Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly Visit

Coinciding with the 156th CoR plenary session, the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) undertook a two-day study visit to Brussels. The delegation, consisting of eight councillors and Chief Executive Jim Conway embarked on a whirlwind tour of the EU in their two-days meeting MEPS, EU officials and Irish Permanent Representation staff.

Starting their visit in the European Parliament, the MEPs began by meeting Barry Andrews MEP, Colm Markey MEP, Ciaran Cuffe MEP, as well as Clare Daly MEP. Staff from both Frances Fitzgerald MEP and Maria Walsh MEP offices’ made themselves available to the delegation to speak about their work.

Following a packed morning, the delegation made their way to the European Parliament’s hemicycle to see the conclusion of the 156th CoR plenary session.

The afternoon found the delegation making their way to the Committee of the Regions for a meeting Michael Collins, Deputy Director of the CoR. During their meeting Michael gave the delegation an overview of the work of the CoR as well as outlining the role of the Regional Assembly in the CoR’s work.

The first day’s meetings were rounded out with a presentation from DG Regio Representatives Carmen Gonazalez and Miia Jouppi who spoke to the delegation about EU Regional Policy programmes including the Just Transition Programme, European Regional Development Funding and the New European Bauhaus programme.

The delegation visited the Irish Permanent Representation on the second day of their visit to meet Fionnuala Bourke. Fionnuala spoke to the delegation about her role as Cohesion Policy Attache as well as the need to increase the Irish presence in top jobs in EU institutions.

The visit concluded with a meeting with DG Regio official Tatiana Gouveia Coelho de Oliveira who spoke to the delegation about the New European Bauhaus initiative.

Register for Europe, Let’s Cooperate – Interreg Europe

Registration for the 8th edition of ‘Europe, let’s cooperate’ is now open!

The Interreg Europe programme will open its first call for proposals on the 5th of April. In order to prepare for the call the Europe Let’s Cooperate platform is available now.

The Europe Let’s Cooperate platform helps you get ready for the call on the 5th by offering you:

  • Insights and information about the call and the new programme
  • Networking opportunities to build new contacts and complete your project partnership
  • Tips and inspiration to build a successful project proposal

The Interreg Europe programme has six topics which contributes to EU policy objectives and these are:

  • Smarter Europe
  • Greener Europe
  • More Connected Europe
  • More Social Europe
  • Europe Closer to Citizens
  • Better Cooperation Governance

To see a detailed agenda and register click the link: Europe, let’s cooperate! 2022

Save the Date – LIFE Info Days 2022

The European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) will be hosting a number of LIFE programme info days from Wednesday the 18th until Friday the 20th of May.

This year marks the LIFE programme’s thirtieth anniversary. The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. Created in 1992, it has co-financed thousands of projects. The new LIFE programme 2021-2027 has a budget of €5.4 billion and is divided into four sub-programmes:

  • Nature and biodiversity
  • Circular economy and quality of life
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Clean energy transition

The info days, organised by CINEA, will play host to a number of webinars, which will guide applicants and potential applicants through the LIFE programme, Calls for Proposals, and Priority Topics for 2022. Each of these webinars will be followed by a series of Question and Answers sessions.

Those in attendance will also be able to avail of virtual networking opportunities, as well as holding bilateral meetings with CINEA project advisors.

For more information and updates click here: Save the date: #EULife22 Info Days (europa.eu)

The Irish contact point for the LIFE programme is LIFE@decc.gov.ie

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.

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.