What is the State of Europe’s Regions and Cities?

At the European Week of Regions and Cities, CoR President Vasco Alves Cordeiro delivered an opening speech, akin to the 'State of the Union' address for local matters in the EU. He highlighted key findings from the 2023 EU Annual Report on the State of Regions and Cities, based on a survey of leaders from all 27 EU member states. The report underscores the growing desire and necessity for local and regional governments to have a more substantial role in shaping EU policies and decision-making processes for Europe's development.

This report offers a snapshot of the key challenges faced by regions and cities in Europe and provides on-the-ground solutions to inform EU policy decisions. It focuses on how regions and cities handle crises like climate disasters and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and it highlights their contributions to the long-term societal transformation, including the green and digital transition, while reinforcing cohesion.

Key Findings from the report:

  1. Ukrainian Refugee Integration: A majority of regions and cities (60%) acknowledge the advantages of hosting refugees, including demographic, attitudinal, and economic benefits.

  2. Climate Adaptation Funding Shortage: A significant majority of regional and local politicians (75%) grapple with the lack of dedicated funding for addressing climate-adaptation challenges. 

  3. Limited Local Involvement in NextGenerationEU: Most local and regional authorities (over 70%) report minimal participation in the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, highlighting a lack of engagement at the local level.

  4. Green Transition Mobilization: Regions and cities are actively promoting the green transition, implementing measures to reduce energy consumption (62%), encourage nature conservation and urban greening (40%), and reduce waste and its environmental impact (37%). However, regions in Czechia, Germany, Hungary, and Poland are witnessing job losses due to the closure of carbon-intensive industries. 

  5. Trust in Local and Regional Governments: This trust has consistently grown since 2018, with more than 50% of EU respondents expressing confidence in regional and local authorities, making them the most trusted form of government.

Regional and Local Barometer 2023 

  1. ​​​​​​Refugee Support: About 50% of local politicians noted that their regional or local authority provides housing and creates reception centers for refugees, with 33% offering access to social welfare and medical care.
  2. Contributions to Ukraine Reconstruction: 45% of respondents believed that EU regions and cities could assist in Ukraine's reconstruction. 

  3. Awareness of EU Funding: Only 23% of respondents were aware of and involved in EU Cohesion Policy funding received by their city or region in the past two years.

  4. Cohesion Policy Value: 53% of respondents found that cohesion policy funds support specific project types, and 25% believed they add value in cross-border cooperation with other cities and regions.

  5. Actions Related to European Green Deal: A majority of respondents (62%) reported that their city or region had taken steps to reduce energy consumption in line with the European Green Deal. 

  6. Influence in EU Policy-Making: An overwhelming majority (91%) expressed agreement that regions and cities should have a greater influence in EU policy-making and discussions on the future of the European Union.

  7. Areas for Greater Involvement: When asked where regions and cities should have more say in EU policy-making, approximately 52% selected a "stronger economy, social justice, and jobs," while 51% each chose "education, culture, youth, and sport" and "climate crisis and the environment."