Round up of CoR’s 154th Plenary

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 154th plenary session on the 15th and 16th March. The session marked the second plenary of the year and featured several debates on opinions and resolutions as well as a key vote on the CoR’s draft budget for 2024.

Opening the two-day session, CoR President Vasco Alves Cordeiro wished the Irish Delegation a happy Saint Patrick’s Day. Following the formal opening, the plenary began with a debate on harnessing talent in Europe’s Regions, this debate taking place in the context of the European Year of Skills. Other key highlights throughout the day included the CoR opinion on short-term rentals (Airbnbs) and the sustainable use of pesticides.

Day one also saw a crucial debate on the CoR’s draft budget for 2024, which was subsequently approved.

From an Irish perspective the highlight of the first day of the plenary session was Cllr. Aoife Breslin’s contribution to the EU Local Matters debate. Speaking under her proposed topic ‘Encouraging integration at local and regional level’, Cllr. Breslin noted that “it is crucial in order to ensure interaction on a local and regional level that there is engagement with local elected representatives establishing proper communication structures and investment”.

Day two of the March plenary session focused on two opinions, Amending the Directive on Asbestos and the European Media Freedom Act. Following the acceptance of these two opinions and a resolution on Harnessing Talent in the EU the CoR hosted a Cohesion Alliance event.

Speaking during the event, Irish Delegation Member Cllr. Una Power noted the importance of adjusting implementation of the Cohesion policy to our changing needs and political priorities.

The next plenary session will take place in May 2023.

Round up of 149th CoR Plenary

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held a hybrid meeting for the second plenary of 2022 on the 27th-28th April 2022. It was a packed agenda with a number of contributions from Irish CoR members, as well two opinions adopted by Irish members.

The session opened with debates on the war in Ukraine. The debate featured contributions from Ukrainian regional and local leaders. During the debate the CoR called for “robust sanctions against Russia”, while also demanding the “immediate release of Ukrainian mayors and civil servants kidnapped by Russian occupation forces”. The CoR also committed to offering the expertise of the EU’s regions and cities to help Ukraine’s local and regional authorities in reconstruction efforts.

Directly following this, Cllr Michael Murphy presented his opinion “Strengthening the EU-UK relationship at sub-national level and remedying the territorial impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU” for adoption. The opinion saw wide support across the CoR, with guest Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, also welcoming the opinion as well as the ambition of the CoR and its members to cooperating with the UK at the local and regional level.

Cllr. Kieran McCarthy’s opinion “New European Bauhaus – Beautiful, Sustainable, Together” followed. The opinion was once again widely supported by members. The New European Bauhaus initiative seeks to connect the European Green Deal to our daily lives, looking to harness the creative potential of regions and cities. However, Cllr McCarthy’s opinion sets out that this shall only be possible with strong local and regional engagement. He therefore urged the European Commission to put cities and regions at the heart of the initiative and ensure that they receive the requisite technical assistance and funding.

Elsewhere, Cllr Una Power delivered a considered contribution to the plenary debate on the opinion “Towards a socially fair implementation of the Green Deal”. During her contribution Cllr Power noted that “by lifting up those most at risk we protect those most vulnerable communities”.

The second day of plenary saw a number of debates including a new strategy for universities, amending the renewable energy directive, and a discussion on how cities and regions can help accelerate the energy transition.

Finally, the members debated and voted on the preliminary draft estimates of the CoR expenditure and revenue for 2023.

The next plenary session is due to take place in June 2022.

Round up of 148th CoR Plenary

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held a remote meeting for the first plenary of 2022 on 26-27 January 2022. It was a lively session with many contributions from Irish CoR Members. 

The session was formally opened by the Head of the Irish Delegation to the CoR Michael Murphy. In his opening address he paid tribute to the former President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, who he described as, ‘A true European who wanted to close the gap between institutions and citizens.’

In relation to EU matters for local and regional authorities Cllr Una Power stated that, ‘We must talk about a Europe that is protected from climate change, when it comes to strategic autonomy that is an incredibly important part of our work going forward.’

The second day included a debate on the EU Green Deal: Sustainable smart mobility in our regions, cities and villages. Cllr Declan McDonnell declared that, ‘Connectivity and accessibility are essential in ensuring social, economic and territorial cohesion, transport affordability must be taken into consideration when devising new policies.’

