President Cordeiro addressed the Nueva Economía Fórum to discuss the challenges facing the European Union and the synergies with the upcoming Spanish Presidency, highlighting the need for stronger cooperation rather than isolation in the defining moment that Europe is living through.
The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, was the guest of today's debate at the "Nueva Economía Fórum", a high-level event hosted in Madrid to exchange ideas among representatives of EU institutions, national governments, business and media.
President Cordeiro underlined that "Cohesion policy directly touches the core of the European project. Therefore, if we put in danger the way that this policy can help regions to achieve economic and social development, we can cause problems to the EU as a whole. As the Committee of the Regions, we stress the idea of a strong cohesion policy as a basis to build the future of the European Union. The cohesion policy we have right now is a policy that is intended to all regions, and should be kept this way. Let's never forget that cohesion policy has an economic meaning and impact on the ground: when you develop regions and cities with structural funds, you are creating economic development, and giving people opportunities. Cohesion policy starts with regions and cities. The best way to defend it is to use it and wisely, and regions and cities have a key role in promoting the added value of what the European Union does for our territories."
He was introduced by the Minister of the Spanish Government for Territorial Cohesion, Isabel Rodríguez García, who stressed the value that cohesion policy has for Spain and its government, and the necessity to reinforce cohesion as a real binding force of the European project. She praised the role of the Committee of the Regions, defining it as "an essential institution for the European project, so that it is really democratic". Minister Rodríguez García and President Cordeiro exchanged in a bilateral meeting ahead of the event about the priorities of the upcoming Spanish Presidency of the European Union. President Cordeiro shared that the Committee of the Regions has high expectations of the Spanish Presidency and looks forward to cooperating closely with it.
President Cordeiro defended the need for stronger cooperation at all levels, highlighting that "the answer to the current challenges is not isolation, but cooperation, be it at institutional level like in the European Union, but also at local level. The time for the approach where we define ourselves the solutions to win these challenges has long passed." In view of the European elections of 2024, he stressed that we should not see Europe as something away from us and that there is an urgent need to put citizens at the centre of the future of this project: "There is no 'they'; Europe is all of us. There is an urgent need to have a citizenship takeover of the European project, because it is about people. There is a need to mobilise people to take over, participate, and make elected officials accountable for the responsibility of building this wonderful political idea and project which is the EU. We have enormous tasks ahead but we are much better if we understand that the answer is to cooperate and do whatever we can to make the European Union stronger and more efficient. As the Committee of the Regions, we are ready to do our part in raising awareness in all our communities for the enormous endeavour that the EU is".
In his speech, the President also recalled the work done so far and the new initiatives taken by the CoR to support Ukrainian municipalities and regions since the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia, arguing that support for Ukraine is a fight for survival: "We are all at war. What is at stake concerns us all. It is a question of contributing to a common effort of a common war, because if Ukraine falls, it won't stop there. Whatever it takes, how long it takes, this is a question of survival for the EU. With the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, European regions and cities are providing material support to build back better thanks to peer-to-peer cooperation, but are also stressing the important role of local and regional authorities in this process. We are also supporting Ukraine in its path to become a member of the EU, by launching capacity-building initiatives for Ukrainian local and regional authorities", a work that the Committee of the Regions recently presented in Gdańsk.
The event was also attended by the President of the Spanish Senate, Ander Gil, and the Minister of Culture and Sport, Miquel Iceta Llorens, among others.
Note to the editors:
Together with the leading European associations of cities and regions, the CoR is a founding partner of the EU-wide coalition #CohesionAlliance, whose mission is to affirm cohesion as a fundamental value of the European Union and a key objective for all its policies and investment. In order to strengthen even more its commitment for a strong cohesion policy, the Committee recently appointed President Cordeiro and the Chair of the CoR Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER), Emil Boc, as co-rapporteurs of the opinion on the future of cohesion policy post-2027. Together with the work of the new #CohesionAlliance, the opinion will be a strategic milestone to design the common position of cities and regions on how to shape the future of the main investment policy of the EU.
Monica Tiberi – Spokesperson of the President
Tel: +32 (0) 479 51 74 43