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.

EU Green Week 2021 – zero pollution ambition

The European Commission announced that the 2021 edition of the EU Green Week will take place from May to June. The Week will open in Lahti, Finland, while the High Level Conference and Partner Events will be held online. This year’s edition will be dedicated to ‘zero pollution ambition’. The theme ties in with the European Green Deal and the adoption of the EU Action Plan ‘Towards a zero pollution ambition for air, water and soil’.

EU Green Week 2021 will be an opportunity to engage with all stakeholders and interested citizens on how we can work together to make the ambition for a zero pollution and toxic-free environment a reality. It is a chance to showcase the achievements of your organisation or city to a wider audience. Events, workshops, guided tours, exibitions, fairs, open days and online events are all eligible for applications. The aim of partner events is to contribute to the public debate and demonstrate the high level of public interest in the issues related to Zero Pollution. In that respect, partner events can cover many different perspectives, for instance:

  • Raising awareness of health and wellbeing benefits brought by a zero pollution/healthier planet
  • Raising awareness of the role that each of us plays in building a zero pollution community
  • Raising awareness on the importance of living within our ecological planetary boundaries
  • Raising awareness of zero pollution production and consumption
  • Exchange of knowledge on how pollution affects people and ecosystems
  • Exchanges on how the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan can support the post-COVID 19 recovery by helping to rebuild a more sustainable EU economy, creating job opportunities and reducing social inequalities
  • Discussions on other relevant European Green Deal initiatives, such as the climate initiatives, the upcoming Chemicals Strategy, as well as initiatives in the field of energy, industry, mobility, agriculture, fisheries, health and biodiversity

Registrations are now open and can be found under the following link. The European Commission will accept applications until 12 March 2021. For more information about the application process, you can consult the partner events guidelines or contact the Green Week helpdesk at ENV-GREENWEEK@ec.europa.eu.

 

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.

European Year of Rail 2021 – time to get involved!

Image copyright: © European Union, 2020

The European Commission calls for event proposals for the official programme of the European Year of Rail 2021. First round of submissions are requested for 11 December 2020.

The European Green Deal puts sustainability at the heart of EU policymaking. Transport accounts for a quarter of all EU greenhouse gas emissions and it is clear that rail must play a starring role in the union’s future transport mix – for both passengers and freight. This is why the Commission has proposed making 2021 the European Year of Rail, as part of the EU’s efforts to spearhead the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Active engagement from all stakeholders in the rail sector and beyond will be key to the success of the European Year of Rail. The official programme of events is currently being prepared by DG MOVE of the European Commission, with the aim of ensuring active participation of local and regional authorities as well as other regional stakeholders in the organisation events, conferences, debates and project demonstrations.

If you are eager to “hop on the train” and get involved by planning an initiative in the context of the European Year of Rail, please fill out the template form (one form per initiative) and send it to DG MOVE (MOVE-C3-EUROPEAN-YEAR-RAIL-2021@ec.europa.eu) with the COTER secretariat in copy (COTER@cor.europa.eu). Deadline for submissions for possible inclusion in the first version of the official programme is 11 December 2020.

Any further questions?

Please contact MOVE-C3-EUROPEAN-YEAR-RAIL-2021@ec.europa.eu or COTER@cor.europa.eu

Irish Regions European Office at EWRC 2020

Like most events so far in 2020, this year’s annual October week to celebrate European Week of Regions and Cities took a slightly different turn this year. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the events took place over 3 weeks and were held entirely online. However, that did not stop the Irish Regions European Office from participating and indeed, this year, we hosted an event entitled ‘Green Cities by Co-Design’. This event, co-organised by the Greater London Authority, brought together 9 cities from across Europe to examine how citizen engagement and smart technology work in building green cities.

The event heard from leaders of cities about the need for new ways of thinking about how to design and plan sustainable cities and sustain urban growth and how it can be done, in conjunction with local stakeholders. Speakers from Ireland, UK, France, Estonia, Belgium, Italy and Germany provided excellent examples of how citizen engagement is essential to building more liveable cities. Participants had the choice to participate in parallel sessions, one of which focused on citizen centric innovation and examined a range of innovative solutions for adapting to a smart city, whilst the second session focused on the importance of building new alliances with citizens. A range of effective engagement strategies were highlighted, and innovative initiatives showcased, which showed how to implement green cities, using research, innovation and good governance.

