Newsletter of th e European Soc iali s t s in the C ommi tte e of the Re g i ons

O c to ber 2011

NEWS OF THE PES GROUP IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS FEATURES

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Dear Friends, ay I first of all warmly thank each one of you for entrusting me with the presidency of the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions, a political mandate that is not only a great honour but also a heavy responsibility. Thanks to the commitment of my predecessors, the Group has grown stronger and more cohesive over the years, while its impact within and beyond the CoR has been significantly enhanced. My intention is to pursue the same goals and, where there is room for improvement, to initiate the necessary changes that would facilitate this process. I am fully committed to continuing strengthening the voice and impact of the PES Group. This is not an exercise to be carried out by the President alone. The rationalisation of the Group‘s existing internal structure can be of help in this direction. A stronger Executive, sharing concrete portfolios, has the potential to drive forward both more efficiently and effectively the Group‘s political work. The election of members to fill the positions of the First Vice-President and some Vice-Presidents that have been vacant for some time now will be an opportunity to rethink the role of our Executive with a view to ensuring timely and focused responses. Greater coordination of the invaluable work of our political coordinators is also likely to further improve the Group‘s cohesion and effectiveness both in CoR commissions and plenary. Moreover, consideration should be given having recourse more often to shadow rapporteurships, in order to increase our members‘ ownership of opinions drafted by other political groups. Concerning the inter-institutional agenda, which will be dominated in the coming months by the revision of the structural funds, I am delighted that the PES Group already obtained the rapporteurship on four key dossiers ahead of the adoption by the European Commission of the relevant texts. I am convinced that the PES Group‘s response to the European Commission‘s proposals for regulations laying down the general provisions and governing more specifically the European Social Fund, European Territorial Cooperation and European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) will be consistent with the Group‘s fundamental pursuit of social and territorial cohesion. Our work is all the more relevant against the backdrop of a persistent crisis that has exacerbated the gap between the haves and have-nots and has been translated into violent acts like the UK riots or into angry protests like the movement of ‚Indignados‘ in Spain, which gained grounds in other countries under severe budgetary consolidation such as Greece or Italy. The upcoming CoR plenary session and this year‘s OPEN DAYS, focusing on Regions and cities delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, should be an opportunity for the PES Group to reiterate its full commitment to socially and environmentally sustainable economic growth that leaves no one behind. The four opinions presented by PES rapporteurs to the October plenary go in this direction: from Alain Hutchinson‘s owninitiative opinion on social housing and Patxi Lopez‘s report on integrated industrial policy to Lotta Hakansson Harju‘s Strategy for the effective implementation of the Fundamental Rights Charter and Mireille Lacombe‘s call for European and international mobility for local and regional authority staff. The same principle permeates our seminar on ‚Active ageing‘, organised in the margins of OPEN DAYS, emphasising the need to come up with policies that are not simply aimed at prolonging the working life but seek to improve older people‘s quality of life, in full respect of their rights. There is no doubt that a lot of hard work awaits us in our efforts to continue defending back home Europe‘s added value in times when European solidarity is not at its best. I am however fully confident that this is an indispensable fight and one that is worth fighting for. Let us therefore work together! To conclude, I would like to thank Monika HELBIG of the Land of Berlin and Margit CONRAD of the Land of Rhineland-Palatinate for having warmly welcomed in Berlin our September extraordinary meeting on social cohesion in metropolitan areas. May I also take this opportunity of congratulating Klaus WOWEREIT on his re-election, for the third time running, as Governing Mayor of Berlin. This victory, which is symptomatic of his full commitment to the social-democratic values and their implementation on the ground, augurs well for an eventual shift to the left of the government majority in Germany, thanks also to the outcome of the latest regional elections in the country. With fraternal greetings,

PLENARY SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS (10 - 12 OCTOBER 2011) 4-7 COR COMMISSIONS: WHAT'S NEW? AND NOW OVER TO PES MEMBERS NEWS OF THE PARTY OF EUROPEAN SOCIALISTS POLITICAL BALANCE IN THE COR 8-9 9-10 11 12

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Published by | PES Group Secretariat Rue Belliard 101 - Office 7035 B-1040 Brussels | Tel. | +32.2.282.22.23 E-mail | PES-group@cor.europa.eu

Karl-Heinz Lambertz President of the PES Group in the CoR

NEWS OF THE PES GROUP IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

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he PES Group organised its extraordinary Group meeting in Berlin on 1 -2 September on the topic "Social cohesion in metropolitan areas". At the invitation of PES Group member Monika HELBIG, Head of the Berlin State Chancellery and Plenipotentiary for Federal and European Affairs, and under the patronage of Klaus WOWEREIT, governing Mayor of Berlin, the conference took place at the Berlin Town Hall and was structured around three roundtables, focusing on 'What differences do progressive urban policies make?', 'Is the EU toolkit fit for improving social cohesion?' and 'Social cohesion as a governance challenge'.

The PES Group photo competition ‘I live therefore I move, I move therefore I live’, was closed on 30 June, attracting wide interest amongst young European amateur photographers. The jury will select winning photographs on 12 October and the award ceremony will take place in Brussels before the December plenary session.

Photo competitionE I MOVE EFOR
Win
a trip
around the EU !

