Local authorities must take part in readying national recovery plans

This year the slogan of the European Week of Regions and Cities is “Empowering Citizens, Cohesion & Cooperation, Green Europe”

Photo: EP Ursula von der Leyen.

On Monday, at the opening event of this year’s online edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said in her speech that local and regional governments not only help to solve small, everyday problems, but also “master the great challenges of our time”.

The EC President also emphasised that they were the first line of defence when the coronavirus crisis hit. She highlighted that regions and cities will be at the core of NextGenerationEU”, the Union’s recovery package. “All European citizens have the same right to health! NextGenerationEU’s resources will therefore target the resilience of our health systems. The European funds will enable investments in new hospitals, better equipment and stronger healthcare systems - not only in the big cities but also in more remote regions.”

Von der Leyen underscored “the fundamental role of regional and local authorities in the recovery effort” and noted that region and cities, from the very outset, should be involved in the preparation of national recovery plans.

In her words, the NextGenerationEU goes well beyond recovery and will mend the social fabric and repair balance sheets across Europe. “And while we are doing this, we press fast-forward towards a green, digital and resilient future. We want to use these investments not only to restart the economy. We also want to use them to improve the air we breathe in our cities, or to help small enterprises take up the digital solutions. And for all this, local administrations must be in the driving seat.”

Von der Leyen also stressed that currently 40% of people living in rural areas still do not have access to the most basic high-speed internet, specifying that these connections are the prerequisite for home working, home learning and online shopping. Without broadband, it is not possible to build or run a business effectively, the EC President asserted.

The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create jobs and growth, implement EU Cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance. This year, the 18th European Week of Regions and Cities is spread over three consecutive weeks, each dedicated to “ Empowering Citizens, Cohesion & Cooperation, Green Europe”.

 

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