In the turbulent moments that Europe is living, the role of all actors to bring a prosperous and stable neighborhood was discussed at the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) of the European Parliament.
On 14 June, the European Committee of the Regions rapporteur on a Renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood - A new Agenda for the Mediterranean, Vincenzo BIANCO (IT/PES), exchanged views with members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on the role of regions in the EU strategy on Southern Neighbourhood.
At this AFET meeting, Mr Bianco presented the main messages of the CoR opinion which was the first one adopted by an EU institution or advisory body after the publication of the Joint Communication and the Council Conclusions. He mainly referred to the CoR's appeal to launch the process for a Mediterranean Charter of Human Rights open to signature by the members of the partnership. Incorporating the content of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, this would be the basis for a substantial convergence with the EU in terms of human rights. He also mentioned the need to provide targeted assistance to support large-scale investments in renewables and clean hydrogen production for both domestic consumption and export, investments which are compliant with the "do no harm" principle and safeguard green areas and biodiversity.
In the following debate, MEPs Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP/ES), Ignacio Sánchez Amor (S&D, ES), Javier Nart (RE, ES), Mounir Satouri (Greens/EFA, FR), Anna Bonfrisco (ID, IT) and Salima Yenbou (RE, FR) were keen on knowing which role LRAs could have in the area. The rapporteur mentioned concrete initiatives that are contributing to bring stability to the region and examplifying the added value of city diplomacy, such as the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) or the CoR's Nicosia Initiative of cooperation with Libyan municipalities. He also shared personal testimonies of successes he had witnessed at this level.
The exchange of views took place in the context of the drafting of the EP report on the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood – a new agenda for the Mediterranean (rapporteur: Antonio López‑Istúriz White) due to be adopted by the plenary in September. The exchange is a clear sign of the more and more fruitful political relation between the CoR and the EP. Meetings between Antonio López-Istúriz White and Vincenzo Bianco as well as between the two presidents of AFET and CIVEX, respectively David McAllister (EPP/DE) and Mark Speich (EPP/DE) had paved the way. While the participation of CoR rapporteurs at European Parliament Committee meetings is more common in technical legislative dossiers, this first time ever exchange of views on the field of external relations was very much welcomed by all participants.