Local and regional government officials from Italy, Finland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland and Hungary took part in the debate "Together into the future", which took place on the second day of the European Economic Forum in Łódź, which was hosted by Marshal Grzegorz Schreiber. The European Economic Forum has been organised periodically for several years by the Łódzkie region and has attracted thousands of entrepreneurs, businesspeople, experts, and representatives of local and regional and government authorities, who have the opportunity to discuss the prospects for the region, economic development of the country and possibilities for international cooperation.
In the course of the debate, it turned out that all regions are facing the same crises. These are primarily the effects of the pandemic and then the Russian aggression against Ukraine, i.e. breaks in supply chains from Asian countries, which hit industry hard, as well as difficulties resulting from dependence on Russian raw materials, which in turn affected energy security. "Interrupted supply chains have disrupted many sectors of the economy, some of them have not returned to the pre-pandemic state, e.g. the automotive market, where the waiting time for new cars exceeds two years", said the Marshal of Małopolska, Mr Witold Kozłowski. ECR Vice-President Anna Magyar added that in her county, rich in thermal water deposits, the pandemic hit tourism in particular.
Therefore, as all participants of the panel agreed, local and regional governments need joint solutions, e.g. in terms of making production and natural resources independent of Asia and Russia. As proposed by ECR members, regions should continue to invest in clean energy sources, such as hydrogen, nuclear or renewables, and also to strive for large production plants to return to Europe. “First of all, we need to provide light and warmth for our families and businesses,” stressed ECR Vice-President Oldřich Vlasák, who called for the objectives of the EU Green Deal to be revised.
The discussion was summed up by Marshal Grzegorz Schreiber: "We all have problems with inflation or energy, and we all have recipes leading to better uptake of hydrogen or nuclear. These are attempts to go beyond energy dependence, e.g. from Russia, which Poland has been pointing out for a long time. This problem was not noticed by the countries of Western Europe a few years ago, but today we hear voices saying: you were right". He added that today Europe must do what it should have done several years ago. “We are years behind schedule and we have a lot of work ahead of us – together".
He emphasized that these activities should be supported by the European Commission, as it was during the fight against the effects of the pandemic. Other panelists included President Marco Marsilio (President of Abruzzo), Juan García-Gallardo Frings (Vice-President of Castile and León), Mario Guarente (Mayor of Potenza), and Matteo Luigi Bianchi (Councillor in Varese).