Round up of CoR’s 161st Plenary

This plenary session represented the final session before the summer break. The meeting was the first plenary for new Member Cllr Mick Cahill and alternate member Cllr Padraig McEvoy.

The session featured 2 debates and 10 opinions. Due to the transition period following the recent European elections, there were no MEPs in attendance meaning the only statements given in support of opinions or during debate came from Commissioners. Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojiechowski spoke during the debate on the future of CAP, subsequently Commissioners Elisa Ferreira and Iliana Ivanova spoke during the debate on improving EU support for regional research and innovation ecosystems, the role of the Regional Innovation Valleys.

Following the acceptance of minutes the plenary session began with the CoR’s various group leaders giving statements on the recent European election results, the ECR claimed that there is now clear evidence of a swing to the right, the EPP said that the centre is holding and the Greens warned of increasing amounts of misinformation and scaremongering.

Next on the agenda was Towards a Global Green Deal: harmonising global frameworks for climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development which was presented jointly by EPP and PES. The rapporteur, Rafał Kazimierz Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), noted that this opinion focuses on how we respond to the world us. He noted that there is sometimes a feeling, especially in local and regional government, that the current programme is too top down rather than bottom up, this he believes is leading to disenfranchisement as people feel they are being dictated to and shamed for not taking more action. The opinion promotes the power of the CoR to act as an intermediary between the EU and local and regional communities to implement the EU’s Green Deal.

Somewhat aptly this debate was followed by a debate on the Future of the Common Agricultural Policy. This debate focused on the progress of the reformed CAP, which entered force on the 1st January 2023 along with its 10 specific objectives:

  • ensure a fair income for farmers,
  • increase competitiveness,
  • improve the position of farmers in the food chain,
  • climate change action,
  • environmental care,
  • preserve landscapes and biodiversity,
  • support generational renewal,
  • vibrant rural areas,
  • protect food and health quality, and
  • foster knowledge and innovation.

The Commissioner spoke about the importance of ensuring a fair wage is provided for each farmer. Furthermore, he noted that Europe has already had success lowering emissions and increasing productivity and we must now reinforce solidarity with farmers and the international community.

Speaking during the debate, Cllr. Aoife Breslin, noted that:

The evidence is clear, emissions must be cut across society, and comparatively those cuts must be higher in the agricultural sector if we are to meet our climate targets.

To this point CAP has demonstrated three things:

  • that global food systems cannot be taken for granted,
  • that climate and environmental considerations must be central to our thinking, and
  • that we must be realistic about the capacity of our farmers and our administrations to manage and adjust to change.

But we also have to be realistic – CAP cannot do everything. Many environmental proposals, such as land restoration, require action and funding well beyond the scope and duration of a typical CAP framework in order to ensure a just transition.

The onus is on us as local and regional representatives to communicate to farmers what the CAP is capable of. Reassure farmers that they won’t be left to face these daunting challenges alone.

I am therefore calling for the EU to listen to our agricultural communities because if we fail to understand them, we will fail to meet the challenges presented by the climate crisis and that will be an indictment of us as a society not just farmers.

The subsequent opinion attached to the debate was adopted by majority following a vote on over 150 amendments to the text.

The next item to be agreed was the Revision of the CoR Rules of Procedures. A key part of this debate was the inclusion of an amendment to the CoR Rules of Procedure ensuring gender equality rather than gender diversity. Furthermore, the plenary voted in support of an amendment ensuring that each Member States’ bureau delegation would be gender balanced.

This was followed by the aforementioned debate on Improving EU Support for Regional Research and Innovation Ecosystems – The Example of the Regional Innovation Valleys with Commissioner for Cohesion Elisa Ferreira and Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Iliana Ivanova. During her opening statement Commissioner Ferreira announced that the Commission has identified 151 regions as Regional Innovation Valleys. She noted that this initiative will be supported with €116 million worth of funding under the European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) programme of Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation programme,  and the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument of the European Regional Development Fund.

All three of Ireland’s regions were announced as Innovation Valleys.

Speaking during the debate, Cllr. Declan McDonnell said:

Recognition of the North West of Ireland as a Regional Innovation Valley will greatly enhance our ability to coordinate research and innovation investment, and policies.

It will enable us to address regional challenges more effectively while maintaining a strong alignment with EU priorities.

