Counter-radicalisation, the steel industry and waste management are among the topics of debate during the European Committee of the Regions' (CoR) plenary session on 15-16 June. Local and regional politicians from across the EU will also adopt "opinions" on Europe's demographic challenge and the revision of the EU's budget for 2014-2020. During the two-day discussions in Brussels, the winners of the European Entrepreneurial Regions Award 2017 will also be announced.
Two EU Commissioners will share their views with regional and local leaders: Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, will talk about the challenges facing Europe's steel industry; while Vytenis Andriukaitis, whose portfolio is health and food policy, will discuss how to reduce food waste. Gilles De Kerchove, the European Council's counter-terrorism coordinator, will talk about the EU's efforts to counter violent extremism before the CoR adopts its recommendations on what Europe's cities and regions can do to help tackle this issue. The Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mari Kiviniemi, will also participate, presenting the OECD's latest survey of how local and regional differences affect national performance and individual welfare in its 34 member states.
On 15 June the three winners of the European Entrepreneurial Region award for 2017 will also be announced. The Award is given each year to EU regions that have the most promising, outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategies in Europe.
During the plenary, CoR members will also debate and look to adopt opinions on :
The EU Steel sector - 15 June
Europe’s steel industry has suffered heavily from global overcapacity and the import of cheap steel, primarily from China in the European market. The draft opinion prepared by Isolde Ries (DE/PES) First Vice-President of the Saarland Regional Parliament, calls for more, better and quicker trade defence measures by the EU against imports at dumping prices, the abolition of the 'lesser-duty rule' and reform of the emissions-trading scheme.
Reviewing the EU's budget – 15 June
The EU's Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) establishes the annual ceilings for EU spending in the different policy areas. The current MFF covers the years 2014-2020. According to the rules, by the end of 2016 the European Commission is due to present a mid-term review of how the MFF is working and, as appropriate, a proposal for its revision. Regions and cities want a mid-term revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) in order to clarify the EU's top priorities and ensure they are consistent with the budgetary choices made in 2013, when the current framework was adopted. Through the draft opinion prepared by Luc Van den Brande, (BE/EPP), local and regional leaders will assess potential threats to the funding of EU regional policies and explore new ways to enable more resources to be used to help citizens and communities. Their input aims to ensure cities' and regions' needs are taken into account in the upcoming European Commission's proposal.
Putting an end to food waste – 15 June
In its draft opinion, the CoR wants the EU to cut food waste by at least 30% by 2025. The rapporteur, Ossi Martikainen (FI/ALDE), local councillor of Lapinlahti, emphasises the economic, environmental and social problems caused by high wastage and encourages local and regional authorities to take action in areas where they have responsibilities, such as institutional catering, schools, and recycling.
Waste directive: EU must show more ambition– 15 June
The CoR draft opinion by Domenico Gambacorta (IT/EPP) pledges to increase the 2030 target of re-use and recycling of 65% of municipal waste to 70% and to introduce specific targets for recycling plastic packaging waste. In line with the polluter-pays principle, a key issue to be voted is whether to reinforce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to decrease local governments' waste management costs and to raise the environmental and financial obligations of producers.
Combatting radicalisation and violent extremism – 16 June
Immediately after the terrorist attacks in Paris, the CoR appointed Bart Somers (BE/ALDE), Mayor of Mechelen to produce recommendations on how Europe's cities and regions can better counter violent radicalisation. Since then, terrorists have attacked Brussels, just 30km from his city. In his far-reaching draft opinion, Mayor Somers sets out principles and actions that can help cities prevent radicalisation, as well as proposals on intervention and policing.
EU must take action in responding to demographic challenge – 16 June
Growing demographic disparities could have major consequences for Europe, warns Juan Vicente Herrera (ES/EPP), President of the region of Castille and Leon. His draft opinion calls for a comprehensive strategy to ensure that the EU's various policies are aligned. Just before the opinion is debated, Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, will present its report "Regions at a glance", which offers a picture of well-being in the 391 OECD regions.
Other reports for debate:
EU enlargement strategy – 16 June