The European Green Deal frames cities and regions' new priorities

On 27 February, the mayor of Seville Juan Espadas (ES/PES) chaired its first meeting as president of the Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). The European Green Deal is the top priority for this new mandate. Upcoming ENVE opinions include water, clean air, hydrogen and biodiversity. New rapporteurs have been appointed for the 'European Climate Law', the 'Climate Pact' and the 'New Circular Economy Action Plan'.

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The 2nd ENVE commission meeting started with a debate on the Green Deal. The ENVE Chair and Mayor of Seville Juan Espadas (ES/PES) declared: "The European Green Deal is a huge challenge but also a massive opportunity we can't afford to miss. We must reinforce our alliance with the European Parliament so that the voice of cities and regions is strengthened in the legislative and political reforms ahead of us. We must be active players in making sure that the Green Deal brings concrete benefits to our citizens with new jobs, better air quality, affordable energy and clean mobility solutions for all. As local and regional representatives, we must both commit and ensure that the ecological transition is a change in which we all win."
MEP Pierre Larrouturou  stressed the need to "multiply available financial resources as the only way to succeed the transition the Green Deal aims at".  The European Parliament's general rapporteur on the budget 2021 advised to set up transparency rules to ensure that banks and insurance companies phase out fossil-fuel investments progressively. "We can do it but we need to set up a clear timeframe now".
The CoR's rapporteur on the Just Transition Fund (JTF), Vojko Obersnel (HR/PES), recalled that "If the EU is really committed to reach climate neutrality by 2050, then we need appropriate funding, which must not come at the expense of Cohesion Policy. In times of growing populism, we cannot accept that the Just Transition Fund is played against the European Social Fund. We cannot explain to citizens that labour market programmes in one region need to be cut to support another region's green transition. We need additional financing for this new fund. This challenge is putting the EU's credibility to the test." Rapporteur Obersnel' opinion is to be adopted next plenary session 25-26 March 2020. ​

Members had exchange of views on the following upcoming opinions:

Hydrogen: Towards a Roadmap for Clean Hydrogen – the contribution of local and regional authorities to a climate-neutral Europe by rapporteur Birgit Honé (DE/PES). "We urgently need a European strategy on green hydrogen along with an EU framework that boost the establishment of a strong hydrogen economy. This energy source offers great opportunities for innovation, value creation and employment in many EU regions and is a key element to reach the Green Deal's decarbonisation and climate-neutrality objectives", said the minister for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development of Lower Saxony. The opinion is to be adopted during the plenary session on 13-14 May.
Water: Opinion on Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive by rapporteur Piotr Całbecki (PL/EPP). "We need to use innovative water management tools, based on research, interdisciplinary science and nature-based solutions. The objective of this opinion is to put forward concrete proposals as to improve and simplify legislation while raising water quality standards in our territories", said the President of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region. The opinion will be adopted during the 13-14 May plenary session.
Clean Air: "Poor air quality causes premature deaths and chronic respiratory problems, accelerates loss of biodiversity and impacts negatively on cultural heritage Only with local and regional initiatives and innovative projects, supported by EU funds, can we have a real impact on improving air quality for our citizens.", said János Ádám Karácsony (HU/EPP), member of the Local Government of Tahitótfalu and rapporteur of the opinion The Future of EU Clean Air policy in the framework of the zero-pollution ambition. The adoption of the opinion is scheduled during the plenary session on 1-2 July 2020.    
Biodiversity: “The great and marvellous biodiversity of our planet is at risk. It is necessary to act now to protect and restore our ecosystems and biodiversity at every level, from local to global. For the new EU's biodiversity strategy to succeed, cities and regions must be involved in the creation of ambitious political actions, adequate funding and implementation", stressed rapporteur Roby Biwer (LU/PES), Member of the Bettembourg Municipal Council, during the exchange of views on the opinion Bio-diverse cities and regions beyond 2020 at the UN CBD COP 15 and in the next EU strategy. The opinion will be adopted during the 13-14 May plenary session

 

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