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Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, responds to Mircea Hava’s question on financing the energy efficiency of buildings: Support for building renovation, essential for recovery

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© colaj foto (European Union 2019 - Source : EP/ European Union 2019 - Source : EP)

EU Cohesion Policy Funds have been used to improve the energy performance of buildings and will continue to be used in this sector, said Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, to MEP Mircea Hava (PNL, EPP), according to a press release.

MEP Mircea Hava has addressed a written parliamentary question to Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, regarding financing the energy performance of residential buildings.

”What are the main guidelines and recommendations that the European Commission will provide to Member States regarding planning, selection and monitoring the financing projects for improving the energy performance of residential buildings?”, asked Hava, member of Committee on Regional Development (REGI) of the European Parliament.

Thus, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms emphasized in her answer that “the renovation of public and private buildings was identified in the European Green Deal as a key initiative to stimulate energy efficiency in this sector and achieve the goal of making Europe climate-neutral by 2050. Support for building renovation should also be essential for recovery, stimulating economic activity and jobs creation”, said Ferreira.

”In order to cut emissions, boost recovery and reduce energy poverty, The European Commission has published its Renovation Wave Strategy, aiming to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency”, reminded Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.

The European Commissioner also recalled that ”Member States are encouraged to ensure that their co-financed energy efficiency and resource efficiency programs are well geared toward improving the energy performance of buildings. The guidance document on financing the energy renovation of buildings through cohesion policy funds remains relevant and provides useful support to Member States in planning, selecting and implementing energy efficiency projects. Cohesion policy funds should also be used to address the challenge of energy poverty. Finally, Member States should complement the implementation of EU co-funded programs with additional support schemes”, Ferreira added.

The European Commission published last year its Renovation Wave Strategy to improve the energy performance of buildings. The Commission aims to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency.

This will enhance the quality of life for people living in and using the buildings, reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, foster digitalisation and improve the reuse and recycling of materials. By 2030, 35 million buildings could be renovated and up to 160,000 additional green jobs created in the construction sector.

The strategy will prioritise action in three areas: decarbonisation of heating and cooling; tackling energy poverty and worst-performing buildings; and renovation of public buildings such as schools, hospitals and administrative buildings. The Commission proposes to break down existing barriers throughout the renovation chain – from the conception of a project to its funding and completion – with a set of policy measures, funding tools and technical assistance instruments.

The strategy will include the following lead actions:

  • Stronger regulations, standards and information on the energy performance of buildings to set better incentives for public and private sector renovations, including a phased introduction of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for existing buildings, updated rules for Energy Performance Certificates, and a possible extension of building renovation requirements for the public sector;
  • Ensuring accessible and well-targeted funding, including through the ‘Renovate’ and ‘Power Up’ Flagships in the Recovery and Resilience Facility under NextGenerationEU, simplified rules for combining different funding streams, and multiple incentives for private financing;
  • Increasing capacity to prepare and implement renovation projects, from technical assistance to national and local authorities through to training and skills development for workers in new green jobs;
  • Expanding the market for sustainable construction products and services, including the integration of new materials and nature-based solutions, and revised legislation on marketing of construction products and material reuse and recovery targets;
  • Creating a New European Bauhaus, an interdisciplinary project co-steered by an advisory board of external experts including scientists, architects, designers, artists, planners and civil society. From now until summer 2021 the Commission will conduct a broad participatory co-creation process, and will then set up a network of five founding Bauhaus in 2022 in different EU countries.
  • Developing neighbourhood-based approaches for local communities to integrate renewable and digital solutions and create zero-energy districts, where consumers become prosumers selling energy to the grid. The strategy also includes an Affordable Housing Initiative for 100 districts.

Teodora Ion este redactor-șef adjunct și specialistă în domeniul relațiilor internaționale. Aria sa de expertiză include procesul retragerii Marii Britanii din Uniunea Europeană, relațiile comerciale globale și competiția pentru supremație dintre marile puteri ale lumii. Teodora este corespondent în cadrul summit-urilor Consiliului European și al celorlalte reuniuni decizionale de la nivelul UE.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: Tourism recovery must be a major component of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in all EU countries

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) reiterates the importance of recovering the tourism sector with the help of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

„I believe that the relaunch of tourism is key to overcoming the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is no less important to outline a common strategy for the whole of the European Union on tourism by establishing uniform criteria for travel safety and limiting restrictive measures as much as possible. Quarantine, considered to be the last resort for the spread of COVID 19″, said the EPP MEP.

The resolution on an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, adopted by 577 votes to 31, and 80 abstentions on Thursday, notes that the COVID-19 outbreak has paralyzed the EU’s tourism sector, with 6 out of 27 million jobs at risk. MEPs highlight that the tourism and travel sectors account for around 10% of the EU’s GDP. They, therefore, urge EU countries to include them in their recovery plans and to consider temporarily reducing VAT on these services.

„Safe and clean” tourism

Due to the pandemic, travelers want “safe, clean and more sustainable tourism”, Parliament says, calling on member states to fully implement common criteria for safe travel without delay. These should include an EU Health and Safety protocol for testing before departure, and establish that quarantine requirement should be applied only as a last resort.

