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(12 January 2021) - Europe’s local politicians want a bigger role in establishing the future relationship between the EU and the UK. This was the overwhelming feeling among members of the Committee of the Regions yesterday.

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“The agreement lacks any regional dimension,” said Antje Grotheer, deputy president of Bremen’s parliament. Oldrich Vlasak, former vice president of the EU Parliament, agreed, saying he was disappointed.

One concrete example is support for small and medium-sized enterprises, said Joan Calabuig Rull, responsible for European affairs in the Valencia region. Local authorities maintain a close relationship with regional businesses and advise them on bureaucratic issues, for example. Brexit has created a lot of these. Therefore, local authorities should be more involved in the negotiations on future relations, Rull said.

The meeting also lamented the discontinuation of some EU programmes for UK citizens, frequently mentioning the Erasmus student exchange programme.

Another program now facing an end in the UK is Interreg. London currently has no interest in continuing to participate in it, said Kieran McCarthy, a councillor from Cork, Ireland. In the long run, he said, regions of the United Kingdom could try to get back into Interreg as a “third party”. (EurActiv)

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