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Strengthening the Urban Agenda for the EU

29-01-2021

Towns and cities are home to nearly three quarters of the EU's population, and most EU policies concern them, be it directly or indirectly. While the 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework introduced a number of new instruments intended to enhance the urban dimension of cohesion funding, a shared vision of urban development has gradually taken shape at intergovernmental level, accompanied by increasing calls to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in policymaking. To help guide these ...

Towns and cities are home to nearly three quarters of the EU's population, and most EU policies concern them, be it directly or indirectly. While the 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework introduced a number of new instruments intended to enhance the urban dimension of cohesion funding, a shared vision of urban development has gradually taken shape at intergovernmental level, accompanied by increasing calls to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in policymaking. To help guide these discussions, the European Commission launched a public consultation following its July 2014 communication on the urban dimension of EU policies. Its findings indicated broad support among city stakeholders for an Urban Agenda for the EU. The European Parliament also prepared an own-initiative report on the issue, as part of a process that would ultimately lead to the signing of the Pact of Amsterdam on 30 May 2016, a clear political commitment to deliver an Urban Agenda. With the pact providing for urban partnerships focusing on key urban themes such as air quality, urban poverty and housing, all 14 partnerships have now drawn up action plans, allowing the partners involved to contribute to the design of future, or revision of current, EU legislation. Many of these plans are now at the implementation stage, and the partnerships' work is beginning to have an impact on EU policymaking, with the European Parliament and the Commission taking the recommendations on board. Challenges remain, however, with stakeholders highlighting issues such as limited resources, a lack of effective governance mechanisms or low participation of smaller cities. In this context, both the new cohesion framework post-2020, which includes a European urban initiative to support the Urban Agenda, and the New Leipzig Charter, which outlines the next steps for the Urban Agenda, have the potential to improve the delivery and impact of the Urban Agenda. The process of strengthening the Urban Agenda, however, will ultimately depend not only on the partnerships' ability to deliver actions but above all on the extent to which they are taken up by the Commission, a process requiring full commitment from all partners involved. This is a further update of an earlier briefing originally published in 2016 and last updated in 2019.

The public sector loan facility under the Just Transition Mechanism

21-12-2020

The public sector loan facility is the third pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM), along with the Just Transition Fund and just transition scheme under Invest EU. The facility will consist of a grant and a loan component. With the contribution of €1.525 billion for the grant component from the Union budget and EIB lending of €10 billion from its own resources, the aim is for the public sector loan facility to mobilise between €25 and 30 billion in public investment over the 2021-2027 period ...

The public sector loan facility is the third pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM), along with the Just Transition Fund and just transition scheme under Invest EU. The facility will consist of a grant and a loan component. With the contribution of €1.525 billion for the grant component from the Union budget and EIB lending of €10 billion from its own resources, the aim is for the public sector loan facility to mobilise between €25 and 30 billion in public investment over the 2021-2027 period. Funding will be available to all Member States, while focusing on the regions with the biggest transition challenges. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Budgets (BUDG) and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) have joint responsibility for this file. Their report was adopted at a joint sitting of the two committees on 16 October 2020. Parliament subsequently confirmed the committees' mandate to open trilogue negotiations. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

A renewed territorial agenda for the EU

07-12-2020

The main objective of the territorial agenda is to strengthen territorial cohesion, an EU principle that seeks to ensure the balanced development of the EU and reduce its regional disparities. Agreed in May 2011 and the culmination of a process begun many years earlier with the European Spatial Development Perspective, the Territorial Agenda 2020 has recently been renewed with a view to establishing a continued role for this initiative within the EU's new cohesion policy framework beyond 2020. Aimed ...

The main objective of the territorial agenda is to strengthen territorial cohesion, an EU principle that seeks to ensure the balanced development of the EU and reduce its regional disparities. Agreed in May 2011 and the culmination of a process begun many years earlier with the European Spatial Development Perspective, the Territorial Agenda 2020 has recently been renewed with a view to establishing a continued role for this initiative within the EU's new cohesion policy framework beyond 2020. Aimed at ensuring the Europe 2020 strategy was implemented in line with the principle of territorial cohesion, the Territorial Agenda 2020 strived to promote the integration of the territorial dimension across many different policies. To deliver on this ambition, it established an action-oriented political framework based around six territorial priorities and a series of implementation mechanisms to make EU territorial cohesion a reality. However, with the territorial agenda a low political priority in past years, implementation remained weak, while the process itself was beset by challenges, such as fragile intergovernmental cooperation and a low level of awareness. This situation was compounded by the complex and abstract nature of the territorial agenda, making it difficult to communicate its aims and objectives. Set up in 2018 during the Austrian Presidency, an intergovernmental taskforce led the work on the renewal of the territorial agenda, the aim being to conclude the process under the German Presidency, leading to the adoption of the Territorial Agenda 2030 in December 2020. Spanned by two overarching priorities, a 'just Europe' and a 'green Europe', the renewed territorial agenda establishes a clear link with the European Commission's current priorities and its strategy for sustainable growth, the European Green Deal. While this structure has the potential to help embed the territorial agenda more firmly within the EU's policy-making system, increasing its relevance and improving its visibility, the advent of this important addition to the EU's territorial toolbox risks being overshadowed by the rollout of the new MFF in the months ahead. This is an updated edition of a Briefing from March 2020.

