CoR needs its regions and cities as much as they need the EU, Declaration of 8th Summit in Bucharest says

The 8th European Summit of the Regions and Cities held in Bucharest 14-15 March was concluded with the adoption of the Declaration which was formally handed over to the President of Romania Klaus Iohanis. The Declaration will serve as the position of the regions and cities to the leaders of the EU institutions and heads of member states who will gather in Sibiu, Romania on 9 May to discuss the future of the EU27.

This declaration is our contribution to the preparation of the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 to be outlined by the EU leaders in Sibiu on 9 May 2019, it is said.

The Declaration states that the European Union politicians elected at regional and local level, are convinced that the European Union needs its regions and cities as much as they need the European Union, which is built on the principles of liberty, solidarity, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, and has brought lasting peace and development to the people of Europe.

Europe is being transformed at an unprecedented speed by globalisation, by the digital revolution, climate, and demographic change. If we do not want European integration to become a reversible process, these transformations, which crystalize social, economic and territorial inequalities, have to be accompanied, shaped and regulated through a concentrated effort at all levels of government, in particular when one third of all public expenditure and more than half of public investment is carried out at the sub-national level, it is pointed out.

The Declaration of the Summit, which was co-organized by CoR, the Romanian Presidency and the CoR Romanian Delegation, underlines that trust in local and regional levels of governance is on average higher than trust in national government, and in most Member States it is also higher than trust in the EU.

Against this background, the EUs cities and regions, and their elected representatives, provide proximity, trust and stability in the Union at a time when divergences and antagonisms are growing. This stability is vital to continue building a shared European future for the next generation, it is stated.

The 10 point Declaration underlines that multilevel governance is essential to ensure the active and equal participation of all levels of government in a spirit of trust.

It is stated that applying the concept of “active subsidiarity” is crucial to allow decisions to reflect European added value and to be taken as close to citizens as possible in a fully accountable, efficient and transparent way.

More decentralisation and a better division of powers are essential elements of good governance because they increase transparency, accountability and quality of policy-making with a better engagement with citizens, the Declaration reads, adding that the link between the Union and its citizens should be reinforced.

The Declaration also points out that it is vital to raise awareness amongst EU citizens, especially young people, about the European dimension of their identity and citizenship, in particular through education, culture and youth empowerment policies, in order to increase their feeling of belonging to the European project.

The CoR points out it its Declaration that Regions and cities are at the forefront of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which should become the EUs over-arching long-term economic model, succeeding the Europe 2020 Strategy and therefore cities and regions should also be empowered to fully play their role in achieving the transition towards a carbon neutral and sustainable Europe.

The EU leaders are called upon to focus on strengthening the social dimension of the EU and allowing social rights to be put on a par with economic rights.

Successful European social inclusion policies and in particular the policies for integrating migrants are not possible if local and regional authorities are not provided with adequate means and direct access to appropriate EU funding, it is said.

It is pointed out that cohesion policy, notably through European territorial cooperation, has proven its added value for the EU and should be preserved beyond 2020 for all regions, based on the principles of a place-based approach, European partnerships, shared management and multilevel governance.

As regards the level of public investment in the EU which remains too low to provide the right public infrastructure and services and Cor points out that closing the public investment gap is crucial, adding that the EU should allow necessary room for maneuver for local and regional authorities to support their investments.

The Declaration points out the need of the EU leaders to provide the European Union with an ambitious budget capable of withstanding the challenges ahead and enabling the design of lasting and sustainable EU policies. In a context of political, social and environmental urgency, we therefore call for a rapid agreement on the next multi-annual financial framework along the lines already set out by the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions, the Declaration reads.

Source: Cyprus News Agency