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


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COVID-19

Studies - 07.08.2020

​Summer reading for healthy towns and regions
Summer is a time when the work of the European Union and many other institutions slows down. For those who can take holidays – preferably in a safe nearby locale! – it’s an opportunity to disconnect, clear your head, and recharge your batteries.

The summer break is also an opportunity to take a step back and look at the big picture. As expected, Europe is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections as a result of lifting the lockdowns. Governments and citizens at local, regional, national and European level all need to be ready for the developments of the rentrée.

With that in mind, here is a list of recommended summer reading from CEMR, on how we can all contribute to a healthy future for all our towns and regions – through the COVID crisis and beyond.
 
This selection of reports from international organisations provide examples of actions taken by local and regional governments as well as guidelines for future preparation. From rural heartlands to mega-cities, every territory is unique and calls for a tailor-made approach.
 
The Local Government Association, CEMR’s member for England and Wales, has published a fascinating report on fiscal devolution. The United Kingdom is one of the most fiscally centralised countries in Europe and, as a result, local councils have had less power and resources to respond to the COVID crisis. The report analyses fiscal devolution in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, finding that in none of these countries has local tax autonomy led to a “race to the bottom” undermining local finances and solidarity. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that fiscal devolution can have a “positive impact ... on accountability, financial efficiency and growth.”
 
This short paper from the European Parliament’s research service cogently exposes the need for all levels of government to collaborate and provides some practical steps to make this happen. The authors argue that municipal and regional governments, as local players trusted by citizens crucial to implementing European objectives, should be key interlocutors for the EU institutions. Governments should intensify relations through a mix of in-person and digital relations so to keep track of and coordinate each other's work.
 
The Committee of the Regions presents its political agenda for the next five years in this short publication, with a focus on European democracy, cohesion and place-based EU policies, and managing the tremendous demographic, environmental and technological changes affecting our societies. The various political group leaders in the Committee are also given the floor to expose their views on the coming years.
 
The Barcelona Centre for International Affairs has released an impressive report covering the various ways cities have taken the lead in fighting COVID, from reinforcing health infrastructure and transforming basic services such as transport and waste management, to reorganising public spaces to ensure social distancing. The publication is packed with examples taken from 12 leading cities across five continents.
 
Ultimately, 
Local levell to encourage education for development and global citizenship
Global-local
Interdependence
 
Last but not least, we have CEMR’s own analysis of the state-of-play for local and regional finances in the wake of the pandemic. In short, the impact has been devastating as revenues have collapsed with the economic contraction and emergency services had to be funded. For example, German municipalities’ income is expected to fall by over €15.5 billion and Czech municipalities may face a 20% drop in local revenue. The data and examples, drawn from 21 associations in 17 countries, provides a detailed snapshot of this daunting challenge.
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