I LIVE THER LIVE I MOVE THEREFORE I

Social Cohesion in Metropolitan Areas
Extraordinary meeting of the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions

PES GROUP
Committee of the Regions

www.pes.cor.europa.eu

Berlin, 1-2 September 2011
PES GROUP
Committee of the Regions

Among the key speakers were Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ, PES Group President, Mercedes BRESSO, CoR President, Pervenche BERES MEP (S&D Group, France) and the following PES Group Members: Georgios KAMINIS, Mayor of Athens (Greece), Ilmar REEPALU, Chair of the ENVE commission and Mayor of Malmö (Sweden), Albert BORE, PES-COTER coordinator and Labour Leader of Birmingham City Council (UK), Hella DUNGER-LÖPER, Permanent Secretary for Building and Housing for Berlin (Germany), and Catiuscia MARINI, President of the Umbria Region (Italy). The main aim of this conference was to evidence the various dimensions of social cohesion in different metropolitan contexts, discuss shortcomings and challenges and feed the views of social democrat and progressive regional and local representatives into the European debate. After the conference, a study visit to projects related to social cohesion and financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) was organised.

Within the framework of this year’s Open Days, and only few months away from the European Year for Active Ageing 2012, the PES Group is organising a workshop on Active Ageing, on Wednesday, 12 October from 14.30 – 17.00. The aim is to propose a holistic approach that empowers elderly people to realise their potential, addresses demographic change as an opportunity, and finds innovative solutions to the current economic and social challenges facing our ageing society. Special attention will be paid to active ageing at local and regional level and the need for differentiated strategies, based on common principles that fully respect the rights of the elderly, promote intergenerational solidarity and foster a better quality of life for all. Speakers are Anne-Sophie PARENT, Director of AGE Platform Europe, and PES Group members Clemens LINDEMANN, District Executive of the Saarpfalz District Assembly (Germany), and Per BODKER ANDERSEN, Deputy Mayor of Kolding and Councillor of the Town Council (Denmark). For more information on these activities, please visit the website of the PES Group in the CoR at www.pes.cor.europa.eu.

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FEATURES
Nuclear energy: What way forward?
global energy production. The five biggest nuclear energy producers are the US (101 GWe), France (63 GWe), Japan (47 GWe), Russia (23 GWe) and South Korea (17 GWe). Moreover, while 158 reactors are in the planning stage worldwide, some 60 new reactors are currently being built in 14 countries: China (27), Russia (10), Korea (5), India (5), Japan (2), Canada (2), Slovakia (2), Argentina (1), Brazil (1), Iran (1), Finland (1), France (1), Pakistan (1), and the US (1). Interestingly enough, the number of nuclear reactors per country is not necessarily proportional to the country's energy mix. The US, which holds 30% of the global nuclear energy production, it only meets 20% of its own needs from nuclear sources. On the contrary, the countries with the highest percentage of total electricity demand met by nuclear are France (75%), Slovakia (53%), Belgium (51%), Lithuania and Sweden (over 50%), Ukraine (48%) and Hungary (43%). South Korea (35%) and Japan (30%) follow suit. In addition, France is the world leader in nuclear power exports, yielding over $4.2 billion USD per year in revenue. In the EU, electricity generation from nuclear plants reached 28% in 2007 (compared to 16% from renewable energy sources), while nuclear energy represented just 6% in the 2008 global primary energy mix (compared to 10% for renewables). According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), nuclear energy is estimated to reach 8% of the global primary energy supply by 2035. The above figures, which strictly concern civil use of nuclear power around the world, indicate that there is no universal approach to the energy mix, nor are there indications of a global largescale and rapid expansion in nuclear energy use. Overall, energy mix choices at national level are driven by the need to respond to soaring energy demand, the volatility of oil and gas prices and growing dependency on energy imports. It goes without saying that for producing countries, revenues generated from nuclear exports constitute a major incentive for the continuation of nuclear energy production. At the other end of the spectrum, however, are countries having decided to phase out nuclear power plants and to focus on renewable energies. leader of the so far biggest industrial power to have renounced nuclear energy considers that the move will have tangible economic benefits for her country, including long-term job opportunities. Indeed, 340,000 people are already employed in the renewables sector, compared to just 35,000 working in the nuclear energy sector. The same loud and clear message was sent by Italian people to PM Berlusconi through a referendum last June, whereby they rejected by 94% his plan to restart a nuclear programme abandoned in the 1980s. His aim was to secure the supply of 20% of electricity through nuclear energy by 2020. In other countries, like the UK and France, the aftermath of Fukushima has not had the same impact and therefore, support for nuclear energy remains strong. Considerations that nuclear risks may have been overestimated in the emotionally charged period after the disaster are often heard in defence of nuclear energy, seen as having the potential to reduce pollution, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and help countries attain more energy independence. Since nuclear energy has low CO2 emissions, it is considered to contribute to the fight against climate change, a key priority for the EU. This was reflected in the March 2007 European Council conclusions, whereby the EU agreed that by 2020, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% (compared with 1990 levels), improve energy efficiency by 20%, raise the share of renewable energy to 20% and increase the level of biofuels in transport fuel to 10%. The question of whether nuclear energy is considered a renewable energy has been stirring controversy for many years. Those defending this position argue that if 'renewable' is synonymous with 'inexhaustible', as is the case for geothermal, solar or wind energy, the same holds true for nuclear energy from fission of uranium and other similar metallic chemical elements (actinides). Interestingly enough, the European Council of 4 February 2011 marked a significant change for nuclear energy, recognising its status as carbon-neutral energy, alongside renewables.

