The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) debated how EU cohesion policy and its shared management could boost Europe’s recovery with Commissioner Elisa Ferreira. The debate took place during the plenary session of the CoR, which also saw the adoption of three opinions on this topic as well as serving as the opening of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2020.
The CoR’s Annual Regional and Local Barometer shows that the coronavirus pandemic is widening existing social and economic disparities in the EU. EU cohesion policy, including the REACT EU instrument and the simplifications through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII), is key to fighting this trend and spearheading the economic and social recovery of Europe as well as building resilience and overcoming regional disparities.
“We must use future cohesion policy investments wisely. We cannot look at the future and reproduce the past. We have shown this year what we can do in crisis. We must show next year how we build a green, digital economy in a European way, which leaves no regions behind”, said Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, during the opening of the European Week of Regions and Cities.
“Solidarity is a fundamental value of the European Union. With the intervention of cohesion policy in our regions and our cities to face the pandemic, the EU has shown that it can keep its promises. Let us not forget this in the budgetary negotiations: following the crisis, cohesion policy is more essential than ever”, said Isabelle Boudineau (FR/PES), Chair of the CoR’s Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and the EU Budget COTER.
In the CoR opinion on the “REACT-EU package”, rapporteur Mieczyslaw Struk (PL/EPP) confirms that thanks to REACT EU, cohesion policy will be better prepared to face the current and possible future crises. He notes, however, that the EUR 55 bn additional funds need to be distributed more evenly in 2021 and 2022 to ease the administrative burden at the end of the 2014-2020 programming period and underlines the need to strike a balance between fast disbursement of newly available resources and the need to avoid irregularities. He further welcomes the currently enhanced flexibility but also warns that a crisis can never justify the centralisation of cohesion policy.
“Our regions and cities are the best level to take effective actions to deal with the negative consequences of crisis situations. Listening to the voice of local and regional communities and leaving competence at these decision-making levels has always worked well. We should therefore refrain from using this crisis to transfer funds from cohesion policy – managed in partnership with regions and cities – to other centrally managed instruments”, saidMieczysław Struk (PL/EPP), President of Pomeranian Region.
Also in the opinion on “the role of EU’s cohesion policy with respect to intelligent and innovative economic change in the regions against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis” rapporteur Michiel Rijsberman (NL/Renew Europe) urges the European Commission to avoid shifting power away from regions. He argues for a bottom-up approach by adding regional allocation criteria to REACT-EU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
“Regional policy has strong roots in the EU Treaties. Its principles should never be sacrificed. This policy should be a key investment tool for innovative recovery, as it puts the regions at the heart“, said Michiel Rijsberman (NL/Renew Europe), Regional Minister of the Province of Flevoland.
He further argues that innovative concepts are needed for the transition to a more sustainable, digital and resilient Europe and that these are elements where cohesion policy can play a crucial role. He highlights that it was vital for funds to not only be spent on crisis repairs but should also ensure that the EU’s objectives on climate neutrality are met.
Bernd Lange (DE/EPP), rapporteur for the opinion on “Equivalent standards of living as a joint challenge for all levels of government in Europe” believes that living standards, quality of life and business development are highly dependent on the accessibility, affordability and quality of public services and infrastructure. Cohesion policy can make a significant contribution to creating equivalent structural conditions in all Member States and all local and regional authorities, but must according to the rapporteur not remain the only means of promoting balanced development. He urges that all EU policy areas should contribute to the objective of territorial, economic and social cohesion in Europe as set out in Article 174 TFEU.
“I consider the idea of equal living conditions to be an essential part of European cohesion policy. The opinion should serve as a basis for coming debates on how European funding and legislation can jointly contribute to achieving this goal”, said Bernd Lange (DE/EPP), Head of Görlitz District Council.
The CoR members will adopt all three opinions during their plenary session on 12-13 October.
EXCLUSIVE Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow Atlantic Council: With a Trump or Biden administration, US military presence in Romania will increase
Conducted by Dan Cărbunaru and Robert Lupițu
The trajectory of the US – Romania relations it’s becoming very “operational” and, as an ally that has lived up to the expectations and its robust commitments, Romania will have important opportunities with both a Trump or a Biden administration in the White House and we will see a continuity in troops deployment in the region, US national security and foreign policy expert Ian Brzezinski with the Atlantic Council told CaleaEuropeană.ro in an exclusive interview.
Speaking from Washington ahead of the second and last presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden before the elections, Ian Brzezinski described how US’s foreign policy and commitment to the transatlantic link will develop under a second Trump administration or a Biden administration.
