A Duologue for Strength and Resilience – Communicating Europe Initiative

How does the EU deliver for local communities in Ireland? How can the local communities engage with the EU?

The Irish Regions European Office and the Northern and Western Regional Assembly are coming together to present how EU Cohesion Policy funding (European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes) can benefit local communities and on the other hand, how local communities can participate in a duologue with the EU. There will be an opportunity to hear from the European Movement Ireland on tools for citizens’ engagement in the Conference on the Future of Europe.

This seminar is funded by the Communicating Europe Initiative, managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aimed at deepening public awareness of the role the EU plays in our daily lives and at improving the quality and accessibility of public information on European issues, particularly at regional or national level. This event will also be held for the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly (EMRA) and the Southern Regional Assembly (SRA). 

Join us on 8th October from 9:30AM (Irish time) to hear about how the EU delivers for local communities and how citizen engagement influences EU policy-making. We will hear from Irish MEPs and Committee of the Regions Members about how EU funding delivers on the ground, and how to ensure that the public view is taken on board when it comes to the Future of Europe.

To register for this event, click here!

 

LIFE programme info sessions

The EU LIFE programme info sessions are ongoing! Learn more about the LIFE programme, get your questions answered by European Commission experts and find potential partners. Registrations are now open under the following link

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 

More detailed information on the LIFE programme is available on the LIFE Website.

The LIFE Call for Proposals 2021 was published on 13 July 2021. Recorded presentations by CINEA experts for each topic of the call will provide you with deeper insights.

Potential applicants interested to learn more about the funding support from the LIFE programme can also take part in live virtual Questions & Answers sessions with CINEA experts on 8-9 September.

Networking opportunities in the format of 1:1 bilateral virtual meetings among potential applicants themselves are also available during the period from 28 July to 30 November 2021.

For further information contact the IREO or email lifeinfoday2021@gopacom.eu.

IREO success in the Communicating Europe Initiative

The three Regional Assemblies and the IREO are delighted to have been awarded funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Communicating Europe Initiative (CEI).
The CEI provides funding for projects that communicate European issues, the role of the European Union and Ireland’s place in Europe. The success means that the IREO will now organise a series of seminars across the country to present how engagement with the EU strengthens local communities and explore how local communities can engage with the EU. The events will be entitled: A Duologue for Strength and Resilience – bringing the EU to local communities and local communities to the EU. 

Three events will be organised in each of the Regional Assembly areas during the final months of 2021 with the duologue exploring how the EU helps local communities thrive and grow whilst providing tools for their citizens to engage with the EU from a bottom-up perspective. These events will demonstrate how EU funding programmes and EU policy developments can support that two-way process. Communicating with citizens and local communities and providing them with the tools about how best to engage in EU policy making will be a key feature, particularly in light of the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

The series of seminars across Ireland will highlight on the one hand, how EU Cohesion Policy funding (European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes) can benefit local communities and on the other hand, how local communities can participate in a duologue with the EU. The topics of the events will be aligned to the 2021 – 2027 Cohesion Policy priorities.

The events will include panels of speakers around the above themes including Irish Committee of the Regions Members and MEPs as well as providing examples of how local communities across Ireland have already benefitted from EU policies and programmes. Events will also feature experts on citizen engagement from the European Movement Ireland and they will ensure that local communities are equipped to engage in the EU process.

The events will be aimed at local and regional authorities, both elected members and officials, local enterprise offices, civil society and members of the public. Watch out for more information on the event in your area in the coming months.

Recap of the 145th CoR plenary session

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Science meets Regions” Call for expression of interest

The European Commission’s science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), has launched a call for expression of interest for the “Science meets Regions” preparatory action. The call focuses on territorial development at the subnational level, with regions and cities as the main target audience. Applicants can apply in this call for financial, methodological and/or scientific support from the JRC for projects that will advance evidence-based policymaking at the subnational level.

The call for expressions of interest will concern the following main work packages:

  • Innovation camps and participatory events for single regions and cities, focusing on specific policy topics
  • Networking initiatives for consortia of regions and/or cities on issues of common concern.

The topics covered by the call can be related to any of the six broad priorities of the current European Commission. But the topics of the Green and Digital Transition and Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will have priority in this call.

Science meets Regions

“Science meets regions” is the Joint Research Centre’s project to enhance evidence-based policymaking at the subnational level of governance across Europe. It uses a bottom-up approach, giving cities, regions and territories ownership of the topic and the process, while the JRC provides the financial and methodological support.