Henriette Reker, the Mayor of Cologne, was named as the first Laureate of the Mayor Paweł Adamowicz Award created in honour of Mayor Paweł Adamowicz of Gdańsk. Cllr Kate Feeney reflected, ‘We are all reminded of the fragility of human life…our vulnerability pushes us to strive for better.’

In relation to the report on the impact of CoR opinions Cllr Kieran McCarthy commented, ‘I’m pleased to see that despite the challenges of the pandemic we did manage as an institution to strengthen our links with our institutions and increase our influence on processes.’

Further to the above, lively discussions took place on topics such as an EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027, local and regional authorities accelerating the implementation of the EU Pollinators Initiative, a long-term vision for rural areas, debate on cohesion implementation, towards zero emission road transport, debate on the Conference on the Future of Europe, gender equality and climate change, and the Action Plan: Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil.

Members will reconvene for the next plenary in April 2022.


Read more on this CoR page.

Recap of the 147th CoR Plenary

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its last plenary session of 2021 on 1-2 December. We reflect below on this very active session with engaging discussions and debates.

Kicking off proceedings on the first day of the 147th CoR Plenary session was a debate on Strengthening European democracy in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe with statements from Herman Van Rompuy. The debate focused on the future of democracy and highlighted how the conference can provide an opportunity to bring the EU closer to its citizens.

Cllr McCarthy makes a contribution following a statement from French President Macron during 147th CoR plenary session.

This was followed by a statement from French President Emmanuel Macron, who discussed European values and the renewal of democracy. (The statement can be viewed here.) Cllr Kieran McCarthy spoke about the relationship between the EU and the UK and the need for bottom-up smart inclusive development, calling for more subsidiarity and less centralisation of budgets and decision-making across the EU.

Eradicating homelessness in the European Union proved a popular opinion with many contributions from Irish Members. Cllr Kate Feeney spoke on the acute homelessness crisis in Ireland, the success of Housing First, the need for an EU wide definition of homelessness and homelessness in the LGBTIQ community. Cllr Declan McDonnell provided an overview of the homelessness crisis in Galway and the need for long term supports and a comprehensive winter response. Cllr Dan Boyle commented on economic policies where the cost of rental or purchase of a property is beyond many people. He highlighted the need for an integrated response to the homelessness crisis and that the CoR can identify and encourage best practice.

Cllr Feeney at 147th CoR Plenary, December 2021

Cllr Feeney makes a statement during the CoR plenary session, December 2021.

Nominees for the 2021 Mayor Pawel Adamowicz Award presented to the CoR, the award will be presented on the 27th of January 2022.

A draft resolution was presented on the 2022 work programme of the European Commission and the CoR political priorities for 2022. Cllr McCarthy highlighted the importance for local and regional authorities and the need to promote digital cohesion.

During the debate on the 2022 European Year of Youth Cllr McCarthy acknowledged the suffering of young people during the pandemic and the need to listen and speak with young people.

In relation to the debate on local and regional authorities and the refugees’ emergency Cllr Boyle highlighted the lack of an integrated and coordinate approach, and the need to be less reactive and more considered.

On the implementation of cohesion policy, Cllr McCarthy stressed the need for local and regional resilience scoreboards to see how regions are doing on a wide range of issues.

During the debate on the fight against disinformation, Cllr Boyle emphasised the need to put in place the highest standards of ethics ensuring the quality of the discourse improves.

Concerning the gender dimension of structural and cohesion funds in 2021-2027, Cllr Boyle welcomed the opinion and emphasised the lack of a comprehensive gender equality strategy.

Further to the above, lively discussions took place on topics such as:

  • Better Regulation
  • Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
  • Implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility
  • European Approach to Artificial Intelligence
  • EU action plan for organic farming
  • Sustainable blue economy and aquaculture
  • Updating the new Industrial Strategy for Europe
  • The role of nuclear power in the clean energy transition
  • European Commission Report on Competition Policy in 2020

With this plenary session, the CoR wrapped up business for 2021. Members will reconvene for the next plenary in January 2022.

Further details on the 147th CoR Plenary sessions can be found on this CoR page.

Recap of the 145th CoR plenary session

The CoR held its last plenary session before the Summer holidays on 30th June and 1st July. A number of important debates were held on topics including the Conference on the Future of Europe, Better Regulation and promoting European Values.