The IREO was particularly delighted to showcase the work of Limerick City and County Council and Smart Dublin. Both cities outlined how engagement with the local community is essential to combat climate change and make an impact on the urban agenda.

The event was held on Wednesday 21st October 2020 and a full recording of the workshop, together with the recordings of the two breakout sessions can be found below.

European Week of Regions and Cities 2020

European Week of Regions and Cities – a Yearly Regional Conference held in Brussels

The 2020 European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), organised by the European Commission in partnership with the Committee of the Regions, will take place throughout October, from 5th to 22nd.

To ensure safety of all, this year will be the first ever fully digital EURegionsWeek.

European Week of Regions and Cities in a Nutshell

At the beginning of October, over 6000 participants and speakers from all over Europe will gather together for a programme of over 150 working sessions, exhibitions and networking events on regional and local development.

An annual event, EWRC brings together representatives from local and regional authorities, EU networks, universities and private practitioners working on regional and urban policies to showcase how regions and cities can tackle key challenges to implement the objectives of Cohesion Policy.

This year’s topics of EWRC are:

  • Greener Europe
  • Cohesion and Cooperation
  • Empowering Citizens.

We are pleased to announce that the IREO will host a session as part of the official EWRC programme on 21st October entitled Green Cities by Co-Design. Together with colleagues from all across European regions we will present methods for effective engagement strategies that will highlight how smart technology and citizen engagement is being used across Europe to co-design cities. A range of LRAs and a research institution will showcase innovative initiatives to implement green cities using research, innovation, good governance and the power of engaging in better and deeper collaboration with local citizens.

More sessions with the participation of Irish local and regional authorities will become known with the publication of the official EWRC programme, which is now available online, along with the registration forms. Participants wishing to attend are asked to create an EU Login before proceeding to register for their selected sessions (details available here).

The European Commission also launched #EURegionsWeek which provides news and updates on the conference and allows participants to already engage in discussions on all social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

 

LIFE 2020 calls for proposals now open

The European Commission has launched its 2020 call for project proposals under the LIFE programme. Measures have also been taken to make it easier for interested parties to apply in times of coronavirus restrictions, including extended deadlines.

This year, the European Commission have earmarked more than €450 million for nature conservation, environmental protection and climate action projects.

What types of projects does LIFE fund?

LIFE funds projects under its environment and climate action sub-programmes, thereby helping implement the European Green Deal.

Most LIFE projects are so-called traditional projects that can be coordinated by any legal entity registered in the EU. These include public institutions, businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). A lot of traditional projects show best-practices, run pilots, raise public awareness or demonstrate breakthroughs in environmental practices.

Applications are also being accepted for bigger so-called integrated projects. These projects run strategic EU plans on the environment and the climate and tend to have a regional, multi-regional, national or trans-national dimension.

How to apply

Applying for traditional projects with a climate change focus involves submitting a full proposal by October 2020. This includes proposals for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects as well as climate governance and information initiatives.

For traditional projects that address environmental and nature themes, there is a two-stage application process: candidates first outline their idea in a concept note by July 2020. If your concept note is shortlisted, you will then have until February 2021 to submit a full project proposal. The two-stage process covers nature conservation and biodiversity, environment and resource efficiency, as well as environmental governance and information projects.

Applications for integrated projects also follow a two-stage process.

You can find more information on how to apply on the 2020 LIFE call for proposals page and join the LIFE virtual conference on 30th April, which will provide further insights on this call. 

Source: European Commission

Have your say – Peace Plus Stakeholder Events

PEACE PLUS is a new EU cross-border programme that will contribute to a more prosperous and stable society in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland.

The programme will achieve this by funding activities that promote peace and reconciliation, and contribute to the cross-border economic and territorial development of the region. It will build upon previous PEACE and INTERREG Programmes.

The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUBP) seeking your input to help shape the content of this programme.

A series of information events are taking place between December 2019 and February 2020, running from 6pm-8pm, with registration from 5.30pm.

The stakeholder engagement process will start on 10 December 2019 and end on 25 February 2020.

