Renovations, sustainable mobility, urban greening. These are just some areas in which the Committee of the Regions’ (CoR) wants to work more closely with the European Commission. EURACTIV France reports.
The “Green Deal Going Local” working group debated the priorities for 2021 on Monday (15 February) and announced its roadmap, which will have to be approved at the next meeting in March.
In a draft obtained by EURACTIV, the working group plans to step up cooperation with various European Commission directorates-general (DGs) to support, in particular, the wave of renovations, the development of sustainable mobility, and the greening of cities.
“The Green Deal is a cross-cutting priority,” explained working group member and president of CoR’s Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and the EU Budget, Isabelle Boudineau (PES), noting that “our aim is, therefore, to work on these issues together with most of the Commission’s DGs.”
CoR and the Green Deal Going Local working group aim to attune their strategic priorities to those of the Commission “in order to best reinforce the role of local and regional authorities within the Green Deal”, according to the draft of the Green Deal Roadmap.
Preparing for COP26
Some of the main objectives of these synergies are to harmonise legislative work and mainstream climate objectives across Europe, to promote a “circular approach” to buildings’ renovation and a “just energy transition through a specific focus on energy poverty”, as well as the “development and relaunch of sustainable tourism”, according to the Roadmap draft.
As for urban greening, CoR would also like to see the link between the future Urban Agenda for the EU and the European Green Deal strengthened and ensure consistency in the cooperation with the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
The aim of the Roadmap is to “create a consistent and coherent framework for CoR work on the Green Deal.”
Ultimately, this work should make it possible to “feed into the COP26”, the United Nations climate conference to be held in Glasgow in November, Boudineau told EURACTIV.
Meeting the challenges of local authorities
Composed of thirteen local and regional elected representatives from across the EU, the Green Deal Going Local working group aims to “ensure the direct involvement of EU cities and regions in the definition, implementation, and evaluation of the many initiatives carried out in the framework of the European Green Deal.”
At the fourth meeting of the working group on Monday, the chairman of the CoR’s environment Commission, Seville Mayor Juan Espadas (PES), stressed that “the European Union will never achieve carbon neutrality unless its territories share the same ambitious objectives.”
Renovation as ‘an essential pillar’
Rafał Trzaskowski (EPP), mayor of Warsaw and member of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, told the meeting on Monday that “we must all join forces to achieve the Green Deal at the local level”.
Trzakowski is part of the so-called “pact of free cities” between the mayors of the Visegrad Four capitals (Budapest, Prague, Bratislava and Warsaw) initiated by Budapest’s green mayor Gergely Karácsony in opposition to their respective authoritarian governments.
He also ran for the Polish presidency against PiS’s Andrzej Duda – the right-wing party Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) keeps a conservative stance on climate issues.
“We are asking the European Commission to provide financial and non-financial support to local and regional leaders to make the Green Deal a reality on the ground and to promote the green transition’s social acceptance,” Trzaskowski said.
The CoR working group further intends to support the “wave of renovation” announced last year by the Commission.
As pointed out by the CoR, in Europe, “75% of existing buildings do not have satisfactory energy performance”, and only 1% of those are currently being renovated each year.
Meanwhile, energy poverty still affects some 40 million citizens in the EU.
Key role of cities and regions
In a resolution adopted in December 2019, the CoR had already called for local and regional authorities to be closely involved in the implementation of the European Green Deal.
The local authorities “ensure the implementation of 70% of all EU legislation, 70% of measures to mitigate climate change”, according to the resolution. So, it is these same local authorities that “will deliver the European Green Deal on the ground”.
A source in the CoR agreed and told EURACTIV that “the role of cities and regions is paramount” in implementing the European Commission’s green priorities.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]