During the Committee of the Regions' (CoR) 103rd plenary session on 8-9 October, CoR President Ramón Luis Valcárcel will be joined by the chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development, Danuta Hübner, to debate the state of play of the negotiations on Structural Funds rules. They will also use the opportunity to review the main challenges posed by the 2014-2020 programming phase.
CoR members will debate and adopt their position on better spending of structural funds (opinion drafted by Alberto Núñez Feijóo (ES/EPP), President of the Autonomous Community of Galicia) which clarifies how to better coordinate EU, national and regional investment for growth and to improve the effectiveness of co-funded programmes through adequate decentralisation of their operational management. Budgetary and governance issues will also be addressed on the basis of an opinion on "The Draft EU Budget 2014", to be presented by Luc Van den Brande (BE/EPP), Chairman of the Flemish-European Liaison Agency. The need to overcome the growing structural EU deficit, the impact on local and regional authorities of current procedures for the adoption of the EU annual budgets, and the financial needs for key actions in priority fields such as youth employment, will be at the heart of the discussions.
EU regions' and cities' representatives will also put forward their recommendations to make the most of social investment for growth and cohesion on the basis of an opinion by the Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb (NL/PES), on the EU Social Investment Package. CoR members will in particular discuss the role of local and regional authorities in active inclusion strategies in education, vocational training, social housing, youth employment and the fight against poverty, whilst clarifying relevant funding and use of social budgets.
Also on the plenary agenda….
EU Railways liberalisation
CoR members will adopt their position on EU plans to further open up European railways to competition, a dossier that is both politically sensitive and technically complex. Discussions will take place on the basis of the opinion on “The Fourth Railway Package” prepared by Pascal Mangin (FR/EPP), Member of Alsace Regional Council. According to the rapporteur, the involvement of the regions is crucial to the success of the reform. He calls for stronger role for regional authorities in the railway market governance, more flexibility in awarding public transports contracts while ensuring that current rail service providers share the information needed to define requirements for new tenders.
Environment: Shale gas and plastic waste
The extraction of shale gas is widely contested across Europe and so the draft opinion to be presented by Brian Meaney (IE/EA), Councillor of Clare County and Mid-West Regional Authority, is unsurprisingly proving to be as contentious with 65 amendments tabled. The draft opinion argues that local and regional authorities should be given the power to exclude sensitive areas from possible development activities and be given the autonomy to ban or license development in their territory.
Managing plastic waste is the focus of an opinion by Linda Gillham (UK/EA), member of Runnymede Borough Council. The production of plastic waste continues to grow: in 1950 only 1.5m tonnes per year were produced globally compared to 60m tonnes a year in 2008 in Europe alone, of which just over 50 % was sent to landfill. The opinion reviews the impact and action needed to respond to this problem and calls for an outright ban on the landfilling of plastics and highly-combustible waste by 2020.
OPEN DAYS 2013: European Week of Regions and Cities, 7-10 October
The plenary session will take place at the same time as the 11th OPEN DAYS – European Week of Regions and Cities to be held on 7-10 October in Brussels. This yearly key event for EU regions will bring together about 6 000 participants, including policymakers, politicians and experts from all levels of government, to debate the most pressing issues facing EU Regional Policy today. The event comes at a critical time where fundamental reforms to the EU cohesion policy are being finalised.
The 103rd plenary will be held in the European Parliament (room JAN 2Q2).
The debates will be streamed live at www.cor.europa.eu.