No time to waste: progressive regions and cities welcome the European Commission’s proposals

27 May 2020
No time to waste: progressive regions and cities welcome the European Commission’s proposals

Following today’s presentation of the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and the Recovery Plan by the European Commission, the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions welcomes the proposal which is in line with its core demands.

Christophe Rouillon, President of the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions and Mayor of Coulaines (France), said: 

“The Covid-19 crisis is a unique opportunity to rethink the future of Europe. I welcome the Commission’s proposal which is based on solidarity for the most affected regions. Now we need Member States to agree to an ambitious proposal in no time, as, without a plan approved by July, the new EU programmes would be delayed and the recovery after this crisis will simply be impossible. But this cannot be a blank cheque for member states. In particular on cohesion policy and the new € 750 bn heavy recovery instrument, we will need to make sure that local and regional authorities are involved as they are best prepared to respond to the specific challenges of our territories. It needs also to be clear how these proposals will be financed. I had hoped for concrete proposals on own resources by the Commission. Now Member States will have to take up these ideas and agree to a sustainable financing based on own resources as soon as possible.”

Manuela Bora, Regional Minister of Marche region (Italy) for productive activities and EU affairs and Coordinator of the PES Group of the Commission for regional policy and the EU budget (COTER) in the European Committee of the Regions, added:

“My region, Marche, is among the worst hit by this Covid-19 pandemic, both in terms of human lives and the economy. More than 50% of our economic activities were shut down because of the lockdown and the region now could face more than 22% GDP loss, among the highest in Europe. This is why the recovery plan presented by the European Commission represents a hope for our workers and citizens. It is particularly important that it focuses on the next generation, building a future based on the European Green Deal and a stronger social Europe. Our regions need European investment to restart. The only way forward is together and national governments cannot waste a minute to deliver on a common European solution.”

Isabelle Boudineau, Vice-President of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region (France) and Chair of the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) of the European Committee of the Regions, commented:

"Beyond the numbers of the new proposal, it is essential that European resources arrive quickly and are invested usefully on the ground. Regions and cities know best in which areas or sectors we need to urgently invest to tackle the consequences of the crisis and prepare the future. This cannot be a top-down exercise, so we need a reformed European Semester that involves local and regional authorities and focuses on the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. If the European Union fails us by delaying the decisions on the MFF and the recovery plan, the consequences will be disastrous socially, economically and moreover politically".

Vasco Cordeiro, President of the Azores region (Portugal) and First Vice-President of the European Committe of the Regions, said:

"The multiannual financial framework proposed by the Commission increases support for cities and regions to overcome the social and economic difficulties and to decrease the territorial inequalities and disparities among citizens. This is a crucial aspect not only for cohesion policy – which is needed now more than ever - but for the whole recovery plan and EU budget. All funds should be easily accessible to our regions and cities in order to act steadily and ensure that EU investments are effective and target on the real needs of our citizens."

Kata Tüttő, Deputy-Mayor of Budapest (Hungary) and PES Group Vice-President, argued:

“As progressive cities committed to the fight against the climate crisis, we welcome the Commission’s recovery plan. Investment for building renovation, clean public transport, sustainable food, renewable energy, and a circular economy are all essential to empower our cities to create a sustainable future, especially in countries where national governments are not yet aligned with this vision. We must seize the opportunity created by the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve the goals of the European Green Deal and make our continent climate-neutral and our communities resilient - the European Commission’s proposals are a first step in the right direction.”