Most notably, a debate on the Conference on the Future of Europe took place with high-level representatives from the Executive Board of CoFoE Guy Verhofstadt, Manfred Weber and Iratxe Garcia Perez, MEPs. It was highlighted that the Conference must listen to all voices, and that the CoR has an important role to play in the Conference through its members and local and regional leaders from all over the EU.   

During a debate on Better Regulation, Foresight and the European Commissions’ Work Programme for 2022 with Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, the regions, cities and villages asked for a strong role in running EU investment for recovery to ensure that funds reach those most affected by the pandemic. The CoR reiterated its commitment to improve EU legislation by contributing to the Fit for Future (F4F) platform. In a resolution with proposals for the 2022 European Commission Work Programme , CoR members requested that the European Commission ensures that local and regional authorities are involved in the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) in order to effectively address the pandemic’s consequences on the ground. 

Furthermore, the CoR adopted its resolution on a Vision for Europe – Future of Cross Border Cooperation. During adoption, Cllr Kieran McCarthy highlighted that in current times cross-border cooperation defines the essence of the European project and that the EU must invest more in connecting people and territories along land and maritime borders. In the resolution, the CoR commits its support for cross-border cooperation in enhancing territorial cohesion, links, exchanges and collaboration between territories and cities across the EU and presents its vision for cross-border cooperation which is split into a number of priority areas.  

Further to the above, lively and animated debates on the following topics took place:

  • Debate on Promoting the European Values through Culture and Education with Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission for Promoting our European Way of Life 
  • Debate on the European Democracy Action Plan with  Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency 

With this plenary session the CoR wrapped up business for the Summer months and Members will reconvene for the next plenary in October 2021, which will take place during the European Week of Regions and Cities.

Recap of 144th CoR Plenary meeting

The 144th CoR plenary took place between 5th and 7th May 2021. As always, the meeting was filled with timely discussions and the Irish Members represented the position of Ireland’s LRAs in important debates on the Union of Equality, EU Health Union, achieving climate neutrality and digitalisation.

Our Members were particularly active during the debate on Future of Europe, which took place with participation from Mr Herman Van Rompuy, the Chair of the CoR High Level Group on European Democracy. Cllr Declan McDonnell called for permanent citizen consultations and highlighted the need for a ‘’pan-EU network led by the Committee of the Regions to channel citizens’ input, act as a hub for knowledge and experience and coordinate feedback’’. His words were further mirrored by Cllr Kieran McCarthy, who spoke about the great need for the Conference to be an inclusive exercise that empowers the regions for the success of the whole EU. Cllr Una Power also stated that ‘’all voices must be at the table’’ and that the Conference must ‘’embed diversity and inclusion in all work going forward’’.

On 6th May, Cllr Gillian Coughlan presented her draft opinion on the EU Digital Education Plan 2021-2027. The opinion highlighted, among others, the importance of digital literacy, critical infrastructures and connectivity in achieving inclusive education systems across the EU. Cllr Coughlan, who is also a practicing teacher, further emphasised that ‘’it is essential to put in place digital infrastructure that will give all students and teachers equal changes to prosper and develop their skills’’. Her opinion was adopted by majority.

Ireland was further represented during the Plenary by Cllr Michael Murphy, Head of the Irish Delegation, who chaired the discussions on the second day of Plenary. For the first time, an Irish Member took the chair to moderate the debates on the day to ensure the smooth running of CoR’s business in important debates with representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, as well as other multi-level stakeholders.

Further to the above, lively and animated debates on the following topics took place:

  • Union of Equality – in debate with Commissioner Helena Dalli
  • Recovery in the Tourism, Hotel and Catering Sector
  • Debate on the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU with Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal
  • Debate on cooperation with the European Parliament with David Sassoli, President of the EP.

A number of opinions, amongst others, were also adopted during the plenary:

  • The Implementation of the EU Pillar of Social Rights
  • A Union of Equality: EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025
  • A Union of Equality: Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030
  • Experiences and lessons learned by regions and cities during the COVID-19 crisis
  • European Health Union: Reinforcing the EU’s resilience
  • Europe’s pharmaceutical strategy and legislative proposal for changing the mandate of the European Medical Agency
  • Powering a climate-neutral economy: an EU strategy for Energy System Integration
  • Media in the Digital Decade: An Action Plan

The Plenary will reconvene on 30th June for the last meeting before the Summer break.