The New Leipzig Charter

04-12-2020

Adopted during the 2007 German Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities helped establish the concept of integrated urban development at EU level and was influential in the development of EU initiatives such as the Urban Agenda. It has now been updated to link in with this new urban framework and take account of the fresh challenges facing cities, with the New Leipzig Charter adopted at the informal meeting of ministers responsible for urban and territorial ...

Adopted during the 2007 German Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities helped establish the concept of integrated urban development at EU level and was influential in the development of EU initiatives such as the Urban Agenda. It has now been updated to link in with this new urban framework and take account of the fresh challenges facing cities, with the New Leipzig Charter adopted at the informal meeting of ministers responsible for urban and territorial development on 30 November 2020.

Thirty years of European territorial cooperation

11-11-2020

Established in 1990, the first European territorial cooperation initiative, Interreg I, focused on cross-border cooperation. Action in this area has expanded over the years to cover broader initiatives such as trans-national cooperation, involving countries from wider geographical areas, and inter-regional cooperation, which brings together regions from across the whole EU. These three strands together make up European territorial cooperation (ETC), which is one of the two main goals of cohesion ...

Established in 1990, the first European territorial cooperation initiative, Interreg I, focused on cross-border cooperation. Action in this area has expanded over the years to cover broader initiatives such as trans-national cooperation, involving countries from wider geographical areas, and inter-regional cooperation, which brings together regions from across the whole EU. These three strands together make up European territorial cooperation (ETC), which is one of the two main goals of cohesion policy today and which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With the removal of many of Europe's frontier posts, travelling freely across borders has become second nature for millions of EU citizens. European territorial cooperation has brought Europeans closer together, strengthened connectivity and improved the natural environment, supported by EU mechanisms such as the European groupings of territorial cooperation, and macro-regional strategies. Yet despite these achievements, numerous obstacles to closer cooperation still remain, such as divergent national rules in the areas of employment, healthcare and social security. Recent years have witnessed increased calls to address these hurdles, with the 2015 Luxembourg EU Presidency launching discussions on a new instrument for cross-border projects, leading to the 2018 European Commission proposal for a cross-border mechanism, and the Commission rolling out initiatives such as the cross-border review and the b-solutions project, which aims to identify and find solutions to remaining bottlenecks, helping to boost growth and cohesion in EU border regions. With negotiations under way on post-2020 cohesion policy, there is broad agreement among many stakeholders on the importance of strengthening Interreg beyond 2020. Yet the budget for ETC has been significantly reduced under the current Interreg proposals despite the many achievements of this policy, not least in recent months during which cross-border cooperation has provided a lifeline for many border regions. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that territorial cooperation arguably needs protecting more than ever, with the sudden closure of EU internal borders a stark reminder that European territorial cooperation cannot be taken for granted. This is a further updated edition of a briefing from March 2018.

European territorial cooperation (Interreg) 2021-2027

24-08-2020

On 29 May 2018, the European Commission adopted several proposals aimed at defining the architecture of EU cohesion policy for the post-2020 programming period. The package includes a proposal for the new generation of European territorial cooperation (ETC) programmes, commonly referred to as 'Interreg'. The proposed regulation would bring significant changes to the current architecture of ETC, with the reshaping of the three traditional cooperation strands (i.e. cross-border, transnational and interregional ...

On 29 May 2018, the European Commission adopted several proposals aimed at defining the architecture of EU cohesion policy for the post-2020 programming period. The package includes a proposal for the new generation of European territorial cooperation (ETC) programmes, commonly referred to as 'Interreg'. The proposed regulation would bring significant changes to the current architecture of ETC, with the reshaping of the three traditional cooperation strands (i.e. cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation) and the creation of two new components, one dedicated to outermost regions, the other to interregional cooperation on innovation. Another major novelty is the incorporation of cooperation with countries other than EU Member States. The proposal is being examined simultaneously by the Council and the European Parliament. In Parliament, the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) is responsible for the file. Parliament adopted its legislative resolution on the proposal at first reading on 26 March 2019, enabling trilogue negotiations to get under way with the Council. Third edition of a briefing originally drafted by Vivienne Halleux. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Renewal of the Leipzig Charter

17-07-2020

Adopted during the 2007 German Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities helped establish the concept of integrated urban development at EU level and has been influential in the development of subsequent EU initiatives such as the Urban Agenda. It is currently being updated to take account of this new urban framework and the emerging challenges facing cities, with the new Leipzig Charter due to be adopted at the end of the current German Presidency, in ...

