Douglas Road Independent Kieran McCarthy recently presented his report on the New European Bauhaus initiative to the European Committee of the Regions plenary in Brussels, to which he is a member. Kieran was tasked by the Committee to prepare a report on the initiative due to his interests in cultural heritage and climate action.
The New European Bauhaus is based on a concept from one hundred years ago in Europe but has been modernised and is now a creative and interdisciplinary initiative across areas from architecture to housing the circular economy that connects the European Green Deal programmeto living spaces and experiences.
Cllr McCarthy in his report noted that the New European Bauhaus initiative is a key opportunity to harness the creative potential of regions and municipalities, provide jobs locally and create accepted and sustainable solutions. Kieran noted: “The European Commission must ensure that cities and regions are at the centre of the initiative and receive technical assistance and appropriate funding”.
The opinion proposes a New European Bauhaus Lab voucher scheme for 100 cities and regions to help them co-create, prototype and test the tools, solutions and policy actions that will facilitate transformation on the ground.
Kieran concluded: “I believe that the New European Bauhaus must become a real movement, which involves local and regional authorities and is not just another top-down project. It must be a project for everyone, not just the few. To be successful, this exercise must be socially, culturally and territorially inclusive”.
The New European Bauhausinitiative, which connects the European Green Deal to our daily lives and living spaces, is as a key opportunity to harness the creative potential of regions and municipalities, provide jobs locally and create accepted and sustainable solutions, the European Committee of the Regions believes.
The opinion drafted by Cork City Councillor Kieran McCarthy (IE/EA) points out, however, that this requires strong local and regional engagement, which is why the European Commission must ensure that cities and regions are at the centre of the initiative and receive technical assistance and appropriate funding. In this regard, the Commission has confirmed it is developing a voucher scheme as proposed in McCarthy’s opinion.
“The principal concerns of this opinion revolve around issues such as: what is the role of local and regional authorities? What financial resources are being put to this movement or programme? What are the planned indicators?” rapporteur Kieran McCarthy pointed out when presenting his opinionat the CoR plenary session on 27 April.
“The current call for local and regional authorities to get involved is welcome but lacks ambition. Sufficient resources from state budgets and EU cohesion policy programmes need to be allocated at local and regional level for New European Bauhaus”, he insisted, underlining also the need for a New European Bauhaus regional scoreboard to ensure that the initiative is implemented at all levels and supported by regional investments.
The opinion proposes a NEB Lab voucher scheme to help cities and regions co-create, prototype and test the tools, solutions and policy actions that will facilitate transformation on the ground. Michaela Magas, member of the EC’s high-level roundtable on the new European Bauhaus, confirmed the European Commission would work together with the CoR on launching 100 vouchers for Bauhaus LABs across EU regions. “I’m grateful for the idea proposed by CoR to model it on the successful Wifi4EU initiative”, Ms Magas said.
The European Commission is also asked to establish better links between the New European Bauhaus and existing conceptual, culture-related, aesthetics-oriented and design-oriented frameworks. This would translate principles into action and enable the initiative to harness the creative, cultural and cultural heritage potential of local and regional authorities to renovate and revitalize neighbourhoods across the EU.
“I believe that the New European Bauhaus must become a real movement which involves local and regional authorities and is not just another top-down project. It must be a project for everyone, not just the few. To be successful, this exercise must be socially, culturally and territorially inclusive”, Mr McCarthy summed up.
26 February 2022, “Independent Cork city councillor Kieran McCarthy has said he will be using his position on the European Committee of the Regions (COR) to lobby the European Commission and Parliament to issue humanitarian aid to Ukrainian people”, City Hall lights up in support of Ukraine, City Hall lights up in support of Ukraine (echolive.ie)
9 January 2022, “Mr McCarthy said anything that helps tackle the issue of dereliction is welcome and a step in the right direction, but the ‘red tape’ issue of tackling dereliction needed to be addressed. “Dereliction is a deep rooted problem, and it will take a lot of effort [to] pull up those roots and I would plead with the Minister to work with Cork City Council [on the issue]”, Call for dereliction ‘red tape’ to be addressed ahead of introduction of new grant, Call for dereliction ‘red tape’ to be addressed ahead of introduction of new grant
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy, this month, led calls to French President Emmanuel Macron for more consultation with citizens on the future of the European Union
In the December European Committee of the Regions plenary session, Cllr McCarthy, member, used his two minute online debate slot with the President to call for more investment into small cities and in rural, mountain and island regions. In particular, he asked for less centralisation of budgets and decision making in the EU.