“This is an important election. And there are two very very different worldviews that are colliding together, that are reflected by President Trump and Vice President Biden. (…) The good news is that Romania has been caring and share 2% of GDP (on defence) and its robust commitments to international operations, including those led by NATO, gives the current president or the next president real license to pursue an internationalist agenda“, Brzezinski said.
A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy in 2001–2005 when Romania joined the North Atlantic Alliance, Brzezinski praised Romania’s commitment and laid out some advices on how to seize opportunities with a Trump or Biden administration, especially in the context that Romania and the United States will celebrate in 2021 the 10th anniversary of the Joint Declaration for the Strategic Partnership signed in the White House by former Presidents Obama and Băsescu.
“If Biden wins, I think when it comes down to the security relationship we will see continuity in terms of force deployments. So, we’re all very aware about the increases that President Trump made to our force posture in North Central Europe. I think those will be sustained and possibly, under Biden administration, augmented. There has been a growing momentum towards increasing our force presence in Romania, perhaps not as dramatically as we’ve seen in Poland, but I think in ways that are operationally and geopolitically significant. I think that momentum would carry into a Biden administration. I certainly hope it will. It will be significantly shaped by how, you know, Romania encouraged and facilitates that kind of cooperation and the role that it plays in NATO”, Brzezinski explained.
He also added that a Biden administration will bring to Europe an agenda that “will actually ask Europe to be doing more within Europe”.
“That will be a burden that will fall heavily on our west European allies and it’ll be a burden that will fall heavily on our central European allies, including Romania”, Brzezinski mentioned.
As for a second Trump administration, Brzezinski explained the opportunities coming out of the transition in power.
“A transition from a first Trump administration to the second Trump administration creates opportunity because new faces will come in, plans will be reevaluated and recalibrated, and it creates opportunity to kind of enhance one’s relationship“, he said.
The US national security expert extended his argument, mentioning that “when there’s a transition between two different administrations, a Trump to a Biden administration”, then “the opportunities are even greater”. In this context, he suggested that Romania should take the initiative and leverage its demonstrated commitments.
“The way to this kind of leverage and opportunity is through initiative. And here’s where I would go in the security realm, you leverage your new capabilities. For example, the Patriot air defense systems, the HIMARS missiles, not just to enhance Romania security, but the region security”, Brzezinski added.
While pointing out a special interest that a Biden administration will have for Ukraine, the US expert said: “What can Romania do to upgrade its security relationship with Ukraine, that is something that would be noticed by the new team, and something that would probably bring good benefits to the US Romania relationship“.
Furthermore, Ian Brzezinski spoke about US-Romania special partnership based on his experience as an US official in the area of NATO’s enlargement and operations when Romania became a full member of the Alliance.
“Romania has lived up to the expectations and in United States we know that we have a member state spending two point or 2% of its GDP on defense. It’s thinking constructively and actively acting proactively in the Black Sea region on its forces have deployed on allied multilateral including US led missions around the world. The experience I had with Romanian forces in Afghanistan was really really a profound one for me, because they were in areas of real risk, and the courage of those soldiers is something I will not forget, I would say”, stated Brzezinski.
He emphasized the recent visits in Washington by Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense and Minister of Economy, underlining that “those meetings underscored the growth of the US – Romanian economic relationship, the deepening of the US – Romanian military relationship and increased role that US-Romanian relationship is playing in regional cooperations, for example, through the Three Seas Initiative in Central and Eastern Europe”.
“The track the trajectory of US Romanian relations has been very very positive. It’s becoming, it’s not just rhetorical and symbolic, it’s actually very operational“, he also said.
Given that Romania and the new US administration, led either by Donald Trump or Joe Biden, will celebrate next year the tenth anniversary of the Joint Statement of the Strategic Partnership, Ian Brzezinski named a few opportunities for 2021: the gas and energy opportunities in the Black Sea, the increase of US military presence in Romania and in the region to deter Russia’s provocative actions, US investments in the Three Seas Initiative Fund co-sponsored by Romania and Poland and technological cooperation under the 5G Memorandum of Understanding.
“The 10 year anniversary provides an opportunity to kind of add additional energy and vigour into the strategic partnership that we have”, he also said.
Ian Brzezinski (born December 23, 1963) is an American foreign policy and military affairs expert. He is a Resident Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, The Atlantic Council, United States of America. He is also Senior Fellow in the International Security Program and is on the Council’s Strategic Advisors Group (SAG). He brings to the Council and its International Security Program over two decades of experience in U.S. national security matters having served in senior policy positions in the Department of Defense and the U.S. Congress.
