Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, welcomed the newly
elected President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos
Tzitzikostas, at the State Chancellery in Düsseldorf on Tuesday 3 March. They
discussed current European challenges, including the serious situation at the
border between Greece and Turkey as well as the Coronavirus outbreak.
Minister-President Laschet: "I am glad to meet President Tzitzikostas and I look forward to cooperating with him in the upcoming years. The European Committee of the Regions is the essential voice of regions in Europe. I am convinced that President Tzitzikostas will lead this voice to new strengths and make it heard across the European Union. We need a stronger Europe and act together in order to address current challenges."
President Tzitzikostas: "Today I had the honour and pleasure to meet Minister-President Laschet. He is a visionary and reliable leader of Germany and a committed European. What he has achieved in the region of North Rhine Westphalia is an example to us all on how Europe's regions are able to address common challenges in the interest of the people. The EU must take urgent action to pragmatically address migration. It is not a national issue but an EU matter, that concerns all European citizens."
The Minister-President and the President of the European Committee of the Regions are determined to overcome the differences and the increasing polarisation in the European Union. “For this to happen, we need a common European vision that deepens cooperation across member states, regions, cities and villages. The European Union needs a new momentum to address the profound transformations that digitalization, demographics and the necessary fight against climate change entail for our citizens", stated Armin Laschet.
An essential precondition for such new momentum is to ensure an early ambitious agreement on the future EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework) that is based on a fair balance between those who benefit most from our Common Market and those who still need to catch up.
The Minister-President and the President of the European Committee of the Regions also discussed the recent proposals of the European Commission for a Green Deal and Artificial Intelligence. They welcomed those efforts and stressed that they must be complemented by joint efforts at national and at local and regional levels. The upcoming German Council EU Presidency in the second half of 2020 has the potential to address the current challenges and to bring the European Union together.
Armin Laschet and Apostolos Tzitzikostas especially underlined the need to help those regions that are particularly affected by the EU's decision to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. “Especially coal regions in transition, like the Rheinisches Revier, need European support for developing their infrastructure, strengthening their innovation capacity and ensuring investment in training and retraining. We therefore welcome the proposal for a new EU Just Transition Fund that supports these regions", said Apostolos Tzitzikostas.
The European Committee of the Region's external Bureau meeting, to be held in North Rhine Westphalia Parliament on 11 September, will be an opportunity to jointly to discuss the future of Europe, offer solutions on how to provide better feedback on EU regulation and get Europe closer to its citizens .
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