President of the Renew Europe Group in the European Committee of the Regions (Renew Europe CoR), François Decoster, was re-elected Mayor of Saint-Omer in the French municipal elections on 15 March. The electorate of Saint-Omer carried Decoster to an impressive victory with 66% of the vote.
Decoster, currently Mayor of Saint-Omer, France, and since August 2019 Chief of Staff of the French State Secretary for Diplomacy, Trade, Tourism & Development, will continue to lead his city for a new six-year mandate. With 66% of the votes, his list ‘Continuons ensemble” (Let’s continue together) earned 28 seats out of 33.
A CoR member since 2012, Decoster was Chair of the Citizenship, Governance and External Relations (CIVEX) Commission from 2015 to 2017, Vice-President of Renew Europe CoR since 2015, and also chair of the French delegation of the CoR 2017-2020. He also served as member of the EU Taskforce on Subsidiarity and Proportionality for 2018-2019, and has been CoR rapporteur several times, including on the European Agenda on Migration, the Rights and Values Programme, and the Erasmus for Local Councillors. Since 2014 he dedicates his work to local, regional and European responsibilities, bringing to our Presidency a wide range of skills from his previous experiences in administration, politics and education, making him a versatile, dynamic and resourceful advocate for a more liberal Europe.
During the same municipal elections, other Renew Europe CoR members were also re-elected: Cécile Gallien, Mayor of Vorey-sur-Arzon and Vice-President of the French Mayors Association, with 54%, François-Xavier Priollaud, Mayor of Louviers, with 52%, and Thibaut Guignard, Mayor of Ploeuc-L’Hermitage, re-elected unopposed. Jean-François Barnier, who was not continuing as Mayor, got re-elected as Councillor. As for our members Jean-Nöel Verfaillie and Vincent Chauvet, they advanced to the second round, originally scheduled for 22 March, but now postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus measures at the CoR
In line with the other EU institutions, the European Committee of the Regions, a political assembly with 700 members from the 27 member states, and with tens of thousands of visitors from around the world, has been taking a series of measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Initially cancelling its March plenary and closing access to its buildings to all non-members and staff, in recent days the CoR has activated the so-called Business Continuity mode – the second highest crisis level – instructing all its staff, except a few who perform critical tasks to this mode (e.g. IT) to work from home.
Most CoR activities in April will be cancelled or postponed, including the scheduled meeting in Budapest of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership, the meetings of its policy commissions, and its external Bureau scheduled to take place in Rijeka, as part of the Croatian Presidency programme. The Renew Europe CoR Secretariat is equipped to telework and remains fully operational, and will continue to be active on social media.