The Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its last plenary session of 2021 on 1-2 December. We reflect below on this very active session with engaging discussions and debates.
Kicking off proceedings on the first day of the 147th CoR Plenary session was a debate on Strengthening European democracy in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe with statements from Herman Van Rompuy. The debate focused on the future of democracy and highlighted how the conference can provide an opportunity to bring the EU closer to its citizens.
This was followed by a statement from French President Emmanuel Macron, who discussed European values and the renewal of democracy. (The statement can be viewed here.) Cllr Kieran McCarthy spoke about the relationship between the EU and the UK and the need for bottom-up smart inclusive development, calling for more subsidiarity and less centralisation of budgets and decision-making across the EU.
Eradicating homelessness in the European Union proved a popular opinion with many contributions from Irish Members. Cllr Kate Feeney spoke on the acute homelessness crisis in Ireland, the success of Housing First, the need for an EU wide definition of homelessness and homelessness in the LGBTIQ community. Cllr Declan McDonnell provided an overview of the homelessness crisis in Galway and the need for long term supports and a comprehensive winter response. Cllr Dan Boyle commented on economic policies where the cost of rental or purchase of a property is beyond many people. He highlighted the need for an integrated response to the homelessness crisis and that the CoR can identify and encourage best practice.
Nominees for the 2021 Mayor Pawel Adamowicz Award presented to the CoR, the award will be presented on the 27th of January 2022.
A draft resolution was presented on the 2022 work programme of the European Commission and the CoR political priorities for 2022. Cllr McCarthy highlighted the importance for local and regional authorities and the need to promote digital cohesion.
During the debate on the 2022 European Year of Youth Cllr McCarthy acknowledged the suffering of young people during the pandemic and the need to listen and speak with young people.
In relation to the debate on local and regional authorities and the refugees’ emergency Cllr Boyle highlighted the lack of an integrated and coordinate approach, and the need to be less reactive and more considered.
On the implementation of cohesion policy, Cllr McCarthy stressed the need for local and regional resilience scoreboards to see how regions are doing on a wide range of issues.
During the debate on the fight against disinformation, Cllr Boyle emphasised the need to put in place the highest standards of ethics ensuring the quality of the discourse improves.
Concerning the gender dimension of structural and cohesion funds in 2021-2027, Cllr Boyle welcomed the opinion and emphasised the lack of a comprehensive gender equality strategy.
Further to the above, lively discussions took place on topics such as:
- Better Regulation
- Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
- Implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility
- European Approach to Artificial Intelligence
- EU action plan for organic farming
- Sustainable blue economy and aquaculture
- Updating the new Industrial Strategy for Europe
- The role of nuclear power in the clean energy transition
- European Commission Report on Competition Policy in 2020
With this plenary session, the CoR wrapped up business for 2021. Members will reconvene for the next plenary in January 2022.
Further details on the 147th CoR Plenary sessions can be found on this CoR page.