Eligibility

The focus of the call is on the subnational level.

For applications involving single regions and cities, only public sector bodies at NUTS2 level or below (including cities and municipalities) are eligible to apply. The main partner must be a public authority, but partnerships with academic and research institutions are encouraged.

For the multiregional strand involving networks of regions and cities, one partner from a public sector body at NUTS2 level will act as a lead partner and will involve at least 3 partners from at least 2 EU Member states.

More details on eligibility requirements can be found in the guide for applicants.

Deadline, Application and Questions:

Expressions of interest can be submitted by 17 September 2021.

To read more and to find the guidelines for applicants and the application forms, go to this page: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/science-meets-regions/call-expression-interest.

Any questions can be sent to: JRC-INFO-SMR@EC.EUROPA.EU

National Recovery and Resilience Plan Submitted

The Irish Government announced its completion of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) on 28 May 2021. Although the full plan is not yet publicly available and is still subject to approval by the European Commission, a summary of the first draft of the NRRP was published on 1st June 2021.  The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will be publishing additional information on the NRRP in due course.

The NRRP in Ireland was drafted alongside the Economic Recovery Plan and includes projects with a value of up to €1 billion. The NRRP will enable Ireland to access the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which is a central component of NextGenerationEU, the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the period 2021-2022, Ireland is expected to receive approximately €915 million in grants, with further grants being allocated in 2023.

Public consultation

Ireland was one of a small number of Member States that held a public consultation on the content of their NRRP. There was a short consultation period from 2nd to 22nd February 2021 where local and regional authorities in Ireland were invited and did participate in this consultation.

Read more about the public consultation call in our post from February.

Content of the NRRP for Ireland

The plan is split into a set of 16 investments and 9 reform commitments that are structured around three priority areas.

  • Priority 1: Advancing the Green Transition. Seven investments will be undertaken within this priority area with a total value of €503 million.
  • Priority 2: Accelerating and expanding digital reforms and transformation. This priority area will see six investments undertaken to at total value of €295 million.
  • Priority 3: Social and economic recovery and job creation. A total value of €181 million will be invested into this priority area through three investment programmes.

Projects in the national plan cover the entire lifetime of the EU RRF until 2026. The plan proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas.

Next steps

Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan is currently under review at the EU level. The European Commission has 2 months to assess Ireland’s NRRP and make a recommendation to the Council of the European Union. The Council will then have four weeks to adopt the Commission proposal for a Council Implementing Decision.

 

The summary of the first draft of the NRRP can be found here: www.gov.ie/en/publication/d4939-national-recovery-and-resilience-plan-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 144th CoR Plenary meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

URBACT Open Call for a ‘national network’

Now is your chance to get your town or city involved in a national network for better placemaking through playful culture with the Irish National Practice Transfer Initiative (NPTI)!

What is NPTI?

URBACT Transfer Networks operate by allowing lead cities with good practices to share this practice with other European cities. The recently approved National Practice Transfer Initiative (NPTI) will use this successful approach on a national scale. This means that ‘lead’ and ‘follower’ cities in the network will all be in the same country.

The Irish NPTI will see the City of Cork as leading the transfer of good practices they learned on the Playful Paradigm network to five to seven other Irish towns and cities.

Participating cities and towns will have the opportunity through meetings, forums, and observations to develop a playful culture in their location. Being involved in the NPTI will allow participating cities to develop good practice of a playful culture in their town or city for social, environmental and economic benefits.

The network will run from June 2021 to December 2022.

Deadline to apply is May 9th at 5pm.

Playful Paradigm

The URBACT Playful Paradigm focuses on introducing play as a way to address the challenges of urbanisation, ageing, climate change and social exclusion. It provides a structure and framework for playful actions and playful placemaking to foster an appreciation of natural spaces and built places, health and social inclusion.

Eligibility

Only cities that have not participated in phase 2 of URBACT III networks are eligible to participate. However, public authorities who have previously participated in phase 2 of URBACT III networks are eligible to participate, as long as the proposed beneficiary city has not already participated.

For further information on the call

There will be a national Transfer Networks sharing event on April 29th to highlight the benefits of participating in URBACT and to showcase the results of Irish partners. Check out this page for more information on this event and how to register.

Read more about this call and how to apply.

Completed applications and any questions can be sent to mbrennan@emra.ie.