During the Committee of the Regions' (CoR) 104th plenary session of 28-29 November, CoR President Ramón Luis Valcárcel will be joined by the chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development, Danuta Hübner, to take stock of the new rules governing the EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020. Following a debate with European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, CoR members will also adopt a resolution setting out their political priorities for 2014.
One week after the official endorsement of the new Cohesion Policy package by the European Parliament, CoR members will exchange views on the final decision with Danuta Hübner. Although adoption of the new rules will now enable governments to start allocating funds, controversial points still remain, such as the implementation of the macroeconomic conditionality and the limited resources available for the European Social Fund.
This plenary will also consider the main challenges in 2014. Commissioner Šefčovič will present the Commission's work programme for 2014 and lead discussions on the role of local and regional authorities. CoR members will then vote on a resolution agreeing their political priorities for the coming year giving particular emphasis on youth unemployment, the review of the EU growth Strategy and the 2014 European elections.
Also on the plenary agenda:
CoR members will adopt their position on the EU's move to ensure efficient management of traveller flows at its external borders ("Smart Border Package") on the basis of an opinion prepared by António Costa (PT/PES), Mayor of Lisbon. Discussions will focus on concerns over the possible implications of the proposed Entry/Exit System for fundamental rights and look into the means to ensure better involvement of local and regional actors in the political debates on the Schengen area.
The debate on the EU Roma integration Strategy is another key social point on the agenda. Roger Stone (UK/PES), Member of the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, will present a draft opinion on the issue offering regional and local recommendations to better integrate Roma into communities.
Fisheries and Aquaculture
The revision of State Aid for fisheries is a part of the broad reform of the Common Fisheries Policies (CFP) and is closely related to the State Aid Modernisation process. The CoR has been closely involved in these two major reforms and seized the opportunity to issue an own-initiative opinion on state aid for fisheries. Rhodri Glyn Thomas (UK/EA) will present his draft opinion which argues that local and regional authorities must be given flexibility and aid must avoid promoting unsustainable fishing practices.
Continuing on with the CFP debate, Marialuisa Coppola (IT/EPP), Councillor of the Veneto Region, will present her opinion on the Strategic guidelines for sustainable development of EU aquaculture. Though welcoming Commission plans to reduce dependency on imports of fish by boosting the aquaculture industry, it needs to further reduce bureaucracy and diversify the sector.
State Aid to Airports and EU Ports Policy
In view of the revised Community Guidelines on financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines departing from regional airports, the CoR opinion focuses on key regional issues such as the request of putting on an equal footing public support for infrastructure construction and development with private investment, without considering this support as State aid; the opposition to the European Commission's proposal to make State investment aid for airports with a capacity of 3 to 5 million passengers conditional on repayment of the aid; the clarification of the rules on public financing for airport intermodality, given its strategic impact on the region's economy and territorial cohesion. Among the most relevant amendments presented by the rapporteur, Catiuscia Marini (IT/PES), is the request to rise the de minimis ceiling applicable to small regional airports.
Europe 2020 Conference: "Innovation Union", 27 November
As part of its series of conferences to assess the Europe 2020 Strategy at local level, the CoR will be holding a conference on the EU flagship initiative "Innovation Union" that will bring together key representatives of EU institutions, Member States and regions. The conference will consider how regions and cities can help boost innovation through, among others, the design of "smart specialisation" strategies and networking across borders.
The 104th plenary will be held in the European Parliament (room JAN 2Q2).
The debates will be streamed live at www.cor.europa.eu.