Building on our national and regional Smart Specialisation Strategies, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly is well-positioned to work with leading innovators in our region to tackle specific local challenges through the development of deep-tech innovation.

By collaborating with our universities and key sectors such as Agrifood, Marine and Blue Economy, Tourism, Renewable Energy, Med Tech, and Advanced Manufacturing, we can significantly boost both regional and European competitiveness but also facilitate the implementation of the New European Innovation Agenda within our region.

Our goal is to address critical issues such as climate action, food security, circular economy, digital transformation, and healthcare improvements.

This debate was followed by the two final opinions of the opening day, firstly Addressing Europe’s Medicine Shortages and later Soil Monitoring and Resilience, both were adopted by the plenary.

Day two of plenary featured five opinions and one debate. Beginning with the adoption of rapporteur Loredana Capone’s opinion – The role of local and regional authorities in the transition towards a circular economy. This opinion seeks to address the issues of biodiversity loss, resource use, climate change impact, and environmental risks to health and well-being which the rapporteur stresses is imperative for achieving sustainability. It was subsequently adopted.

The second opinion of the morning was Mark Speich’s (DE/EPP) opinion Active subsidiarity: a fundamental principle in the EU Better regulation agenda. Setting the context for this opinion the rapporteur stated that “The debate on EU decision-making and on the principle of subsidiarity is topical in view of the upcoming renewal of the institutional term of office and the EU’s strategic agenda”. The opinion’s recommendations would also contribute to the future debate on the revision of the EU Treaties, to the CoR’s position in a potential review of the interinstitutional agreement on better law-making and to the bilateral cooperation agreements with the Parliament and the Commission.

A central theme of the second day was sustainable water management, the topic was featured in one debate and two opinions which were both adopted. The context for the debate centred on the fact that in 2019, 29% of EU territory was affected by water stress for at least one season, and water scarcity is already forcing local and regional authorities (LRAs) to declare drought emergencies, fuelling tensions in local communities and cross-border regions. The CoR note the negative impact that droughts, floods and other extreme weather phenomena are having.

The first of the two final opinions of the plenary was Enhancing the European Administrative Space (ComPAct), which seeks to encourage and strengthen administrative cooperation between Member States. The second was EU roadmap to fight drug trafficking and organised crime. Both were adopted.

Following the adoption of the final opinions, President Vasco Cordeiro welcomed new members recently appointed to the CoR including Irish Member Cllr. Mick Cahill. Cllr. Cahill used the occasion to praise the Just Transition initiative, before noting that he welcomes the next phase of its roll-out and that he hopes that this phase will “look at where the real problems are in Ireland and to localise them”.

URBACT Call for Good Practices Open Now!

The URBACT call for Good Practices is accepting applications until June 30th. The project is seeking existing local practices that are impactful, participatory, integrated, relevant for the European Union and transferable to other European cities.

Cities from European Union’s 27 Member States, Partner States (Norway, Switzerland), cities from countries benefiting from the Instrument for Pre-Accession to the EU (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia), as well as from Ukraine and Moldova, are invited to submit their good practices. Selected practices will benefit from a variety of visibility and promotional actions with the URBACT City Festival on 8th-10th April 2025 in Wroclaw (PL) as one of the highlights.

In addition to the increased visibility for your town/city, the associated networking and communications opportunities on offer, those initiatives awarded the URBACT Good Practice label have the option of applying as Lead Partner to an URBACT transnational Transfer Network in 2025, giving you the opportunity to both impart your good practice on several other towns or cities around Europe and fine tune your own practice even further!

You can read more about the Good Practice call here where you will find the call’s Terms of Reference, an infographic, as well as other items including a link to the Secretariat’s first and second online info sessions in April and May, and a link to the upcoming June session.

Following the previous call for Good Practices, Cork, Kildare, Longford, and Monaghan were all awarded Good Practice labels in 2017. You can find all selected Good Practices here.

If you interested in applying or have any questions, the national contact point for URBACT is Karl Murphy, kmurphy@emra.ie.

Commission welcomes European Citizens’ Panel recommendations on energy efficiency

150 European citizens adopted 13 recommendations for the European Commission on energy efficiency during the final session of the European Citizens’ Panel on Energy Efficiency, which took place from 12th to 14th April in Brussels.

