15 March 2019
For Progressive Cities and Regions, Democracy and Sustainable Development Must Be the Path to Re-New Europe

For Progressive Cities and Regions, Democracy and Sustainable Development Must Be the Path to Re-New Europe

8th European Summit of Regions and Cities

Europe's future is at stake. As the continent faces increasing challenges, from climate change to growing inequalities, from globalisation to demographic change, all levels of government, including the local and regional levels, have a responsibility to work together. The European Union must overhaul the way it works, giving a greater say to its regions and cities, if it wants to renew the European project together with its citizens and respond to their social and economic needs.

This was the spirit of the declaration adopted by the European Committee of the Regions at its 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities, which took place in Bucharest on 14-15 March.

The members of the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions, who actively contributed to elaboration of the declaration, believe that Europe's future needs to be focused around two key priorities: democratic participation and sustainable development. Indeed, effective multi-level governance, based on greater involvement of citizens, is much needed to strengthen democracy at a time when populist and far-right forces are growing in Europe.  At the same time, mainstreaming sustainable development into all EU policies, first and foremost cohesion policy, is necessary in order to tackle persistent and growing inequalities in our societies and territories.

Intervening during the opening of the Summit, Catiuscia Marini, President of the PES Group and President of Umbria Region (Italy), said: "We cannot dissociate the fight against climate change from the fight for more social cohesion and integration. My plea is to not address social cohesion as a stand-alone topic. A new social ambition for Europe is to become part of a deeper fundamental change towards sustainable equality."

"The European governance and in particular the European Semester process need to become more ambitious, more binding and more territory-sensitive in relation to the implementation for the social Sustainable Development Goals and the follow-up to the European Pillar of Social Rights," she added.



Intervening in a panel debate on the subject of sustainable development, PES Group members added:

Their messages were also echoed by Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations:

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said during the closing of the Summit: "The European Union needs its cities and regions just as much as cities and regions need the European Union. Europe is about proximity and social progress. All levels of government need to work assuming their part of the responsibility for Europe in order for the EU to become more visible, effective, democratic and closer to citizens, leaving no one behind. Led by the fundamental EU values of cohesion, unity and solidarity, we need a new contract that empowers the most trusted levels of government - the one million local and regional leaders - to be the game changers of the EU. This also means sufficiently equipping them with the right financial means and giving them a greater say in EU decision-making."


The Summit Declaration by local and regional leaders on "Building the EU from the ground up with our regions and cities"  was formally handed over to the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, by the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, and will be presented to the leaders of the European Union institutions and Heads of State and Government, gathering in Sibiu (Romania) on 9 May.