Recap of 143th CoR Plenary meeting

The members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) have brought the 143rd Plenary meeting to a close. The session was again fully remote and took place on 17, 18 and 19th March.

With the meeting opening on St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish delegation members wasted no time in representing Irish interests during a debate on the pandemic, recovery and European democracy with Charles Michel, President of the European Council. Cllr Kieran McCarthy urged for local communities to be at the heart of the priorities for the Conference on the Future of Europe, stating that “if you empower the regions, the EU will be a success.”

Cllr Deidre Forde

A number of Irish members took the floor during the presentation of an opinion on establishing a Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), stressing that a lot of work needs to be done before it is fit for purpose. Cllr Deidre Forde argued for the “full involvement of regions and local authorities in the planning and implementation of the BAR”.

During the debate on an adequate minimum wage in the EU, Cllr Declan McDonnell expressed the need to recognise the right of everyone “to a decent living from their work” based on upward convergence and “to end wage discrimination”. Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley and Cllr Aoife Breslin expanded on the need to work towards a proper minimum wage to one which values work, lifts people out of poverty, creates a more inclusive society and closes the gender pay gap.

The second day of meetings started with a celebration of European entrepreneurship with the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award Ceremony. The EER label of excellence is awarded by the CoR to regions who have shown outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategies. The 2021-22 EER winning regions were: Castelo Branco Municipality (Portugal), Gabrovo Municipality (Bulgaria), Helsinki-Uusimaa Region (Finland), Madrid Region (Spain), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (France) and Silesia Voivodeship (Poland), with a “special mention” to Vukovar-Srijem County, Croatia.

Watch a video of the EER winner regions. You can also read more about each region in this press release.

Further to these points, lively debates on the following topics took place:

  • COVID-19 Pandemic with Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
  • Trade and EU Recovery
  • Financing and delivering the Renovation Wave in regions, cities and villages with Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy
  • Integration of migrants and the fight against radicalisation with Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs​

The following opinions were also discussed and adopted during the 3-day meeting:

  • New pact on migration and asylum
  • Achieving the European Education Area by 2025
  • A new approach to the Atlantic Maritime Strategy – Atlantic Action Plan 2.0
  • Regulation on establishing a Brexit Adjustment Reserve
  • Action plan on critical raw materials
  • Trade policy review
  • Renovation Wave for Europe – Greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives

The plenary closed with a discussion of EU matters for local and regional authorities focusing on the coordinated management of borders during the pandemic and the decline of city centres and promotion of SMEs.

CoR meets for the 142nd Plenary Session

With the 142nd Plenary meeting of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) wrapping up, we reflect on a very active 3 days of discussions and debates. One of the themes for this fully virtual plenary meeting which took place on 3-5 February 2021 focused on creating a cohesive and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in light of the vaccinations becoming available. How to support the restarting of a new normal that will involve green and digital solutions which will help the continent to become more resilient and future-focused was also contemplated in the deliberations.

Signing of MOU between WHO and CoR

Delegates were able to debate with Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, Regional Director for Europe, WHO on the COVID-19 pandemic vaccination campaign and the role of LRAs in flighting the health crisis. Dr. Kluge urged international solidarity and cooperation in the vaccination campaign for social, economic, moral good of all people. During the plenary meeting, the CoR also signed of a memorandum of understanding with the WHO to reinforce partnership focused on protecting against health emergencies and building better, safer and more resilient cities and regions.

CoR members provided regional input into joining forces to launch and implementation of the new cohesion policy programmes in synergy with recovery tools with Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms. During the discussions it was argued that recovery responses have to apply the partnership principle and multi-level governance to rebalance development and address regions that suffered the most.

Other topics of debate focused on the European Citizens’ Initiative, the restarting of the cultural and creative sectors along with the new European Research Area and the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Members of the Irish delegation were very active in the debates and provided some key statements. Cllr Deirdre Forde welcomed the increase in supports to the Creative Europe programme and called “on the EU to provide a range of supports to mobilise the sector” while encouraging the involvement of the private sector as well. Cllr Kieran McCarthy emphasised the need for experience-sharing between LRAs and highlighted that existing supports for the culture and creative sectors must be promoted to a greater extent. Newly appointed CoR member Cllr Una Power advised that the EU must work towards creating adaptable workforce and communities that would be in a position to weather out further challenges.

