‘The time has come for the Regions, the Member States and the European Institutions to work together, to define a common vision for Europe and to set a joint course of action for the coming 50 years.’
Half a century ago, the six founding nations of the European Economic Community met to pursue their common interest of peace and prosperity across continent. Today, Europe is at a crossroad. European regional leaders, meeting in the city of Berlin, set out the steps EU leaders must take in order to face the challenges of the 21st century.
The Berlin Declaration of the Assembly of European Regions urges the EU to focus on what it does best: addressing those challenges that cannot be met by national or regional governments acting alone. Among them, the regions identified trade, security, environmental and energy policies as the most pressing. Citizens do want to reap the benefits of globalisation, but at the same time they fear its reverse side: business relocation, unemployment fears and the future challenges associated with our welfare systems can only be addressed by a strong Union. And what about transnational crime and terrorism, where police cooperation is strongly needed? The issue of climate change, a phenomenon that we are already experiencing first-hand, together with the related energy issues, are also threats that the national states cannot address by themselves any more.
“We need a stronger Europe both externally and internally”, said Riccardo Illy, President of the AER and of the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, during the press conference which followed the AER Presidium meeting. On the internal side, Mr. Illy underlined how Europe must exploit and reinforce the principles of subsidiarity, cohesion and diversity. “Diversity is our competitive advantage”, he stressed. This is the reason why a strong Europe needs strong regions, just as much as strong regions need a strong Europe!
European regions also proposed today a way out of the Constitutional impasse: they invited the German Presidency of the EU to firstly check whether the conditions still exist to approve and unanimously adopt the Constitutional Treaty in its current form. If this option fails, regions propose to go back to the Intergovernmental Conference table, where EU members should absolutely find an agreement on a minimum number of necessary amendments, in order that the Treaty can be ratified in all 27 Member States.
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