The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the #CohesionAlliance partner organisations have organised an online forum on occasion of Europe’s Day –70 years after Robert Schuman’s declaration that has initiated the European project– with the title “Regions and cities: vital for Europe’s recovery”.
Representatives of the European institutions and regional and local leaders engaged together in a debate on the role of regions and cities. The online meeting was hosted by CoR President Apostolos Tzitzikostas and addressed three main relevant topics: Cohesion Policy, recovery plans to overcome the health, economic and social crises that followed the pandemic of Covid-19 and the conference on the future of Europe.
AEBR took part, along with other European regional associations, in the first session, seizing this important chance to show the role of border regions in the integration process of the European Union: in the past as well as in the current framework.
Entitled “Recovering from Coronavirus, the future of EU cohesion policy and the new proposal for the EU budget 2021-2027”, the first session saw the participation of Mr Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia (Greece) and President of CoR; Ms Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms; Mr Vasco Cordeiro, President of the Regional Government of the Azores (Portugal), 1st Vice-President of the CoR, and President of the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR); Mr Michael Murphy, Member of the Tipperary County Council (Ireland), and chair of the CoR’s Economic Affairs Commission (ECON); Ms Ann-Sofi Backgren, Ostrobothnia Region (Finland), President of AEBR; Mr Magnus Berntsson, Region of Västra Götaland (Sweden), President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER); Mr Stefano Bonaccini, President of Emilia Romagna Region (Italy) and President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR); Mr Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence (Italy) and Vice-President of Eurocities; Mr Jan Olbrycht, Member of the European Parliament; and Ms Isabelle Boudineau, Vice-President of the Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine (France) and chair of the CoR’s Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU budget (COTER). Ms Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, sent a video message to stress the importance of the solidarity that regions and cities have shown to each other in these months of crisis.
Each speaker brought evidence of the importance of Cohesion Policy to keep on doing Europe, building on the visionary project of Schuman. Because of the crucial role of regions and cities, which are at the core of the management of the current crisis, the panellists convened that Cohesion Policy is necessary. Commissioner Elisa Ferreira committed to continue mobilising maximum financial power with a greater flexibility for the fight against the pandemic and for the recovery through Cohesion Policy. Looking to the future of the European Union, the speakers also made clear how working together to face challenges posed by the economic recovery, the need to make European regions more digitally equipped, as well as the European Green Deal, is particularly important, to success in the European project together.
AEBR’s President Ann-Sofi Backgren stressed the need to coordinate measures, responses and approaches at European level,. “Cross-border areas are the gem of European integration, a space where European construction happens daily between citizens, enterprises, institutions, and organisations in both sides of national boundaries, is under threat in many parts of Europe, where border closing affects enormously daily life”, said Ms Backgren. As such, she urged European institutions to pay special attention to border regions, and protection in a moment in which differences between regions arise. Cohesion Policy and, particularly, Territorial Cohesion, is the key, which European border regions need more than ever now.
(Read Ms Backgren full speech here: [Download not found])
The Cohesion Alliance, which was widely represented in the online meeting, will continue working in the next months to plea for a strong budget for Cohesion Policy. CoR President Tzitzikostas announced a new call for participation to be launched after the crisis to reinforce the essential role of regions and cities through Cohesion Policy under its motto: Cohesion is necessary to grow together, leaving no one behind. The initiative Cohesion Alliance has collected already over 12,000 signatories, and more will be added. “Principles of cohesion must lead in the management of recovery, but also in achieving a stronger, more connected and greener European Union” – said Mr Tzitzikostas.
“I am delighted to see the Cohesion Alliance so well represented here today – your support is absolutely crucial” – said Ms Ferreira. It is critical now that the message of the Cohesion Alliance is supported by all regions and cities in Europe.
The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic is a crucial moment to show the essential role of regions and cities to succeed in bringing recovery to all regions. The speakers were unanimous in sending a strong message in favour of a more ambitious European budget focussed on Cohesion Policy and implemented through solidarity.
The second — Regions and cities at work for a resilient and sustainable recovery—and third sessions —EU democracy – future of Europe— followed with the participation of many representatives of European local and regional authorities, as well as EU high-level officials.
The partners of the Cohesion Alliance have also launched a consultation to renew the political engagement in the post-Covid-19 Europe. You can find the draft proposal for a new declaration here. You can submit your comments per email (email@example.com) by 30 May.
And here you can find CoR COTER Bulletin nr. 2 (15 May 2020) with information on the event on 9 May, the CoR position on the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus Package (RRII+), the #CohesionAlliance, the REGI meeting with the Commission on Regional Policy and MFF, the European Solidarity Fund, discussions on the MFF, EU Recovery Strategy, Legislative Measures to address the impact of COVID-19 in the transport sector, OECD Report, Urban issues, overview of the EU response to Covid-19 pandemic, studies and articles.Back to overview