The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) is calling for a positive vision for a reformed Europe built on: strengthened territorial, social and economic cohesion; reinforced co-operation and partnership; and a Europe based on shared values with solidarity at its core.

In a political statement published today, the CPMR argues forcibly that Regions are the first to feel the impact of many of the challenges facing Europe, and must be central to providing solutions to the everyday problems facing communities, citizens and enterprises. The EU must make economic, social and territorial cohesion a fundamental pillar in its future strategies and budgets.

Europe’s challenges have contributed to uncertainty and fear amongst ordinary people, and an unstable political environment, including the Brexit vote in 2016.

There has been a positive turn of events recently, notably the Dutch elections in March, and the resounding victory for Emmanuel Macron’s pro-EU agenda in the French Presidential election. However, Europe’s challenges have not gone away.

CPMR President Vasco Cordeiro, said: ‘We hope the election of President Macron means that our reflections on Europe can focus on driving forward a positive reform agenda, where Regions are integrally involved. The risk, if this doesn’t happen, is that disillusionment with the EU project will resurface as new challenges arise.”

The CPMR favours a reform model in which the whole of the EU walks at a similar pace, but stresses that in any future scenario solidarity must remain a fundamental principle

Co-operation and partnership provide a very real expression of solidarity in practice, through networks, projects and exchanges. Regions, rather than national governments, are crucial to this, initiating and supporting much of this activity and bringing organisations together.

CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said: “The EU budget must prioritise support for co-operation activities between regions in the future, with a much greater focus on actions that address the challenges and concerns of European citizens.”

The CPMR calls for:

  • A reinforced and reinvigorated EU Cohesion Policy, covering all Regions of the Union and addressing the growing social, economic, environmental and territorial disparities in Europe, and to counter balance the negative impacts from the functioning of the Single Market;
  • Prioritisation of key investments in competitiveness, innovation, research, education and training, sustainable energy production, blue growth and the maritime economy, accessibility (including digital infrastructure), and developing sustainable solutions to new and emerging challenges;
  • Emphasis on long term investment, in both physical and soft infrastructures, as well as human capital, to foster long term convergence and cohesion and sustainable development;
  • A strong focus on territorial co-operation at regional level within the EU and with current and future neighbouring countries;
  • Strengthened multi-level governance to involve regional and local governments, the private sector, academia and citizens.

Watch an interview with CPMR President, Vasco Cordeiro, following the release of the CPMR’s ‘Political Statement’, setting out the vision of Regions on the future of Europe debate.