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.