Brussels (B), 20 June 2006
The 4th structured dialogue meeting held in Brussels on 20th June with Commissioner Jan Figel on “The European Policy of Education and Culture: its contribution to the success of the Lisbon Strategy the role of regions and cities’ has been for the Assembly of European Regions (AER) again an opportunity to underline the necessity of regional autonomy in cultural and educational policies.
Speaking on behalf of the AER, Erik Sedig, Member of the Board of Regional Development of Västerbotten (S), pointed out the existing correlation between education, culture, traditions and heritage on the one hand and the dynamics they create for the respective economic sectors as well as economy as a whole on the other hand. With regard to the Lisbon strategy, which he considered essential for making the European project a success, he warned however that ‘subjugating the spheres of culture and education to the rules of a liberalised market alone would reduce diversity and betray European values”.
Commissioner Figel agreed that culture and education policies should not be dealt with from an economic point of view alone and that culture should not be considered under the label of business-as-usual’. “The European Commission is well aware of the fundamentally different character of culture and education among the EU policy areas and of the fact that in these policy areas the European Regions are the key for their successful implementation”, he continued. Commissioner Figel indicated furthermore that his services are currently working on the question how culture-related industries can be supported in the EU.
Finally, Commissioner Figel welcomed the AER’s offer to serve as an intermediary in the Commissions effort to reach out to the European citizen by accepting Mr Sedig’s proposal to “engage local and regional authorities in order not only to ensure an effective implementation of the European Commission’s policies, but also to facilitate the transfer of its messages to the citizens in the European regions”.
Concluding the meeting, Chairman Luc van den Brande, 1st Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions and former President of the AER, highlighted the long experience of the AER in the exchange of best practices and expressed his particular appreciation of its programmes, such as Eurodyseey, which prove the European regions’ ability and valuable role in promoting European cooperation.
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