Past events

ECR Localism Summit 2019

ECR Localism Summit 2019

Localism Summit

07 Jun 2019 08h45The Netherlands

General Information

Cities and regions are responsible for about two-thirds of public investment in the EU and are therefore at the forefront of responses to global challenges by developing local solutions. Global developments, such as the digital transformation that has led to the 4th industrial revolution, growing urbanisation, climate change and the resulting natural disasters that are growing in intensity and frequency are all impacting our cities and regions and requiring local responses.

This summit will look at some of the global developments and look at the current and possible future local responses. It focuses on the future of our cities, regions and municipalities, in particular the role of regional development policies in bridging the urban-rural divide, the exchange of best practices and the evaluation of EU instruments for sustainable management in cities, regions and municipalities. It will aim to provide a thorough analysis of the technological and wider societal challenges in order to deliver greater innovation, competitiveness and democratic accountability. The Localism Summit will bring together local and regional leaders from Europe and the Netherlands, as well as leading thinkers, to shape the agenda of the future of Europe in the sense of greater localism, devolving more powers to regions and local authorities.

Why the Netherlands? The Netherlands is one of the six founding members of the European Union. It is also one of the countries that has been in the frontline of discussions on the Urban Agenda and has been leading the world in new innovation and policies that strive to increase sustainability. Moreover, subsidiarity and autonomy are key principles in Dutch territorial organisation.  The key idea behind this autonomy principle is that it brings decision-making as close as possible to the citizens.

Why June 2019? The elections to the European Parliament are taking place between 23 and 26 May 2019. Our localism conference will take place in the period after the elections and before MEPs officially take up office. It is an opportunity to shape the agenda of the institutions.

What is Localism? Localism is about civic empowerment. It means taking decisions at the most practicable level, by individuals where possible and by local and national authorities in preference to supranational bodies. It also means formulating policies that impact local communities by taking into account their views and interests and devolving powers to local and regional authorities in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity.

This is the second Localism Summit organised by the centre-right localist and euro-realist European Conservative and Reformists Group in the European Committee of the Regions. Achieving greater localism in the EU decision-making process is one of the founding principles of the Group. Set up in 2013 in the EU's political assembly of local and regional authorities, the ECR Group is part of the fastest-growing political movement in Europe.

Interpretation will be provided in the following languages: Czech, English, Italian and Polish.


7 June

ECR Localism Summit 2019

8.45 a.m. – 9.15 a.m.

Coffee and Registration

9.15 a.m. – 9.30 a.m.

Opening speeches

  • Rob Jonkman, Alderman in Opsterland, the Netherlands and ECR CoR Group President
  • Arno Brok, King's Commissioner in Fryslân, the Netherlands
9.30 a.m. – 10.20 a.m.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Panel I – Bridging the urban – rural divide

The traditional distinction between rural and urban areas is to some extent blurred, mainly due to the rapid expansion of peri-urban areas, where the space around city centers merges with rural landscape. This create complex rural-urban linkages. A truly integrated, cooperation-based approach to development (as opposed to separate rural and urban policies) can be more efficient in confronting common challenges such as energy and climate change, demography and access to public services. But where differences remain, a localist approach may be more appropriate. The EU aim to bridge the rural-urban divide by dedicating approximately one third of its budget to achieving the goal of economic, social and territorial cohesion. This panel will evaluate whether this money is spent wisely and in line with the principle of subsidiarity.

Key-note: Nicolaas Beets, Dutch Special Envoy for the Urban Agenda

Moderator: Pavel Branda, Vice-Mayor of Rádlo municipality in th Czech Republic and ECR CoR Member


  • Roberto Ciambetti, President of the Regional Council of Veneto, Italy and ECR CoR Member
  • Benoit Esmanne, Policy officer, DG AGRI, European Commission
  • Ellen van Selm, Mayor of the municipality of Opsterland and President of the P10, the association of the largest rural municipalities in the Netherlands
10.20 a.m. – 11.10 a.m.                                                                                                                    

Panel II - Sustainable cities, regions and municipalities

While the colour of the Netherlands is orange, Holland is famous for its investment in green technologies and sustainability. This panel will look at best practice in terms of the sustainability of Dutch and European rural areas, cities and regions. The main challenges to be discussed include a clean energy supply, climate change, water management and prevention of natural disasters. Too often policies affecting these areas are designed at EU or national level, whereas it is the local or regional government that is required to implement them on the ground. It is also too often that we see these problems being tackled through state intervention rather than through market solutions. This panel will demonstrate that they see localism as the main tool to incentivise sustainability and environmentalism.

Key-note: Oldřich Vlasák, Councillor in the city of Hradec Kralove in the Czech Republic and ECR CoR Vice-President

Moderator:Tjisse Stelpstra, Member of the Council of the Province of Drenthe in the Netherlands and ECR CoR Member


  • Hein Pieper, Dijkgraaf and Vice-President of the Dutch regional water authorities
  • Linda Robinson, Member of Wychavon Council in the UK and ECR CoR Member
  • John Vernooij, CEO of Omrin
11.10 a.m. – 11.30 a.m.Coffee break
11.30 a.m. – 12.20 p.m.

Panel III - Smart Cities and Villages

The 4th industrial revolution is impacting all aspects of our lives, including the way that public services are delivered at local and regional level. Promoting smart cities and villages has become a mainstream concept in public discourse, in recognition of the tremendous benefits expected in urban and rural areas. Progress in this domain is bound to be the source of future benchmarking of quality of life between one city or region and another. But are the existing technologies mature enough to enable prompt "smartification"? Are the local and regional governments ready to sustain such investments? This panel will focus on understanding best practices enabling public - private synergies at all levels of governance. Furthermore, it will seek to provide a thorough analysis of the technological and wider societal challenges ahead.

Key-note: Peter van Dalen, Member of the ECR Group in the European Parliament

Moderator: David Simmonds, Deputy Leader of London Borough of Hillingdon, Deputy Chairman of the Local Government Association and ECR CoR Member


Robert Godek, Member of Strzyżów District Council in Poland and ECR CoR Group Member

  • André van de Nadort, Mayor of the Municipality of Weststellingwerf in the Netherlands and CoR Member
  • Johannes Lankester, Coordinator of the Sustainable Villages Network, the Netherlands
12.20 p.m. – 12.30 p.m. Concluding remarks
12.30 p.m.Picture with all the participants
12. 45 p.m.Lunch in Town hall



Hoofdstraat 82, 9244 CR Beetsterzwaag, Netherlands