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Who is who in the new European Parliament committees

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When we first floated the idea to publish a magazine on the committees of the European Parliament, enthusiasm was low. It couldn't be that interesting, could it? But the ones who thought this would be a dull exercise, were very wrong.

REGI Regional

REGI Regional Development Safeguarding European solidarity Political issues such as migration and the respect for the rule of law will make the debate on the solidarity funds more political than ever. By Koert Debeuf The European Parliament's committee for regional development (REGI) does not often make headlines in Brussels' news. However, for many Europeans it can be precisely these regional funds that make the EU the most visible force of change. Those who visited central European countries before 2004, or 2007, and went again 10 years later, have no doubt seen the new infrastructure built with European funds. Therefore, these so-called Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund are at the heart of European policy, aiming at more equality between regions within the EU, by trying to reduce disparities in income, wealth and opportunities. However, two new political realities since the implementation of the 2014-2020 budget will make the discussion on the regional funds more complicated: the migration issue that deeply divided the EU since 2015, and the call by some to put conditions on the respect for the rule of law on the distribution of structural funds. This new reality will no doubt make the debates about regional development more political and divisive than ever. Despite that, Omarjee hopes that within five years he can look back and say his committee has "secured a budget for cohesion that allows European solidarity to continue and to reduce territorial inequalities." He is looking forward, he continued "to prove the added value of cohesion and succeed in the objective of simplification." Together, the two funds form one of the largest budget lines of the European Union. These lines are fixed within the EU budget for seven years (2014-2020) in the so-called MultiAnnual Financial Framework, but will need to be negotiated again for the following seven years (2021-2027). The coordinators of the REGI committee are Andrei Novakov (EPP, Bulgaria), Constanze Krehl (S&D, Germany), Ondrej Knotek (Renew, Czech Republic), Niklas Nienass (Greens/EFA, Germany), Francesca Donato (ID, Italy), Raffaele Fitto (ECR, Italy), Martina Michels (GUE/NGL, Germany). Since 2018 a new fund, the Energy Transition Fund, was put in place in order to help poorer regions to reach the climate goals through a transition to green energy. Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL, France) chairs the REGI committee. Photo: European Union 2019 – Source: EP The political control of the spending of these funds is what the REGI committee does. According to the committee's chairman Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL, France) the main challenge for the coming five years will be controlling "the efficiency and absorption of the cohesion funds, as well as the implementation of reforms aiming at reducing the regional disparities". Another challenge, Omarjee continued is "a just transition fund", or - in other words - finding a way that all European regions "participate in the Paris Agreement objectives". On top of that he foresees that the "fight against urban poverty and an ambition for European islands" will top the committee's agenda for the next five years. 22 — EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT COMMITTEES

AGRI Agriculture and Rural Development More sustainable agriculture, with less budget Making the EU's agriculture policy more efficient, green and sustainable, but with less budget. That is the biggest challenge the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI), chaired by German centre-right MEP Norbert Lins, will face. By Elena Sánchez Nicolás The agricultural sector is one of the world's most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. However, thanks to new technologies and modern farming techniques, emissions linked to agriculture are expected to decrease - keeping in mind the climate targets set by the EU for 2030 and 2050. During the next five years, the workload being developed by the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI), chaired by Norbert Lins, is mainly focussed will work constructively on the proposal of the commission to ensure that the new green deal and the EU agricultural policy will go hand-in-hand. One of the biggest challenges for this committee will be making the agriculture policy fit the adaption and mitigation of climate change with less budget. According to Lins, the new eco-schemes and climate measures, as well as the afforestation and bioenergy crops schemes under rural development, are positive aspects of the proposal post-2020 CAP. Eco-schemes refers to a new stream of funding for the environment and climate from the CAP's direct payments budget, which is mandatory for member states (but the design up to them) and voluntary for farmers. AGRI chairman Norbert Lins (EPP, Germany) will be looking at do more with less, under a reduced budget. Photo: European Parliament on making the common agricultural policy (CAP) more efficient and sustainable. However, the Mercosur trade agreement – and its impact on European farmers and the EU's food chain – will also be priorities on this committee's agenda, especially since AGRI must ensure that the food coming from third countries has the same standards as here, Lins said. However, Lins wonders if all these new actions can make much of a difference on their own - "the potential of these elements might be limited also by the budget cuts," he warned. Until now, approximately 38 percent of the EU's budget (€58bn) was spent on agriculture and rural development - equivalent to 0.4 percent of the Union's GDP. However, the EU commission proposed to reduce by around five percent the funding for the CAP as the EU will face fewer contributors, with a future union of 27 members. The CAP is one of the EU's most important common policies, being dominantly high on the agenda of the European Parliament. The outgoing European Commission presented in 2018 a legislative reform on the post-2020 CAP, which is seen as one of the most important mechanisms to both support and green environmental and climate action in the EU agricultural and forest sectors. The AGRI committee in cooperation with the ENVI (committee on environment, public health, and food safety) The implementation of the CAP reform is expected by the beginning of 2021 as the debate over the size and nature of the CAP spending feeds affects the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) - the EU's long-term budget. The coordinators of the AGRI committee are Herbert Dorfmann (EPP, Italy), Paolo de Castro (S&D, Italy), Ulrike Müller (Renew, Germany), Martin Häusling (Greens/EFA, Germany), Ivan David (ID, Czech Republic) and Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL, Ireland). It is not clear who the coordinator of ECR is. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT COMMITTEES — 23

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