The President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Karl-Heinz Lambertz (PES/Belgium), delivered today the first-ever "State of the European Union: the View of Regions and Cities" speech. It was followed by a debate with the European Council's President Donald Tusk and with EU local leaders on the future of Europe.
"At the European Committee of the Regions, we view the Union from the ground up, from the perspective of ordinary people, through the eyes of our 350 local and regional elected representatives. This is the perspective we would like to communicate"; underlined President Lambertz in his speech.
Regarding the future of cohesion policy, he stressed that "cohesion policy makes an essential solidarity-based contribution to consolidating the European Union and is the necessary counterpart to the internal market rules. Its future and Europe's future are interlinked. Our request to the Council is twofold: ensuring a strong cohesion policy involving all regions and guaranteeing that this policy will receive funding of at least one third of the EU's budget. The ambition for Europe must be backed by significant resources in order to be credible, particularly by freeing up new own resources".
Intervening in the debate on behalf of the PES Group, President Catiuscia Marini called for a strong social pillar, underlining that there are still vast economic and social disparities between Europeans. "We have to put citizens first by providing equal opportunities and a strong social model which protects everyone. Likewise, we need to ensure that cohesion policy, which is the EU's main solidarity instrument, is more visible on the ground and supports citizens across all European regions equally", she underlined.
She was joined in her call by PES member Giorgios Kamnis, Mayor of Athens, who emphasised that "Our citizens need pragmatic solutions to the multiple challenges Europe is facing. The migrants’ integration challenge, the increasing need to look after the most vulnerable, our battle to create healthier and more resilient cities, our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, to fight radicalization. The EU needs to be strengthened, more integrated and more democratic to meet their concerns. This is the message citizens are sending from every single city of Europe".