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Press Release

The EU's Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives


Brussels, 25 February 2011

Europe 2020: "The Member States have not learnt from the failure of the Lisbon strategy," warns Mercedes Bresso

With Member States finalising their national reform programmes as envisaged by the Europe 2020 strategy, Committee of the Regions (CoR) president Mercedes Bresso says they have not learnt enough from the failure of the Lisbon strategy: "to avoid a new failure - something which Europe cannot afford - the tasks and opportunities that go with the strategy must become our common concern". This is the message she will pass on to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, ahead of the Spring Summit.

The CoR president's message is clear: "local and regional authorities were not involved in the preliminary stages or in any systematic way in preparing these national programmes". She adds that: "the first analysis of growth published by the European Commission has already highlighted the gap between the ambitions of the new strategy and the Member States' initial conceptions put forward during the launch of the national reform programmes. Things have not changed since then, with ideas failing to live up to the strategy's vision". Mercedes Bresso spoke these words at a territorial dialogue conference on Tuesday 22 February in Brussels.

In Europe local and regional authorities inject some EUR 2 trillion a year into regional economies. However, this growth lever is not coordinated with action by central government. The CoR president is critical of this situation: "it is true that the EU has established macroeconomic policy coordination to reduce public sector deficits and promote investment in growth sectors. However, partnerships between the relevant stakeholders, with joint objectives and mutual commitments, are an essential prerequisite if these policies are to succeed".

Mercedes Bresso suggests putting cooperation between Member State governments and their cities and regions on an official basis in order to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. "We want the Europe 2020 strategy to succeed, and we are jointly responsible for making this happen," she points out. "However we need to be given the resources to do this: national governments, regions, cities and other public authorities must commit themselves contractually to pursuing shared objectives. This is where the Territorial Pacts come in."

This idea already has the support of the European Parliament, whose representative Lambert Van Nistelrooij (EPP/NL) has even suggested making the strategy more than just voluntary. It was also welcomed by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso in his speech to the CoR December 2010 plenary session, as well as by Commissioner László Andor. The Committee of the Regions is also pleased to note that several of the proposals set out in the Commission's communication on the EU budget review reflect a partnership-based approach.

The representatives of 100 000 European regions and cities now expect the Member States to follow suit and take the necessary steps at their own level. The Committee of the Regions will submit a proposal on this to the Spring Summit. With this in mind, Mercedes Bresso will meet the permanent representatives of the 27 Member States to the European Union on 8 March, followed by European Council president Herman Van Rompuy on 17 March.

Note to editors

Just before the Spring Summit of the European Council, the Committee of the Regions is organising a conference with an economic theme on territorial dialogue, to be attended by participants from the European institutions and local and regional elected representatives. The idea is to take a joint look at the achievements and shortcomings of the strategy designed to lead the European Union to growth.

Following this meeting, CoR president Mercedes Bresso will present a summary of the debates to the permanent representatives of the Member States to the European Union on 8 March, and to the president of the European Council on 17 March.

The Committee of the Regions will finalise its official position on the European budget review on 31 March with an opinion drawn up jointly by the institution's president and first vice-president, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso.

Local and regional authorities are responsible for over 30% of total public expenditure, 25% of tax revenue, 16% of public debt and two-thirds of capital investment. They also implement around 70% of European law.

For more information, please contact:

Athénaïs Cazalis de Fondouce

Committee of the Regions

Tel.: +32 (0)2 282 24 47

To read previous press releases, click here.

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