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n 11 March 2011, the world witnessed one of the biggest nuclear disasters, triggered by a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The destruction of Japan's Fukushima plant, which continues to leak radioactive material, has had inestimable environmental consequences on a global scale. It will probably be decades before the exact magnitude of the effects of the nuclear meltdown is publicly known. Four months later, on 13 July 2011, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan defended in a televised news conference the merits of renewable energy sources, announcing his government's intention to work towards "realising a society which can exist without nuclear power". Even without a tangible timeline, this u-turn is symptomatic of changing perceptions about the sustainability, safety and security of nuclear energy production, and this in a country which, before the Fukushima disaster, had aimed at increasing by 23% its nuclear-generated electricity, bringing it up to 53% by 2030. There is no doubt that the Japanese Prime Minister's withering popularity (having tumbled to just 16% since the accident) and the spectre of early elections only a year after his designation to this top position by the Diet of Japan have a lot to do with such reformed positions. There is also no doubt that the Fukushima catastrophe has marked a turning point in the ongoing debates about nuclear energy worldwide. In the meantime, strong calls for more transparency from the nuclear industry, its regulators and national governments have been multiplying worldwide.

Reactions to the Fukushima disaster

The European response so far

Facts and figures about nuclear production
ny informed debate about nuclear power must be based on an accurate overall picture of global nuclear production. The 443 existing reactors in 29 countries worldwide produce 375 GigaWatts (GWe), that is, 14% of

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he catastrophic events of last March have had a decisive effect upon perceptions concerning nuclear safety and reopened the public debate on this issue. The belief that nuclear risks have been underestimated has grown stronger under the weight of cataclysmic images from Japan, broadcast worldwide for weeks on end. In Germany, public pressure to abandon nuclear energy plans materialised in a drastic change of government policies with Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing in May a decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022. This decision was also driven by the loss of the Christian Democrat stronghold of BadenWuerttemberg, at the March elections, which greatly boosted Germany's Green party. The

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aking a consensual decision at European level in the aftermath of Fukushima has proven a very difficult task since energy mix choices are subsidiarity issues par excellence and nuclear energy represents immense vested interests in different EU Member States. Despite divergences, in late May, the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators' Group (ENSREG) reached an agreement on the criteria, methodology and timeframe for the stress tests of nuclear power plants in the EU. What is being tested is how the plants will react in case of earthquake, flooding and other extreme events, without taking into account whether they are caused by natural events or man-made actions and failures. The European Commission will present a progress report to the European Council in December 2011 and a consolidated

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final report is foreseen for June 2012. A separate process is underway to assess security threats and counter-measures, in cooperation with Member States, and the main results will be included in the European Commission report to the December European Council. Furthermore, the Commission presented in September a legislative proposal on Euratom Basic Safety Standards. It remains to be seen what space will be given to nuclear energy in the forthcoming European Commission proposal for an Energy Roadmap 2050, whose adoption is foreseen in the 4th quarter 2011. It is worth noting that, on 1 April 2011, the Committee of the Regions adopted a bold resolution about the nuclear disaster in Japan, tabled at the initiative of the PES Group. The text sends a strong political message, calling for the immediate launch of comprehensive risk and safety assessments for existing and future plants including their impact on bordering Member States and Regions. Emphasis is placed also on countries outside the EU, where nuclear facilities exist or are being planned. The CoR insists that those countries must also be involved in the testing process and that the necessary provisions must be made to further improve existing crossborder information mechanisms about safety related issues regarding nuclear installations and the particular cross-border dimension of crisis management and disaster relief. Furthermore, stress tests should be included in future

accession negotiations and the involvement of neighbouring countries or regions in the process of authorising nuclear installations should be optimised. Finally, the CoR advocates that any nuclear installation failing such stress tests should be shut down. A similar resolution proposed by the Party of European Socialists did not find consensus amongst PES member parties. The resolution called for a concrete plan for the phase-out of the last nuclear power reactor in the EU by 2030 and invited PES member parties to be at the forefront of the battle to improve the safety of nuclear power plants in their country and to phase out nuclear power by the fastest feasible date.

safety and security issues can have an effect that goes well beyond national borders, or even continents. Yet, global threats require global responses. As far as the EU is concerned, a stronger European governance of energy policy in general is the optimal way forward. Subsidiarity can easily become a Trojan horse for major economic interests related to nuclear production, to the detriment of safety and security concerns. Another risk inherent in the nuclear debate is the 'Not In My Back Yard' (NIMBY) attitude. Opposition to nuclear development has often a lot to do with the proximity of a planned project. The disposal of nuclear waste, that is, 2.8 million cubic metres per year according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is a major challenge, often addressed through illicit exports to third world countries. This is because sites for the permanent storage of such waste are not accepted by local communities, the only exception being Finland, where one such site has been planned and has successfully passed the first permit stage. It is clear that the nuclear debate is on-going and so far, inconclusive. This is why it is essential that citizens have access to accurate information, which is neither over-simplistic nor over-technical. Transparency of decisions and accountability of politicians are conditions sine qua non for taking the debate forward. As should be the case in any democratic society, and not just about nuclear energy.

