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EU needs its one million regional and local leaders to renew the European project  
​​​​​EU cities and regions set out vision to renew Europe ahead of EU Leaders meeting in Sibiu
The European Union must overhaul the way it works, giving a greater say to its regions and cities, if it wants to renew the European project together with its citizens and respond to their social and economic needs. This was the main message by EU's local and regional leaders who set out their vision for a renewed Europe in a Declaration handed over to the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, ahead of the informal European Council of EU leaders in Sibiu on 9 May.
The Declaration handover took place during this year's ​largest gathering of EU local and regional leaders at the 8 th European Summit of Regions and Cities – held in Bucharest, Romania, the country which is holding the 6 month EU rotating Presidency for the very first time. Led by the European Committee of the Regions – the EU's assembly of local and regional governments, and supported by all the regions and cities from across the Union, the Declaration appeals for the EU to empower its regions and cities to strengthen democracy and reconnect with its citizens. Facing transformative challenges such as globalization, climate change and demographic change, the Declaration calls on the EU to swiftly agree an ambitious future EU long-term budget that allows regions and cities to promote social inclusion, become carbon-neutral and deliver the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, said: "The European Committee of the Regions is a committed partner, joining our efforts to bring the European action closer to its beneficiaries - our regions, our cities, our citizens. From the local and regional perspective of the political action, an efficient governance at European level is reflected by concrete actions and results: more cohesion, good jobs, sustainable economic growth, modern infrastructure and connectivity, as well as bridging the development gap, improving living standards and offering quality public services. In the current context, our main concern must be to get the citizens much more involved in EU decision-making, as well as to remove the feeling that there is a gap between EU's action and the citizens.

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said during the handover of the Declaration: "The European Union needs its cities and regions just as much as cities and regions need the European Union. Europe is about proximity and social progress. All levels of government need to work assuming their part of the responsibility for Europe in order for the EU to become more visible, effective, democratic and closer to citizens, leaving no one behind. Led by the fundamental EU values of cohesion, unity and solidarity, we need a new contract that empowers the most trusted level of government - the one million local and regional leaders - to be the game changers of the EU. This also means sufficiently equipping them with the right financial means and giving them a greater say in EU decision-making.

Speaking during the event closing, the CoR First Vice-President Markku Markkula said: "The EU needs to rebuild trust to ensure a better European future. The only way to achieve this is by strengthening the ties and activities with and for the youth and all the actors in cities and regions. Local and regional actors can make the changes happen. Cities and regions are tackling societal challenges and co-creating sustainable and inclusive growth.

Note to editors:

The Summit Declaration by local and regional leaders entitled "Building the EU from the ground up with our regions and cities" will serve as the position of regions and cities to the leaders of the EU institutions and Heads of State and Government who will gather in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May to discuss the future of the EU.

The European Committee of the Regions has called for an increase in the next EU budget post 2020 from 1% to 1.3% of the gross national income of the EU27. It has also been instrumental in launching the #CohesionAlliance - a coalition of those who believe that EU cohesion policy must continue to be a pillar of the EU's future. The Alliance was created through cooperation with the leading European associations of local and regional authorities and demands that the EU budget after 2020 makes cohesion policy stronger, visible and available for every region in the European Union.

Publication: Future of Europe: the view of regions and cities, 9 October 2018   

Nathalie Vandelle 
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