Joint press release
Brussels, 6 June 2013
Joining forces to overcome the crisis
Today the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and Committee of the Regions President, Ramón Luis Valcárcel, discussed the main economic, social and political challenges of the European Union. Determined action to implement agreed measures to overcome the crisis, stepping up efforts for growth and jobs, and moving forward towards a deeper integrated economic and monetary union were at the heart of the discussion.
The bilateral meeting between the two Presidents was followed by a working lunch hosted by President Barroso with seven major Local and Regional Associations and the President and First Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), Mercedes Bresso. Both meetings took place in the framework of the "structural dialogue" between the European Commission, the CoR and European Associations of Local and Regional Authorities, which seeks to strengthen relations between the EU and representatives of local and regional authorities.
President Barroso said: "While we are pulling all the stops to move Europe out of the crisis, our most important task is to give hope to people. We need to continue directing all efforts towards creating sustainable growth and jobs in Europe, implementing the measures we have decided to take. And we need to show that the action is making a difference for our unemployed young people and our cash-strapped small and medium sized enterprises. In this context the future EU budget 2014-2020 and its funding programmes are crucially important. We call on Council and Parliament to agree swiftly on the future budget so that vital investment can start flowing to the Member States and their regions as from 2014. We will only succeed if we cooperate at all levels. The role of regions and cities is key to achieve our common goals."
President Valcárcel emphasised that: "The time has come to initiate some serious thinking on how the European Union can truly strengthen the power of cities and regions, the authorities which are the closest to the citizens. I am fully convinced that to help our local businesses to create jobs and our young citizens regain faith in their capacities; we must continue the European integration process and extend the role of Europe's regions. "I believe that the only answer to this crisis is "More Europe"", he added.
President Barroso and President Valcárcel pointed out that the coming weeks, months and years will be crucial to prove the effectiveness of the EU's crisis response, built on growth-friendly fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and targeted investment and underpinned by a much stronger coordination of economic and budgetary policies in the context of the European Semester.
The two Presidents also discussed the Europe 2020 Strategy which will continue to guide EU action. In this context, the Committee of the Regions' President invited the Commission to consider preparing a White Paper on territorial cohesion so as to better analyse the interplay between the Territorial Agenda 2020 and the Europe 2020 Strategy.
The CoR President also underlined that aside from constantly monitoring the progress made on all Europe 2020 Flagship Initiatives, the CoR is already working on a mid-term assessment of the Strategy from a local and regional perspective. The CoR contribution to this mid-term review will be presented at the next Summit of European Cities and Regions - to be held in Athens on 6-7 March 2014.
President Valcárcel was also keen to emphasise that 2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Committee of the Regions. This will offer a good opportunity for the institution to "look back, take stock and look forward". Proposals on how to strengthen the CoR institutional and political role beyond 2015 will be put forward and presented at the plenary session marking the 20 years (April 2014).
The seven Local and Regional Associations were represented by:
– Mr Giorgio Orsoni, 1st Vice-President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and Mayor of Venice (Italy),
– Mr Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and Leader of the Government of the German-speaking community of Belgium,
– Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, President of the Conference of peripheral maritime regions (CPMR), French Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs and President of Regional Council of Brittany (PES/FR),
– Ms Hande Özsan Bozatli, President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and President of the EU and International Relations Committee of Istanbul Provincial Council,
– Mr Daniël Termont, EUROCITIES, member of the executive committee, and Mayor of Gent (Belgium),
– Ms Françoise Dupuis, President of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) the President of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital-Region,
– Mr Franco Iacop, President of the Conference of European Regions with Legislative Powers (REGLEG).