Right and wrong answers?

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he issue of nuclear energy is deeply divisive, amongst countries, within the same country and even within the same political family, as was the case for the PES. What is more, the economic, technological and ethical arguments for and against it make the challenge of remaining impartial even greater. What must, however, be acknowledged is the fact that nuclear energy governance can only be successful if it is supra-national. This is simply because nuclear

Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions (10 – 12 October 2011)
The October plenary session will examine 12 draft opinions, a third of which by PES rapporteurs. Antonio TAJANI, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Industry and Enterpreneurship, will intervene on the European industry policy in the light of the Europe 2020 strategy. Janusz LEWANDOWSKI, Commissioner for Financial programming and budget, will intervene on the EU's multi-annual financial framework after 2013. The plenary session will start on 10 October with the opening session of the OPEN DAYS. Danuta HÜBNER, Chair of the European Parliament’s REGI Committee, Johannes HAHN, Commissioner for Regional Policy and Elżbieta BIEŃKOWSKA, Polish Minister for Regional Development, are amongst the key speakers. Organised by the Committee of the Regions, in cooperation with the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional Policy, the OPEN DAYS regularly bring together regions and cities from all over Europe and beyond, providing local, regional, national and European decisionmakers and experts with a meeting place for exchange and debate on projects and questions related to regional and local development. The ninth edition of this major event will focus on "Investing in Europe's future: Regions and cities delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth". OPEN DAYS 2011 will host around 100 workshops, offering networking opportunities to some 6,000 participants, who will gather in Brussels for the event. The PES Group is organising a workshop linked to inclusive growth and focusing on Active Ageing (Read more under the News of the PES Group in the CoR, p. 2).

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OPINIONS IN BRIEF:

State aid rules for the provision of services of general economic interest (SGEI): Karl-Heinz Lambertz (PES/Belgium) On 16 September, the European Commission presented its proposals on the application of EU State aid rules to compensation granted for the provision of SGEI (the so-called 'Almunia package', also known as the 'Monti-Kroes' 2 package). On a significant number of points, the European Commission document joins the positions defended by the CoR in its opinion elaborated by Karl-Heinz Lambertz and adopted at the July plenary session. This concerns in particular the exemption from state aid rules of services other than hospitals and social housing, that is, services related to childcare or reintegration into the labour market, and more broadly, those linked to the 'social inclusion of vulnerable groups'. An initial evaluation of the European Commission proposals is largely positive. There are, however, three outstanding issues: the question of the definition of a 'local' service, which would be exempted from the notification obligation under state aid rules (the EC insists solely on the population criterion, that is, fewer than 10,000 inhabitants); the question of measuring efficiency (the EC continues to insist on measuring the efficiency of aid); and finally, the question of the de-minimis thresholds, below which state

aid rules are not applicable (the EC proposes 150,000€ per year as opposed to 800,000€ per year proposed by the CoR). Considering the political importance of the dossier for the CoR as well as the inter-institutional

calendar, the political groups agreed to appoint Karl-Heinz Lambertz as rapporteur general for a second revised CoR opinion on the subject, due for adoption by the plenary on 12 October.

An integrated industrial policy for the globalisation era: Patxi LOPEZ (PES/Spain)

ith this own-initiative opinion, the PS Member of the Brussels-Capital Regional Parliament aims at contributing to the creation of a European agenda for social housing, which advocates decent and affordable housing for all. In his draft report, he underlines that regional and local authorities are in many cases responsible for formulating and implementing social housing policy and should therefore have their say in the political debate. p

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Towards a European agenda for social housing: Alain HUTCHINSON (PES/Belgium)

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he draft opinion of the President of the Basque Government was adopted unanimously by the ECOS commission and will be presented in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under ECOS commission, p.8, and Interviews, p.10).

Alain HUTCHINSON TCH N TCHINS H

Highlighting the potential positive interaction between European policies and housing policies,

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the PES rapporteur also stresses that, whereas social housing is first and foremost perceived as a social policy issue, the overlapping of several EU policy areas and its impact on housing cannot be ignored. He therefore urges for an integrated and comprehensive approach to the issue. Furthermore, Alain HUTCHINSON calls for new financial instruments currently under development, such as European project bonds for funding infrastructure and the forthcoming mutual investment fund, to explicitly allow for investment in affordable and decent housing. In addition, existing options, such as the use of European structural funds for marginalised groups, especially in disadvantaged areas, need to be better explored. The rapporteur identifies a series of key political areas, affecting social housing and linked to the Europe 2020 Strategy: the prevention of and fight against poverty and social exclusion; social innovation, demographic change and cohesion; energy efficiency; services of general economic interest and their interaction with competition policy as well as economic and financial stability. The draft opinion was adopted with only one vote against by the members of the ECOS commission. During the debate, EPP members expressed the view that the current European rules capping public deficits do not endanger the provision of social housing to their citizens, considering that despite the current crisis, no action is needed in this area. Likewise, they do not see the point of any kind of legislation ensuring EU-wide housing rights for citizens. Amendments in plenary will therefore re-address these points. (Read more under Interviews, p. 9).

in the EU and the important role that local and regional authorities should play, especially in the dissemination of information to citizens. The opinion expresses the disappointment of local and regional authorities about the fact that, despite a general commitment to involve other levels of governance, the first annual report on the application of the Charter (published in May 2011) makes no reference to local and regional authorities. The rapporteur therefore insists on the need to raise the profile of LRAs in the strategy, improve cooperation between all levels of government while respecting local self government, and take an active part in the follow-up and assessment phase. She also points to a crucial limitation of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, the implementation of which only applies to EU institutions and their actions and is extended to EU Member States only when they apply EU law, and not national law. At the same time, the Charter embodies the expectations of citizens for an EU that is a community of values with a high level of protection of fundamental rights. Given this dilemma, it is particularly important that local and regional authorities adopt proactive strategies to show-case their own actions aimed at protecting fundamental rights and promoting them in a European context. (Read more under Interviews, p. 10).

