Europe - connected to its regions by shared challenges
French MEP Laurence Farreng (MoDem), member of the Committee on Regional Development, and Vincent Chauvet, mayor or Autun and member of European Committee of the Regions, explain the issues which link Europe and its regions, especially in the context of the current pandemic.
For Laurence Farreng, “the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament is responsible for all issues concerning the European cohesion policy. This policy is extremely important. It aims to create equal development opportunities in all European regions.” She points out that “elected representatives on a local level are the first ones to implement changes or adapt to them. They are on the frontline of combatting unemployment and other issues and providing for their constituencies.”
Vincent Chauvet explains that “the concept of decentralisation obviously applies to the European Union. It has to keep close ties with to its regions through a more direct dialogue with elected representatives.” He continues: “transport, the green transition, the preservation of biodiversity, cultural policies - this is why local governments, mayors in particular, but also regions and departments are the most important partners of the European Union.”
Drawing on his own experience as a mayor, Vincent Chauvet highlights that “the European Commission, France and Germany, and local governments as well, are all in favour of European Health Union. Of course, the EU should not just take over the competencies of the very specific social systems of each member state. But the EU has a real role to play as a coordinator, notably when it comes to buying vaccines on a large scale from pharmaceutical companies and negotiating with them as equals. Then countries organise their health strategy on a national level. And it is finally on a local level where we as mayors implement this on the ground to combat the virus.”