Cllr Kate Feeney highlights how local authorities continued to deliver culture throughout lockdown and says that cultural heritage will need to be an important part of the recovery.

Cllr Kate Feeney of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council recently discussed EU measures for economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic with representatives of the European Commission. In her capacity as our Renew Europe Coordinator in the Social Affairs, Education, Research and Culture (SEDEC) Commission of the European Committee of the Regions, Cllr Feeney joined coordinators of the other political groups for the online discussion focusing on supporting mainly the culture sector, which has been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

She paid tribute to the many citizens who are recording how life has changed during the lockdown and noted that this will now be part of our cultural heritage. She also highlighted how many local authorities have moved their cultural activities online in order to continue providing a cultural service to their citizens. The representative of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture explained that cultural heritage will be an important part of the recovery and urged local and regional authorities to press national governments to ensure that it is included in national programmes drawn up for the delivery and implementation of relevant EU funds.

The discussion also included the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the efforts to collect data regarding the COVID-19 impact at regional level. This will provide a clearer picture for policy making and more targeted actions when it comes to possible future lockdowns and economic recovery actions.

This CoR meeting took place a week after the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen launched her proposal for the new 7-year EU budget including a recovery package following the pandemic which now has to be debated and decided upon by national governments and the European Parliament. The European Committee of the Regions will play an active part in that debate and Cllr Feeney reacted after the launch in her capacity as Renew Europe SEDEC Coordinator saying:

“The European Recovery Plan is about maintaining jobs, creating hiring opportunities, part-time work schemes, youth employment measures and working capital for SMEs. In addition, by increasing Erasmus Plus, the plan is to invest in future generations of Europeans for whom European solidarity will be a natural thing. I would have liked to see a bigger share In the budget for the Horizon Europe programme, as this pandemic has shown that scientific research is the backbone of the society we are trying to build.”