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.

The Wheel’s ‘Access Europe Showcase’ event

The Wheel is hosting an exciting event next week called ‘Access Europe Showcase’. The online event will take place on Monday,  to 

The occasion will celebrate The Wheel’s first year of their European funding support programme for Irish civil society organisations called Access Europe.  The event will explore EU project results and success stories as well as launch the new website, EU funding guide and partnership database.

This platform will connect Irish civil society organisations with organisations from across Europe for partnership in EU funded projects. Organisations will be able to create a profile on the database that The Wheel will promote around Europe to increase exposure and linkages to potential projects.

Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne TD will join the event!

About The Wheel

The Wheel is Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises. This organisation represents, supports and connects nonprofit organisations in Ireland. It works to strengthen its member’s capacity and capabilities.

The organisation’s core work programmes focus on: public policy and advocacy, networking, training and development, and information services.

Find out more about their work on their website: www.wheel.ie.

More info and registration

It is free to attend this online event. Registration is required.

Date & time:  to 

For more information and to register, visit this page: www.wheel.ie/training/2021/12/access-europe-showcase-2021

Interreg NWE Networking Event

Interreg North-West Europe (Interreg NWE) will be holding a networking event on 22nd June 2021 from 10:00-12:30 CET (9:00-11:30 Irish time).

This event will focus on an innovative and inclusive NWE. Interactive sessions during the event will give an opportunity to:

  • Learn more about the impact of NWE projects
  • Network with other stakeholders working in your field
  • Know more about the future NWE programme.

Project partners in NWE and from other Interreg programmes, decision-makers at EU, national, regional and local levels are all invited to participate. All potential applicants in future programmes are equally welcomed to partake.

This will be the second Interreg NWE online networking event. The first event took place on 20th May and focused on the “Greener NWE”. The presentations and recordings from this event will be available on this website shortly.

Hosting a round table

During this event, participants will have the opportunity to host their own virtual round tables to present project results, exchange on needs and challenges, look for synergies, or discuss a project idea for the future programme. If you wish to host a virtual round table, you are invited to briefly describe the topic of your presentation in the registration form. Organisers will contact you after 14th June to inform you if your proposal was selected or not.

Registration and Agenda

Here you will find a detailed agenda.

Registration is free but it is compulsory to register ahead of the event via the registration form.

Deadline to register is 14th June at 12:00 noon CET (11:00am Irish time).

 

More information is available here: www.nweurope.eu/news-events/events/nwe-networking-events/.

The Conference Kicks Off

The Conference on the Future of Europe was officially launched across EU on Europe Day, May 9th 2021, at a hybrid ceremony in Strasbourg which featured some of EU’s top leaders.

This year-long Conference will consist of debates and discussions in various forms with the citizens of Europe. It seeks to give citizens from across Europe a greater say in shaping the future of Europe’s policies. Conclusions and outcomes of the Conference should be reached by spring 2022.

Voice of the CoR at the launch

Providing contributions at the launch event, Cllr Kieran McCarthy debated for the close involvement of local and regional authorities through the Committee of the Regions (CoR) stating that “the CoR has the institutional weight, accuracy, experience, passion, wisdom, sincerity and the connection tools to make the wider Conference on the Future of Europe work”.

During the May plenary session of the CoR, a declaration on the Future of Europe was adopted calling for a permanent dialogue with citizens as established in Cllr McDonnell’s opinion from October 2020.

The Future Is Yours

The Department of Foreign Affairs with European Movement Ireland also held an event on Friday, May 14th to launch Irish involvement in the Conference. At the Irish launch, Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. provided welcoming remarks and there were contributions from Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney T.D. and European Commissioner for Financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union, Miread McGuiness. This was followed by contributions from youth representatives and a discussion with Thomas Byrne T.D., Minister of State for European Affairs and Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman.

The principal message at this event was to encourage active and inclusive engagement with Irish and other EU citizens living across the island of Ireland. Speakers urged ALL citizens – young people, people living in border regions, Irish diaspora living across Europe, everyone – to have their say in the Conference. As Miread McGuinness stated at the event, “You have a chance to shape Europe. Now grasp it!”

Link to a recording of the event: www.europeanmovement.ie/launch-of-the-conference-on-the-future-of-europe-in-ireland/.

How to get involved in the Conference

The digital platform futureu.europa.eu was launched on April 19th and is a major component of the Conference. This multilingual tool will be used by citizens of Europe to share ideas and send online submissions. It is also possible to organise and find events near you, share your thoughts, see what others are saying, and follow the progress and outcome of the Conference.

Read more about the Conference on this page on the Digital platform.

To get involved in the Irish component, please email conference@europeanmovement.ie.

Follow updates with #FutureOfEurope and #IrelandCoFoE.

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.