Vienna (A), 25 November 2004
The Assembly of European Regions unanimously elected Dr. Riccardo Illy, President of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Italy), as its new President for a two years mandate, during its General Meeting in Vienna, on 25th November 2004. “I am very proud to hand over to Dr. Riccardo Illy as the President of the AER, the organisation committed to promoting regional democracy throughout Europe for almost 20 years now. His region, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, has an exceptional experience of regionalism which gives the Regions of Europe the assurance of further progress in this field at European and international levels” said Liese Prokop, Vice-Minister President of Niederösterreich (A), the AER outgoing President. “The history of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, its status as autonomous and border region, as well as its geographical situation between Central and Southern Europe, are real assets for the development of dialogue between the European Regions and the strengthening of interregional cooperation at the borders of the new EU” she added.
Riccardo Illy, 49, Doctor Honoris Causa in Political Science of the University of Trieste and Vice-President of Illycaffè Company, started his lightning political career as Mayor of Trieste (1993-2001). In 2001, he was elected to the National Parliament of Italy as an independent candidate, a mandate he abandoned in June 2003 when he won the regional elections and became the President of the Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. He was directly elected as an independent candidate and leads a centre-left coalition government.
The Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia has a status of autonomy since 1963. The region has legislative powers, among others in the fields of transport, environment, health, social affairs, industry, research and innovation. The government actively supports the strengthening of the process of European integration and of the role of the regions in the new EU. It is always involved in the current EU enlargement, with specific emphasis on developing a true political European Union. One of its main strategies is the development of the region as a link between Southern and Central Europe and in this regard the region is promoting the ambitious project of the creation of a Euroregion, consisting of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Kärtnen (Austria), the some future Slovenian regions and the two Croatian counties (Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar).
Additional results of the AER elections 2004
Adrien Zeller, President of the Regional Council of Alsace (France) and Ivan Jakovcic, President of the Region of Istria (Croatia) were re-elected as AER Vice-Presidents. Brian Greenslade, Leader of Devon County Council (United Kingdom) was elected Vice-President Treasurer. Peter Straub who serves as well as President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and President of the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and Stig-Erik Westmark, President of the International Commission for Västmanland (Sweden) were re-elected as Presidents for the Institutional Affairs Committee and the Social Cohesion, Social Policy and Public Health Committee respectively.
Onno Hoes, Member of the Board of the Provincial Executive of North Brabant (Netherlands) and Mag. Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Landesrätin of Niederösterreich (Austria) were respectively elected Presidents of the AER Committees on Regional Policy, Spatial planning, Infrastructure, Environment & Tourism and on Culture, Education & Training, Youth, Media & Information technology, Sport.
Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe, Minister-President of Wallonie (Belgium) and Marie-Dominique Simonet, Minister for External Relations of Wallonie (Belgium) were re-elected as Presidents of the AER Eurodyssey programme; this interregional exchanges programme allows 500 young Europeans to make an internship in private enterprises in the Eurodyssey partner regions and to gain professional experience abroad.
Michèle Sabban, Vice-President of the Region Ile-de-France (F) was confirmed as President of the Group ‘Equal opportunities’.
The new AER Presidium will be in charge of preparing the Regions of the EU and their citizens for the ratification of the new Constitution for Europe and afterwards for assisting the regions in playing an active role in the implementation process. They will also be responsible for taking initiatives aimed at following goals: to improve the new Cohesion Policy and the management of Structural Funds in the Enlarged Europe, to ensure the future of public services in Europe and particularly to assess the potential impact of the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) on the competences of regions in health, social, education and cultural policy.
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