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Dear President of the Committee of the Regions, Mr TZITZIKOSTAS

Dear Members of the Committee of the Regions,

I am very glad to be here with you today.

The cooperation between our two institutions is excellent. We have several good ongoing initiatives, to name just a few: the Covenant of Mayors, clean energy islands, and the energy poverty observatory.

Today we take yet another step forward as we launch a Joint Action Plan on the Renovation Wave.

We have concrete milestones at the EU and regional level to reinforce each other’s action for this flagship of the European Green Deal. This will move us into a new era of cooperation.

I am very pleased with the dialogue we have had and your opinion on the Renovation Wave will contribute to the advice for the Commission.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to briefly mention why building renovation plays such a central role in the energy policy and beyond.

From the energy perspective, buildings are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.

Making them carbon neutral requires us to proceed with care and speed. There are three main components to this:

(i) high energy efficiency,

(ii) decarbonisation all energy that is consumed in buildings,

(iii) integration of RES and demand-side flexibility.

By 2030, greenhouse gas emissions will need to reduce by 60% compared to 1990 levels.

Administrations can do a lot to encourage building owners to take up energy renovation at a large scale. Recovery and Resilience Facility, regional funds, Just Transition Fund and various sources of support for technical assistance - notably ELENA - are available to you. Quality energy renovation also contributes towards the sustainable funding targets.

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The pandemic has given us a moment to see the situation for what it truly is: an opportunity to reignite our economy while driving clean energy efforts even further.

With about 80% of the EU’s building stock needing an upgrade to help our 2050 goals, there is plenty of work to be done and we need to step up renovation rates.

There is really no regret attached to renovation, because beyond energy, it offers an opportunity to improve people’s well-being, health and living conditions.

Value-added is mainly created by the jobs and materials that are sourced locally, which reinforces value chains and the public budgets. Something that is very relevant in the current recovery.

On top of higher employment, citizens will see their energy expenses reduce, which is particularly important at these times of uncertainty to fight energy poverty.

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You know very well that the local and regional authorities set the example with their: administrative buildings, schools and hospitals.

The way you plan energy supply, mobility and space for people makes an enormous difference. For the energy transition. But above all for the citizen.

This is why I stand behind sharing the best practices through the instruments available to us, such as the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) and the New European Bauhaus.

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Now, let me mention the most successful collaboration platform for cities that we have seen to date - the Covenant of Mayors (CoM).

And I thank you, the Committee of the Regions for your support throughout the thirteen years behind us. And the Covenant is about to become fit for the transition thanks to its relaunch this year.

We have created a Second Chamber to the Covenant Board and I had the pleasure to invite CoR members (led by Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski of Warsaw) to become part of it.

The Board members act as ambassadors of the Covenant between their respective regions and the EU, bringing intelligence and local concerns into the light of political debate.

You were involved in this major upgrade through the outreach to signatories last year. The results were crystal-clear: we needed to aim high.

Therefore, we are updating the commitments of the European Covenant of Mayors to reflect the 55% GHG emission reduction target and climate neutrality.

At the same time, we want to make the Covenant more inclusive and accessible for cities of all sizes and capacities.

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The Green Deal depends on local and regional success.

We must encourage municipalities across the EU to take up this Covenant challenge: a broad communication campaign is coming in April, and we want to involve you, the members of the Committee, to bring it to the local level across Europe.

This communication campaign will lead to a Covenant Ceremony in autumn. Let’s work together for the organisation of the Ceremony, together and involve the Member States and the European Parliament. 

Thank you and I look forward to the discussion.