"Europe's future lies in its regions and cities"
Members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) elected today Karl-Heinz Lambertz (PES), Senator of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, as their new President for the next two and half years. Given the many challenges in recent years, he argued that the EU needed to listen to citizens and "rethink from the ground" by giving a greater say to local and regional governments. Laying out his Presidency priorities, he said that the CoR will continue to contribute to the reflection on the EU's future and would fight to protect the cohesion policy. The President-elect committed to reinforcing the CoR's ties with all of Europe's cities and regions and strengthen relations across the EU's institutions.
In front of its 350 members, during his acceptance speech, Karl-Heinz Lambertz spoke of the numerous crises facing the EU, "We must work together led by our founding values of solidarity and follow the objective of social justice and progress. Europe must urgently re-establish a true bond of trust with all its citizens by reinforcing policies that protect them and rethink how the EU works. Europe is rooted in its cities and regions. Being on the frontline, local and regional authorities must be given a greater say in deciding Europe's future"
Explicitly referring to local investment, the President-elect added, "Local and regional authorities need the capacity to invest and deliver quality public services for all citizens and businesses", before adding, "The EU's cohesion policy has a decisive role in reducing regional inequality through social, economic and territorial development. It creates jobs, renews our infrastructure and promotes social inclusion. A strong, more effective and visible cohesion policy must be part of Europe's future. A Union without cohesion policy is not the Europe we want".
Setting out his other priorities for his Presidency, Karl-Heinz Lambertz said he would continue to strengthen relations across the other EU institutions, ensure the voice of the CoR members is heard in Brussels and reinforce its relations with all regional associations and partners.
Markku Markkula , who will take over as the CoRs' First Vice-President addressed the plenary saying: "From the halls and chambers of Brussels, Bratislava and Amsterdam to the streets of Rome, Maastricht and even Marrakesh, we have shown that the EU's renewal and rebuilding citizens trust begins with increasing collaboration and partnership between European regions and cities. As fellow members of the CoR, you are the biggest asset of this institution and I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to each and every one of you for continuously pushing the boundaries. I congratulate Karl-Heinz and am proud that he is determined to continue what we have started together."
Mr. Lambertz is taking the reins of the CoR after serving a two and a half year term as First Vice-President. The election is in keeping with the agreement made between the Committee's two largest political parties – Party of the European Socialists (PES) and European People’s Party (EPP) – which ensures an equal share of the leadership during the five-year term of the office
Karl-Heinz Lambertz has been a member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) since 2001 and was President of the CoR's Socialists' Group from 2011 to 2015. Being member of the German-speaking community Parliament of Belgium since 1981, he held numerous government ministerial posts between 1990 and 1999 before being elected its Minister-President (1999-2014). He was then President of the German-speaking Community Parliament until 2016 before taking post as Senator.
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