Date County Venue Register
Tue 10 December Donegal Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey Click Here
Wed 8 January Leitrim Lough Rynn Castle, Mohill Click Here
Thu 9 January Sligo Sligo Park Hotel, Sligo Click Here
Mon 13 January Derry – Londonderry Lodge Hotel,

Coleraine

Click Here
Wed 15 January Monaghan Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan Click Here
Thu 16 January Cavan Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan Click Here
Mon 20 January Derry – Londonderry Guildhall, Derry-Londonderry Click Here
Tue 21 January Tyrone Corrick House Hotel, Clogher Click Here
Thu 23 January Fermanagh Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen Click Here
Mon 27 January Down Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle Click Here
Thu 30 January Antrim Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena Click Here
Tue 4 February Armagh Armagh City Hotel, Armagh Click Here
Wed 5 February Antrim Belfast City Hall, Belfast Click Here
Thu 6 February Louth Ballymascanlon Hotel, Dundalk Click Here

Full documentation, including an online response form, is available below:

PEACE PLUS Stakeholder Engagement – Information Document

PEACE PLUS Stakeholder Engagement – Survey Questions: Guidance Document

Formal responses to the information events should be made using the link below. (Please note that there are designated word limits for each question, based on approximate word character averages).

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PEACEPLUS  

Preparations for the first Interreg NWE impact event underway

NWE Making an Impact!

The Interreg North-West Europe (NWE) programme is pleased to announce its first impact event on 4 and 5 December 2019, which will take place in Tourcoing (Lille agglomeration, Hauts-de-France) at La Chaufferie.

Over a day and a half, this transnational event will focus on the results achieved by the 83 NWE projects funded so far, and how to further support their uptake and impact.

Through a wide variety of sessions and formats, the programme will offer unique opportunities for participants to network, exchange and explore new potential collaborations:

  • An opening plenary session will open the discussion on the programme’s result orientation and the need to maximise the impact of projects throughout the NWE territory.
  • The project forum and exhibition area will constitute a dynamic and interactive networking platform, where NWE beneficiaries will have the opportunity to showcase their work and the changes they brought in North-West Europe.
  • Site visits in the Lille agglomeration will allow participants to discover what some NWE projects have achieved on the ground on various topics ranging from social innovation to circular economy.
  • Thematic workshops on some of the main topics addressed by our programme (such as health, energy efficiency, green constriction, marine energy…), will give the floor to project partners to discuss their needs, find synergies and elaborate ideas for further cooperation.
  • New support opportunities to further rollout project results and ensure their uptake will be presented.

“NWE Making an impact!” is aimed at project partners as well as decision makers at European, National and Local level. Registration will open early September. Further information is available on www.nweurope.eu Save the date and stay tuned!

European Week of Regions and Cities 2019 is around the corner!

European Week of Regions and Cities – a Yearly Regional Conference held in Brussels

The 2019 European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), organised by the European Commission in partnership with the Committee of the Regions, will take place in Brussels from October 7th to 10th.

European Week of Regions and Cities in a Nutshell

At the beginning of October, over 6000 participants and speakers from all over Europe will gather together in Brussels for a programme of over 150 working sessions, exhibitions and networking events on regional and local development.

An annual event, EWRC brings together representatives from local and regional authorities, EU networks, universities and private practitioners working on regional and urban policies to showcase how regions and cities can tackle key challenges to implement the objectives of Cohesion Policy.

Each edition of EWRC targets varying thematic priorities, with this year’s edition focusing on:

  • The future of the EU and the roles of regions and cities
  • A Europe closer to citizens
  • A greener Europe
  • A more socially integrated Europe
  • A smarter Europe
  • A more connected Europe.

We are pleased to announce that Galway 2020 Capital of Culture will host a session as part of the official EWRC programme on 8th October. Together with colleagues from Danish and Dutch regions, Galway will share their experiences on the link between regional development and culture.

Previous editions also showed strong presence from Irish regional and local authorities, including Sligo County Council co-partnering in a session on solidarity and volunteering; Donegal County Council participating in a session on internationalization of SMEs via Interreg Europe; and Northern Western Regional Assembly sharing experiences from the European Entrepreneurial Regions initiative.

As a yearly tradition, the EWRC also hosts the REGIOSTARS Ceremony, which this year will take place on 9th October. An annual Cohesion Policy award, REGIOSTARS honours EU-funded projects demonstrating excellence and new approaches in regional development.

How to get involved?

There is still time to get involved and host a session! The organisers are accepting applications for side events relating to the thematic priorities of EWRC and the online application forms are available on the EWRC website.

More sessions with the participation of Irish local and regional authorities will become known with the publication of the official EWRC programme, which is now available online, along with the registration forms. Participants wishing to attend are asked to create an EU Login before proceeding to register for their selected sessions (details available here).

The European Commission also launched #EURegionsWeek which provides news and updates on the conference and allows participants to already engage in discussions on all social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.