Using less energy, and using it wisely, is key for clean, secure and affordable energy and an important component of the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU Plan. Energy efficiency helps reduce overall energy consumption and is therefore central to achieving the EU’s climate ambition, while enhancing present and future energy security and affordability.

The Energy Efficiency Directive, recently strengthened as part of the Fit for 55 legislative package, established the ‘energy efficiency first’ as a fundamental principle of EU energy policy, giving it legal standing for the first time. It also significantly raised the EU’s ambition with new EU-level target to improve energy efficiency by 11.7% by 2030, with a stronger emphasis on people affected by energy poverty.

Since February 2024, citizens have gathered to discuss the challenges and benefits of energy efficiency, both in person and online.

The input gathered from both the Panel and the Citizens’ Engagement Platform will now feed into a Commission Recommendation on the “Energy Efficiency First” principle to be considered by the College of Commissioners and ultimately addressed to the Member States later this year.

The final recommendations encourage the Commission to focus in particular on:

  • Increasing the attractiveness of public transport for passengers
  • Delivering the most energy-efficient transport across Europe: Get goods off the road, get people out of planes, and introduce a ‘railway first principle’
  • Expanding the implementation of energy efficiency in buildings
  • Improving the state of skilled labour in the EU in the energy efficiency sector
  • Securing the future through education on green issues
  • Managing and monitoring the implementation of EU directives
  • Helping EU citizens to develop energy communities focused on energy efficiency by providing information and financial support
  • Financing a fair right to energy related home renovation
  • Achieving energy efficiency targets by strengthening everyone’s ability to act
  • Increasing energy independence and efficiency, becoming a global example
  • Developing energy-efficient communities for responsible consumption and increased local energy production
  • Empowering consumers to become energy efficient
  • Optimising and developing the grid system, from producer to the end-user, in favour of renewable energy sources

More information available here.

Commission rolls out plans for a European degree

The European Commission has announced a blueprint for a European degree which will pave the way for a new type of joint programme, delivered on a voluntary basis at national, regional, or institutional level, and based on a common set of criteria agreed at European level.

The Communication proposes a concrete cooperation path between EU Member States and the higher education sector towards the creation of a European degree recognised automatically across the EU.

In view of the diversity of the European higher education systems across Europe, the Commission proposes a gradual approach for Member States towards a European degree, with two possible entry points:

  • A preparatory European label: a label would provide a strong European branding. It would be given to joint degree programmes which meet the proposed European criteria: students receive a European degree label certificate together with their joint degree.
  • A European degree: this new type of qualification would be based on the common criteria and be anchored in national legislation. It would be awarded either jointly by several universities from different countries or possibly by a European legal entity established by such universities: students receive a ‘European degree’ that is automatically recognised.

The Commission have pledged to facilitate and support Member States in the work towards the European degree through a number of concrete actions, including a European degree policy lab supported by Erasmus+ programme, to be set up in 2025, aiming to engage Member States and the higher education community to develop guidelines towards a European degree.

In 2025, the Commission plans to launch ‘European degree pathway projects’ within Erasmus+ programme to provide financial incentives for Member States, together with their accreditation and quality assurance agencies, universities, students, economic and social partners, to engage in the pathway towards a European degree.

More information available here.

Commission allocates additional €10 million to support researchers from Ukraine under Horizon Europe

The Commission has topped up the budget of the MSCA4Ukraine initiative, set up to support researchers forced to flee Ukraine, with an additional €10 million. The scheme, set up under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) has supported displaced researchers since the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

The extra funding will enable at least 50 additional researchers, including doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers, who were forced to flee Ukraine to continue their work safely on research projects at universities, companies, research centres and other institutions based in the EU and countries associated to Horizon Europe. It will also allow the researchers to access training, skills and career development opportunities. Specific support will be available for organisations hosting the researchers and those fellows relocating with their families.

Since its launch, the MSCA4Ukraine fellowship scheme has supported 125 displaced researchers from Ukraine, being trained and working in 21 countries.

Selected researchers will be able to start a new project or continue their previous work to pursue their research in any subject of their choosing, including on issues directly linked to helping Ukraine and its recovery. Current MSCA4Ukraine fellows are contributing to topics such as investigating war crimes in Ukraine or addressing the mental healthcare needs of displaced Ukrainian women.

