REGISTER YOUR CITY, REGION OR NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, has issued a toolkit for governments across Europe on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Toolkit (available in several languages)
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has established an exchange platform “We Stand Together #EuropeansAgainstCovid19” to foster co-operation and facilitate mutual support between cities and regions across Europe. By writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, CoR members, presidents of regions, mayors and other local and regional partners are invited to share their experiences, ideas, proposals and video messages, as well as needs and requests to be addressed at EU level, and feedback on the EU response.
This platform includes:
The CoR has launched a webpage for video messages from young local leaders, “Young Local Leaders united for Europe”.
CoR endorsed an Action Plan to assist, inform, engage and represent regions and cities in order to help them fight COVID-19 (read the statement by CoR President Apostolos Tzitzikostas on the approval of the action plan). On 24 September, the commission for territorial cohesion policy and EU budget (COTER) met online to adopt their recommendations for the role of cohesion policy against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis. Recently, the CoR has released its first Annual Regional and Local Barometer, with a focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CoR and the OECD are conducting a joint consultation to gather the views of local and regional governments on the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey analyses particularly finances, governance and recovery plans at local and regional level.
The network of regional hubs has published its third report on the first and only European directive on the rights of patients in cross-border healthcare. Although it was designed and produced before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the results are relevant to the current situation.
The global COVID-19 pandemic and the socio-economic crisis it has engendered have a strong territorial dimension with a profound impact on subnational governments. To better understand and assess it, the OECD and the CoR joined forces to carry out an online survey on "The impact of COVID-19 on regional and local governments: governance, finance and recovery plans".
The CoR and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) conducted a targeted consultation of key organisations representing local and regional authorities in all EU Member States to take stock of their experiences in implementing COVID-related measures. This consultation had already pointed out that many EU governments are excluding regions and cities from the preparation of post-COVID recovery plans.
The CoR along with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has opened a public consultation on “Serious Cross-Border Threats to Health” until 12 February 2021.
During the 142nd Session of the CoR, CoR members and Ana Paula Zacarias, Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, discussed the political priorities of the EU Presidency and their impact at local and regional level, stressing the importance of involving local and regional authorities in the implementation of the next EU budget and the EU's plans to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The CoR has also signed an Action Plan with the World Health Organization that aims to improve the resilience of regional and local health systems through joint research and policies to address the key challenges of the pandemic.
The CoR has issued a statement on the EU's response to the crisis. During its 139th plenary session, the EU's COVID-19 recovery plan for local and regional economies was debated. The protection of biodiversity was mentioned as an essential principle of the recovery plan for Europe in order to prevent a new pandemic. On 11 September 2020, the Bureau members debated the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on villages, cities and regions and the need to improve the functioning of the European Union. The Recovery plan for Europe must take local and regional authorities on board to be effective in tackling the consequences of the crisis. CoR members shared these concerns in a debate with EU Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni.
The CoR is currently contributing to the adoption of a gender equality strategy at EU level and has given its opinion on the issue. Overall, the EU recovery efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will have a strong social dimension.
The Alliance for Cohesion, in a statement, reaffirmed the importance of cohesion and the need for strong financial support from the European Union to member states, regions, cities and municipalities in the post-COVID-19 context.
In response to the State of the Union speech by President Ursula von der Leyen, the CoR President called for more cohesion among the EU and regions and cities to face the Covid-19 pandemic.
Opening the debate on the state of cities and regions, on 12 October, the CoR President emphasised that the EU and its Member States must empower their cities and regions to protect employment and social rights to counter the devastating social effects of the pandemic. On 12 October, during talks with the President of the European Council, he also underlined the grave impact of the pandemic on the revenues and expenditure of local and regional governments.
The CoR has warmly welcomed a political agreement, endorsed on 12 November by the European Parliament, that would see the EU dedicate over €5 billion to its flagship health programme over the next seven years. The CoR's rapporteur, Nathalie Sarrabezolles, in her report’s recommendations proposes to ensure the full participation of local and regional authorities and to bolster cross-border cooperation and telemedicine.
Against the backdrop of the second coronavirus wave, cities and regions represented in the CoR back the German Presidency efforts and emphasise the urgent need for agreement on the next EU long-term budget and the recovery funds. These funds are vital for local and regional authorities to enact measures against the impact of COVID-19 as well as to accelerate a sustainable recovery.
Speaking at the meeting of the CoR with the European Parliament Intergroup on Rural, Mountainous and Remote Areas (RUMRA)&smart villages, on 27 November, Chair of the CoR Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) Ulrika Landergren stressed that a rural agenda is urgently needed for rural areas after the COVID crisis.
CoR President and the Presidents of six European territorial associations issued a political Declaration in which they address their priorities. They also reiterated their steady commitment to help people and communities suffering the heavy social, health and economic consequences of the pandemic and to offer quality public services, sustainable local economies and a liveable environment.
The Minister-President of Wallonia, Elio di Rupo, emphasised during the CoR plenary on 8 December the need for budgetary flexibility in order to foster recovery and resilience after the current COVID-19 crisis.
Regions and cities are calling for coordinated support from the EU and Member States to relaunch the cultural and creative sectors that are among the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis and national lockdowns
The CoR President and the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform call for enhanced cooperation between the EU, Member States, regions, cities and towns to ensure a fair recovery
The CoR organised a webinar on "Regions and Cities: vital for Europe's economic recovery", and a series of webinars on COVID and post-COVID communication, and on the engagement of regional and local actors in their efforts to facilitate the digital transition in the fields of education, culture and civic participation (read an opinion of the President of the CoR's Economic Policy Commission, Michael Murphy, on the role of digitisation in the post-covid recovery period)
The CoR is organising this year a special edition of the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) prize, encouraging EU regions and cities to develop strategies to stimulate entrepreneurship and boost small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) whose activities target the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
The upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe is a timely opportunity for a collective discussion of these issues where the input of regional and local authorities will be essential to meet the expectations of citizens.
On 13 October in occasion of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, the CoR affirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that it is of utmost importance to strengthen coordination between Member States, between all levels of government and across borders.
In a workshop, the CoR and the European Entrepreneurial Regions (EER) 2020 demonstrated how the EER label could be used as a tool to stimulate an entrepreneurial and sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Speaking at the 1st Borders Forum, on 9 November 2020, Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, underlined the importance of solidarity across European borders, while the CoR President emphasised the border regions’ efforts to manage the health crisis to protect citizens and support the economy.
Following the adoption of an agreement on the EU budget and the COVID-19 recovery plan, the CoR welcomed the Parliament's efforts to secure stronger EU's action on health research and Erasmus+, Recovery Plans' democratic scrutiny and new financial means for the Union.
During the online conference on 20 November 2020: “Local Intermediate Authorities: a safety net for our citizens in the global fight against the Covid crisis”, it was underlined that, with over 11 million infected people and more than 270,000 dead in Europe, the pandemic crisis highlighted the essential role of all regional, intermediate, and local authorities in delivering public services as close to citizens as possible. They manage all the necessary sanitary actions at the local level such as quarantine measures and contact tracing.