Cities and regions at the forefront of the European debate for a digital and sustainable future

Business, Digital & Media, Media

The members of the CoR’s commission for economic policy (ECON) support a tougher regulatory stance on large internet platforms in their draft opinion on the Digital Services Act package. In presence of the European Parliament, European Commission and Council, the ECON commission members have also shown their concern that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their accomplishment by 2030 are not taken seriously enough by the European Commission. To encourage the Commission to step up its political engagement in this matter, they adopted the draft opinion Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The legislation included in the Digital Services Act package proposes a stronger regulation of large internet platforms that have come to fundamentally change the structures, rules and power-balances of online market spaces and public discourses. It seeks to re-establish a fair competition between companies in a levelled digital environment and to counter the unrestrained spread of disinformation by enforcing platforms’ responsibility. As many of the sectors in which online platforms play a dominant role, such as urban transport, housing and tourist accommodation, are regulated at the local and regional level, the opinion is of particular importance to the CoR. The Digital Services Act package is composed by two legislative initiatives: the Digital Services Act (DSA) itself and the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Rodi Kratsa (EL/EPP), Governor of the Ionian Islands region and rapporteur on the CoR opinion, said:

“The ‘Digital Services Act’ and the ‘Digital Markets Act’ are the two main pillars of the European digital strategy. Furthermore, they will constitute the integrated framework that the European Union needs in order to create new opportunities to provide cross-border digital and e-commerce services to all Europeans. During the drafting process, on behalf of the European Committee of the Regions, we collected and compiled opinions and suggestions from all market stakeholders, without discounts on important issues such as user and consumer protection.”

The European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Digital Markets Act, Andreas Schwab (EPP/DE), joined the discussion saying:

“For many years some big digital players have been imposing their business models on the ‘new promised lands’ such as digital markets: like that they have enforced their position in the European single market without having anyone else who could fairly compete. It is time for the EU legislator to take over. As European Parliament, we have been asking for this since 2014 and finally the Commission has published the two proposals on DSA and DMA. We need to achieve fair competition to make the single market flourish, a wider consumer choice and more innovation, in order to have ‘plurality’ and to reach a level playing field in the EU single market.”

The ECON commission’s members also adopted the draft opinion “Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030”, aiming to  encourage the European Commission to reinforce the position of the SDGs as guiding principles for EU-policy in the coming decade. Members advocated for the SDGs as an expression of European core values and European identity.

Ricardo Rio (PT/EPP), Mayor of Braga and CoR rapporteur on the opinion, said:

“There is growing interest from my fellow elected representatives in cities and regions for the integration of the SDGs at the core of their long term strategies and daily political decisions. We have observed a gradual decline of the SDGs’ centrality in the EU‘s narrative. This is the moment to give a boost to the SDGs and reinstate them at the core of the EU directives and policies. This opinion is the result of a long process of engagement with a diverse group of stakeholders and is the proof of the CoR’s commitment to fulfil the 2030 Agenda.”

Frances Fitzgerald (IE/EPP), Vice Chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament and member of the EP’s economic committee, took part in the ECON discussion and said:

“It is encouraging to see the ambition shown in the European Committee of the Regions’ draft opinion on delivering on the sustainable development goals by 2030. Achieving the sustainable development goals must be prioritised by all EU Member States, particularly as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and as we work towards climate neutrality by 2050. Through Next Generation EU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, we have a vital opportunity to build back better by advancing and reinforcing the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The two opinions are scheduled to be adopted by the CoR’s plenary during its next session from 30 June to 2 July.

In addition, the CoR’s ECON commission appointed Martine Pinville (FR/PES), regional councillor of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, as a rapporteur on the own initiative opinion on protecting industrial and craft geographical indications in the European Union, and Tadeusz Truskolaski (PL/EA), Mayor of Białystok, as rapporteur on the 2020 Competition Policy Report.

 The European Committee of the Regions is the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives from all 27 Member States. Created in 1994 following the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, its mission is to involve regional and local authorities in the EU’s decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. To sit on the European Committee of the Regions, all of its 329 members and 329 alternates must either hold an electoral mandate or be politically accountable to an elected assembly in their home regions and cities.

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