Cllr McCarthy thanked the French President for his support in the Brexit negotiation with the EU, adding that this has been particularly helpful in maintaining peace and ensuring no hard border on the island of Ireland.
Cllr McCarthy noted: “I hope we will make progress on areas, which need investment and sometimes areas that feel forgotten about especially our rural mountainous and island regions we need to really focus on smart inclusive development with a specific focus on those regions and the best way to do this is from the bottom up. From Cork to Corsica our citizens deserve to be heard. Ultimately if you empower the regions, the EU will be a success”.
In recent months, Cllr McCarthy has strongly lobbied at EU level that local and regional authorities such as Cork City Council, who are on the forefront of the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic must be supported by EU Funds. He also raised the plight of SMEs in smaller European cities such as Cork and that any emergency EU funding released needs to get to the citizen on the actual ground and not be held up at central government level.
The European Committee of the Regions is a 329 person formal EU assembly of councillors, Mayor and Regional Presidents from over 270 regions in the EU.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy (Cork City Council, Ireland) President of the European Alliance Group, pointed out that the European identity had been silently built for centuries among people who live both inside and outside the present-day European Union. “But we have to connect that feeling of cultural belonging to Europe to the European Union and we cannot do so by presenting the EU as purely a project which creates economic benefits. We need a strong emotional component,” he stressed. “To feel a common identity we need to have a sense of a common belonging.”
Cllr McCarthy further highlighted the need to teach children and young adults about the European Union and its added value, but also about the challenges it is facing. Mobility and peer-to-peer programmes, such as Erasmus+ had done more for European unity than hundreds of communication campaigns. “We need to promote and enable contacts between people at all levels and every generation will be more European than the previous one,” Cllr McCarthy concluded.
Europe Day is upon us once again. Traditionally,
the 9 May is marked by senior European politicians recalling the history of the
EU, its treaties, coupled with the EU’s added value and solidarity, and
outlining the priorities and challenges of the EU in the modern world.
The European Committee of the Regions (COR) remains
at the heart of the EU narrative. It is an assembly of local and regional
politicians from across the 27 member states. Through my membership, I have
been involved in many discussions on the frontline role of the EU’s cities and
the 281 regions in how they approach issues from poverty to climate change,
from enterprise to connectivity and how they faced down the COVID pandemic. The
crucial role of local and regional government is plain to see. I have seen first-hand
the importance of sharing knowledge and experience to help each other, create
more sustainable cities, towns and regions and to feed into present and EU
future policy areas.
On this year’s St Patrick’s Day, Cork City Council
projected onto the old concrete R & H Hall grain silo in Cork’s South docks
an old Irish proverb. It ran – “ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na
daoine” – which means – it is in each other’s shadow we live – which
invokes the sense of community and interdependence. And it is clear that both the member state
and the local and regional authority both live in each shadow and both are
dependent on each other. Consistently
the COR asks to be partner with the European Council and seeks to bring the
idea of community back to the top table in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Resilience and solidarity, more so than ever
before, are needed across the EU in the next few months as European cities and regions
continue the massive task of organising vaccinations.
The battle with the pandemic is, of course,
not over yet and there are still many challenges ahead. In the first place, a
fine balance between, on the one hand, the measures we need to take to limit
the spreading of the virus as much as possible, and on the other, the strong
need of many of our businesses to go back to work and the long-awaited wish of
our citizens to go back to normal life and to enjoy their social life and
freedom of movement freely. We also need to look towards recovery and ensure
that it is felt across all sectors of society. It is my belief and that
of the Committee of the Regions that regional and local government needs to be
to the forefront of national recovery and resilience plans.