The role of local and regional authorities in achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy: Markku MARKKULA (EPP/Finland)

Henk KOOL

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European and international mobility for local and regional authority staff: Mireille LACOMBE (PES/France)

Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union: Lotta HAKANSSON HARJU (PES/Sweden)

laborated at the request of the Polish Presidency, the draft opinion, which was adopted by majority by the ECOS commission, is structured around the 7 flagship initiatives and identifies the areas where regional and local authorities should have a stronger impact. The overall message is to give a clearer regional and local dimension in order to strengthen the Member States' commitment to and political ownership of the Strategy, thereby making it more relevant and responsive to citizens' needs at grassroots level. However, the draft opinion does not properly address the potential failures of the Europe 2020 agenda. Amendments will be tabled for the plenary under the lead of PES/ECOS coordinator Henk KOOL, not least on the issue of territorial pacts.

Review of the Small Business Act (SBA) for Europe: Constance HANNIFFY (EPP/Ireland)

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Miireille LACOMBE e lle AC M E ll le MBE

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he draft opinion by the Member of Järfälla Municipal Council was unanimously adopted in the CIVEX commission. Key issues are the practical implementation of fundamental rights

he draft own-initiative opinion of the Vice-President of Puy-de-Dôme General Council was adopted unanimously by the EDUC commission of 6 June and will be presented to the plenary under the simplified procedure. The rapporteur underlines that legal provisions are required at European level in order to encourage the mobility of local and regional authority staff, which facilitates the implementation of the European acquis, contributes to cohesion and fosters cooperation amongst local and regional authorities, ultimately contributing to territorial development (Read more under Interviews, p.9).

he draft opinion of the Member of Offaly County Council was adopted unanimously by the ECOS commission and will therefore be presented in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under ECOS commission, p. 8).

A resource-efficient Europe: Michel LEBRUN (EPP/Belgium)

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he draft opinion of the Member of the Walloon Region Parliament was adopted unanimously by the ENVE commission and will be presented in plenary under the simplified procedure (Read more under ENVE commission, p.9).

Smart Regulation: Lord Graham TOPE (ALDE/UK)

European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015: Ján ORAVEC (EPP/Slovakia)

opinion was adopted by majority by the COTER commission. However, since it lacks concrete examples and tangible policy recommendations, PES amendments in plenary are likely to be tabled.

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he draft opinion by the Member of the London Borough of Sutton was adopted unanimously in the CIVEX commission of 6 June (see also Newsletter No 30), therefore adoption in plenary is expected to be uncontroversial. The key concern for the PES Group has been to highlight that 'better regulation' is not equated with 'less regulation' and that the CoR should contribute towards smarter regulation at EU level. It is worth noting that in the context of the discussions on 'smart regulation', the CoR has been involved with a permanent observer, Karl Heinz LAMBERTZ, in the work of the so-called 'High Level Group on the Reduction of Administrative Burdens', chaired by former Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber. Due to his new responsibilities as President of the PES Group, Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ has decided to step down from this position.

Territorial cooperation in the Mediterranean through the Adriatic-Ionian Macro-region: Gian Mario SPACCA (ALDE/Italy)

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European Dimension of Sport: Roberto PELLA (EPP, Italy)

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ollowing on from the previous CoR opinions on macro-regions (Baltic Sea, North Sea and Danube), the draft own-initiative opinion by the President of the Marche Region proposes the creation of an Adriatic-Ionian macro-region. According to the rapporteur, the added value of this macro-region lies in the fact that it could also contribute to the accession process of candidate countries and potential candidate countries to the EU. The rapporteur recommends to fully incorporate the macro-regional strategy into the territorial dimension of the post-2013 cohesion policy. The draft opinion was adopted by majority in the COTER commission.

The draft opinion of the Mayor of Štúrovo was also adopted by majority by the EDUC commission of 6 June. It responds to an ambitious European Commission programme, foreseeing forty specific measures over the next five years to enable citizens and businesses to use online facilities. The CoR rapporteur calls for the meaningful participation of local and regional authorities in managing ICT initiatives and urges for their access to high-quality broadband services at reasonable prices in order to improve the availability and quality of the services they provide. Amendments tabled by PES/EDUC coordinator Yoomi RENSTRÖM and PES/EDUC member Bob BRIGHT, improved the coherence of the opinion and succeeded in introducing a call for measures that would give every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultra fast broadband by 2020, in accordance with the EU's commitments in the Digital Agenda for Europe. Adoption in plenary should not be controversial.

