During this event, the representatives of the governments of our territories presented their strategies for the recovery, focusing on specific issues and sectors, and shared their view on how the regional dimension is necessary for a successful recovery in the European Union. Not all the regions have been affected in the same way, but all have been severely affected. Thus, regional governments have developed different instruments and measures to cope with the crisis and try to avoid the collapse of society and the economy.
Ms. Meritxell Serret, Representative of the Government of Catalonia to the European Union, welcomed the audience and emphasized that “in the current context of the European Union recovering from a severe crisis, we must transform our economies towards a greener, more digital, socially fair and more resilient model”.
Ms. Astrid Baud-Roche, Regional Councillor in charge of trans-border cooperation from the Region of Auvergne-Rhône Alpes, presented the regional green deal and their proposal on how to conciliate economic recovery and environment. Specifically, she explained the six points of the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes recovery plan regarding sustainability, which focus on improving energy renovation, renewable energy, hydrogen, circular and local economy, soft mobility and natural resources. “After the coronavirus crisis, we are more convinced than ever that the most efficient solutions are local”, concluded Baud-Roche.
Ms. Karin Scheiffele, Director for International Affairs, Cross Border Cooperation, Federal Affairs, Development Cooperation and Protocol, State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg, focused her intervention on cross-border cooperation in times of the COVID-19 crisis. “The temporary reintroduction of border controls and the closure of individual crossing points in March showed us the special requirements and challenges of the cross-border crisis management”, explained Scheiffele, who detailed some of the initiatives that helped to overcome this exceptional situation.
Mr. Alan Christian Rizzi, Undersecretary at the Presidency of the Lombardy Regional Government, described Lombardy’s programme of infrastructural works for relaunching the economy of the territory, worth almost 3.5 billion euros, spread over three years, from 2020 to 2022. The programme, divided into three slices – mobility, urban and environmental works, and public housing, school buildings and sports facilities – aims to promote long-term investment rather than subsidiary measures and to generate work and economic circulation. Alan Christian Rizzi exposed that the goal of their recovery plan is “to generate work and economic circulation, but to do so by building the Lombardy of the future, more modern, greener and even more liveable”.
Ms. Marta Curto, Director-General of Economic Analysis, Department of Economics and Finance at the Government of Catalonia has detailed one of the pillars of the Catalan Government’s Economic Reactivation and Social Protection Plan, the Economy for Life. The health crisis has highlighted the need to direct the economic system towards an economy that puts people in the center, that is, an economy for life, which provides citizens with health services, care, food, education, social protection, housing and culture. The plan is further divided into 7 large projects and is worth more than 5 billion euros. Curto underlined the three main objectives of the Economic Reactivation and Social Protective Plan that are “to increase productive capacity and the capacity of the health care and social welfare system, reduce the social inequalities deepened by COVID-19 and speed up the transition to a more sustainable and resilient economic model”.
This exchange of different strategies was preceded by a general overview of the impact of COVID-19 in regions across Europe by Ms. Dorothée Allain-Dupré, Head of Unit for Decentralization, Subnational Finance and Public Investment at the OECD, which served as an excellent basis for a debate among the representatives of the Four Motors for Europe. Allain-Dupré highlighted “the necessity to adopt a territorial approach in the health and economic crisis to respond the different dimensions of COVID-19”. She advocated for the coordination across different levels of government, and concluded that “long-term priorities need to be considered today and integrated with the responses to the crisis”.
In the closing remarks, Mr. Pere Aragonès, the Vice-President and Minister of Economy and Finance of the Government of Catalonia underlined that the Four Motors for Europe “will transform the economy with the learnings of the crisis, as well as encourage the demographic, digital and greener transition to improve the social cohesion in our territories and Europe”. “With the recovery plan for Europe, we want to be proactive partners and work together with the European Union institutions, states, regions and municipalities to bring the investments to the territories”, added Aragonès. The Vice-President concluded that “with the recovery plan for Europe, we must work together to achieve a European Union closer to the citizens, stronger to the world and more resilient to common challenges”.