Committee of the Regions President Luc Van den Brande is to voice grassroots concerns about the future of EU regional aid at the parliamentary hearing of Johannes Hahn, Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy, on Thursday 14 January in Brussels. In view of controversial discussions about the future EU budget, Van den Brande will pledge the full support of Europe's regional and local representatives for maintaining a strong regional policy and for implementing the new Lisbon Treaty provisions in partnership.
President Van den Brande will address the EP hearing at the invitation of Danuta Hübner, Chairwoman of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development (REGI). Speaking ahead of the meeting, Van den Brande said: "Our message to the incoming European Commission is clear: Regional policy delivers concrete results for our citizens, and must continue to do so. The Committee of the Regions therefore fully supports a regional policy at European level, strongly focused on territorial cohesion and based on the principles of solidarity and fairness. While there is a need to reform the policy, to adapt it to new challenges, simplify its implementing rules and strengthen its evaluation process, we clearly oppose any attempt to 'renationalise' it."
Emphasising the good working relations between the Committee of the Regions and the Commission, Van den Brande added: "The new Lisbon Treaty provisions clearly boost regional policy by introducing the new EU objective of territorial cohesion and fostering cooperation between all political actors in the spirit of multi-level governance. In regional policy, this could be achieved through territorial pacts and a real involvement of local and regional authorities in the debate on the policy's core priorities. We look forward to working with Commissioner-designate Hahn in turning these principles into a reality."
Commissioner-designate Johannes Hahn and Luc Van den Brande already met for a first round of talks in Brussels on 7 December, just days after Commission President José Manuel Barroso had allocated the portfolios in his new team.
In September 2009, Van den Brande also participated in the European Parliament's exchange of views with Pawel Samecki, then Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy.
Notes to editors
1.Committee of the Regions President Van den Brande will be available for interviews in the margins of the EP hearing with the Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy on Thursday, 14 January, 16.30-19.30hrs, European Parliament building JAN 2Q2. For interview requests, please contact Michael Alfons, Tel.: +32 (0)2 546 8559, firstname.lastname@example.org.
2.The Committee of the Regions' views on major EU policies, including cohesion, are outlined in the brochure 'Building Europe in Partnership'.
3.Michael Schneider (DE/EPP), European Affairs State Secretary of the Land of Saxony-Anhalt, is currently drawing up a Committee of the Regions report summarising the assembly's key proposals for the future of cohesion policy after 2013. Following a series of grassroots consultations, Schneider will present his draft opinion to the CoR's Commission for territorial cohesion policy on 26 February 2010. Formal adoption of his draft opinion is planned for the Committee of the Regions' plenary session in mid-April 2010.
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