Irish CoR members meet the Joint Oireachtas Committee on EU Affairs

On 14th November, the Irish delegation of the Committee of the Regions met the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs. The issues on agenda, among other, included Brexit, the future of European funding and subsidiarity. The delegation also updated the Committee on the current political priorities that guide its work on the EU stage.

Meeting today is a positive example of how we can share information and experience and the delegation hopes that we can continue to build on this in the future. 

Head of the Delegation Cllr Michael Murphy noted that the ‘’Irish regions share the same concerns as our European neighbours, whether it is access to broadband; support for new businesses and SMEs; or the question of how regions can retain young people and develop sustainable communities, whether in busy urban areas or in rural and peripheral regions’’. He noted that the challenging times ahead for the EU create the need to improve communication ‘’about the work and the opportunities of the EU, but also how the EU and Member states can better include the local and regional level in policy-making process’’.

Speaking on subsidiarity, one of the focal principles guiding the creation of European legislation, Cllr Mary Freehill noted that the ‘’meeting today is a positive example of how we can share information and experience and the delegation hopes that we can continue to build on this in the future’’.

The recording of this exchange of views will soon be available on the Committee’s website.

URBACT Call for Action Planning Networks

URBACT will launch its Call for Action Planning Networks on 7th January 2019 – supporting cities in addressing policy challenges by producing integrated action plans. All details of the call including the Terms of Reference, guide for project proposals, and the relevant factsheets will be available on the day. Information sessions will be organised in due course. 

For more details on the call, please consult the URBACT website.

Horizon 2020 – Funding for Transport Initiatives

On 22nd October, INEA, European Commission’s Executive Agency for Research and Innovation, hosted an information day on the funding made available in 2019 under Horizon 2020’s transport initiatives. With funds of up to €355m available in the upcoming year, the Commission has published a list of projects which will focus on mobility for growth, automated road transport, green vehicles and next generation batteries. The transport funds in particular aim to fuel the innovation and research needed to support the EU in its ambition for decarbonization and green agenda targets. Further details on priorities for transport under Horizon 2020 can be found here.  

Horizon 2020 is the 8th Framework Programme of the EU dedicated to Research & Innovation, specifically focused on fostering excellence in research and innovation. With a budget of nearly €80bn over the 2014-2020 MFF, the programme contributes to enhancing Europe’s competitiveness and helping in achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy in areas such as energy, transport and digital advancements.


Research performed by the Committee of the Regions analyzing the involvement of Local and Regional Authorities in Horizon 2020 has found that LRAs are eligible to participate in virtually all of the programme’s actions [1].


Although up to date the largest recipient group of Horizon 2020 were private companies and Higher Education Authorities (approximately 66% of all participants between 2014-2016), there is scope for Local and Regional Authorities to get involved in projects, depending on the types of action. Research performed by the Committee of the Regions analyzing the involvement of Local and Regional Authorities in Horizon 2020 has found that LRAs are eligible to participate in virtually all of the programme’s actions [1]. In short, a detailed analysis of the various calls is needed to fully appreciate opportunities for LRAs to become involved, particularly as research funders, public procurers or managing authorities of regional research & innovation programmes.

Ireland is leading the way when it comes to securing Horizon 2020 funding and Enterprise Ireland is managing the implementation of the Irish strategy for maximizing the country’s participation in Horizon 2020. Up to 2017, Ireland as a whole has secured €424m in funding. The overall aim is to secure €1.25bn in funding until the close of the programme in 2020, representing 1.66% of the total EU budget committed.

Local and regional authorities also have their share of this success. Limerick City and County Council, together with consortium members from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Estonia and Spain, secured a €20m funding for their project to work on developing Positive Energy Districts across Europe. The +CityxChange project will allow Limerick to become the first Irish ‘lighthouse smart city’ to develop innovative solutions for sustainable urban environments.

Although the structure of Horizon 2020 is very complex, there are a number of widely available resources to support your understanding the programme. If you wish to access more information, please contact the Irish Regions European Office.

