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Mark Speich of North Rhine-Westphalia takes CIVEX chair  

​The new chair of the Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) is Mark Speich (DE/EPP), Secretary of State for Federal, European and International Affairs for the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Mr Speich was elected on 13 February, the last day of the inaugural plenary of the Committee's 2020-25 mandate. The commission's first vice-president is Vincenzo Bianco (IT/PES) of Catania city council and president of ANCI, the National Association of Italian Municipalities.

Mr Speich, who also leads the German national delegation, told members that North Rhine-Westphalia would, if a country, be the nineteenth-biggest economy in the world. He described his state as "like the EU in microcosm, but, unfortunately, without the sea", because of its economic and social diversity, with a mix of large cities and rural areas and affluent areas with full employment and former coal towns with high rates of unemployment.

Addressing the work of CIVEX, he identified a number of "cornerstones that cannot be moved": the Conference on the Future of Europe; migration and integration; and external relations with cities and regions in the EU's neighbourhood and development policy.

Mr Speich joined the CoR in March 2018. He is the CoR's rapporteur on 'socio-economic structural change in Europe's coal regions', which was adopted in October 2019 and advocated the creation of a transition fund to help current and former coal-producing regions.