A common vaccination certificate should facilitate travel and act as an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements, MEPs say. A new certificate should follow privacy and data protection rules and could start being used once there is sufficient evidence that those who have been vaccinated do not transmit the virus.

The resolution also urges the Commission to introduce an EU hygiene certification seal, which could certify minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards and could help restore consumer trust in the tourism and travel sectors.

Beyond the pandemic

MEPs welcome the ‘Re-open EU’ portal and urge EU countries to send clear information to the Commission when they apply or lift restrictions on free movement.

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MEP Mircea Hava supports decentralized management of the EU funds to better fight against climate change

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© European Union 2019 - Source : EP

MEP Mircea Hava (PNL, EPP) supports decentralized management of the EU funds and of environmental projects in an EP report on cohesion policy and regional environment strategies in the fight against climate change.

”Today, I had the opportunity to reinforce the importance of my amendments and those of my colleagues from the EPP in the report of Mr Tonino Picula, from Croatia, representing the S&D Group. The document highlights the role of cohesion policy and regional environmental strategies in the fight against climate change. (…) By more than 20 amendments that represent my contribution to this report, I have equated the success of this bet of humanity with the obligation that the management of environmental projects and funds to be radically decentralized, to be administered fairly by those who know what they are facing. I am referring to local and environmental authorities. It’s a way of working in which we don’t have to be guided by what is seen from the plane, but by the problems that everyone knows and experiences. Because this is where strategies are built and real investments are made”, said Mircea Hava.

MEP Mircea Hava called on the European Commission to monitor and publish reports using a common standard for all Member States about the progress of national governments and local and regional authorities in addressing climate change at all levels, as well as to assess the interlinkages between environmental policies and the economy.

Mircea Hava also argued that the structure of Cohesion Policy must be linked with other policies aimed at fighting against climate change in order to achieve the climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.

”Disasters and climate phenomena in recent years have a common trigger: all of us! We are the ones who are responsible for this damage and the only ones who can fix it. We need to implement environmental projects, like a bandage, over every wound produced by pollution. In a reality with only one alternative, we are obliged to act locally and save ourselves globally. For Europe to succeed in becoming an example in climate protection, it needs rigor, methods, tools at all levels, in all Member States” concluded MEP Mircea Hava.

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Op-ed | Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White, Olgierd Geblewicz, Emil Boc: A European recovery with villages, cities and regions at its core

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Antonio López-Istúriz White, EPP Secretary General

Olgierd Geblewicz, President of EPP-CoR Group and President of Westpomerania Region

Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj Napoca, President of the Romanian Association of Municipalities, member of EPP-CoR Group

Europe has its roots in each village, city and region across our continent. They are our beating hearts, bringing Europe close to each one of us. They translate Europe into our daily lives. Local and regional authorities are responsible for the implementation of 70% of EU legislation. They represent half of all public employment, a third of public spending and two thirds of public investment. As Europe has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, mayors, regional and local representatives were on the frontline and were the first expression of European solidarity. 

The pandemic is putting at risk health and social welfare systems, our single market and the way Europe moves from strategy to implementation of the green and digital transitions. In moments of crisis, we turn to the most trusted level of governance and closest one to the people: they can solve local problems with European solutions. 

Our health is also in the hands of local and regional authorities. In 17 out of 27 Member States, regional authorities have health care competences. EPP-led villages, cities and regions have been at the forefront responding to the pandemic, taking measures to mitigate the various impacts of the pandemic.  

Take the Regional Government of Piemonte in Italy which opened a hospital to assist patients who have overcome the critical phase of COVID-19 but need further care or the German state of Hessen which provided funding schemes for companies and the self-employed to save jobs. The Region of Murcia in Spain is another example. It launched teleEduca, a platform to help students with their studies. Municipalities of towns and villages have been involved in different social measures. The Slovak municipality of Prešov invested in an electric vehicle to deliver food and medicine to the elderly. The City of Espoo prepared a 25-point package of measures to support companies as well as sports and cultural sectors. These are just some of the measures taken by EPP-led local and regional authorities across Europe to address the challenges arising from the pandemic.  

Cluj reached out to its local ecosystem and with the help of digital tools offered support programs to the community such as “Digital Seniors” – for grandparents at risk of loneliness during the period of isolation. “One Cluj” was also a collective movement initiated by the creative community that everyone joined in order to streamline the efforts and resources of volunteering and donations in the first days of lockdown.

The EPP local and regional representatives are the bridge between each corner of Europe and Brussels. We worked together to find the appropriate and proportionate solutions and identify needs and resources to cope with the crisis and provide a fast and effective recovery.  

Looking to the Recovery Plan and the next Multi-annual Financial Framework, the policies must be implemented at the level closest to citizens for greater efficiency, efficacy and accountability. As one clear example, the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions has been also calling for direct funding to complete pan-European projects on the ground through which concrete results, such as the shift to clean public transport, can be achieved. 

Now is not time for business as usual. Instead, let’s now bounce forward together.

Let us build on our respective strengths, use them to our advantage in tackling asymmetric challenges that know no border between the European, national, regional and local levels.

In this context, the EPP and the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions (EPP-CoR Group) will organise a major online event on Tuesday, 23 March 2021 devoted to Recovery in the post-pandemic age at local and regional level. 

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