The scheme is part of the wider EU support to Ukraine. Specifically in the domain of research and innovation, Ukraine participates in Horizon Europe and the Euratom programme without having to contribute financially. The EU has recently opened a Horizon Europe Office in Kyiv and set up a scheme to help Ukrainian deep-tech companies under the European Innovation Council (EIC).

It has also created a European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Community Hub in Ukraine, which will give Ukrainian innovators remaining in their home country access to partners, markets, testbeds, trainings and investment.

The next MSCA4Ukraine call is expected to be launched in May 2024, allowing selected researchers to start their fellowships by early 2025. The first step for researchers wishing to apply is to prepare an application together with their potential host organisation, who will then submit the proposal on the researcher’s behalf.

More information available here.

 

ROUND UP OF COR’S 159TH PLENARY

The first CoR plenary session of the year took place in the European Parliament’s Hemicycle between the 31st January and the 1st February. There was strong Irish Delegation engagement over the two-day session with the highlight being the adoption of Irish Delegation member Cllr. Kate Feeney’s opinion on “The SME Relief Package and the BEFIT Framework”.

The session opened with a tribute to Jacques Delors, the 8th President of the European Commission, who died in December. Delors played a key role in the creation of the single market and Euro. From an Irish perspective, Delors was one of the first European representatives to react to the 1994 paramilitary ceasefire and it was at his urging that the EU’s Peace Programme was created.

The first debate of the day concerned the priorities of the Belgian Presidency of the EU, it also contained the first Irish Delegation contribution of the session as Cllr. Dan Boyle intervened to commend the Belgian Presidency for including urbanism as a presidency priority.

The next Irish contribution came from Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, speaking during the debate on the “Towards an integrated EU policy approach to support place-based innovation for the green and digital transition”. Cllr. McCarthy used his intervention to highlight the work of the CoR’s SEDEC Commission in promoting an integrated EU policy approach to support place-based innovation for the green and digital transition.

The evening saw the highlight of the plenary session from an Irish Delegation perspective as Cllr. Kate Feeney presented her opinion “The SME Relief Package and the BEFIT Framework”. During her presentation Cllr. Feeney urged Europe to embrace the “think-small-first” philosophy which her opinion embraced. Following interventions from the floor the opinion was adopted.

Day two of plenary began with an opinion on “Greening Freight Transport” followed by a “Debate on Lessons Learned from COP28: The Critical Role of Local and Regional Leaders for Global Climate Action” which saw Irish Delegation member and CoR COP28 delegation member Cllr. Alison Gilliland present to the plenary floor on her learnings from COP.

The plenary concluded with a debate with EU youth representatives on the forthcoming EU Elections and a presentation from CoR Trainees on their [Y] Factor project “Local and Regional Success Stories”.

The next plenary will take place in conjunction with the Summit of Cities and Regions in Mons on the 18th and 19th of March.

New Regulation on Geographical indication sees protection for craft and industrial projects

The EU has recently adopted a new Regulation on the protection of geographical indications (GI) for craft and industrial projects. Geographical indications (GIs) for craft and industrial (CI) products establish intellectual property rights protection for registered names of products whose quality, reputation or other characteristic are essentially attributable to their geographical origin. For example, products such as Murano glass, Donegal tweed, Solingen cutlery, or Bolesławiec ceramics. The new Regulation will come into effect on 1st December 2025.

The Regulation will be invaluable for a wide range of producers of products that have qualities linked to a specific area, such as jewellery, glass, shoes, textiles, porcelain, musical instruments and furniture. More than 800 products have been identified to qualify as geographical indications for CI products in the EU.

Once implemented, the new CIGIs Regulation will be a significant boost for producers of craft and industrial products. Its purpose is to assist them in preserving the heritage of locally sourced craft and industrial products, allowing them to compete in specific niche markets while maintaining their local knowledge and culture.  European craftsmanship can be found in great diversity in cities, provinces and regions across the EU. Whether Solingen cutlery from Germany, Bohemian crystal glass from the Czech Republic, Limoges porcelain from France, they are all emblems of centuries-old craft traditions and part of Europe’s cultural heritage.

The system will be managed by the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The Regulation provides that producer groups will be able to submit applications for protection for GIs for craft and industrial products.

