European elections in 2019 will be an opportunity to decide the future of Europe, but it is extremely important that all politicians at the local, regional, national and European level work together and offer solutions, said in an interview for CaleaEuropeana.ro, Dara Murphy, Vice-President of the European People’s Party and EPP campaign director for the 2019 elections.
„Every election is a challenge, but I think we are all aware of the biggest issues that we face as a continent, as a people. But we also have to acknowledge that even we’ve seen very significant improvement across our continent, most people haven’t yet seen the benefit often during their daily lives. European elections are an opportunity to decide where we want to go together. I think the story that we can tell, in the European People’s Party is a positive story because we are a party that delivers for our constituencies, for our people, right down into their communities. Real people on the ground are very important part on this elections because is our citizens, our European citizens and the challenges they face, that they want their politicians – local, regional, national and European – to work together and provide solutions. I think a coordinated campaign to listen to what citizens want is a crucial one. At the same time, we must admit that we have not done everything well and that we have major challenges and difficulties “, said Murphy at the end of a meeting with the EPP Group of the European Committee of the Regions, the institution that represents over 300 regions and local communities in the European Union.
“You must remember that the members of the EPP Group in the COR are local, regional politicians, but at the same time they are European politicians because they are members of the European Committee of the Regions. We want participate in the campaigning European parliament’s elections in 2019. There are a lot of reasons. One important reason is a lot of trust in local and regional politicians. Citizens trust local and regional politicians because they are close to them, they have the chance to meet them and we want to tell about our story, about our influence in the European decision-making process. We want to convince people that it is important to vote for the European Parliament because, together, a work between the members of the European Parliament and members of the Committee of the Regions, we can have a lot of influence, from European level at the regional level on the process European decision-making”, noted, on the other hand, Michael Schneider, the EPP leader of the European Committee of the Regions.
„Romania will be at the Presidency of the EU Council, at a “hot phase” of the EU, during the European elections. There will be this very exciting period when many of the large political events will take place within your country, that includes ministerial, prime-ministerial, Committee of the Regions. We have a very large exciting program, which includes events in the three capitals cities that will have the Presidency (n.r. of the states that will hold the EU presidency in 2019) over the next 18 months. We look forward to spending a lot of time in Romania during the campaign and working with Romanian MEPs, and of course, with those who will run with the members of the Romanian Parliament with our political family. We will also organise not just in Romania, as in other states, events at local level, in cities, across Romania and other member states. We will work to have such events in all Member States, and of course we will bring our lead candidate that we will be selecting in November 2018 to Romania to show what the collective vision that this candidate and our party have. We will see a lot of Romania in this campaign “, Dara Murphy said, answering a question about the plans the EPP for Romania, given that Romania will hold the EU presidency in the year when European elections will take place.
Asked about the importance of the regions, as Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Executive, announced that a summit for the future of Europe will take place in Sibiu in 2019, he pointed out that “Romania will play a crucial role in the electoral campaign because Romania has the presidency (n.r. EU Presidency) in the first half of 2019. This is the moment when the most important events will take place. We are also planing an event with local and regional politicians form Romania, and I hope that our candidate will also attend this meeting and give an example for the whole of Europe that he is committed to have a debate with local and regional politicians”. In conclusion, Dara Murphy stressed that the person who will be selected to run for the post of President of the European Commission will be one who will be in many other regions of the Member States, not only in the capital, pointing out the importance of the regions.
In conclusion, Dara Murphy stressed that the person who will be selected to run for the post of President of the European Commission will be one who will be in many other regions of the Member States, not only in the capital, pointing out the importance of the regions.
VIDEO INTERVIEW. Dara Murphy, EPP Vice-President and Campaign Director for the 2019 European elections we are a party that deliveres for our constituencies, for our people, right down into their communities
Michael Schneider, the EPP leader in CoR: Together, a work between the members of the European Parliament and members of the Committee of the Regions, we can have a lot of influence, from European level at the regional level on the process European decision-making
MEP Vasile Blaga: Tourism recovery must be a major component of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in all EU countries
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.
MEP Mircea Hava supports decentralized management of the EU funds to better fight against climate change
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.
Op-ed | Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White, Olgierd Geblewicz, Emil Boc: A European recovery with villages, cities and regions at its core
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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