Tipperary councillor to lead Irish delegation in EU assembly
Michael Murphy of Tipperary County Council will lead the national delegation of Ireland to the European Committee of the Regions, whose members met on 11-13 February for the first time in their new five-year mandate. He will also lead its economic-policy commission.
Other Irish members of the EU's assembly for local and regional authorities include Kieran McCarthy of Cork City Council, who was on 3 February elected president of the European Alliance, one of six political groups in the assembly.
As head of delegation, Mr Murphy is also a member of the executive bureau of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). As leader of a political group, Mr McCarthy will be one of the eight most senior leaders in the assembly as well as a member of its bureau.
The Committee, which was formed in 1994, has a consultative role in the EU's decision-making, and other institutions are obliged to seek its advice on some issues affecting cities and regions. While CoR members have no decision-making powers at the EU level, their recommendations can have a significant influence on national leaders, European commissioners, and members of the European Parliament. The single biggest item in the EU's budget – cohesion funding – is money that is channelled to regional development across the EU, including to richer regions, and many other EU funds – such as the Common Agricultural Policy and research – help support the economies of Irish regions.
The inaugural plenary session of the new mandate of the CoR also saw the election of the assembly's first president from Greece. Apostolos Tzitzikostas, governor of Central Macedonia and member of the New Democracy party (European People's Party), will lead the CoR for two and a half years. Vasco Cordeiro, the governor of the Portugal's Azores Islands, was the candidate of the second-largest group, the Party of European Socialists.
Mr Tzitzikostas told members of the CoR that protecting regional-development funding, implementing the EU's Green Deal aimed at making the EU climate-neutral by 2050, and helping to be the bridge between Europe and its citizens would be central issues of his presidency.
Cllr Michael Murphy said: "This new mandate begins at a time of real change, with a new European Parliament since May 2019 and a new European Commission since January 2020 and of course, without the UK as a member state. There are challenges around on-going negotiations on the EU budget, in an environment of an overall reduced financial package. The Irish delegation is committed to making a positive contribution to priorities that will shape the mandate of the European Committee of the Regions including, involvement in the Conference on the Future of Europe, the discussion on the Green Deal to reduce carbon emissions, completing the Digital Single Market, ensuring a robust rural development agenda for Ireland and, of course, dealing with the impact of the UK withdrawal from the EU."
The Irish delegation to the Committee of the Regions has nine full members, from a total of 329 for the EU's 27 member states. Nine 'alternate members' will substitute for the full members when their principal work – in their communities – prevents them from attending to CoR business, or when issues of particular importance to alternate members are discussed.
Six of the full members were already members of the Committee of the Regions. In addition to Mr Murphy (EPP) and Mr McCarthy (European Alliance), they are: Eamon Dooley (Renew Europe), from Offaly County Council; Kate Feeney (Renew Europe), of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council; Deirdre Forde (EPP), from Cork City Council; and Declan McDonnell (European Alliance), of Galway City Council.
Members of the CoR are selected according to national rules. Member automatically lose their seat when they lose their mandate from their municipal or regional council.
In the previous mandate, between 2015 and 2020, Irish members produced reports and recommendations on: competition policy, the single market, research infrastructure, the data economy, the digitisation of industry, the EU's urban agenda. They were also leading voices in debates shaping the Committee's response to the United Kingdom's departure from the EU.
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