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The key for successful policies lies in Europe's regions and cities  

​​​​​EU local and regional representatives pave the way for a new chapter of European democracy, where decisions are taken the closest to citizens, building on the momentum of the Conference on the Future of Europe

European-wide answers are needed to address citizens' concerns over issues such as the climate and energy crisis, rising inequalities or dealing with the implications of the war against Ukraine, but in order to deliver effective and concrete results, every level of government must be working together. Solutions must take into account the diverse territorial realities in Europe and it is therefore essential to actively involve local and regional authorities as the first line of response for citizens.​

This was the message from local and regional representatives from across the EU meeting in Valencia, Spain, at a conference organised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) at the invitation of President of the Regional Government of Valencia and CoR member Ximo Puig I Ferrer . Coming just six months after the end of the Conference on the Future of Europe in May 2022, the meeting offered a chance to reinforce one of the key recommendations of the Conference: far greater involvement of sub-national government in the EU decision-making process in order to match with the realities of citizens on the ground. Against a background of multiple crises and with democracy itself under threat in many places across the globe, they stress the importance of a method of dialogue, partnership and shared responsibility, reviving the spirit of the Maastricht Treaty adopted 30 years ago, which enshrined the principle of subsidiarity, the importance of multi-level governance for the functioning of the European Union and established the European Committee of the Regions.

CoR President Vasco Alves Cordeiro said: "Europe and our societies at large are facing historical challenges: the climate and the energy crisis, the consequences of the Russian war against Ukraine, the rise of inequalities, the role of regions and cities in the post pandemic world and many more. There is a common value that is needed to address those crises as a whole: democracy. In the European Union we have multiple levels of democracy and they all need to be involved in the common European project. As cohesion in Europe in all its dimensions is under huge strain because of the many crises, which risk deepening divisions, we need a functioning, democratic multi-level governance system based on active subsidiarity. And subsidiarity is about democracy because it is about taking decisions as closely as possible to the individual and to their communities."

The Secretary of State for Territorial Policy, Alfredo González, made a special acknowledgment of the work of the Committee of the Regions and its President. He stressed that the principle of subsidiarity also inspires the action of the Spanish Government, what has permitted solve complex situations that the Spanish administrations have faced, underlining that in those key moments all the institutions have given their best working with loyalty and full collaboration. This has been the case with the pandemic, the vaccination process and also the management of the Recovery Plan, complex moments in which cooperation has allowed to strengthen the State, in its broadest conception, instead of weakening it, fleeing of recentralizing temptations and always betting on collaboration and shared governance between all Administrations.

Enric Morera i Català , President of the Regional Parliament of Valencia and chair of the working group on linguistic and cultural diversity at the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE), emphasized that regional parliaments across Europe are firmly committed to the principle of subsidiarity. "To move towards this goal, the active participation and consultation of citizens and local and regional institutions must be a priority", he said, adding that "now, more than ever, bearing in mind the threat of fanaticism and extremism, forums for reflection on our future are needed to deepen and strengthen the founding European values”.

Vice President of the European Commission in charge of interinstitutional relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič emphasised in a video message, the valuable contribution of local and regional authorities in the Better Regulation Agenda when it comes to cutting red tape and make EU legislation more efficient and considers the European Committee of the Regions as a key partner to implement the recommendations of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

EU Commissioner for Cohesion Policy and Reforms Elisa Ferreira underlined in her remote intervention the diversity of situations across Europe requires finetuning the policy recipe, pointing out the need to recognise the assets and challenges in different EU regions and to build on them in partnership with local and regional authorities, taking into account different levels of decentralisation across EU Member States.

The conference was followed by the inaugural meeting of the "Better Regulation and Active Subsidiarity Steering Group", chaired by Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Parliament of the German-speaking community in Belgium and former President of the European Committee of the Regions.


The conference " Future of Europe: Daring more EU democracy - Creating EU added value " is the tenth edition of a biannual Subsidiarity conference focused on the key issues of democracy and multi-level governance across the EU. It is part of the wider work of the Committee of the Regions on democracy, active subsidiarity and governance that also includes: a network of more than 150 local authorities on the ground checking EU legislative proposals; 40 Regional Hubs that assess the effectiveness of EU policies such as public procurement, air pollution and recycling of vehicles; territorial impact assessments that show the impact of new or revised EU legislation in different regions; and active participation in the Fit4Future platform with the European Commission. The conference adopted conclusions stressing the importance of strengthening European democratic legitimacy and involving all levels of governance in the EU policy- and decision-making process; with or without a Convention to revise the Treaties.

The full event can be viewed and reviewed online, including interventions by EC Vice-President Šefčovič and Cohesion and reforms Commissioner Ferreira.

COFE recommendations can be found here.

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