Solidarity, sustainability and a Europe closer to its citizens were the three leading themes during the opening of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2019. In the presence of over 600 local, regional and EU politicians, experts and scholars, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vice-President Klára Dobrev MEP, EU Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, and five young elected politicians called for more European solidarity and stronger regional investment to deliver a better future for all its citizens.
This year, the European Week of Regions and Cities is held during a political moment of change for the European Union. With the new European Parliament in place and the European Commission starting a new mandate, the EU agenda is heavily focusing on the defining its future priorities including a more socially inclusive Europe, a sustainable Europe and a Europe closer to citizens. The weeklong conference is also held as Member States continue to negotiate the next long term EU budget 2021-2027 which will define how much EU investment will be committed to these priorities for the coming years.
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "Over the years EU regional policy has shifted, in response to the new challenges facing Europe today. EU cohesion policy – which gives regions and cities the investment they need to respond to issues such as climate change, social inclusion and inequalities – must continue to be the centrepiece of the European Union. Alongside stable investment, the EU must urgently redefine the way its laws are made by allowing local and regional governments – who are responsible for delivering 70% EU laws - to be given a real seat at the EU decision-making table".
Klára Dobrev, Vice-President of the European Parliament, said: "We are entering a new era. For politicians, it has always been a dilemma of how to reconcile their short-term political interests with genuine long term objectives. New game-changers entered, however, the scene. They are young, energetic and enthusiasts and they are aware of the threat arising from climate change. From now on, the future of elected politicians will much depend on their ability to address this enormous threat to mankind. With other words, they will be enforced to do much more. And I shall be your ally in this fight".
Speaking during the debate, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "Cohesion policy is about solidarity, and building a better future for every citizen. The new cohesion policy for 2021-2027 will need everybody to engage in the new funding period and deliver together. Cohesion Policy must continue to empower regions and cities, who are at the forefront of a sustainable Europe, ensuring we are ready to mitigate and adapt to climate change".
The discussion was joined by five young politicians representing the over 100 young elected politicians invited to the conference. Laura Sparavigna, City Councillor in Florence, Italy (PES), Radosław Swoł, City Councillor in Mielec, Poland (ECR), Vincent Chauvet, Mayor of Autun, France (RE), Mia Eskelinen-Fingerroos, City Councillor in Kuopio, Finland (EPP), Kirsteen Currie, Councillor in the Highland Council, United Kingdom (EA) shared their experience and views on the opportunities and means cities and regions should have for the future of the European Union.
The European Week of Regions and Cities (#EURegionsWeek) is an annual four days conference co-organised by the CoR and European Commission. Itis the largest event on regional development in Europe. This year's edition will gather over 9,000 participants including scholars, public administrators, experts and more than 600 local, regional, national and European politicians in nearly 400 workshops and debates, exhibitions and networking opportunities about the different aspects of cohesion policy.
You can download pictures and the recording of the event here.
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