Saturday

2nd Mar 2024

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Strengthening recovery, resilience and democracy in regions, cities and villages

  • Olgierd Geblewicz, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, President of West Pomerania Region, Poland.
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Recently I joined local and regional leaders from across Europe to discuss how local and regional authorities can boost Europe's recovery. I heard how in the City of Gdańsk (Poland), a federation of universities was formed to improve the quality of research and development (R&D) in the city with the aim of addressing challenges and moving forward.

I also heard how a dilapidated castle in the rural Municipality of Dolní Studénky (Czechia) has been converted in apartments for vulnerable people with special needs as well as a site where NGOs and Universities can collaborate. I heard how the region of Pomorskie (Poland) is still supporting young Ukrainian children in their scholastic voyage. Local and regional authorities are, in one way or another, driving recovery and showcasing resilience in difficult circumstances.

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The EU has presented tangible instruments to face the challenges on the ground, not least the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The RRF is one of the best examples of European solidarity, but we need to ensure that the funds are used to the greatest benefit of European citizens. Meanwhile, our members have also told me that several regions are not fully engaged in the implementation.

In order to truly achieve its stated objectives of European added-value, the RRF must embrace multilevel governance meaningfully and respond to the tangible challenges faced by people. This is vital to deliver concrete results across the RRF's pillars, through support for local economies and policies for job stimulation, but also through transformative projects focused on climate adaptation, sustainable urban mobility and resilient healthcare systems, which drive forward economic and territorial cohesion, competitiveness, and the green and digital transitions.

We appreciate the ongoing support of the EPP Group in the European Parliament in particular, to ensure more transparency and control for local and regional authorities to access RRF funds through its scrutiny dialogues with the European Commission. We will continue to do our part. From Lisbon to Warsaw, through our monthly meetings in European cities and regions, we are discussing the way in which we can pave the road to recovery with Mayors, Presidents of Regions, MEPs and national governments.

The local and regional level is vital in the defence of European democracy

Europe is facing constant threats to its democratic foundations from within and in particular from the outside through the spread of misinformation and hate speech stimulated by Russian troll farms. These can destabilise trust in public institutions and manipulate election outcomes, eroding the climate of tolerance in our societies, our regions, cities and villages. We are duty-bound to continue honouring the legacy of Mayor Paweł Adamowicz and carry on his fight against intolerance, radicalisation and the spread of hate-speech.

This is why in Gdańsk, the city of Solidarity, we local and regional leaders confirmed our commitment to work in a coordinated manner against foreign interference and misinformation, and to debunk these through civic education, by promoting citizens' media literacy and intensifying dialogue with citizens at regional and local levels to expose populists.

The dates of the European Elections are now confirmed and several local and regional elections will take place during the same period or even before. We are looking forward to delivering on the proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe to strengthen democracy in the EU through the inclusion of European topics in public debates via political parties.

We have to stand up for Europe by strengthening our dialogue with citizens, our youth and by empowering the local and regional level. I encourage you to join me in this venture by proposing or participating in an EPP Local Dialogue in your village, city or region to discuss how to make Europe a better place to live in.

Author bio

Olgierd Geblewicz, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, President of West Pomerania Region, Poland.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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