During a meeting today with Commissioner Margot Wallström, AER-President Riccardo Illy presented concrete reccomendations for how to improve the link between citizens and the EU.
‘Regions are responsible for the management of 70-80 per cent of EU policy and therefore can provide information to the European institutions about what works and what does not. Their involvement in shaping European policy can lead to greater participation of citizens in European policy-making and to the creation of a European reality at a grassroots level, through the development and implementation of joint projects and programmes. This is a notion of Europe that is not dependent upon the European institutions, but rather upon the daily realities of close co-operation and partnership across borders’, the AER President stressed.
In response to the Commission’s own White Paper on European Communication Policy’, Riccardo Illy also presented Commissioner Wallström with a series of concrete proposals that the Assembly of European Regions intends to submit within the context of the Commission’s public consultation process. Among others, he called upon Commissioner Wallström to commit to organising a specific stakeholder forum’ with local and regional authorities, to support the creation of the European Regional Training Institute that will provide lifelong learning opportunities to regional politicians and officers on matters of European integration, and to extend the idea of a European Communication Training Programme to the regional level.
Riccardo Illy assured Commissioner Wallström of the AER’s full intention to support the Commission’s Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate’. He presented the AER forthcoming initiatives in this context, including a European Youth Ambassador scheme’, which aims to involve young people in the regions in the debate on the future of Europe. He also invited the European Commission to participate in the first AER Citizens’ Forum on Europe’, which will take place in Debrecen, Hungary, on 17th May 2006, and is intended as a model for other regions. The Forum operates as a two-way dialogue, informing citizens about the European Union’s concrete work, and listening to people’s expectations about what should be done in the future.
‘The AER and its 255 member regions are ready and willing to play a full role in reconnecting Europe with its citizens. They are prepared to commit time and resources to this effort as they believe that a strong European Union, rooted in the principles of subsidiarity and proximity, is vital for ensuring a stable and prosperous future for Europe’, Riccardo Illy concluded.
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