(Source: European Committee of Regions)
Statement by Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions
Commenting on today’s State of the European Union speech delivered by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, said:
”The State of the EU speech rightly illustrated the strengthening of the European Union’s solidarity and its ability to deliver in responding to the pandemic. Across Europe, we should recognise the incredible shared effort across governments, industry and public services to deliver vaccines to every region and city. Furthermore, our Committee fully supports the priorities set today: as a Union, with an EU budget and recovery plan of unprecedented proportion, we now need to invest together to ensure we recover together, whilst simultaneously accelerating the climate and digital transitions.
Nevertheless, we will not deliver these shared goals by taking a top-down approach. The EU must respond to the real needs of people in the places where they live and work. Only by applying a bottom-up approach Europe can succeed and re-build citizens’ support in their hearts and minds. The pandemic, and the recent floods and fires, have hit the lives of our communities, and it was Europe’s one million local and regional leaders who were on the frontline working with public and emergency services to save lives and our economies. Not involving local actors – responsible for delivering 70% of all EU laws – sufficiently in the design and implementation of National Recovery and Resilience Plans is a threat to Europe’s recovery. The Green Deal will only become reality if it happens at local and regional level with locally elected politicians. If not, it will fail. The Conference on the Future of Europe risks being a beauty contest between Brussels institutions if it does not reach all local communities across Europe.
Today’s speech was a missed opportunity to recognise the imperative role of grassroots actors, and offer a new vision for governance that will make the EU more effective and closer to people. Europe can no longer remain a top-down abstract project and must create a real partnership with those who are the foundations of our European House of Democracy – the regional and local elected presidents, governors, mayors and councillors. This is a truth that cannot be ignored if we want to build together a more prosperous, just and resilient future for our people. We will redouble our efforts to restore the balance through our role as the voice of sub-national Government in the Conference on the Future of Europe this autumn.”
October 12: the European Committee of the Regions will release its review of the state of the EU’s regions and cities
The European Committee of the Region will present its EU Annual Local and Regional Barometer on 12 October 2021, offering a snapshot of the many effects of the pandemic on the EU’s regions and cities and show the wide differences that exist within our Union and within each Member State. It will show the pandemic’s ‘scissors effect’ on local and regional finances, how our regions and cities are progressing – or struggling – as they seek to master the green and digital transition, how the challenge of narrowing the economic and social differences between regions has become more complex, and how regions and cities are modernising local democracy. And, with the most wide-ranging survey ever conducted among the 1.15 million local and regional politicians in the EU, it will show the opinions of the politicians who build our Union every day in their local communities.