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Invitation to the high-level conference 'Europe level up=governance level down'-4th June 2015

Are decentralisation and multilevel governance just popular slogans or effectively implemented rules? What Europe and its Member States have done to strengthen the local and regional level? 

Join us for a conference with high-level speakers, to learn experiences from different European countriesand to share your opinion!

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Polish Regions together with the Polish Delegation to the European Committee
of the Regions and the Union of the Voivodeships of the Republic of Poland
have the pleasure to invite you to a conference

Europe level up = governance level down

Decentralisation and multilevel governance
as key factors for a stronger Europe

organised under the honorary patronage of the President of the European Committee
of the Regions

Date: 4th June 2015 at 2 p.m.
Venue: European Committee of the Regions, room JDE 52 Rue Belliard 99-101, Brussels

Please register on-line until 29th May

The conference will be followed by a cocktail reception.

Programme and more information on the event can be found attached

European Committee of the Regions to elect new leadership as new mandate starts

euroThe new assembly of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) will gather on 12 February for the first time in its new five-year political term.

The 350 CoR members, recently appointed following approval by the Council of the EU, meet in Brussels at a constitutive plenary session where they will elect their new President, discuss political priorities and adopt a number of opinions.

Created in 1994, the European Committee of the Regions is the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives from all 28 Member States. Its mission is to involve regional and local authorities in the EU’s decision-making process and inform them about EU policies.

All 350 CoR members are required to be politically accountable in their home towns and regions.

CoR Presentation clip:

Source: Euronews 

Ten Years in the EU: Visegrad Perspective and Beyond

11164By joining the EU (and NATO) Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia fulfilled the key target of Visegrad cooperation, with Slovakia being the most problematic element in this process due to unsatisfying track record in terms of democratic criteria for several years.

After EU accession, the Visegrad states have since tried to redefine priorities and find an orientation point for future cooperation. Joining the EU was by a substantial part of the population seen as a way to align the living standards of the CEE region with that of „old“ member states. 10 years after, looking just on the overall numbers suggest that V4 countries are economically stronger. V4 annual GDP grew additionally ~1% due to EU membership, purchasing power reached 65 % of EU15 average, the income gap has narrowed by 1/3. According to further Erste Group study data, V4 exports grew three times faster than the exports of EU15 and V4 is now the fourth largest exporter in the EU28, and second largest car producer in the EU after Germany.

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Juncker plan is a substantial step to revive private investment & using flexibility in EU budget rules

juncker"Regions and cities hope that the quality of those projects funded by the new package, together with favourable market conditions, will allow the plan to succeed in mobilising private investors. Excluding Member States' contributions from the Growth and Stability Pact is a first step in the right direction and should be extended to all national and regional investment matching EU Structural and Investment Funds". With these words, the President of the Committee of the Regions, Michel Lebrun, welcomed the €315bn package presented by the European Commission on Wednesday.

According to President Lebrun, "Even though there are no additional resources, the proposed European Fund for Strategic Investments can complement the current European Investment Bank (EIB) offer and promote the use of financial instruments also in the implementation of cohesion policy". At the same time he stressed that: "Intensifying the use of such instruments cannot happen to  the detriment of the less favoured regions where, in the most cases, grants cannot be replaced by loans, equity and guarantees."

Referring to regions' and cities' concerns related to the connection between cohesion policy and the new plan, President Lebrun stressed that projects to be financed under the new investment package must be closely coordinated with European Structural and Investment Funds: "The new investment package must be consistent with the priorities set by the new operational programmes and smart specialisation strategies, to help EU regions get back on track".  In this perspective the governance of the investment package, he argued, should be designed to mobilise regions' and cities' knowledge of local economies in the identification of strategic projects as well as in their delivery.

With regards to the scope of the new investment plan, President Lebrun pointed out: "The new fund must be allowed to finance sub-national projects, including small-scale projects or clusters of projects, that can often be implemented much faster and have an immediate impact on growth and jobs". It would therefore be of outermost importance that the forthcoming Investment Committee includes experts of sub-national planning and finance so that the projects' pipeline can benefit from a stronger territorial dimension. In this perspective, the current cooperation between the Committee and the EIB could be further developed helping enhance regional and private financing.

Looking ahead to the package adoption, President Lebrun announced that: "The Committee of the Regions immediately started work on the assessment of the Commission's proposal and is determined to provide the European Parliament and the Council with qualified and timely proposals aimed at strengthening the plan's regional focus."

Source: Committee of teh Regions

Delivering EU cohesion policy reform: regions and cities concerned by delays and rules' complexity

wozniak2-150The Committee of the Regions Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy (COTER) met jointly with the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development (REGI) to discuss problems and opportunities emerging from the implementation of the reform of EU regional policy adopted last year. Complexity of rules, persistent lack of urban focus and delays in launching 2014-2020 programmes were among the critical issues raised by local and regional leaders.

A joint REGI-COTER meeting held on 6 October saw a first exchange of views on the implementation of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for 2014-2020 whose new regulations were discussed over the last 3 years and eventually adopted at the end of 2013. The reform's delivery is raising mixed reactions among regional and local leaders who are in charge of their management. "We are now in the 'hot period' when the process of negotiation of partnership agreements and operational programmes is coming to an end" said COTER chair, Marek Wozniak (PL/EPP), Marshal of the Wielkopolska Region, who stressed that: "The time has come to ask questions such as how the new instruments will be implemented in Member States to ensure the optimal distribution of cohesion policy allocations as well as to help beneficiaries to use the available means more effectively." The overall judgment on the reform was positive. "Regional policy is generally well defined and the resources have been secured for its programmes”, pointed out the State Secretary and Delegate of Saxony-Anhalt for the German Federation, Michael Schneider (DE/EPP). Taking reference from the 2008 joint working group between the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament, he proposed to “re-establish the ad hoc group on cohesion policy in 2015 to elaborate practical proposals for more efficient programmes and to cut the impact of administrative burden".

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