Mr. Brzezinski served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy in 2001–2005, under President George W. Bush. His responsibilities included NATO expansion, Alliance force planning and transformation and NATO operations in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Afghanistan and Iraq. Key highlights of his tenure include the expansion of NATO membership in 2004, the consolidation and reconfiguration of the Alliance’s command structure, the standing up of the NATO Response Force and the coordination of European military contributions to U.S. and NATO-led operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.
Among several honors awarded for his public service, Mr. Brzezinski has received the Romanian Medal for National Service, Order of Commander.
Europe Talks 2020: Zeit Online and other 17 European media organisations, including Calea Europeană, kick off a new edition of debates between Europeans
Starting today, ZEIT ONLINE and media partners from 15 countries have once again opened registration for Europe Talks. The dialogue program brings together people from across Europe for one-on-one, cross-border debates on political topics. Each participant will be matched with a conversation partner from another European country with the most different possible political opinion. The conversation will take place in English over video call. Last year, over 17,000 Europeans from 33 countries participated in Europe Talks.
On December 13, 2020, thousands of Europeans, who are complete strangers to each other, will meet online for a conversation. They will discuss questions such as whether protecting people from the coronavirus should be the first priority, even if the economy suffers, whether masks should be mandatory in all public spaces, and whether schools should remain open throughout lockdowns. Seven Yes/No questions that all participants answer during registration will be used to match conversation partners with different views.
These conversations are made possible by a collaboration between ZEIT ONLINE and a large network of European media organisations: bTV Media Group in Bulgaria, Calea Europeana in Romania, Delfi in Latvia, De Volkskrant in the Netherlands, Der Standard in Austria, Efimerida Ton Syntakton in Greece, Expresso in Portugal, France24 in France, Gazeta Wyborcza in Poland, HotNews in Romania, Kapital in Slovakia, La Repubblica in Italy, LRT.lt in Lithuania, Mirror in Great Britain, Phoenix in Germany, Politiken in Denmark, Republik in Switzerland.
Europe Talks is supported by the Federal Foreign Office on occasion of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020 as well as by the European Cultural Foundation, the Allianz Cultural Foundation and the Evens Foundation. Europe Talks is organised in partnership with the Goethe-Institut.
The idea for Europe Talks is based on a ZEIT ONLINE project that started three years ago with Germany Talks, a dialogue project that created conversations between participants with politically opposed opinions. In cooperation with international media partners, the project was developed into the platform My Country Talks, which has since been used in more and more countries around the world: From Denmark to Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, and Great Britain. More than 100,000 people worldwide have taken part in a political discussion through My Country Talks events.
The My Country Talks software was developed by the Berlin agency diesdas.digital on behalf of ZEIT ONLINE. The construction of the platform was funded by the Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany and Google. Germany Talks and My Country Talks was awarded with a Grimm Online Award , the Jean Monnet Prize for European Integration, and the President’s award for Public Relations (IPRA).
Registration for Europe Talks 2020 is now open. For more information, visit www.europetalks.org.
US approves a possible military sale to Romania of Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defense Systems
The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Romania of Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Coastal Defense Systems (CDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $300 million.
The Government of Romania has requested to buy two (2) Coastal Defense Systems (CDS) consisting of: up to ten (10) Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System – Joint Tactical Radio Systems (MIDS-JTRS). Also included are two Coastal Defense System Fire Distribution Centers; four Mobile Launch Vehicles; Transport Loading Vehicles; Naval Strike Missiles; non-operational Inert Handling/Loading Missile (IHM) to support missile handling and loading/unloading; training missile and equipment spares; associated containers; training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation; spares parts; loading and mobile maintenance support; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated total cost is $300 million.
This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO Ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale will enhance U.S. national security objectives in the region.
The proposed sale will improve Romania’s capability to meet current and future threats by improving Romania’s maritime defense capabilities in the Black Sea and increasing interoperability with the United States. Romania will use this long-range, precision strike weapon to enhance mission effectiveness, survivability, and NATO interoperability in current and future missions and operations. Romania will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal U.S. contractor will be Raytheon Missile and Defense, Tucson, AZ. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
Implementation of the proposed sale will require U.S. Government and contractor personnel to visit Romania on a temporary basis in conjunction with program technical oversight and support requirements, including program and technical reviews, as well as to provide training and maintenance support in country.
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