Further information can be found here.  

ROUND UP OF COR’S 158TH PLENARY

The final CoR plenary session of the year took place on the 29th and 30th November, featuring a packed agenda the Irish delegation was active and vocal throughout!

The first opinion of the session “Boosting lasting and effective cross-border cooperation with our neighbours” featured the first Irish contribution of the session as Cllr Declan McDonnell highlighted the role of the EU in the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement and commend the role that the EU has played “since 1994 promoting cross border cooperation through the EU PEACE programmes and cross border INTERREG programmes”.

This was followed by the adoption of both the CoR’s opinion on the 2022 Annual Report on Competition Policy and The EU Anti-Corruption Framework.

The next Irish contribution came from Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, speaking during the debate on the Promoting Cultural Policies in Rural Areas opinion. Cllr. McCarthy highlighted that culture can create jobs and boost the local economy of rural areas. Cllr. McCarthy followed this contribution with another during the debate on the Future of Cohesion Policy, during which he urged the CoR to do more to be proactive in their approach to Cohesion Policy.

Cllr. McCarthy was joined by two more Irish contributions during the debate on Cohesion Policy. Cllr. Una Power highlighted that Cohesion Policy is key to stopping environmental degradation. She was followed by Cllr. Caroline Dwane Stanley who called “for the next MFF to continue to support the Just Transition through a dedicated funding programme and for the focus to be kept on the regions that need it most!”.

The opinion which drew the largest contribution from the Irish delegation was Stopping Gender-Based Violence – Cities and Regions Leading the Way. The debate included a contribution from MEP Frances Fitzgerald. Irish Delegation members Cllr. Aoife Breslin, Cllr. Kate Feeney, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy and Cllr. Emma Blain all spoke.

The highlight of day two of the session was Head of Delegation Cllr. Michael Murphy chairing the final opinion of the year when he ably oversaw “A European Hydrogen Bank”.

This concluded the CoR plenary sessions for the year, the first plenary session of 2024 takes place on the 31st of January and the 2nd February.

Cork City Council Study-Visit to Brussels

A delegation, led by Deputy Lord Mayor Colette Finn, and including the Chairs of the Cork City Council Strategic Planning Committee and the equivalent for Community, Culture & Placemaking, plus members of Senior Management, undertook Cork City Council’s first study visit to Brussels since early 2018 from 6th-8th December 2023.

Over the course of three days, the group met with a range of speakers variously representing regional, national and European interests to learn more about priority areas of identified interest to Cork City. The predominant theme across a busy agenda of 16 engagements was the challenges of climate change for cities, a frontline issue for local authorities throughout the Union, and how to avail of targeted opportunities to help to accelerate local progress towards reaching net zero carbon emissions status over the coming years.

Day one was given over primarily to meeting with Irish officials and representatives. It began with a scene-setting briefing from the Irish Regions European Office (IREO) on current EU policy issues of potential relevance at local level. This was followed by Ireland’s Ambassador to the EU, Aingeal O’Donoghue, a Cork native, who made time to welcome the group and explain the role of the Permanent Representation (Embassy) she heads up. Sessions followed with senior attachés from Government Departments stationed there, on Climate Action and on European Maritime Day 2025 which will be hosted in Cork. The day concluded with meetings in the European Parliament with three of the Ireland South MEPs – Mick Wallace; Sean Kelly and Billy Kelleher – with apologies from Deirdre Clune and Grace O’Sullivan who had prior engagements.

The European Commission Visitors’ Service provided the focus of the second day, hosting a series of sessions in that institution’s Berlaymont and Charlemagne buildings, with officials sourced from across various Directorates-General. These covered all three EU Missions in which Cork City is participating: on Restoring our Oceans and Waters; Climate-Neutral & Smart Cities; and Climate Adaptation. In the afternoon, attention turned to learning about the ‘Renovation Wave’ initiative on buildings retrofitting and energy efficiency and to migrant integration at city level. There was also a courtesy call from Paul Moley of Commissioner Mairead McGuinness’ Cabinet who was otherwise engaged. The day ended with a discussion at the European Investment Bank.

The final day involved meetings seeking to identify how to maximise the value of Cork’s interaction with the Committee of the Regions, represented by senior Irish staff Micheal Collins and Micheál O’Conchúir, and with the ICLEI Europe network for local government sustainability. The visit concluded with a site visit to an innovative hybrid model of community-managed social housing.

