Lezhe (AL), 4 July 2013
The Executive Board of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), meeting today in the Albanian region of Lezhe, warmly welcomed yesterday’s agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the future EU budget.
The AER President, Dr Hande Özsan Bozatli, expressed her satisfaction: “In times of high unemployment and increasing doubts about the EU institutions and member States’ capacity to make common decisions, we welcome the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council. The Parliament has done a good job in implementing the consent procedure granted by the Lisbon Treaty. It is a good news for Europe! We are particularly happy about the introduction of some flexibility in the Multi-annual financial framework (MFF), which should allow the EU to react to short term changing circumstances, reallocate financing from one policy to another and move unpaid funds from one year to another. But of course our regret remains the decreased envelope in favour of cohesion policy, which we consider as a missed opportunity to make it a major growth instrument all over Europe.”
The President of the region of Lezhe, Pashk Gjoni, who was hosting the meeting, asked AER to be the voice of his region towards the EU. “Lezhe is willing to implement a Regional Development Agency as an important instrument for the setting up of regional policies that achieves sustainable development and cultivates regional regeneration and provides employment and wealth for our citizens. I know that AER will provide us with all its experience and assist us in getting the support of the Union in order to reinforce our capacity building.”
The AER welcomes the confirmed decision to ring fence some money for youth unemployment and improve the access to funding on this issue, which is since 28 years one of AERs’ highest priorities, notably through its Eurodyssey programme and Youth Regional Network. The AER is also satisfied that the access to support for SMEs will be made easier. It now encourages the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament to pursue their efforts to simplify the access to EU funding, in particular for regional and local authorities and stakeholders, including the private sector.
Meanwhile, AER reiterates its request towards the Member States to take into account the needs of the European regions in the Common Strategic Framework 2014-2020 and that the operational programmes match with a sustainable territorial development in order to fully involve the citizens.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together 250 regions from 35 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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