The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 141st plenary meeting on 8, 9 and 10 December 2020. The Irish delegation joined other locally and regionally elected representatives from across EU Member States in the CoR’s fully virtual plenary session.
The event was the last of six CoR plenary sessions held in 2020 and closed up what is sure to be a memorable year. The effects of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change crisis were felt throughout the topics discussed.
Focus on Brexit
CoR Members engaged with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and the chair of the CoR-UK Contact Group, Loïg Chesnais-Girard, to debate on the EU-UK agreement and territorial consequences of Brexit. EU local and regional leaders discussed ways of maintaining EU-UK relationships and the importance of continued cooperation into the future, which was welcomed and echoed by the Mayor of London. Concerns were also raised about the continued uncertainty and implications of a no-deal outcome. Parties agreed that an agreement is in the best interest of everyone. The Irish delegation actively voiced local perspectives on the situation. Cllr Michael Murphy focused on preparedness for the end of the transition period and ensuring adequate support is available for SMEs. Cllr Kieran McCarthy urged that UK should continue to collaborate in cross-regional initiatives such as Erasmus, Horizon and Interreg.
Members took part on a number of other debates. The topics covered included:
- European Commission Work Programme 2021
- Stepping up climate ambition during the COVID-19 pandemic
- The New Package on Migration and Asylum
- The enlargement package and European Neighbourhood Policy
- Recovery and resilience in rural areas
The future of EU Rural Areas
Cllr Enda Stenson presented an opinion on the EU Strategy for Rural Revival. In the opinion, Cllr Stenson stressed “the need for rural-urban balance” with a real rural revival to provide equilibrium of opportunity and EU funding in urban and rural areas in order to ensure that rural areas are attractive places to live, work and raise a family.
Additionally, several opinions were broadly welcomed by CoR members including:
- Towards more sustainable tourism for EU cities and regions
- From Farm to Fork – the local and regional dimension
- The impact of climate change on regions: an assessment of the European Green Deal
- Challenges for public transport in cities and metropolitan regions
Further details on the 141st CoR Plenary sessions can be found on this page.
Photo credit: European Committee of the Regions