As a city seeking to marry its growth targets with sustainability and quality of life concerns, Cork is actively informing these objectives through involvement in a host of EU initiatives. 20 separate projects or designations which have been competed for and won over recent years, mostly during 2023, are now ongoing as activities, with numerous others having ended over the course of the year also. Primarily involving in-depth partnership with other cities over several years to address issues of shared concern in new ways, they are variously providing opportunities for Cork to benchmark their comparative performance; access fresh perspectives and investigate whether novel approaches and best practices can be adapted to our own situation; incorporate specialist insight and tailored expertise into Cork’s thinking; undertake pilot activities and trial new technologies; be part of collective efforts to devise innovative and practical solutions; and actively involve key local stakeholders and communities in the process. In fitting with the theme of the study visit, increasingly, these activities reflect climate-related issues such as influencing positive public behavioral change towards sustainability; electric vehicle infrastructure planning; green and blue infrastructure; energy efficiency in social housing; and engaging businesses in green practices and opportunities.

Round up of CoR’s 157th Plenary

Coinciding with the 21st edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 157th Plenary session between the 9th and 11th of October. The session marked the penultimate Plenary of the year and featured strong Irish engagement over the course the three-day session, including the presentation and adoption of Irish Delegation member Cllr. Dan Boyle’s opinion on the European Consumers’ Protection Package.

The formal opening of the EWRC coincided with the start of the CoR Plenary and featured contributions from President of the European Committee of the Regions’ Vasco Alves Cordeiro, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira, as well as Chair of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament Younous Omarjee.

Day two began with statements on the on-going Israel/Palestine conflict. Following the statements, the Plenary session formally opened with a debate on a Health Union for Europe and its regions. This debate saw the first Irish intervention of the day when Cllr. Kate Feeney urged for a “Common [European] approach to mental health” and suggested that in order to achieve this “our cities and regions must be supported”.

Following the sessions opening debate there was a presentation of five opinions, including Irish Delegation Cllr. Dan Boyle’s European Consumers’ Protection Package. Cllr. Boyle’s opinion seeks to amend the European Commission’s proposals for a right to repair to include a local and regional perspective. The aim of the proposal is to ensure that consumers are empowered to make better informed decisions and play an active role in the ecological transition. Cllr. Boyle asserts in the opinion that granting consumers the right to repair would be instrumental in advancing Europe’s industrial transition and strengthening its resilience and open strategic autonomy.

The opinion was adopted with several amendments.

The afternoon saw several Irish Delegations interventions on the Plenary floor.

During the debate on “UNFCCC COP28: the role of subnational authorities in keeping climate ambition on track”, Cllr. Aoife Breslin intervened highlighting the value of clear and understandable language in discussions surrounding climate change, noting “there is an onus on us as local leaders to be concise and consistent in our language used when talking about the threat posed by climate change”.

Speaking during the debate on the “Review and proposal for the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027”, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy urged that any revision to the MFF would ensure that “funds are more accessible” to local and regional authorities.

Following voting on the five opinions the Plenary was presented a draft resolution on the SDGs in EU regions and cities in the aftermath of the EU Voluntary Review and 2023 UN discussions. During this debate Head of Delegation Cllr. Michael Murphy welcomed the resolution noting that it will act as a “milestone for future work”.

The final Irish intervention of the day came from Cllr. Kieran McCarthy speaking on the opinion “Mentoring: A Powerful and Meaningful Tool for the Europe of Tomorrow”. During the debate Cllr. McCarthy highlighted the work done by the Cork Enterprise Office and their mentoring programme, noting that the programme benefits from EU ERDF funding.

Cllr. McCarthy also intervened during the opening debate of day three, on “The State of Regions and Cities”. Cllr. McCarthy used his intervention to make an impassioned call for Europe to work with its local and regional authorities.

The final Irish intervention of the Plenary session was delivered by Cllr. Una Power, who speaking during the debate on the reconstruction of Ukraine and in the context of the #InternationalDayOfTheGirl urged that “women are considered in the reconstruction of Ukraine and it’s cities”.

The final Plenary session of the year is due to take place on 28th and 30th of November.