Brussels, 12 March 2010
The extraordinary meeting of the Committee of the Regions' Bureau, which opened yesterday in Valladolid, concluded today with two discussion sessions that provided an opportunity to review the competitive, connected and greener economic model that was put forward following the recent Copenhagen Summit.
After opening statements by the President of the Committee of the Regions, Mercedes Bresso, the President of the Government of Castile and León, Juan Vicente Herrera, and the Secretary of State for the European Union, Diego López Garrido, an initial discussion took place on the potential impact and contributions of the EU's regions and local authorities as regards helping to achieve Europe's goals for climate change. These issues were the focus of statements by Danish CoR member Knud Andersen, who referred to the Opinion of October 2009 on the Commission White Paper ‘Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action’ and by the Second Vice-President of the Government of Castile and León and Minister for the Economy and Employment, Tomás Villanueva.
The second session involved a review of the main challenges to the green economy faced with the need for new skills for new jobs. On the basis of talks with the Committee initiated by the President's private office, a detailed presentation was given of the work being carried out by the government of Castile and León in this field, and those present were thus briefed on the electric car being promoted by Renault with the cooperation of the government of Castile and León and its central executive. For this purpose, Renault Spain's head of institutional relations, Ernesto Salas, attended the event. This session also featured contributions from the regional leaders of the Workers' Commissions and General Union of Workers trade unions, Ángel Hernández and Agustín Prieto, and the secretary-general of the Castile and León Confederation of Employers' Associations (CECALE), Héctor García. The chairman of the CoR's COTER commission, Michel Delebarre, also spoke.
The CoR President, Mercedes Bresso pointed out that "green growth" was probably the objective which attracted most support in today's Europe. However, it was not the easiest thing to achieve after the economic and financial crisis: first of all we had to invest in new sectors and new goods and services to create green jobs, and then we had to enable current workers or the unemployed to acquire the necessary skills for such activities.
The President of the Government of Castile and León, Juan Vicente Herrera, declared that innovation was without doubt the way to maintain the position of Europe and each of its regions and countries in a world that had seen the emergence of some particularly powerful competitors. He then stressed that as regards the aims of the new European Strategy, the thing that was of particular interest in Castille and Léon was how to ensure that agriculture and cattle-raising were relevant to economic growth and sustainability. A great deal was expected from the new technologies involved in the electric car and he trusted that Europe would provide support, as well as for local coal as part of the policy of ensuring the security of energy supplies, which did not mean excluding nuclear energy.
In practical terms, the decisive commitment to the new sustainable technologies in the automotive sector was one of the cornerstones of the Bureau members' work during their stay in Castile and León.
It should be remembered that the recently adopted CoR Opinion on a “Coordinated and sustainable responses to meet the challenges facing the European automotive sector and to strengthen its links to the regions”, for which the rapporteur had been Jean-Yves Le Drian, President of the Britanny Regional Council (France) and chairman of the Committee of the Regions' Intergroup on the Automotive Sector, refers specifically to the need to ensure adequate public funding to boost all measures relating to research, development and innovation in the sector, clean technologies and the training of workers. In this connection, the opinion suggests that manufacturers speed up the technological transition towards cleaner vehicles and reflect the increasing consumer demand for vehicles that are greener (in particular electric cars) and more reliable, while also being affordable.
The CoR President, Mercedes Bresso, concluded that green jobs were not something for the future; they had to become a reality right now. This was the mammoth task facing elected local and regional politicians.
The bureau of the Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions' Bureau is, broadly speaking, its political driving force.
As a rule, it holds seven meetings a year: one before each of the five plenary sessions held in Brussels and an extraordinary meeting once every six months in the country holding the rotating presidency of the European Union. Among its main tasks, the Bureau is responsible for drawing up the programme of political priorities at the start of each term, supervising its implementation and drafting an assessment report each year and at the end of its term of office. The Bureau's special meetings enable matters of interest to be analysed, which helps achieve a twofold objective: to make the CoR's role known to the general public and to make the CoR aware of the projects promoted by the territory where the Bureau meeting is being held.
Of the 344 members of the Committee of the Region, 21 are from Spain. These are drawn from the presidents of the autonomous regions and from local authority representatives. One fact demonstrating Castile and León's commitment to retaining a presence in Europe is that since 2008, it has provided one of the three Spanish members of the Bureau. Only a few days ago, this leading role was renewed for a further period of two and a half years; an honour shared by the regions of Extremadura and Asturias.
Visit the CoR's website at www.cor.europa.eu
The Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or if it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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