1 May 2004: European citizens build a new Europe
The entry of 10 new countries into the European Union (EU) is the result of many years of work. At the same time it opens up new horizons, opportunities and challenges for the European citizens.
On the occasion of the enlargement, the Presidents of the European interregional organisations ask for the inclusion of the regions as full partners in the enlarged EU. The joint Declaration which they have prepared, entitled “The Future of the European Union”, calls for the following measures:
European Community of values
The integration of the new citizens will be accomplished through a political community of values based on shared cultural, social, economic, and political aims. At the same time, diversity has to be respected, and the regional level has a decisive role to play in this field. “United in diversity” is the regions’ motto.
The new Constitutional Treaty
The discussions that will accompany the finalisation of the EU Constitution will offer the opportunity to discuss the basis of the EU. Of particular importance in this regard are the basic democratic principles, such as clarity regarding the division of competencies and separation of powers. Transparency, information and communication with the citizens on the content are vital in order to ensure that the Constitution is accepted by all the citizens. The regions will pay particular attention to the fields of Services of General Interest, culture, education, health and transport policies.
Cohesion and regional policy in the enlarged Europe
New flexible policies need to be developed for the Structural Funds and the Community Initiatives. Cohesion policy cannot solely focus upon promoting economic growth. It can only be successful if the European Institutions work closely with the regions.
The role of the Regions in the enlarged Europe
The Presidents of the European interregional organisations have mandated their Secretaries General with the preparation of a common White Paper entitled “The role of the regions in the enlarged European Union”.
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