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Covenant of Mayors - Europe
News article21 June 2024

European regions and cities at the heart of Green Deal 2.0

The renewed Green Deal agenda must put regions and cities at its centre, address asymmetric territorial impacts and tackle the financing gap.

EU regions and cities present their vision of Green Deal 2.0

EU regions and cities are urging the European Union to pursue ambitious Green Deal policies to reach the climate neutrality target by 2050, create thriving economies and ensure well-being within the planetary boundaries without leaving anyone or any place behind. 

Regions and cities at the centre of the European Green Deal 2.0

The report Regions and cities shaping the European Green Deal 2.0, which outlines 29 key recommendations for the EU's next legislative mandate, was presented by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 29 May in the presence of European Commission executive vice-president Maroš Šefčovič. The event " A Much-Needed Priority : Regions and Cities Shaping the European Green Deal 2.0' brought together pioneering local and regional leaders and leading sustainability transition experts to discuss recommendations for a Green Deal 2.0 that guarantees just and inclusive well-being for all.

Empowering European regions and cities

The report calls for a renewed Green Deal 2.0 agenda that aims at fostering sustainable competitiveness and strategic autonomy, eradicating social inequalities and further exploiting the potential of green innovation. This new agenda should place regions and cities, and their specific contexts and needs, at its centre. It should ensure that regions and cities have the necessary tools and resources to meet ambitious objectives and are empowered to design and govern their own transition pathways. The report urges to maintain the level of ambition required by science and highlights the cost of no-action. However, it points out that various international crises have occurred since the European Green Deal introduction, showing the need for a strengthened and more flexible Green Deal that is ready to respond to challenges in an evolving context and prevents the green transformation from unequally impacting vulnerable people and regions.

Regions and cities are also expressing concerns about a funding gap for implementing the European Green Deal in the years to come, as many local and regional authorities in the EU are already struggling to provide the investment needed for the green and digital transitions.

Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Building a long-term ambitious sustainability strategy and a stable framework that goes beyond a single term, with the level of ambition required by science, and putting stronger attention on the just transition.
  • Strengthening the current European Green Deal with territorial impact assessments, at least at regional level, and improving monitoring with focus on asymmetric territorial impacts by developing a Green Deal 2.0 scoreboard which includes socio-ecological and wellbeing indicators beyond the GDP.
  • Improving the coordination of EU funds and instruments for the green and digital transitions, reinforcing efforts for better regulation and simplification, promoting a place-based approach and facilitating access for the regions and cities that need these funds the most.
  • Bolstering the leading role that the European Union is playing in the global transition and working towards a Global Green Deal built around the participation of cities and regions, while strengthening multi-level governance in all EU Member States and at the EU level.
  • Increasing the focus on protecting biodiversity, advancing the transition to sustainable food systems, and addressing the interconnections between human health, climate change, and environmental crises.
  • Aligning the priorities and allocations of the next EU multiannual financial framework with the Green Deal 2.0 ambitions, objectives and targets, supported by a mission-oriented approach through specific and time-bound targets and a robust financial package that includes technical assistance and increased direct EU funding to cities and regions.
  • Addressing the existing European Green Deal investment gap with a reformed Cohesion Policy that supports climate-related spending with increased and accelerated investments in climate adaptation, biodiversity and resilience and addresses the asymmetric impacts of climate change and different vulnerabilities and needs across EU regions and cities.

Rafał Trzaskowski​ (PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw and chair of the the CoR's ENVE Commission and Green Deal Going Local working group: “As we are on the eve of the EU elections, I appeal to the future European Parliament and the European Commission to keep our Green Deal policies ambitious but also realistic, putting the needs, challenges and possibilities of the people, their businesses and their territories at the centre. Cities and regions are the engines of the transition moving our economy and society forward creating more competitive, resilient and healthier local communities. However, we cannot do it on our own. We need a Cohesion Policy that reaches every city, region or village, making sure that none is left behind. We need direct EU funds for the sustainable projects on the ground. We also need an active involvement of the private sector which is responsible for more than 80% of the CO2 emissions in the EU."

Since 2019, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) – the voice of regions and cities in the EU policymaking process – has issued over 78 opinions/resolutions covering the different subject areas of the European Green Deal. The report Regions and cities shaping the European Green Deal 2.0  has been developed under the leadership of the Green Deal Going Local working group, with the active contribution and cooperation of all the CoR thematic  commissions. The policy recommendations were adopted by the CoR Bureau in April.

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photo © European Union / Andrea Santin Fernandez

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Publication date
21 June 2024