Europe’s peripheral and maritime regions must be involved in any discussions on the future of the European Union, says the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR).
The CPMR made this statement during its 44th General Assembly, which took place in the Azores from 2-4 November, where 160 peripheral and maritime regions from across Europe gathered to stress that regions must be given consideration in the EU’s long term European strategy for growth and jobs for the post-2020 period.
Given the precarious situation currently facing Europe, with the rise of Euroscepticism and the recent Brexit decision, along with the election result in the United States, the CPMR and its member regions have agreed a declaration that calls on European leaders to take positive steps for unity and solidarity. The declaration stresses that a fragmented Europe would be particularly detrimental to growth and jobs prospects in peripheral and maritime regions.
During the meeting, Vasco Cordeiro, President of the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, who was re-elected of the CPMR President for 2016-1018, said: “We have to take a strong political position and outline a specific and effective action towards the European institutions aimed at defending solidarity in Europe and the promotion of investment in all our regions”.
CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said: “The European project must be founded on regions or it will be irrelevant to Europe’s citizens”.
In light of the difficult economic situation facing Europe, the CPMR and its member regions adopted a position paper at the General Assembly stressing that the EU’s Cohesion Policy, its main investment Policy targeting all EU regions, is vital to economic growth across all of Europe’s territories. The CPMR says it must be strengthened to meet the changing priorities of the EU.
Enrico Rossi, CPMR Vice President, and President of the Tuscany region, said: “The EU post 2020 Cohesion Policy should focus on the reduction of regional disparities and be central to the EU investment and growth policy.”
Nicholas Martyn, Deputy Director-General for DG REGIO, European Commission, said: “We welcome the views of CPMR and the peripheral and maritime regions it represents, and we look forward to working with them and hearing their voice in the discussions ahead on the future of the EU’s Cohesion Policy.”
Also at the meeting, the CPMR argued that there is the need to improve accessibility and transport for Europe’s peripheral and outermost regions. It is urging the European Parliament to support a written declaration calling for the EU’s remaining Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding for 2017-2020 to be allocated to projects that improve accessibility for Europe’s peripheral regions and islands.
Bruno Retailleau, President of the Region of Pays de la Loire and the CPMR Atlantic Arc Commission, said: “We are counting on the European Commission and the States to ensure that the Regions are closely involved in this exercise, which is crucial for their citizens, their businesses and for the coastal economy in particular”.
The CPMR and its member regions also used the meeting’s discussion on Integrated Maritime Policy to urge the upcoming Maltese Presidency of the European Union to adopt an ambitious ministerial declaration on European Maritime policies. The CPMR says that this declaration should set out the principles for future maritime policies in relation to the Multi Financial Framework (MFF) review and discussions on European policies post-2020.
Georges Alexakis, Vice-President of the CPMR and Regional Councillor of Crete, said: “Peripheral and maritime Regions, are ready to invest in the maritime economy. We need a clear signal from the EU institutions and the Maltese Presidencygiving a strong endorsement of our shared ambitions”.
Regarding Migration, regions have stressed the key role they are playing in efforts to tackle the EU refugee crisis. They have called on the EU Institutions to develop a European solution to the problem, and to give peripheral regions the resources and support they need to help make a difference on the ground.
Annika Annerby Janssen, Vice-President of the Skåne Region and of CPMR, said: “Regardless of political differences, all States across Europe should acknowledge the moral, political and practical dimensions of migration. Migrants are an asset to Europe, and regions must be more involved in policies and strategies to help to deal with the migration crisis.”
A discussion on the ‘Future of the European Project’also took place during the General Assembly, giving member regions the opportunity to debate key issues such as migration, the economic crisis, the UK’s exit from the EU, youth unemployment and Europe’s place in the world.
Moderator, SirGraham Watson, former UK MEP and member of the ECOSOC, said: “Europe is unstable, but it is important that the CPMR and its regions develop new ways to improve the European project. Talent, technology and tolerance can make the EU a world beater.”
Patrizio Bianchi, Regional Minister, Emilia-Romagna Region, said: “We must recognise that cohesion is the basis of European identity, we must strengthen the relationships between regions, and we must invest more in regions and our citizens.”