The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) today held its fifth annual Localism Summit. At a conference in Lappeenranta (Finland), politicians, academics, and industry representatives had the opportunity to exchange views on how to create sustainable solutions for a just energy transition that would leave no business or citizen behind.
ECR member and host of the Summit Ilpo Heltimoinen highlighted the main motivation behind today's event: "In the light of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and the green transition, our traditional forms of energy are being challenged. It is high time that we are no longer dependent on third countries – the strategic importance of energy sovereignty is too great". In this regard, Mr Heltimoinen pointed out the significance of local solutions and cooperation between the private and public sectors and universities in achieving a "successful and gradual green transition that will not overburden citizens".
As part of the opening remarks, President of the ECR Group, Marco Marsilio, stated that "the objectives of achieving intelligent mobility in cities and regions and implementing innovative and green solutions for a zero-emission Europe must be achieved gradually without burdening the economy of Europe's regions".
In the first panel, politicians and experts discussed smart mobility in cities and regions and the opportunities and challenges for local and regional authorities in complying with increased mobility needs whilst preserving the environment. Speakers included Juraj Droba, President of the Bratislava Region in Slovakia, József Ribányi, Councillor in Tolna Megye in Hungary, and Jarosław Stawiarski, Marshal of the Lubelskie Region in Poland.
President Droba, who also serves as Vice-President of the ECR Group in the CoR, spoke of the challenges encountered in Bratislava Region, the ensuing pressure on the mobility of residents and how the development of public transportation is part of the solution: “One of the solutions for achieving smart and sustainable mobility is the construction of transfer terminals linking different transport modes within the integrated transport system. This will improve the overall accessibility and serviceability of the regions as well as the resilience of the transport system".
The second panel was devoted to innovative and green solutions in the context of high labour costs, rising commodity prices, inflation and disrupted energy markets. The discussion also focused on how local and regional governments can work together to share knowledge and develop new technologies to stay ahead of the current economic backlash as well as environmental, and geopolitical changes.
Amongst the panellists was ECR CoR First Vice-President Marshal Władysław Ortyl who stated that innovation is going to be a huge part of our recovery and an essential part of our economy. Mr Ortyl also referred to the recent success of the Finnish conservative party in the general elections, which shows that "the growth of conservative parties across the continent is a testament to an increasing number of citizens who share our vision for the future".
Today's event was attended by conservative local and regional leaders and young elected politicians (YEPs) from Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden.