When the plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe took place this weekend in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the voice of more than one million local and regional elected politicians was heard more clearly than ever thanks to an expanded delegation. In total, 30 regional and local delegates attended the second plenary meeting of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The 18-strong delegation from the CoR, the EU’s political assembly of local and regional governments, was joined in Strasbourg by 12 further representatives drawn from the leading European associations and other stakeholders representing local and regional authorities and assemblies from across Europe. Together they highlighted the vital role they play as the political level closest to and most trusted by citizens and responsible for delivering 70% of EU policy.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of Central Macedonia in Greece who leads the CoR’s delegation said “Our citizens expect their elected leaders to listen and to act in order to deliver results on the ground. A recent surveyof more 3,300 local and regional politicians across the EU shows that 85% of them want to be more involved in EU policy making and 75% want to introduce more participative democracy. Our delegation of 30 regional and local leaders is calling for a more democratic and effective European Union that recognises that decisions made in Brussels or Strasbourg are ultimately implemented by elected leaders at the local and regional level. They need to be a given a stronger role in EU decision-making in areas of their competencies, to rebuild trust and bring Europe closer to people.”
Vasco Alves Cordeiro, CoR First Vice-President added: “Local and regional elected representatives are ready to be fully part of shaping Europe’s future. Listening during the Conference is important, but acting is as important. The follow-up to the Conference will be key. The dialogue with Europeans should not end in spring 2022. We, members of the European Committee of the Regions, already call for the setup of a permanent dialogue with citizens. There should be no taboos to change the EU and the way it works, if it is to ensure cohesion, solidarity, social justice”.
During the weekend in Strasbourg, the 30 local and regional delegates joined members of the European Parliament, European Commission, national governments, citizen’s representatives and others in a number of thematic discussion groups, around which the final conclusions of the conference will be drawn. These include such diverse issues as participative democracy, health, climate change, social justice, education, digitalisation of society and migration, all areas where local and regional authorities are on the frontline in providing services, infrastructure and support to citizens.
The CoR will present its final contribution to the Conference at the 9th European Summit of Regions and Citieswhich will be held during the French Presidency of the Council of the EU in Marseille on 3-4 March 2022.
As an official EU institution, the CoR is entitled to be represented at the Conference of the Future of Europe, with a delegation of 18 members drawn from diverse countries and political groups. With the aim of ensuring greater involvement of sub-national representatives in designing the future of Europe, the CoR called for other organisations and associations representing regional and local leaders from across Europe to also take part. A further 12 members, drawn from these stakeholders: Council of European Municipalities and Regions, Eurocities, Assembly of European Regions, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, Association of European Border Regions and Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies, were subsequently added, reinforcing the regional and local delegation, which is now stronger with 30 members.
The issues that will be discussed in the working groups and plenary sessions at the Conference are drawn in part from the digital platform, where anyone from across the EU can submit ideas and suggestions. CoR members have also contributed to the debate in this way, with around 40 specific proposals for improving local and regional involvement. Citizens’ Panels, consisting of 800 men and women of all ages from across the EU and all walks of life ideas, also discuss the core themes of the conference from the citizens’ perspective. They, as with their local and regional representatives, will provide vital input on the impact and evolution of EU policies on the ground.
For other examples of the CoR’s core role in ensuring the voice of sub-national governments in the development of European democracy, see also the High Level Group on European Democracy, the CoR citizens’ survey on the Conference on the Future of Europe, the network of former CoR members and the newly launched network of EU local councillors.
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