PRESS RELEASE from KEDE
The president of KEDE, Georgios Patoulis, said that the Greek local and regional authorities intended to participate actively, by taking positions and making proposals, but also by establishing political alliances, in the project to build a new Europe.
Of note during the course of today's meeting of the administrative board of KEDE in the EU offices in Brussels, was the signing by Mr Patoulis and the Greek mayors of the Cohesion Alliance Declaration at a special ceremony held in the presence of the president of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl Heinz Lambertz.
This is an agreement which aims to send out a clear message to institutional stakeholders and policy makers on the importance of ensuring a strong and effective cohesion policy for all regions after 2020.
Mr Patoulis: "We are joining forces to demonstrate the importance of cohesion policy"
The president of KEDE expressed his firm belief at the ceremony that the meeting of KEDE's administrative board, held for the first time in Brussels, marked the beginning of a new era of openness for the institution, one that would prioritise and invest in strengthening the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion.
"We too are becoming members of a political group that gives priority to the need to implement cohesion policy in the European Union. It will be the key European instrument for promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion within the EU", he said, adding that it was "one of the most visible policies at local and regional level, and a means of demonstrating the benefits of Europe for its citizens".
Referring to the shocks experienced by the European project in the wake of the economic crisis, not to mention the effect of populist policies, Mr Patoulis stressed that it was more necessary than ever to ensure a strong and efficient policy on cohesion post 2020, covering all the regions of Europe.
With regard to the role of local government, he stressed that all local and regional bodes in Europe were joining forces to highlight the importance of cohesion policy and to become one of the levers for rebuilding Europe, from the bottom up.
Mr Patoulis went on to say that in addition to signing the Declaration, KEDE had recently submitted two proposals that had been accepted by the members of the European Committee of the Regions, meaning that the Committee would be holding two external meetings in Greece during the course of 2018.
• On 24-25 May, a meeting of the Commission for Natural resources (NAT) would be held in Pylos together with a conference on the Mediterranean diet
• On 20-21 September, the Commission on Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) would hold a meeting in Athens entitled: " Cities and regions implementing the European Agenda on Security: our global challenge, our territorial response ".
In conclusion, Mr Patoulis gave assurances that KEDE was ready to contribute, using all the resources at its disposal, to achieving the political objectives set in order to keep the project of European integration alive.
Speaking on behalf of the European Committee of the Regions, its president, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, stated the following:
"I am delighted that the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece has joined the Alliance for Cohesion, a growing coalition of those who believe in the importance of cohesion policy in the European Union.
We need to support social integration, deepen cross-border cooperation and create jobs in every region and city. Investing in the EU's cohesion policy is an investment in an inclusive European future".
Meeting of the administrative board of KEDE
Following the special ceremony for the signing of the Cohesion Alliance Declaration, the administrative board of KEDE held its meeting in the presence of the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Greece to the EU, Andreas Papastavros; the head of unit for Greece and Cyprus of the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, Willibrordus Sluijters; MEPs Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Nikos Androulakis and Manolis Kefaloyiannis; the head of the Greek delegation to the European Committee of the Regions and Regional Governor of Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas; the head of cabinet of the EU Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulou, with responsibility for migration, Sofia Asteriadi; the representative of the UN regional information centre, D. Fatourou; and the representative of the CEMR, Angelika Poth.
At the start of the meeting, Mr Patoulis spoke the crisis that Greek local and regional authorities had had to contend with and manage, with particular reference to the issue of refugees. He observed that at neither national or European level had the level of preparedness for dealing with the situation been adequate, but noted that from the very outset Greek local government had shouldered their responsibilities and kept their local communities going.
At the same time, he referred to the low take-up rate of EU funding for utility projects that would be of benefit to the citizens, stressed the need to undertake a radical reform aimed at decentralising resources and competences to the local and regional administrative level.
A debate ensued on issues relating to local and regional development, refugees, the environment and the contribution of local government to sustainable development.
The meeting of the administrative board was attended by the following members: Dimitrios Kafantaris, Vice-President of KEDE and mayor of Pylos-Nestor; Michail Angelopoulos, mayor of the island of Samos; Gerasimos Damoulakis, mayor of the island of Milos; Symeon Daniilidis, mayor of Neapolis-Sykeon; Charalampos Dimarchopoulos, mayor of Xanthi; Georgios Ioakeimidis, mayor of Nikaia-Rentis; Alexios Kastrinos, mayor of Phneios; Nikolaos Meletiou, mayor of Aspropyrgos; Dimitrios Birmpas, mayor of Aigaleo; Dimitrios Tziachristas, mayor of Domokos; Dimitrios Tsiandis, mayor of Plastira Lake; and the following city councillors: G. Apostolopoulos, Athens; A. Louloudakis, Hersonissos; I. Liberis, Ilidas; L. Maloutas, Kozanis; B. Barbakos, Kallithea; N. Sakoutis, Petroupolis; I. Tsiamis, Orchomenos; N. Chiotakis, Kifissia.
In the framework of their visit to Brussels, the president of KEDE, Mr Patoulis, and the members of the KEDE administrative board attended the 127th plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions.
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