[1] Horizon 2020 and Local and Regional Authorities

Urban Innovative Actions – Fourth Call for Proposals

Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) launched its fourth call for proposals on 15th October 2018. Managed by the French Region Hauts-de-France and part of the ERDF, the overarching mission of the programme is to identify innovative and creative solutions which ‘address issues related to sustainable urban development and are of relevance at Union level’. The budget for this call is between 80-100 million ERDF.


According to the UIA, the main aim of the initiative is to provide urban authorities across Europe with space and resources to test unproven ideas addressing interconnected challenges and examine how these respond to the complexity of real life. Projects to be supported need to be innovative, of good quality, designed and implemented with the involvement of key stakeholders, result oriented and transferable. 

UIA encourages urban authorities to move from normal, mainstream ERDF projects and take the risk to transform creative ideas into prototypes that can be tested in real urban settings. The UIA has the capability to support projects that are too risky for traditional funding sources, provided that they are highly experimental.

Who can apply?

According to the Terms of Reference for Call Four, the following bodies are eligible to apply:

  • Any urban authority of a local administrative unit defined according to the degree of urbanization as city, town or suburb comprising at least 50,000 inhabitants;
  • Any association or grouping of urban authorities of local administrative units defined according to the degree of urbanization as city, town or suburb where the total population is at least 50,000 inhabitants. This include cross-border associations of different regions between Member States.

In Ireland the counties are considered as eligible urban authorities under the category “organized agglomerations”. In this case the county can be a Main Urban Authority provided that the majority of the population is living in municipalities (LAUs) composing the county and considered by Eurostat as cities or suburbs/towns (code 1 or 2). In addition, for this 4th Call and only for the topic “Sustainable use of land – nature based solutions”, there is a possibility for municipalities with code 3 (rural) to be included in a proposal as Associated Urban Authorities.

More information on eligibility criteria can be found here (Section 2 – Terms of Reference for the Call) and questions regarding eligibility should be directed towards the UIA secretariat at an early stage. Applicant seminars will be held in Munich on 21 November and in Brussels on 28 November. Registration is available on the UIA website.

What are this call’s topics?

The topics selected by the European Commission for this call are:

  1. Digital Transition, with key focus on implementing smart cities solutions, enabling citizen-centric eGovernment solutions, improving free and fair access to data, speeding up the adoption of agile technologies to modernise cities’ infrastructure (IoT solutions and applications)
  2. Sustainable use of land and nature-based solutions, with particular focus on quality of life, biodiversity, ecosystems and regional planning. Projects are expected to ‘promote sustainable land use through the implementation of nature-based solutions’.
  3. Urban Poverty, including innovative solutions to tackle homelessness, socio-educational inequalities, child poverty and access to basic services, amongst others.
  4. Urban security, focusing on reducing public security threats and as such, at local levels, projects should focus on social integration, community empowerment, resilience or law enforcement.

Applicants should be mindful of the fact that certain topics have been selected for previous calls, and are therefore invited to consult previously approved projects.

More information about the call, further description of the topics, as well as the relevant documentation required for application can be found at The closing date for applications is 31st January 2019.

Publication by the European Commission of its proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework

On May 2nd, the European Commission published its proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) that will cover the period 2021-2027. Overall, the Commission has proposed a long-term budget of €1,135 billion in commitments (2018 prices) over the period, equivalent to 1.11% of the (now) EU27’s Gross National Income (GNI).

This MFF has to take into account two major challenges: Brexit, which means the EU will lose the UK contribution to its budget and a series of emerging challenges that the EU must now provide the financial means to tackle. As a result, new and increased budgets are proposed for defence and security as well as migration and border management. More established areas such as research and innovation, youth and digitalisation would also benefit from stronger budgets: the Commission has proposed to double the Erasmus+ budget and that Horizon Europe, successor of Horizon 2020, would receive €97.6 billion.

