“Regions, federated states and autonomous communities are above all mainstays of democracy; they strongly support cultural diversity in Europe and they are major partners in socio-economic development”. This message has been AER’s core vision for the last 30 years. It was the basis for its creation in 1985, was manifested in the AER Declaration on Regionalism adopted in 1996, and has not lost any of its relevance today, in 2015.
At its annual General Assembly in the Swedish region of Västra Götaland in the beginning of June, AER members showed their commitment during the 30th Anniversary celebrations to the importance of regional democracy and good regional governance.This was enforced by the presence of AER’s institutional partners, the Committee of the Regions, and the Chamber of Regions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, as well as its partner network CALRE.
Apart from looking back, AER members also acknowledged and discussed continuous challenges such as climate change, debt crisis, youth unemployment and decentralisation. Prof. Fredrik SÖDERBAUM University of Gothenburg offered the following conclusion “[…] regionalism is thriving! The future of regionalism is bright — which is not to deny the many challenges that still exist […] regionalism has become more dynamic and more relevant in spite of the transformation of the nation-state and the many radical changes in the world during recent decades. This means that regions are likely to continue to thrive in the 21st century. However, the future of regionalism is in many ways different from earlier forms of regionalism.”