Adopted during the 2007 German Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities helped establish the concept of integrated urban development at EU level and has been influential in the development of subsequent EU initiatives such as the Urban Agenda. It is currently being updated to take account of this new urban framework and the emerging challenges facing cities, with the new Leipzig Charter due to be adopted at the end of the current German Presidency, in December 2020.

Outermost regions of the EU

15-05-2020

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to ...

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to face numerous challenges in areas such as mobility, unemployment and climate change, discussions were launched on the formulation of a new strategy, which was published in October 2017. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, the 2017 communication offers a new approach to supporting the outermost regions' development by optimising their assets, exploiting new opportunities for growth and job creation, and focusing more on their specific circumstances and needs. To this end, the communication outlines a series of concrete and coordinated actions to be taken at European Union (EU) and national level, as well as by the outermost regions, and calls for stronger partnership between outermost regions, Member States and the EU. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a broad package of proposals for the 2021-2027 period, providing the legislative framework needed to guide this strategy beyond 2020. Taking account of the specific needs of the outermost regions in a total of 21 proposals, the Commission has ensured the continuation of many of the special measures supporting their development. However, these proposals have met with a mixed response on the part of the outermost regions, particularly when it comes to the proposed reductions in co-financing rates and financial resources. Published in March 2020, the European Commission report on the implementation of the 2017 communication considers that it has delivered concrete results and that the process of implementing the communication is going in the right direction. Yet with development continuing to lag behind in the outermost regions, it is clear that challenges persist. It remains to be seen whether the 2017 strategy and the special measures put forward for the post-2020 period will together be sufficient to close the inequalities gap with the rest of the EU, and achieve the ambitious new goals of the Green Deal. This is a revised and updated version of a briefing from January 2018.

Towards a renewed territorial agenda for the EU

31-03-2020

The main objective of the territorial agenda is to strengthen territorial cohesion, an EU principle that seeks to ensure the balanced development of the EU and reduce its regional disparities. Agreed in May 2011 and the culmination of a process begun many years earlier with the European Spatial Development Perspective, the Territorial Agenda 2020 is currently being revised with a view to establishing a continued role for this initiative within the EU's new cohesion policy framework beyond 2020. Aimed ...

The main objective of the territorial agenda is to strengthen territorial cohesion, an EU principle that seeks to ensure the balanced development of the EU and reduce its regional disparities. Agreed in May 2011 and the culmination of a process begun many years earlier with the European Spatial Development Perspective, the Territorial Agenda 2020 is currently being revised with a view to establishing a continued role for this initiative within the EU's new cohesion policy framework beyond 2020. Aimed at ensuring the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy in line with the principle of territorial cohesion, the Territorial Agenda 2020 strives to promote the integration of the territorial dimension across many different policies. To deliver on this ambition, it has established an action-oriented political framework based around six territorial priorities and a series of implementation mechanisms to make EU territorial cohesion a reality. However, with the territorial agenda a low political priority in past years, implementation has remained weak, while the process itself has been beset by challenges, such as fragile intergovernmental cooperation and a low level of awareness. This situation has been compounded by the complex and abstract nature of the territorial agenda, making it difficult to communicate its aims and objectives. Set up in 2018 during the Austrian Presidency, an intergovernmental taskforce is currently leading the work on the renewal of the territorial agenda, the aim being to conclude the process under the German Presidency, with the signing of a 2030 territorial agenda in December 2020. A draft version of the territorial agenda was published in December 2019, underpinned by two overarching priorities, a 'just Europe' and a 'green Europe', establishing a clear link with the European Commission's current priorities and its strategy for sustainable growth, the European Green Deal. While this structure could well help embed the territorial agenda more firmly within the EU's policy-making system, increasing its relevance and improving its visibility, the ongoing coronavirus crisis looks set to overshadow these discussions in the coming months. This briefing has been drafted at the request of a member of the Committee of the Regions, under the Cooperation Agreement between Parliament and the Committee.

Financial assistance for countries seriously affected by a major public health emergency

24-03-2020

With much of Europe in the grip of the novel coronavirus, the European Commission announced a series of measures on 13 March 2020 to help countries cope with the socio-economic impact of the crisis. As part of this package, the Commission proposes extending the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to include major public health emergencies, providing valuable additional support. The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council is due to be voted during the extraordinary plenary ...

With much of Europe in the grip of the novel coronavirus, the European Commission announced a series of measures on 13 March 2020 to help countries cope with the socio-economic impact of the crisis. As part of this package, the Commission proposes extending the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to include major public health emergencies, providing valuable additional support. The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council is due to be voted during the extraordinary plenary session organised on 26 March to enable the adoption of this and two other specific measures.

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