Today, May 9, is Europe Day: the day when we pay tribute to the vision of the former French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, whose 1950 speech paved the way for the birth of the European Union. Once again, just months after the Maastricht and Rome anniversaries, we have an occasion to celebrate our pride in Europe's achievements and how it has enabled EU regions and cities to collaborate instead of pitching themselves against each other. At the same time, it would be reckless to limit ourselves to celebrations when people are voicing concerns and asking Europe to respond to an increasing number of challenges. As elected representatives, let’s recommit to putting citizens, their hopes, expectations and concerns, at the heart of all political actions.
Today more than ever, I am convinced that the CoR's strength lies in our membership. As local and regional politicians, we have a strong relationship with voters who see our everyday work and who recognise our faces. This proximity and reliability means that people trust their local and regional politicians more than national politicians and the EU. That trust also means that we carry two special responsibilities – to hold the EU to account, and to articulate the importance of the EU to our voters.
Later this week, we will meet with Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, during our Plenary Session. As the two EU institutions with a direct link to the citizens, I will offer, on behalf of the CoR, to work together with the Members of the European Parliament in our common mission to reconnect citizens with the EU. Just two years ahead of the next European Parliament elections, the time to act is now.
All politics is local, and nowhere is this truer than in the European Union. Governments at all levels need to work together to restore trust in our communities and build a Europe that is far closer to every citizen. Today and every day to come.