The group is composed of seven European "wise men and women": the Chair Herman Van Rompuy, and Joaquin Almunia, Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse, Rebecca Harms, Silja Markkula, Maria João Rodrigues and Androulla Vassiliou.
The High Level Group on European Democracy of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), chaired by the first President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of Belgium Herman Van Rompuy, held today its first meeting. The group will contribute to the CoR`s work on the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The High Level Group (HLG) is an independent advisory body, whose mission is to support the CoR's political and institutional role by providing strategic political analysis, focusing on the challenges for local and regional authorities in Europe, within the context of the CoR's participation in the Conference on the Future of Europe. The HLG has as its mission to reinforce the impact and influence of local and regional authorities, through the CoR, in the European policy-making process and to stimulate the discussion about European democracy.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, CoR President said: ''I thank all the Members of the High Level Group for accepting the invitation. Their expertise, their commitment to the EU values and their profound knowledge of the European Union dynamics represent invaluable assets that will help maximising our Committee's contribution to the Conference on the future of Europe. Each member has a unique background and vision that will bring inestimable added value to our work. The Conference must not be just another beauty contest between EU institutions leaving us only with words. We want and we must ensure that our European House of Democracy comes out of the Conference reinforced in all of its components. The creation of the High-Level group will bring a concrete contribution to this process. "
Herman Van Rompuy, Chair of the CoR High Level Group on European Democracy, stated: ''I am honoured that the European Committee of the Regions has entrusted me with the task of leading this group of distinguished personalities. Our mission is to bring forward innovative and creative ideas and proposals to strengthen European democracy and develop a Europe that protects and empowers its citizens. Local and regional authorities can contribute to restoring confidence in democracy and should have a greater involvement in EU policy-making. The Conference on the Future of Europe provides a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the European Union and our citizens living in regions, cities and villages, and we must consider how to reinforce our democratic system and build trust through the better involvement of regions and cities. The Conference must offer solutions for a modern European democracy that both involves citizens and delivers answers to their needs and concerns, with a shared vision for a more resilient and sustainable future".
The High Level Group will exchange views and work closely with CoR members, notably the CoR's Conference of Presidents, the Bureau, its thematic commissions, and the members of the CoR delegation to the Conference on the Future of Europe. It will also interact with young regional and local politicians taking part in the CoR's Young Elected Politicians (YEPs) initiative, the European Youth Forum and other youth bodies. Its work and impetus will serve as a basis for the CoR's contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe, along with local dialogues organised by CoR members across the European Union's regions and cities, ensuring the Conference reaches beyond national capitals.
The HLG is composed of seven European "wise men and women":
- Herman Van Rompuy, former Prime Minister of Belgium, and President of the European Council;
- Joaquin Almunia, former European Commissioner for Competition and for Economic and Financial Affairs;
- Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse, Professor of the University of Warsaw;
- Rebecca Harms, former Member of the European Parliament (MEP);
- Silja Markkula, President of the European Youth Forum;
- Maria João Rodrigues, former Minister for Qualification and Education of Portugal and MEP; and
- Androulla Vassiliou, former Commissioner for Health and for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
The creation of the High Level Group on European Democracy was endorsed by the CoR Bureau in December 2020 following a proposal of the Conference of Presidents of the CoR. It will be formally and politically launched during the May Plenary of the European Committee of the Regions (5-7 May), together with a political debate around the CoR's perspective for the Future of Europe and the CoR's participation in the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe. The Conference on the Future of Europe
will be launched officially on 9 May 2021 and should reach conclusions by Spring 2022.
Berta López Domènech
Tel. +32 (0) 2 282 2170