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Brussels, 5 September 2007
Committee of the Regions supports strengthening
Istvan Sertö-Radics (HU/ALDE), 1st Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) Commission for External Relations, presented the CoR's political strategy related to European Neighbourhood Policy during a high-level conference held in Brussels on 3 September.
The purpose of the event, opened by José Manuel Barroso, European Commission President, Luis Amado, Foreign Minister of Portugal and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations, was to exchange views on what has been learnt from first years of the policy and what can be done jointly to strengthen it.
In his opening speech President Barroso stressed that the fundamental principle of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is differentiation – in other words, a tailored approach determined by differing needs. "The ENP is not, and never has been, a one-size-fits-all policy," he said. This differentiation will become more pronounced as the policy develops. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner recalled the need to enhance regional dialogue and stressed the strategic importance of the new Black Sea initiative.
Presenting the CoR's political strategy on ENP, Istvan Sertö-Radics noted that the CoR is contributing to the implementation and assessment of a variety of new neighbourhood policy thematic and geographic instruments and programmes, particularly in the field of cross-border and interregional cooperation, along with institution-building programmes, which are of particular importance for local and regional authorities.
Lucio Gussetti, Director of the CoR Directorate for Consultative Works, said the CoR had proposed setting up a forum of local and regional authorities of the Euromed region, as well as engaging in local and regional election monitoring in ENP countries. The proposals, made during the conference workshop on governance and stability, were warmly welcomed by Eneko Landaburu, the European Commission's Director General for External Relations.
The representative voice of regions and cities in the EU, the CoR believes
that cooperation at local and regional level across of Europe is a major
pre-requisite for political stability, sustainable growth and protection of the
environment in the neighbourhood area. Krasimir Mirev (BG/PES) was
recently appointed CoR rapporteur on 'The Black Sea Synergy - A new regional
cooperation initiative' in response to the Commission's communication on
the topic (COM (2007) 160 fin). On 14 December, the RELEX Commission will
organise an international seminar on the role of local and regional authorities
in the Black Sea Synergy.