The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has put forward a Green Deal roadmap for 2021. At the 4th meeting of the Green Deal Going Local working group, local leaders agreed on the political objectives and priorities to accelerate the carbon-neutral transition while placing cities and regions at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery. Fostering active subsidiarity, reinforcing institutional cooperation and facilitating direct access to EU funds are key goals. The renovation of buildings, greening urban areas and decarbonising transport stand as focus areas. The meeting included discussions on the Intelligent Cities Challenge and the Just transition Mechanism. Both have prominent places in delivering the Green Deal agenda.
Opening the debate on the 2021 political objectives, milestones and focus areas of Green Deal Going Local, Juan Espadas (ES/PES), chair of the working group and of the ENVE commission commented on the two European Commission flagship initiatives presented during the meeting. The Mayor of Seville said: "When we say that the Green Deal will be local or it will not be, we are not simply launching a slogan. The European Union will never achieve climate neutrality without its territories sharing the same ambitious objectives. Projects like the Intelligent Cities Challenge and Just Transition Platform are examples on how we can deliver the Green Deal on the ground, creating the necessary support and finding synergies to help cities and regions. The climate crisis is the biggest challenge we have in front of us and we need innovative ways to work together towards a shared and common goal."
Members exchanged views on two European Commission flagship initiatives in support of the EU's transition towards climate neutrality. The Intelligent Cities Challenge was presented by Iordana Eleftheriadou from DG GROW, while Myriam Boveda from DG REGIO outlined the latest developments of the Just transition Mechanism. Both aim to support the roll out of local and regional Green Deals.
Michael Murphy (IE/EPP), Member of Tipperary County Council and Chair of the CoR's ECON commission, said, "I fundamentally believe that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the European Green Deal must go hand in hand to ensure that we eradicate poverty and respect our planetary boundaries."
During the debate on the working group's priorities, Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES), vice-president of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region and chair of the CoR's Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and the EU Budget (COTER), said: "The European Commission's future Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy must reflect the ambitions expressed by the territories to implement the Green Deal. The importance of cross-border links, the internalisation of external costs and more particularly the "polluter pays" principle, the place of public transport in our cities and countryside, the importance of everyday mobility and the modal shift from road and air transport to rail are all subjects on which we need to be heard. The European Commission will not achieve its objectives without us!". The Mayor of Seville Juan Espadas, will present the progresses of the Green Deal Going Local working group at the next COTER meeting on 26 February 2021.
Rafał Trzaskowski (PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw, shared insights on the first meeting attended as member of the Political Board of the Covenant of Mayors. Mayor Trzaskowski said: "At the last meeting, we endorsed the new Commitment for a 'Covenant of Mayors for a fairer, climate-neutral Europe', which aims to align the Covenant with the Green Deal and make it a prime tool for implementing the carbon-neutral transition. We all need to join forces to deliver the Green Deal locally. We ask the European Commission to deploy financial and non-financial support for local and regional leaders to make the Green Deal a reality on the ground and promote the social acceptance of the climate transition. EU financial support, including Cohesion Funds, must directly reach cities and regions in a transparent and fair way. There is no time to waste."
At the next CoR plenary session in March, the EU's assembly of local and regional authorities will debate with Kadri Simson, European commissioner for energy, on the Renovation Wave, the EU's massive plan to improve the energy performance of Europe's building stock. The CoR has put forward a set of comprehensive measures to reduce buildings' carbon footprint while creating jobs and tackling energy poverty in a draft opinion by rapporteur Enrico Rossi (IT/PES), member of Signa Municipal Council (Florence) and former president of the Tuscany Region (2010-2020).
The working group Green Deal Going Local was launched on 15 June 2020 and is composed of thirteen members of the European Committee of the Regions.
The final version of the 2021 roadmap of the Green Deal Going Local working group will be available on the CoR's dedicated web portal shortly.
As part of the CoR's 'Building resilient communities' priority, Green Deal Going Local (GDGL) is an initiative which aims to place cities and regions at the core of the European Green Deal and ensure that both the EU's sustainable growth strategy and the COVID-19 recovery plans translate into direct funding for cities and regions and tangible projects for every territory. In order to inspire and accelerate action, Green Deal Going Local includes an online map with 200 best practices.
Ahead of COP26, the CoR is working on a draft opinion on 'Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition towards COP26'. The rapporteur is Vincent Chauvet, Mayor of Autun.
Regarding mobility, the CoR is currently working on a sustainable and smart mobility draft opinion lead by rapporteur Robert Van Asten (NL/Renew Europe), Alderman of The Hague.
In July 2020, the CoR adopted its recommendations for the Just Transition Fund in an opinion by rapporteur Vojko Obersnel (HR/PES), Mayor of Rijeka.
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