Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments


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COVID-19

Virtual gathering - 12.06.2020

Local leaders pave the way for the post-COVID “new normal”
With 2 million infections detected, 160,000 dead and an economy forecast to shrink 7.5% this year, Europe has been hit heavily by the coronavirus. On Thursday (11 June), local leaders gathered for a virtual meeting to prepare “the new normal” after COVID-19. The aim: a sustainable recovery and resilient societies well-prepared for such health crises.

Over 80 mayor and other local and regional elected officials from 30 countries attended the online event to share their experiences on managing COVID-19 in their territories and to discuss CEMR’s position on the issue.

CEMR President and President of the Emilia-Romagna Region Stefano Bonaccini said: “As leaders of local and regional governments, we have been at the forefront of the crisis. Public sector employees have ensured uninterrupted delivery of our most important public services, which demonstrates the key role of organised, properly funded local public services for the continued delivery of services of general interest to citizens, especially in times of emergency.”

Looking to the future, Bonaccini affirmed that “the success of the measures to bring about social, economic and sustainable recovery will depend on our ability to adapt, innovate but also build strong partnership between all levels of governments.

A recovery that respects the climate and the SDGs

CEMR Co-President and Telemark Councillor Gunn Marit Helgesen emphasised that the need to overcome the economic and social challenges related to the coronavirus should not lead other issues to be neglected. “We must address both the post-COVID situation and the other challenges our society has to face,” she said. “Climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals remain key priorities for us all.”

Several other elected officials shared their views and experiences on various topics. This included discussion of cohesion policy, digitalisation and the need to engage the EU and other international institutions.

CEMR Secretary-General Frédéric Vallier presented CEMR’s work on COVID-19. This has included the creation of a COVID-19 Task Force, for which 32 members have nominated representatives, and of a dedicated COVID-19 information space. The secretariat regularly holds meetings to share best practices among members, has organised several surveys, circulates information letters and has hosted presentations from high-level OECD and EU officials.

Thursday’s event was held with a view to preparing for CEMR’s Executive Bureau meeting on 26 June, which will adopt our position on COVID-19, defining local and regional governments’ views to be expressed both towards national governments and the EU institutions. European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira will be present.
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