Sarajevo (BiH), 16 June 2006
The political Bureau of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) met today in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to decide upon the AER’s position on the European Commission’s Plan D and its Communication Strategy. ‘We, as Presidents of the Regions, are keenly aware of the lack of citizens knowledge regarding Europe and its future. We contribute daily to improving this situation by providing practical information to our citizens, but it is of great importance that the European institutions themselves play a greater role in making Europe understandable and relevant. This is the only way in which we will obtain their full commitment to the future of Europe,’ underlined Riccardo Illy, President of the AER and President of the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia-I. ‘We hear from the citizens that they want to receive clear and simple information about how to benefit from the opportunities offered to them by the EU’.
The AER White Paper on the Role of the Regions in Reconnecting Europe with its Citizens and the European Youth Ambassador Scheme are important elements of the AER response to this high priority issue. The White Paper sets out a series of 22 concrete actions that regions, Member States and the European institutions can take in order to bring Europe closer to the citizens. Through the European Youth Ambassador Scheme, young people are provided with training and support to organise actions promoting debate on Europe amongst young people in their regions. Through such actions, the Regions can act as a bridge between the EU and the citizens. ‘We are already bringing citizens together with the European decision makers, through citizen forums, and we involve young people in our daily work on European issues. Youth representatives actively contribute to the AER policies and projects’ concluded Riccardo Illy.
Mr Denis Zvizdic, Prime Minister of Sarajevo Canton-BIH, told the AER political representatives of his high expectations for continued cooperation that will open new horizons. ‘It is easier to progress when we are surrounded by friends, and the AER Regions are our friends. Of course there is some way to go, but thanks to our mutual understanding, our perspectives are broader and our integration process will be faster.’
Mr Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, joined the 80 AER political representatives. They explored together the future of this country, which must now take responsibility for its own political reforms and economic development. The AER, in which 7 Cantons are already members, promised to continue supporting this work through concrete cooperation projects and partnerships, which will help to ensure that Bosnia and Herzegovina will become a strong country with strong Regions and a full partner in Europe.
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