In addition to this, on supporting the cultural and creative sectors, the Mayor of Galway City Council, Cllr Mike Cubbard was invited as a guest speaker and shared his experiences of the city’s accolade as European Capital of Culture in 2020. He expressed the need for concrete plans and EU support for the arts and culture sector.

A number of opinions were also welcomed at the plenary. The topics of these opinions include:

  • European Skills Agenda
  • Youth Employment Support
  • Cross-border public services in Europe
  • Agroecology
  • EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and innovation for 2020-2030
  • A new ERA for Research and Innovation
  • 8th Environment Action Programme

Further details on the 142nd CoR Plenary sessions can be found on this CoR page.

Irish Delegation participates in CoR’s 141st Plenary Session

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 141st plenary meeting on 8, 9 and 10 December 2020. The Irish delegation joined other locally and regionally elected representatives from across EU Member States in the CoR’s fully virtual plenary session.

The event was the last of six CoR plenary sessions held in 2020 and closed up what is sure to be a memorable year. The effects of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change crisis were felt throughout the topics discussed.

Focus on Brexit

CoR Members engaged with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and the chair of the CoR-UK Contact Group, Loïg Chesnais-Girard, to debate on the EU-UK agreement and territorial consequences of Brexit. EU local and regional leaders discussed ways of maintaining EU-UK relationships and the importance of continued cooperation into the future, which was welcomed and echoed by the Mayor of London. Concerns were also raised about the continued uncertainty and implications of a no-deal outcome. Parties agreed that an agreement is in the best interest of everyone. The Irish delegation actively voiced local perspectives on the situation. Cllr Michael Murphy focused on preparedness for the end of the transition period and ensuring adequate support is available for SMEs. Cllr Kieran McCarthy urged that UK should continue to collaborate in cross-regional initiatives such as Erasmus, Horizon and Interreg.

Members took part on a number of other debates. The topics covered included:

  • European Commission Work Programme 2021
  • Stepping up climate ambition during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The New Package on Migration and Asylum
  • The enlargement package and European Neighbourhood Policy
  • Recovery and resilience in rural areas
The future of EU Rural Areas

Cllr Enda Stenson presented an opinion on the EU Strategy for Rural Revival. In the opinion, Cllr Stenson stressed “the need for rural-urban balance” with a real rural revival to provide equilibrium of opportunity and EU funding in urban and rural areas in order to ensure that rural areas are attractive places to live, work and raise a family.

Additionally, several opinions were broadly welcomed by CoR members including:

  • Towards more sustainable tourism for EU cities and regions
  • From Farm to Fork – the local and regional dimension
  • The impact of climate change on regions: an assessment of the European Green Deal
  • Challenges for public transport in cities and metropolitan regions

Further details on the 141st CoR Plenary sessions can be found on this page.

Photo credit: European Committee of the Regions

CoR Launches 2021 European Entrepreneurial Region Award

The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) award is an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) that identifies and rewards EU regions and cities with outstanding, future oriented entrepreneurial strategies. The territories with the most visible, forward-looking and promising political vision are granted the EER label for a specific year.

To date, thirty EU regions and cities have been awarded the EER label, including two Irish winners – the Northern and Western Region (2018) and Kerry County (2011).

EER Award 2021 – Apply until 31st March 2020!

3231 EER label

The EER label helps regions and cities support SMEs and entrepreneurship by implementing the new EU SME Strategy at local and regional level, building on the continuity of the previous initiatives such as the Small Business Act (2009) and the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative (2016). The EER label is an opportunity for local and regional actors to demonstrate how SMEs and entrepreneurs can increase the resilience of their economy, embracing today’s challenges that will shape the world of tomorrow: demographic change, digitalisation and a transition to a sustainable and low-carbon economy.

The lead theme of the EER 2021 call for applications is Entrepreneurship for a green & sustainable future. As part of the new call for applications, up to three regions will be awarded the EER label for the year 2021. Among them, EER jury may award one thematic EER label in recognition for the application’s commitment and link with the lead theme of the EER.

Regions and cities that are ready to implement a future-oriented entrepreneurial strategy are invited to apply until 31 March 2020 by e-mail to

Further details, including the application form can be found on the EER page.