Udine, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (I), 9 November 2007
As EU nations come to grips with selling the idea of a shared “European identity” to citizens, the regions of wider Europe have taken up that challenge with this week’s adoption of the Assembly of European Regions(AER) Udine Declaration. The declaration sets out the regions’ crucial role in fostering a common European identity, and was adopted by the 650 representatives from 155 European regions attending AER’s 2007 General Assembly.
AER’s General Assembly was hosted this year by AER President Riccardo Illy in his home region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (I). In a joint press conference held in Udine today with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, President Illy said:
“As this region’s President, I have seen first hand how an active regional authority can nurture regional identity among citizens. It is the regional authorities that are closest to the citizens, and it is the regions that are best equipped to lead citizens towards Europe. The Udine Declaration sets out exactly how we can put that into practice.”
President Barroso added:
“Regions play a significant role in forging strong regional, national and European identities. The Udine Declaration of the AER General Assembly has highlighted this complex interdependence and the related opportunities and challenges.
“Regions are key to involving citizens actively in the building of Europe. I most appreciate the successful work carried out by AER for more than 20 years to set up networks and projects that interlink European citizens and regional decision-makers.”
On behalf of the European regions, AER’s Udine Declaration asks national governments and the European institutions to implement the following key points:
- Give regions the responsibility and the financial means to design and manage policies which impact upon regional identities;
- Recognise that regional identity and the principle of subsidiarity are key factors in the development of strong cohesive regions;
- Recognise and provide support for the role of regions in developing – in addition to the existing national identities – a European identity;
- Restrict the ability of the European Commission to use State Aid policy to limit regions’ delivery of cultural, media and education policies.
The Udine Declaration recognises that the regions are ” building blocks for Europe” – the regions gathered at this year’s AER General Assembly are already putting those blocks into place.
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