The cities and regions need the European Union. The European Union needs its cities and regions.  

​​President Lambertz delivers "State of the European Union: the View of Regions and Cities" address #SOTREG

The President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Karl-Heinz Lambertz, today delivered his second speech on "The State of the European Union: the View of Regions and Cities, during a debate with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. The address held today in Brussels during the CoR's plenary session argued that Europe needed "more than just a change of time, but a change of direction and of method", giving regions and cities a greater say in shaping its future.

During his speech President Lambertz called for stronger EU funding and a stronger say in EU decision-making for regions and cities, stressing that, "Weakening our cities and regions is to weaken our Union. This must not be part of our blueprint for the future. Quite the opposite: by strengthening our territories we strengthen our Union".

Speaking at the debate, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani stressed that "Although in different ways, the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions bring together those elected by citizens at the European, local and regional level. Strengthened by this prerogative, we must work together to give concrete answers to our citizens and to design, with them, a Europe that is more effective, fairer and more able to represent them.”

Key Messages of the " 2018 State of the EU: View of Regions and Cities" address​:

On the EU budget: "Common sense tells us that, whether we are talking about cohesion, the Common Agricultural Policy or any other policy, especially with a European budget that is already inadequate, we cannot do more with less".

On EU cohesion policy: "Cohesion is everyone's business. As shown by the fact that 8000 signatories have put their names to the call by the Cohesion Alliance, which now covers almost the entire Union. Cohesion is a policy that helps our territories develop. Cohesion is a policy for the future, designed to tackle the great challenges of our time, while also meeting day-to-day demands. The local and regional elected representative's fight to preserve the cohesion of the Union continues ".

On migration: "Day after day, our cities are fighting to uphold co-existence in Europe. While the Council talks endlessly about "migration", at the grassroots I hear the word "integration" far more often… In cooperation with the European Commission, we are going to launch a campaign to highlight the integration projects being implemented in our cities and regions".

On citizens' dialogues: "We need to get real feedback on the EU's policies. Listening is not enough. Citizens' dialogues must be organised and there must be follow-up to improve Union action in specific areas…This is why I have proposed to the President of the European Economic and Social Committee that we work together to sketch out a permanent, European mechanism for citizens’ dialogue ".

On social rights: "Maybe Europe needs to change its clock: but above all it needs a change of course... Social rights must be recognised on the same footing as economic rights . Europe will only be stronger if we first help those in the greatest need".

On subsidiarity: " The guiding principle should be "more Europe where more is needed" and "less Europe where less is needed". Subsidiarity also means a strong Union that uses its local and regional authorities to get closer to its citizens…And we will put our ideas into practise by setting up a new pilot network of regional hubs to support reviews of policy implementation".

CoR recommendations on how to rebuild trust with the EU

The plenary debate was followed by the adoption of the CoR's opinion on " Reflecting on Europe: the voice of local and regional authorities on how to rebuild trust in the EU ", as requested by European Council President Donald Tusk. The report is the culmination of an extensive two-year engagement launched in March 2016 – " Reflecting on Europe " campaign - reaching out to more than 40 000 citizens and 266 local and regional authorities. The campaign mainly consisted in citizens' dialogues and town hall debates organised at local level at the initiative of the CoR members. Complemented by an EU-wide online survey and consultation of cities and regions, the overall feedback forms the basis of the opinion led byPresident Lambertz and First Vice-President Markku Markkula.

What citizens told us: they want an EU project build on solidarity, cohesion and proximity

  • 80% of citizens expressed a wish for more EU solidarity

  • People trust their local and regional representatives more than they trust EU or national politicians;

  • Many people highlighted their distance to EU politics and EU institutions, and feel frustrated with the EU, as the Union is often perceived as too remote and not trustworthy.

What regions and cities told us: they need to be fully involved in shaping EU policies

  • The role of local and regional authorities needs to be more fully recognised, both in the day-to-day running of EU affairs and in future adjustments to the EU Treaties - where the CoR should be represented with full rights in any future Convention.

Facilitating citizens participation in EU policies and creating a permanent dialogue with citizens beyond 2019

  • The EU will gain in trust and credibility only if the added value of EU action is clearly demonstrated

  • Engaging citizens must not be limited to periods leading just up to the EU elections;

  • Ahead of the EU elections, the CoR will propose establishing a permanent and structured system of dialogue between citizens, EU politicians and institutions, involving local and regional authorities through the CoR.

 A European Summit of Regions and Cities in 2019 

To further contribute to the ongoing political debate on the future of the European Union following Brexit, the President also announced that the CoR's 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities will be held on 14-15 March 2019 in Bucharest. The Summit will be the largest political gathering of mayors, regional presidents and local leaders from across Europe next year, with more than 800 participants expected to participate, including top leaders of the EU institutions.

Reactions from the CoR political groups can be found at:

Notes to the editors:

Every year in October, the CoR President delivers his "State of the EU Regions" address before the CoR plenary. The aim is to take stock of the current situation of EU's cities and regions and look ahead to the main challenges for the following years. The address is also to be seen as an initial reaction of the CoR to the proposals unveiled in the European Commission's work programme through the Commission's President "State of the Union" speech. The address is followed by a plenary debate with CoR members and high level EU representatives.

More information:

Contact:
Nathalie Vandelle
nathalie.vandelle@cor.europa.eu
Tel. +32 (0)2 282 24 99