As the preparations for the 2019 European elections get under way, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) offered its full support and welcomed the European Parliament's commitment for the two EU institutions to work together and align resources in a shared effort to increase citizens' engagement. The roadmap towards the elections and the partnership between the two political EU institutions were discussed today at the CoR's Bureau with the European Parliament's Vice-President for Communication - and former CoR President - Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso. The debate was followed by the adoption of the CoR Communication Plan for 2018 , which puts the European elections at the centre of its strategy.
The European Parliament is developing a communication strategy to ensure voters are aware that results of the 2019 elections will contribute to shaping the EU's future. MEPs have made it clear that the campaign will not merely be a European Parliament-led campaign, but a "European Union campaign" that builds on inter-institutional cooperation and makes use of synergies across all levels of government. As the level of government enjoying the higher level of trust among citizens, local and regional authorities will be crucial in mobilising voters and raising awareness about what is at stake in the 2019 elections.
"We warmly welcome the European Parliament's commitment to making 2019 a "European Union" election. The results will shape the future of our Union. It is our collective duty to ensure all voters are aware of what is at stake and what role Europe plays in their daily life. Building on our cooperation agreement, we are delighted to be a partner in the campaign and will encourage our members to ensure their citizens have their say ", said CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz " All our members can mobilise voters and increase turn-out in the European elections. As elected politicians, they can draw connections between what happens in their constituencies and what is at stake for the Europe, significantly contributing to reconnecting citizens to Europe in the debates ahead of the elections ", he added.
The European Parliament's communication strategy recognises the importance of "going local" through a "decentralised and localised campaign". The Parliament is planning to select communication priorities that "most resonate in the local environment", to help communicate localised messages, based on the origins and interests of the citizens.
The European Parliament's Vice-President, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, said: " The way Europe works and the way it communicates needs to change. Europe can only look forward by pulling its resources and working in partnership, which is why I am pleased that the Committee will be a partner in supporting the European election campaign by listening and talking local. We all need to work to explain what the EU is, what it does and why it matters: w ho can do this better than mayors, regional presidents or councillors in their communities? The aligning of our communication efforts is a significant step towards maximising the potential of our outreach which must continue into the future . "
CoR adopts its 2018 Communication Plan: "Working in partnership for a local Europe"
The CoR Bureau adopted its Communication Plan for 2018, which puts forward a number of actions aimed at joining forces with the European Parliament and other EU institutions, which includes the adoption of the CoR's opinion on the Future of Europe in October 2018, and the preparation of the 8th CoR "Summit of Regions and Cities" to be held in spring 2019. These two events will frame the CoR's efforts to contribute to the campaign, while a number of member-centered activities will focus on joining forces at local level to reach out to citizens during the European election campaign.
The CoR will implement its communication activities through three campaigns built against the backdrop of the debate on the future of Europe, the post-Brexit EU budget and the 2019 European elections:
This campaign builds on the ongoing " Reflecting on Europe " initiative and will aim to present regional and local interests in the debate on the future of Europe, in particular contribute to the CoR's opinion due to be adopted in 2018. More than 150 Citizens' Dialogues are to be held by the end of 2017 across European regions and cities and will continue into 2018 contributing to the awareness campaign for the European elections. An online survey and a dedicated App that include a set of questions related to the future of EU policies are also being used to collect citizens' feedback during local events and citizens' dialogues. More than 11.000 respondents have been registered so far.
In parallel, the CoR has commissioned a pan-European study from the London School of Economics seeking the views of local and regional authorities on the future of Europe and the role they wish to play in a renewed Union. According to preliminary results, a vast majority of respondents agree that the number one priority should be to put the citizens at the heart of EU integration.
The aim is to ensure the active involvement of regional and local authorities in the negotiations on the EU's future budget and the debate related to the uncertainties resulting from the UK leaving the EU by March 2019. A reduced EU budget and the delayed adoption of the EU funding post-2020 would have severe consequences for public investment at regional and local level.
The most important communication activities will involve building coalitions with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure a timely adoption of strong, effective and simplified EU funding post-2020. The # 'Cohesion Alliance , a coalition of those who believe that EU cohesion policy must continue to be a pillar of the EU's future, will be continued in 2018 and will serve as a basis for these activities. To date 80 organisations and more than 700 individual supporters, including CoR members, leading European associations of cities and regions, MEPs and government Ministers, call for the post-2020 EU budget to make cohesion policy stronger, more effective and available for every region in the EU.
Europe's regions and cities are places of change and innovation. Citizens expect their local and regional representatives to provide solutions to todays' challenges, such as those raised by globalisation, integration of migrants, climate change, energy transition, youth unemployment and demographic change. This campaign will focus on enhancing EU policy-making based on local evidence in areas such as climate action , sustainable development and inclusive societies.
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