The state of the European Union should be seen from a human perspective: Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, underlined in his response to the first ever Regions and Cities’ State of the European Union.
“My belief – confirmed by recent experiences in Germany – is that citizens do not reject democracy, but they want open minded leaders to be brave enough to face the reality and to tell the truth” President Schneider said. He also referenced Helmuth Kohl’s ambition to establish a European Committee of the Regions, “thereby giving our Federal Länder, as well as other regions, a direct voice in shaping what the Community wants” to call for a greater role for EU regions and cities in EU decision-making.
The address took place in the presence of Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, who has asked the CoR to reflect with him on how to rebuild trust with European citizens. Reiterating the importance of being working with locally and regionally elected politicians, he said: “I am a true believer in the mission of this institution. Your members are important ambassadors for Europe to the political grassroots, closest to ordinary citizens, and your fingerspitzengefühl for the concerns of local communities helps to keep European policy-making firmly rooted in reality”.
On 9 October, the European Committee of the Regions together with leading associations of EU cities and regions launched a #CohesionAlliance, a Europe-wide coalition calling for the EU budget after 2020 to make cohesion policy stronger, more effective, visible and available for every region in the Union. President Schneider therefore took the opportunity to voice the CoR’s ambition for a strong cohesion policy backed up with a realistic budget saying “Social, economic and territorial cohesion is so vital for the future of the EU. It is not simply a matter of money, but a matter of securing our regions’ common future in the EU. We will do everything in our power to support it, as demonstrated by the launch of the Cohesion Alliance.”
A video with testimonials from EPP Group members was launched in support of this alliance.
President Schneider concluded his intervention with a call for a roadmap based on a “political subsidiarity” approach, which implements the Rome Declaration’s principles so that the trust embodied in local and regional authorities can revitalise the European project. “These two simple words: unity and diversity make me think of other two words, very dear to our “regional and local” ears: solidarity and subsidiarity. If subsidiarity’s mission is to counterbalance the development of an over-centralistic national or EU establishment, solidarity across regions and cities keeps all of us united” he said.