Olgierd Geblewicz, President of the Westpomeranian Region, Poland, has been elected as the new President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions (EPP-CoR) today. Members of the EPP-CoR also unanimously elected Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, Greece, as the EPP candidate for the presidency of the Committee of the Regions.

As EPP-CoR President, Geblewicz will work on reinforcing local democracy and addressing challenges such as the rise of populism, fake news and hate speech: “As Christian democrats, we have the responsibility to tackle these threats by strengthening our societies and restoring people’s faith in European values, solidarity as well as in our common interests. Working in close cooperation with the EPP family and its new President Donald Tusk, I want to bring together leaders from all levels to work jointly for our people,” said President Geblewicz.

Following his election as candidate for the presidency of the CoR, Apostolos Tzitzikostas said:

“My vision stems from my geographical, political and cultural belonging. My hometown is Thessaloniki; my home region is Central Macedonia, my home country is Greece, but I also feel at home in each and every corner of the European Union. My ambition is for us to bring added value to the European Union by making the best out of the different identities coming from our local, regional and national homes. We are a bridge between Europe and its citizens. We must fight for decisions to be taken as close as possible to the citizens to make their lives better. We can make Europe act more effectively in meeting the citizens’ demands and regaining their trust.”

Tzitzikostas’ vision for the new mandate of the CoR builds on putting the EU at the service of its people and the places where they live in a sustainable, cohesive and inclusive way. One if his main aims is to modernise European democracy so that it answers efficiently to the needs of the people in the future European Union. Tzitzikostas will also work on raising the profile of the CoR and its members both in Brussels and with Europe’s local and regional authorities.

“I believe in democracy, cohesion and solidarity as EU fundamental values. That is why I will do my best to visit you and your people living in small rural communities, metropolitan areas, remote, coastal and cross-border regions across Europe. Our unity and cohesiveness are vital for the future of Europe,” Tzitzikostas concluded.

Congratulating Geblewicz and Tzitzikostas on their election Donald Tusk, President of the European People’s Party underlined that: “Democracy, a foundational value of our European Union, is strongly rooted in the local and regional levels. The EPP will continue to work hand in hand with the leaders of our cities and regions to restore people’s trust in the future of our common European project that truly delivers for its citizens. As responsible centre-right politicians we are serious about subsidiarity and understand that the definition of new policies should start in our regions.”

Antonio López-Istúriz, Secretary General of the European People’s Party said: “Local and regional politics is everything! You are the ones who are next to the people. You hear and feel their everyday concerns and provide concrete solutions. And you are the ones who can speak about Europe to the people. If we are to accomplish our ambitious plans for the EU in the years to come, we need the input, expertise and endorsement from our regions and cities. From the Green Deal to the debate on the Future of Europe, what we will achieve on the ground depends on the backing of our EPP regional and local politicians. The European way of life is in your hands.”

The President and First Vice-President of the CoR will be elected on 11 February 2020 at the first Plenary session of the 2020-2025 CoR mandate.

The EPP-CoR wishes to thank Michael Schneider for his dynamic leadership and devotion as President of our Group over the past ten years. Furthermore, we express our sincere thanks to Markku Markkula for his successful five-year term as President and first Vice-President of the CoR.

Notes:

Olgierd Geblewicz has been President of the Westpomeranian Region since 2010 and a member of the CoR since 2011. He is also President of the Association of Polish Regions and a member of the National Council of Civic Platform of Poland. His CV can be found here.

Apostolos Tzitzikostas has been Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia since 2014 and an active EPP-CoR member since 2015. He served as a Member of the Greek Parliament for Nea Dimokratia in 2007-2009 and is currently the President of the Association of Greek Regions. His CV can be found here.

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