A er Albert BORE r

Yo Yoomii RENSTRÖM o

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he draft opinion of the Member of the Council of Valdengo, was adopted by majority by the EDUC commission of 6 June. It outlines the perspective of local and regional authorities in response to the European Commission Communication, which proposes concrete actions to strengthen the societal, economic and organisational dimensions of sport. The draft opinion received some 93 amendments, over thirty of which by PES/EDUC coordinator Yoomi RENSTRÖM (Sweden) and PES/EDUC member Bob BRIGHT (UK), aiming aiming at refocusing the draft opinion on the local and regional level. Some of the proposals going beyond the CoR remit were defeated in commission. However, more amendments are expected in plenary, especially a crucial amendment by the PES Group requesting the deletion from the text of Mr Pella's call for Stability Pact rules to be relaxed for expenditure on sport facilities.

Complementarity of national and EU interventions aimed at reducing the disparities in economic and social growth: Francesco MUSOTTO (EA/Italy)

The COTER commission overwhelmingly supported a series of amendments presented by PES/COTER coordinator Albert BORE, aimed at better framing the concrete cooperation objective and role of the proposed macro-region as well as opposing the creation of separate funds, new regulations and new institutions. Some further PES amendments can be expected in plenary in relation to the role of Kosovo and FYROM within the future macro-region.

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rawn up in response to a referral from the Polish Presidency, the draft opinion by the Member of the Sicilian Regional Assembly argues that existing economic, social and territorial disparities in the EU can only be overcome through integration, synergy and complementarity of national and European interventions. In order to promote integrated and effective territorial development, the rapporteur stresses that both European cohesion policy and national regional development policy require an adequate institutional environment, efficient public administration and an effective partnership between the various levels of governance. The draft

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CoR Commissions: What's new?
COTER (Brussels, 4 July) ECOS (Brussels, 5 July)

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he COTER commission adopted by majority the draft opinion on the Complementarity of national and EU interventions aimed at reducing the disparities in economic and social growth by Francesco MUSOTTO, Member of the Sicilian Regional Assembly (EA/Italy) (Read more under Plenary, p. 7). COTER members also adopted by majority the draft report on Territorial cooperation in the Mediterranean through the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion by Gian Mario SPACCA, President of the Marche Region (ALDE/Italy) (Read more under p yp plenary, p. 7).

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Catiusch MA IN Catiuschia MARINI Catiuschia MA IN tiusch AR ti c

Moreover, the PES Group in the CoR obtained the rapporteurship on the following proposals for a regulation: the general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund (Catiuschia MARINI, President of Umbria - Italy), the ESF (Konstantinos SIMITSIS, Mayor of Kavala - Greece), the Territorial Cooperation (Petr OSVALD, Councillor of Plzeň – Czech Republic) and the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (COTER President Michel DELEBARRE, Mayor of Dunkirk - France). Finally, Bernard SOULAGE, Vice-President of the RhôneAlpes regional council (France), was appointed rapporteur on the revision of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) guidelines. The European Commission will adopt the legislative package on the future Structural Funds and the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) on 21 September. The various proposals will establish legal bases for the expenditure related to the different funds constituting the package and are highly relevant to the work of the CoR in general, and of the PES Group in particular. These early appointments aim to give rapporteurs the time to start work upon the adoption of the package and ahead of the next COTER meeting scheduled on 19 October.

COS members adopted unanimously the draft opinion of Patxi LOPEZ (PES/Spain) on an Integrated Industrial policy for the Globalisation Era. Responding to one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the rapporteur underlines the key role played by industry policy as driver for growth, ensuring that Europe does not fall behind in the globalisation era. The Socialist President of the Basque Region highlights that the process of boosting the industry to make it competitive at global level must be compatible with economic and social development and respect towards the environment, whilst taking into consideration challenges such as natural resources. Since many local and regional authorities have already acquired skills and experience in industrial development and other policies that are directly related to competitiveness, Patxi Lopez highlights the importance of a coordinated response through European policies that actively involve the local and regional level. In this context, he also emphasises the need to better address existing imbalances amongst EU regions. He underlines the important role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and stakeholders in Europe, stressing that EU public policies should focus on the 'think small first' principle and take SMEs' needs into account. Another essential point of his draft opinion is to encourage people to develop the skills required for globalisation through reskilling and re-training. The rapporteur opts for a horizontal approach to growth that moves beyond sector-specific considerations and calls for a better use of existing financial instruments, such as the European Globalisation Fund as well as new forms of public-private cooperation. Last but not least, he suggests the implementation of a followup and evaluation procedure, providing a regular update on milestones achieved in implementing industrial policy. In this context, he calls for qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure development in industrial policy, covering aspects such as job creation, competitiveness, sustainable development and progress regards innovation.

calls for the promotion of research and innovation within the framework of the SBA, as well as the development of entrepreneurial education. During the vote in commission, several PES amendments were adopted on issues such as the importance of applying tax incentives for innovative small business start-ups, the funding and financing of SME instruments and the challenges facing SMEs in relation to access to markets and administrative burdens. ECOS members also adopted by majority the draft opinion on the Role of local and regional authorities in achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy by Markku MARKKULA, Member of Espoo City Council and Uusimaa Regional Council (EPP/ Finland) (Read more under Plenary p.6). Finally, ECOS members had an exchange of views on the working document on the European Commission proposal for a Council directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) by Gusty GRAAS, Member of the municipal council of Bettembourg (ALDE/Luxembourg). The working document asks a series of questions both on the impact of the CCCBT on regional and local communities and on how the CoR could possibly provide useful information in this regard.

