“The Corona virus pandemic and resulting crisis has shown that we need decisive actions, more cooperation, more partnerships, more solidarity – we need more Europe. I want to express my strong feeling of optimism and hope for what the European Union is doing to concretely deliver solutions to our citizens, our enterprises and our territories. We have successfully demonstrated that we can be united in diversity more than ever. This is the spirit of Europe we are here to celebrate on this special date, the 9 of May, Europe’s Day.” Olgierd Geblewicz, President of the Westpomeranian Region and President of EPP-CoR Group made these remarks during an EPP-COR Group meeting organising via videoconference with all EPP-COR members to celebrate Europe Day.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, Greece, and President of CoR also joined the event. He said that Europe is about unity, solidarity and responsibility. He added “thanks to the powerful commitment of CoR members, we have the proof that regions and cities have a crucial role in facing a crisis and in Europe’s recovery.”
Various EPP local and regional leaders took the floor during the meeting to discuss the current situation in Europe and how to deliver concrete results for people. Jelena Drenjanin, member of Huddinge Municipality and Vice-President of the EPP-CoR said that the input of villages, cities and regions is crucial in order to help our citizens. Michael Murphy from Tipperary County Council and ECON chair said that we need to help local and regional SME’s to recover as soon as possible proposing tax cuts to support leisure industry which has been harshly hit.
Markku Markkula, member of Espoo City Council spoke about advanced teaching and learning techniques in Finland and that these have been shared with other regions. Tanya Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo said that only by working together cities and regions can be more resilient and stronger. Emil Boc,Mayor of Cluj-Napoca spoke about demographic challenges saying that no one should be forced to leave his own city or region because of lack of opportunities.
Vice-president and regional minister of the Region of Sicily, Gaetano Armao said that the CoR has to play a crucial role in bringing Europe closer to citizens. Hélder Sousa Silva, Mayor of Mafra, Portugal added that the conference on the Future of Europe is an opportunity to reconnect with our citizens.
Mark Speich, Secretary of State for Federal, European and International Affairs, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany, and CIVEX Chair proposed a European Strategy of Regional Responsibility. He said that this is necessary to overcome national isolation and closed borders. Eleni Loukaidou, Councilor of Nicosia Municipality, thanked the citizens of Nicosia for respecting directives of authorities. She welcomed the fact that measures were taken at an early stage limiting the spread of the pandemic.
Today Cities and region all over the European Union are celebrating Europe Day. Held on 9 May every year, the date marks the anniversary of peace and unity in Europe known also as the ‘Schuman declaration’ Day. 70 years ago, at a speech in Paris, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed just under a year later. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.
In previous years, Europe Day was marked by celebrations all over the cities and regions of Europe. Public events were held in all member stated and the European Institutions were open for public visits. This year the situation was different due to the health crisis that Europe is faced with and in order to keep citizens safe, celebrations were held on digital platforms. Apart from the EPP-CoR meeting, the CoR organized an online forum in which several EPP local and regional leaders contributed. You can read more here.