(Source: European Committee of the Regions)
President Macron and President Metsola address 3,000 local and regional leaders who adopt Marseille Manifesto setting demands on the future of the EU
During the 9th European Summit of Cities and Regions in Marseille, local and regional leaders from across Europe were united in their support for Ukraine in the war against Russia and committed to supporting the Ukrainian people. With the war in Ukraine showing democracy cannot be taken for granted, the Marseille Manifesto adopted by the Summit sets out its demands to put citizens at the heart of European democracy.
In Marseille, awarding Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Kiev, with the honorary membership of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the Greek Region of Central Macedonia, said: “Three thousand people in Marseille and 1.2 million EU regional and local leaders, stand with Ukraine and against Russia’s invasion. We are united to help our neighbours, tackle the climate emergency, battle extremism and promote territorial cohesion. Our Marseille Manifesto calls for a Europe that protects and improves the lives of citizens. It’s time for a stronger EU democracy that puts people in every region, city and village at its very heart.”
Renaud Muselier, President of the French Region of Provence -Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Deputy President of the Regions of France declared: ” We have experienced the unthinkable: an armed conflict and hundreds of thousands of refugees. We have therefore launched the Southern Appeal for Ukraine, together with the President of the European Committee of the Regions and under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament. 242 European regions, 80 territories and nearly 89,000 municipalities will be mobilised to financially support the NGO ACTED, to help displaced people. It is a call on all EU communities to support the Ukrainian people and collect more than €20 million. This act is another proof that our territories, our regions, our municipalities are essential for the EU. Today, and at the end of this Summit, the President of the French Republic welcomed this call, reinforcing our determination to support the Ukrainian people.”
President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, whose speech was delivered by President Muselier during the Summit, said, ” At a time when France and Europe are taking decisions of resolute support and massive sanctions, I know that European territories display the same strength, the same unity. It is you, who carry through our territories, these values which are constitutive of our Europe, those which make us a power of peace, a power at the service of freedom and justice. The Southern Appeal for Ukraine launched jointly by the European Committee of the Regions and its President Apostolos Tzitzkostas, and President Muselier, is an important humanitarian reinforcement. Placed under the high patronage of the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, and of the European Commission, this initiative counts and will count in the days to come. Together we show the best faces of Europe. A united, close, fair, democratic Europe. It is this Europe for which, today, the people of Ukraine are resisting and fighting for. The European Union and its Member States need their territories in these troubled times. These times show how much we need to strengthen our European sovereignty. Local authorities have their place in this common work. “
Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, attended the Summit and stressed: ” Regions and cities are the beating heart of our Union. There is a clear role for regional and local governments in assuring that fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are present in the everyday life of EU citizens. We know how important local mayors and governors of regions are in promoting and caring for our common project, our shared values and principles. We cannot give in to complacency. We must remain vigilant. Our European House of Democracy is precious. We will protect it.”
Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, said: “We can never take our democracy for granted, we have to work on it together, every day, and on all levels. The European Committee of the Regions and its events allow the EU to reach citizens in all corners of Europe. As former mayor I support your call for greater involvement of local and regional governments in European democracy.”
The President of the Economic and Social Committee, Christa Schweng, said: ” What we are witnessing today, with the appalling developments in Ukraine, is a true attack to all the values that hold us together as a community. I am deeply convinced that being European is, in the first place, adhering to a consistent set of non-negotiable values, like the respect of freedom, of democracy, the rule of law and of fundamental rights. All this with committed citizens –men and women- at the heart. Civil society organisations are the concrete of our joint House of European democracy .”
Vasco Alves Cordeiro, First Vice-president of the European Committee of the Regions, said: “The war in Ukraine and our discussion here in Marseille on European democracy are strongly connected. We cannot make the mistake of separating the two. What we say in our Manifesto and what we want to revitalise is actually what is being attacked by the Russian aggression in Ukraine. This war shows us that we cannot take democracy for granted.”
The Summit’s Declaration on Ukraine calls on the EU to fully support Ukrainian refugees. The Declaration strongly condemns the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine and calls the EU to urgently grant Ukrainian citizens leaving the country the refugee status under EU Asylum Law.
Although the war in Ukraine dominated debate, the two-day Summit held wide-ranging discussions on the future of Europe, post-pandemic recovery and cohesion, key elements of the Manifesto adopted at the end of the Summit. The Marseille Manifesto contains proposals to strengthen the EU’s democratic legitimacy including calling for its regions, cities and municipalities to be gradually upgraded – through the European Committee of the Regions – beyond its current consultative function towards a binding role in a limited number of policy areas with a clear territorial dimension while avoiding additional complexity in the EU.