Find out the state of local Europe, Source: European Committee of the Regions

What is the State of Europe’s Regions and Cities?

What is the State of Europe’s Regions and Cities?

CoR President Vasco Alves Cordeiro’s opening speech at the European Week of Regions and Cities called for regions not to be left behind in the green transition process

Yesterday, the European Week of Regions and Cities, the premier event that gathers in one place all the debates and ideas concerning small-scale Europe, kicked off with an opening speech by CoR President Vasco Alves Cordeiro.

That speech is important because it has by now become the equivalent to the annual ‘State of the Union’ address of the European Commission President as far as local matters in the European Union are concerned. President Alves Cordeiro presented and highlighted the main findings from the 2023 EU Annual Report on the State of Regions and Cities.

The report was based on a survey conducted among leaders of local and regional governments from all 27 member states of the bloc. And once again, it showed the desire and, in fact, the need for lower-level authorities to play a more significant role in the development of policies and the decision-making process affecting the development of Europe.

Key findings from the report

Here are some of the most significant takes from the report that show the general mood among the local and regional administrations:

  • EU regions and cities are key to the successful reception and integration of Ukrainian refugees. Roughly half of the EU’s regions and cities report hosting refugees from Ukraine. The German State of North Rhine-Westphalia is the EU region hosting most Ukrainian refugees, followed by the Polish region of Mazowieckie with just over 200,000 displaced Ukrainians. The majority of regions and cities (60%) see clear benefits – in terms of demography, attitudes and economy, among others – in welcoming refugees into their communities.
  • The vast majority of regional and local politicians (75%) claim to suffer from a lack of dedicated funding mechanisms to tackle climate-adaptation challenges. Regions with a high level of employment in agriculture or the building sectors are particularly affected, especially by longer and more intense heatwaves. The rising global temperature is also significantly disrupting the local tourism industry.
  • NextGenerationEU remains territorially 'blind'. According to the new Regional and Local Barometer, more than 70% of local and regional authorities stated that they have not been involved in the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the cornerstone of the post-pandemic recovery plan NextGenerationEU.
  • Regions and cities are mobilised to make the green transition work, but Europe needs to avoid a 'green divide'. The CoR Survey shows that regions and cities have taken actions in particular to reduce energy consumption (62%), to promote nature conservation and greening of cities (40%) and to reduce waste and its environmental impact (37%). However, regions in Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Poland are among those that are witnessing a loss of jobs because of the closure of carbon-intensive industries. Accompanying those regions with investment and upskilling is therefore of the utmost importance to avoid creating a 'green divide' in Europe. Forty-five per cent of regions and cities have set more ambitious climate-neutrality targets than the EU has!
  • Trust in local and regional governments remains higher than national and EU levels. It continues to grow and remains higher than trust in the national and EU levels: since 2018 opinion polls consistently show that regional and local authorities are the only form of government trusted by more than 50% of EU respondents.

As President Alves Cordeiro put it in his speech “Without the mobilization of regions and cities it’s not possible to translate global commitments to local actions.”

Follow the European Week of Regions and Cities (until 12 October) to gain insight into the concerns but also the ideas and creative solutions that have emerged in the past year with regard to local Europe.



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