The Presidium of the Assembly of European Regions, the largest network of regions in the wider Europe, gathers in Frankfurt to discuss future EU budget and cohesion policy
Frankfurt, Hessen (D), 9 March 2008
At the invitation of the Government of Hessen (D), a meeting today of the Assembly of European Regions’ (AER) Presidium was held at the Maintower’ in Frankfurt. AER is the largest and most active alliance of regions in the wider Europe, bringing together more than 260 member regions from 33 countries as well as 13 interregional associations. The organisation’s membership extends beyond old’ Europe to include regions from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia and Turkey.
Vice-President of AER and President of Baden Württemberg, Peter Straub, said at today’s meeting that the regions were becoming a key force in European politics:
‘The idea of a Europe of the Regions’ is not just an ideal; it is a practical policy requirement. The Lisbon Treaty has recognised this fact with its emphasis on subsidiarity and the second and third tiers of government as reference points for European action. This is why AER membership, along with member regions’ involvement in our activities, is increasing each year.’
The importance of regional-level involvement in EU policy was marked in recent months by EC President Barroso’s appointment of AER’s President Riccardo Illy to a High Level Working Group on the Reduction of Administrative Burdens, chaired by former President of Bavaria Edmund Stoiber. The AER President is the only active politician in Stoiber’s working group.
Today’s Presidium meeting focused on the future EU budget and cohesion policy, areas in which the regions can make a key contribution by presenting a common position despite their geographical, ethnic, and political diversity.
‘Although AER covers such a broad political spectrum, we can reach agreements and solutions in policy areas where the EU and the states are still struggling. I am sometimes amazed that 260 regional authorities can adopt a common position in so many policy areas… And that is the strength of AER, our harmony in diversity,’ Mr. Straub said.
That ‘harmony in diversity’ has helped regions from the EU’s new and future member states to bring their citizens closer to the European Project long before formal accession. Since AER is as much a forum for interregional cooperation as it is a political voice for the regions’ interests, many of its members have taken advantage of the experiences and best practices of their older’ European counterparts. AER’s membership has rapidly increased in the past few years among regions in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the states of the former Soviet Union and Turkey.
Mr. Straub believes that AER’s experience gives the organisation a basis from which to demand greater regional involvement in the design and implementation of European budgetary and cohesion policy. ‘EU policy must reflect regional needs, since it is regional authorities that are closest to citizens. That is how the principle of subsidiarity works, and that is why it is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty’, he added.
AER’s recent study on the future of cohesion policy 2014+ had surveyed 60 regions from across the wider Europe, adding a valuable grass-roots perspective to the European debate. Both the study and AER’s position on the EU Budget Review 2008-2009 call for greater integration of regional policy into other EU policy areas whilst allowing regions more scope to manage EU funds in the interests of those they are meant to benefit: Europe’s citizens.
Presidium of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) met at the invitation of Minister Volker Hoff in Frankfurt
Hessen Minister for Federal and European Affairs, Volker Hoff, welcomed the Presidium of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) today to the home of the Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen in Frankfurt am Main.
European Minister Hoff used his role as host to outline some main issues in Hessen’s Europe policy, focusing in particular on the topics of reducing bureaucracy and simplifying procedures:
For Hessen as a central economic, transport and science beacon in Germany, the crucial point is the competitiveness of our businesses. When it comes to EU legislative procedures, there is an urgent need for us to think beyond the perimeters of Europe, because for many European businesses, their products and services are involved not in European competition, but actually in global competition. Businesses in Hessen, which are very strongly active on the global market, also need the support of Europe for a fair commercial policy and boosts to competitiveness. Our task is to make life and doing business easier for our entrepreneurs, not more complicated. We need to move away from a situation where competition regulations within Europe mean global competitive disadvantages to the detriment of the domestic economy and employment’, Volker Hoff stressed in his introductory statement.
Minister Hoff showed himself to be convinced, among the AER Presidium members, that the AER forms an outstanding platform as a vector for regional concerns at the European level.
Some Photos of the Event:
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