The final Irish intervention of the Plenary session was delivered by Cllr. Una Power, who speaking during the debate on the reconstruction of Ukraine and in the context of the #InternationalDayOfTheGirl urged that “women are considered in the reconstruction of Ukraine and it’s cities”.
The final Plenary session of the year is due to take place on 28th and 30th of November.