Local and Regional governments are on the frontline in
building the future of Europe. We are the story builders, strategy
builders, the capacity builders. We build ideas from scratch and bring them to
life. We are more than the sum of our parts. If you empower the Regions the EU
will be a success.
In the past year I have been fortunate to be
President of the European Alliance political grouping with the COR. In the past
few weeks with my secretariat, I have organised events focussing on the bigger
picture challenges of recovery in the post pandemic. Most recently we have
explored the impact on tourism and on regional airports. We also organised
a very interesting event “Preserving ‘PEACE’ on the island of
Ireland”. The PEACE programme is vital to ensure cross-community project
development in Northern Ireland and to avoid a border on the island of
My group’s members are continuing to focus on
topics ranging from green recovery to rural revival, from smart specialisation
to SME development, from Cohesion Policy critique to urban policy – to name but
a few. We continue to push these positive priorities for the benefit of
our regions. There is much to learn from each other.
I have also been very proud to see
Cork City Council’s involvement in an array of EU co-operation programmes. In
2019, CCC appointed a full-time EU Affairs Coordinator, Ronan Gingles, to facilitate
and fully inform access to quality engagement in EU opportunities and
initiatives. The role has a whole-of-organisation remit to support European
activity that clearly contributes to and informs Cork City Council’s objectives
and the development of Cork as an inclusive, future-focussed, sustainable, and
competitive European city of scale.
Cork City Council continues to be involved in EU projects such as URBACT, Interreg,
H2020, EU Urban Agenda, Digital Cities – they all help local government to gain
further perspective on how it is ahead or behind in thinking upon a topic or in
the provision of infrastructure. The
projects are providing opportunities to significantly broaden our horizons by
means of in-depth exchange and collaboration on specific issues.
City Council also currently maintains memberships of a number of European
networks as a means to enhance engagement in EU activity, create interaction
with peers, access to knowledge and tools, including best practice; and identify
opportunities including project bids.
Europe Day this year will also coincide
with the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe. It needs to be
a truly bottom up approach and local and regional government and citizens are
best placed to provide clear and understandable input into the discussions. The
Committee of the Regions commits to be actively involved with this process and to
ensure that it leads to real benefits and tangible outcomes.
It is in each other’s shadow we live, but it is how
those shadows blend together to create solidarity, to celebrate diversity and
ultimately showing that the European project is leaving no one behind – that
are all crucial in the European Union of today.
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy
serves on the Irish delegation to the EU Committee of the Region in Brussels
(CoR) for 2020-2024. The 329-strong body of elected representatives from across
Europe’s cities and regions provides the formal mechanism for sub-national
input into the EU policy process. Kieran is currently the President of the
European Alliance political grouping in the CoR; read more at www.web.cor.europa.eu.
“On the 9th May we will celebrate Europe day which is also the 70th anniversary of the Schuman declaration , which is the basis of the European Union we have today. When Ireland joined the European Communities in 1973, few people could foresee that it will evolve in the union we have today.
This sense of community needs to be the centrepiece of the conference on the future of the EU. The conference cannot be a top down exercise but a real participatory mechanism which embraces the needs of the citizens whether they are in Cork or Corsica; in Brussels or Białystok.
Local and regional authorities can build bridges between the EU institutions and the citizen and I hope the European Committee of the Regions can be pivotal in these discussions.
As vaccinations roll out we need to look towards the recovery in our communities and allowing people a step towards normal life. This is why we welcome the Digital Green Certificate as a step to allow European citizens to visit family and friends in different regions or allow business to recover, in particular in our tourism sector.
The Next Generation EU is now available for boosting our recovery, this needs to be made available to finance local projects. This is how we will ensure local sustainable and green jobs which will help the social and economic development of our cities, villages and local communities. The CoR is a willing partner to make this happen.
Finally, after a long way, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we need to #HoldFirm and #Staysafe,Kieran”