The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, met yesterday with the French Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau. During the meeting President Lambertz set out the vision and purpose of the Committee's " Reflecting on Europe " initiative - an EU-wide consultation which includes numerous citizens' dialogues led by its members. President Lambertz welcomed the willingness of the French authorities to initiate their own public consultations on the future of Europe in an effort to strengthen the link between Europeans and the EU.
President Lambertz explained that the CoR "Reflecting on Europe" initiative involved a large consultation process, primarily in the form of citizens' dialogues held at local level and led by the Committee's members in their home constituencies. This process, which also involves MEPs and the European Commission, aims to allow citizens to share their aspirations and concerns on the future Europe. It also responds to a request by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, who asked the Committee to formally share its recommendations on the future of Europe. Since the launch of the campaign in March 2016, the European Committee of the Regions has held over 140 citizens’ debates in most Member States, with 100 additional citizens’ dialogues planned before the 2019 European elections.
The Committee's President welcomed the intention of France to also now launch participatory debates throughout Europe and then subsequently reinforce the link between Europeans and their Union.
Following the recent publication
by the European Commission on possible scenarios
for the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), President Lambertz also stressed the need to support cohesion policy. In line with various statements made by the European Council and the European Commission on the positive impact cohesion policy has had on competitiveness and convergence on the continent, the Committee is calling for a cohesion policy that continues to be 34.2% of the MFF and the EU budget to be 1.3 % of Gross National Income, a position also advocated by the European Parliament.
In view of the upcoming informal European Council on 23 February, the President presented the #CohesionAlliance
, launched by the Committee and six of the main European associations of regions and cities (AER, AEBR, CALRE, CEMR, CPMR and Eurocities) which, he added, included signatories from a majority of the French regions. He stressed the need to preserve the continent's main investment and solidarity policy. Cohesion policy, he emphasised, should apply to all
European regions and therefore all French regions, including middle-income regions identified in the European Commission's Seventh Cohesion Report
which were facing particular challenges.