Following the decision of the AER Executive Board, widely supported by the General Assembly, to strengthen the links between the Assembly of European Regions and the Italian regions, an AER delegation visited four regions on 21-25 November 2016. The delegation was led by Sonja Steen, President of the Committee on Youth, Culture and Education and Mayor of Nordland County Council (NO), accompanied by Eirik Fiva, Head of International Relations in Nordland County; and Alexandre Brecx, Coordinator for members and institutional relations within the AER Secretariat.
Focus on Central Italy
A first successful visit of that kind to the Italian regions has been organized earlier this year, focusing mainly on the North. The delegation paid this time a visit to two long-standing AER members: Abruzzo and Umbria, as well as two non-members: Latium and Puglia. The AER member region of Molise was also on the agenda, but had to postpone the meeting due to the consequences of the terrible earthquakes that recently took place in that part of Italy. The mission was indeed an occasion for the AER delegation to witness the damages and to address condolences on behalf of all the AER members.
Since its creation in 1985, the Italian regions have always played an important role in the Assembly of European Regions, notably with two presidencies of the organisation and an active involvement in the Eurodyssey programme and in the Youth Regional Network (YRN). With this mission led my Sonja Steen, AER aimed at improving its existing relations, meet the new political leaders, get to know their priorities and how we can work on it in the network, inform the regions about the new structure of AER and how they can take the maximum profit out of it.