The ECOS commission adopted almost by unanimity - only one vote against - the draft own-initiative opinion of Alain HUTCHINSON (PES/Belgium), on a European agenda for social housing which is part of the campaign run by the PES Group in the COR in 2011 (Read more under Plenary p.5, and Interviews, p.9). ECOS members also adopted unanimously the draft opinion on the Review of the Small Business Act (SBA) for Europe by Constance HANIFFY (EPP/ Ireland). The rapporteur welcomes the European Commission review of the SBA, but also highlights the shortcomings related to the divergences in the degree of implementation of the SBA by Member States. She calls for improvements in the implementation of the SME test (that is, a better analysis of the effects of a legislative proposal on SMEs), availability of funding opportunities for SMEs and market access. Finally, the draft opinion

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ENVE (Brussels, 23 June)
ENVE members adopted unanimously the draft opinion on A resource-efficient Europe by Michel LEBRUN (EPP/B), responding to one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The rapporteur underlines the need to closely monitor the flagship initiative in the overall context of the governance of the strategy and he stresses the leading role of local and regional authorities in reducing the use of natural resources. To this effect, he suggests that the future resourceefficiency roadmap contains a concrete timetable setting indicators, objectives and an agenda for the structural and technological changes necessary to reach these targets. He also proposes four resource-use indicators: land footprint, use of biological and mineral resources, water footprint and carbon footprint, all of which affect a variety of policy sectors. PES/ENVE coordinator Hermann KUHN, Member of the Bremen City/Region Parliament (Germany), presented his working document on A space strategy for the EU, which looks at key issues of the proposed strategy such as the earth observation initiative led by the EU, environmental protection applications, the role of space policy in promoting research, innovation and competitiveness and the possible financial framework for this policy. The rapporteur supports the important role of the European Space Agency (ESA) and also proposes to strengthen existing networks of regions that are already involved in space technology. The working document will form the basis of the draft opinion, to be adopted at the ENVE meeting of 3 October.

Ilmar REEPALU

T

he PES Group obtained the rapporteurship of two highly topical files on 20 years after Rio and on the legislative package on Energy savings. These CoR opinions will be drafted by ENVE Chair Ilmar REEPALU, Mayor of Malmö (Sweden) and Jean-Louis JOSEPH, Mayor of Bastidonne (France), respectively. The issue of the Rio+20 sustainability conference which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 will also be the subject of a conference in conjunction with the external meeting of the ENVE commission in Malmö on 3 – 4 October.

Hermann KUHN n

ENVE members also had a roundtable debate on the role of local and regional authorities in international climate change policy ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties in Durban.

AND NOW OVER TO PES MEMBERS
There are major differences in social housing policy between Member States. How could a European social housing agenda address these differences more effectively? y plementing measures can be heavily influenced by European policies and the aim of this report is to highlight these interactions. Bearing that in mind, we suggest enhancing the positive effects of the legal framework and also of regional development policies to provide a wider choice of decent, affordable housing and taking another look at the rules that might prevent more accommodation from becoming available. As we enter the negotiating phase on the EU's future political and budgetary priorities after 2013, it is worthwhile pointing to the substantial contribution that social housing can make to achieving the European objectives of cohesion and sustainability. For a region to develop economically and sustainably it must be able to offer a good quality of life, of which housing forms an integral part. But it is also an opportunity for reiterating that an entitlement to housing is a prerequisite for a dignified life!
Mireille Mireille Lacombe A aiin H tchins Alain Hutc son a

What prompted you to draw up an own-initiative opinion on European and international mobility for local and regional authority staff ? y g y

Alain Hutchinson, Member of the Brussels-Capital Regional Parliament (Belgium): Although responsibility for housing policy clearly lies at national or regional level, the choice of im-

Mireille Lacombe, Vice-President of the General Council of Puy-de-Dôme (France): My own-initiative opinion aims to make the European institutions aware of the need to take con-

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crete steps at EU level to promote and support European and international mobility for local and regional authority staff. These staff are in close day-to-day contact both with the public and with local elected representatives. Their role in putting across the European message could be boosted by making mobility part of their continuous training via temporary secondments to other local authorities; this would be a practical example of multi-level governance. I firmly believe that European and international mobility for local and regional authority staff facilitates implementation of the EU acquis, contributes to cohesion and encourages cooperation between local and regional authorities, which is a powerful factor for regional development. And this feeling is shared by all the stakeholders I consulted when drawing up the opinion. The measures I propose for promoting this mobility include: "mobility meetings" organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the CoR, bringing the European institutions and local and regional authorities together; an information campaign conducted by the European Commission on the added value of mobility for local and regional authority staff; maintaining financial support for mobility in the EU's new financial perspectives; and the establishment of a European exchange programme for civil servants and other staff working for local and regional authorities. The aim of this list of measures (which is not exhaustive) is to facilitate appropriate changes in human resources, to enable staff to grasp and anticipate European policies.

In your draft opinion, you state that many local and regional authorities have already built up skills and experience in the field of industrial development and of other policies that are directly related to competitiveness. How can this experience best be applied to create added value at EU level? How can synergies be created?

What concrete actions can regional or local authorities take in order to promote the Charter for Fundamental Rights and its application on the ground? Can you give an example from your own experience?