On the other hand, the two biggest areas of expenditure, Cohesion policy (ERDF and ESF) and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) whould however see their budgets cut by around 5% each. Significantly, Cohesion policy will continue to support investment across the EU – including in ‘’More Developed Regions’’ such as Ireland’s – but would henceforth have additional roles in new priorities such as structural reforms to Member State’s economies and the integration of migrants. Regarding the CAP, the two-pillar architecture would be maintained. The Commission proposes to cap direct payments (1st pillar) to farmers in an attempt to redirect financial support to smaller farms and is also seeking to increase national co-financing rates for rural development measures (2nd pillar).

Following on its commitment to bolster the Economic and Monetary Union, the European Commission has proposed several new mechanisms and programmes such as a €25 billion Reform Support Programme (offering financial and technical support for reforms to address economic problems in euro zone countries or countries that want to join the euro) and a €30 billion European Investment Stabilisation Function loan mechanism for euro zone members to absorb large economic shocks not of their own making.

The text includes proposals to further simplify the budget structure, making it more flexible and introduces a new feature – the respect of the rule of law – as a precondition to receive EU funding.

The Commission proposal also foresees a modernising of the sources of funding for the EU budget. As well as removing all national rebates, this envisages an expanded system of‘’own resources’’ including revenues derived from an automatic share of the European Emissions Trading System revenue, a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) and national contributions based on the amount of non-recyclable plastic packaging waste.

Now that the proposal is on the table, the decision on the future long-term EU budget will proceed to the Council, acting by unanimity, with the consent of the European Parliament. The two institutions will start the negotiations and the Commission hopes for a quick adoption, before the next European elections that will be held in May 2019.

In parallel, from end of May to mid-June, the European Commission will present detailed proposals for the future sector-specific financial programmes.


MFF 2021-2027 website:

Adoption of Cllr. Kieran McCarthy’s opinion on the Implementation assessment of the urban agenda for the EU in commission

The opinion drafted by Cllr. McCarthy on the Implementation assessment of the urban agenda for the EU has been unanimously adopted by the COTER commission on April 27th.

While welcoming the Urban agenda and its working methods that allow urban authorities to directly engage in EU decision-making, the opinion identifies ways in which the agenda could be improved in the future. It first highlights that there is scope for better synergies and cooperation between the different partnerships and regrets the lack of appropriate funding dedicated to the Agenda. The opinion finally advocates for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and Cohesion policy beyond 2020 to reflect the role of cities and calls for the development of much stronger awareness-raising for local and regional authorities about existing financing initiatives to support their urban projects.


Launched in May 2016 with the Pact of Amsterdam, the EU Urban agenda is a step towards closer association between cities and the development of EU & national policies. It focuses specifically on three pillars of EU policy-making and implementation: better regulation, better funding and better knowledge. To deliver on the Urban agenda, several thematic partnerships have been set up on topics including air quality, urban mobility, migrants and refugees, climate adaptation or sustainable land use of which Cork city is a member.

The opinion is scheduled to be adopted in plenary in July.

Cllr. Michael Murphy appointed vice-Chair of the Interregional group on Brexit

On March 23rd, the CoR Interregional group on Brexit appointed Michael Murphy (EPP), head of the Irish delegation to the CoR, as vice-Chair of the newly established Interregional group on Brexit.

The group is chaired by François Decoster (FR/ALDE) and Michiel Rijsberman (NL/ALDE) has been appointed as vice-Chair. The group gathers 29 members from seven Member States, including the whole Irish delegation.

This interregional group has been set up to enable local and regional representatives to express their concerns regarding the impact of Brexit on their regions and cities and to exchange information and potential solutions to prepare together for the future. The group will meet alongside each plenary session of the CoR.


Interregional groups are platforms which bring together members and alternate members of the European Committee of the Regions on a voluntary basis to exchange views and foster the emergence of ideas likely to enrich cooperation between local and regional authorities in the Member States and beyond. The establishment of an interregional group has to be approved by the CoR bureau.