Lotta HAKANSSON HARJU tta A a O HARJ ARJ AR R Patxi Lopez a p

Lotta HAKANSSON HARJU, Member of Järfälla Municipal Council (Sweden): First of all, it is at the local and regional levels that many of the fundamental rights are provided for and guaranteed, for example healthcare, education and social security. However, we need to increase the awareness regarding the role of the local and regional authorities. For instance, the local and regional level is not even mentioned in the Commission’s strategy for fundamental rights. Consequently, there is a strong need for more information and education, to politicians as well as officers on all levels in the public sector. But there is also a need for information to the public. In order to be able to claim their rights and respect the rights of others, citizens first of all need to be aware of these rights themselves. Local and regional authorities’ should also evaluate how the fundamental rights are safeguarded within their areas. In the United Kingdom, for example, municipalities have developed a tool to measure equality and human rights (the Equality Measurement Framework), and in Sweden several municipalities have set up and made use of human rights indicators at the local and regional levels. These evaluations could also serve as input for the Commissions annual report on fundamental rights.

Patxi Lopez, President of the Basque Government (Spain): We believe it is essential to make use of the experience and knowledge built up by certain European regions in the development and application of their industrial policy, as well as other policies relating to business competitiveness. In some cases, regions have broad legislative powers over such policies in areas as diverse as technological infrastructure, clusters, international promotion and innovation, among others. Many of these experiences have been successful in improving competiveness, innovation and internationalisation. More specifically, a challenge shared by the majority of regions which are members of the Committee of the Regions is to develop a reliable and systematic way to help transfer this knowledge effectively. The aim is to ensure that these experiences are taken into account and reproduced by other European regions in accordance with the circumstances of each area. We are convinced that the development of European forums, networks, observatories and clusters, with the active participation of regional clusters, led by industrial regions with successful track records, and where information and best practices are shared and, in particular, where specific industrial projects are pursued and established, will help promote creation of synergies and enhance the quality of industrial policies.

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POLITICAL BALANCE IN THE CoR
32.6% 11.9% 34.6% 4.7% 6.7% 9.6%
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POLITICAL GROUPS

PES ................................................................... 112 EPP ...................................................................119 ALDE .................................................................. 41 EA ...................................................................... 16 NA ...................................................................... 23 Pending appointments ......................................... 33

MEMBERS

TOTAL CoR

344

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News of the Party of European Socialists

The Party of European Socialists (PES) is preparing its next Council, which will take place in Brussels on 24 November 2011. The Council will adopt the new PES Declaration of Principles, which will be the tangible outcome of a deep reflection process and a significant step towards renewing PES policies and the Party's way of doing politics. The PES Group in the CoR is closely involved in the elaboration of the Declaration, which will be based on the values of freedom, equality, solidarity and social justice. The Council will be followed by a Convention, that is, a wide 2-day brainstorming, with simultaneous political debates, workshops, panels and cultural activities. The aim is to formulate new alternative proposals and to define new progressive policies that will feed into the elaboration of the PES Fundamental Programme, to be adopted at the 2012 PES Congress. The PES Group in the CoR will contribute to the debates of the Convention with a workshop focusing on social housing. p g g

Alej ndr ERCAS Alejandro CERCAS ja j d ER R

The PES Social Europe Network, chaired by Alejandro CERCAS MEP, met in Brussels on 20 September 2011. The debate took place against

a backdrop of high poverty and unemployment rates as well as strong pressure by the European Commission (as illustrated in its recommendations for National Reform Programmes) to weaken social security systems and keep wages of lowand medium-income earners low. Apart from the preparation of the PES Fundamental Programme, the Network discussed two upcoming European Commission proposals, aimed at clarifying existing legislation about the posting of workers: the so-called 'Monti II regulation', which is meant to reconcile the exercise of fundamental social rights and economic freedom, and a directive on enforcement of posting rules. The PES Network discussed the implications of these two upcoming proposals and whether a revision of the existing Posting of Workers Directive would still be necessary. Furthermore, the Network discussed the social dimension of the Internal Market and the effects of the European Commission’s current proposals for a single market on social security systems. Another item on the agenda was youth unemployment. It is worth noting that, at their meeting of 23 June, PES Leaders decided the creation of a PES Youth Unemployment Working Group, to discuss the root causes of youth unemployment and formulate strategies and policies to improve the chances of young people to find decent work. Discussions within the PES Social Europe Network provided a first input to the work of this new Working Group.

N il S N K Neil SWANNICK

The PES Environment and Climate Change Network, chaired by Linda McAVAN MEP, is meeting in Brussels on 11 October 2011, to discuss the status quo of the negotiations and progressive positions on the future of international climate change agreements in relation to the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17), due to take place in Durban (South Africa), from 28 November to 9 December 2011. Another item on the agenda is the future of nuclear and renewable energy in Europe, in the wake of the Japanese accident. The PES Group is represented by Neil SWANNICK, member of Manchester City Council (UK), who will be highlighting the contribution of local and regional authorities towards reducing energy consumption, increasing energy efficiency, adapting citizens' behaviour and offering new jobs and skills. Neil Swannick will be putting forward the idea that citizens could be empowered by taking up the role of so-called 'prosumers', that is, producers and consumers, making active choices and thereby constructively addressing current energy challenges.

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