Speaking at yesterday's parliamentary hearing of Johannes Hahn, Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy, Committee of the Regions President Luc Van den Brande asked the candidate "to believe more in the real importance of multi-level governance as it will be the only way to succeed". Instead of speaking about the regions and cities, Van den Brande, representing Europe's regional and local authorities, underlined the importance "to speak more with regions and cities directly and consider them as real partners" in developing future regional policy. He reassured that the Committee of the Regions will be a solid partner in such a dialogue and invited Johannes Hahn to address the Committee of the Regions' February Plenary session. Voicing grassroots concerns about important budgetary decision to be taken this year, President Van den Brande outlined the "credo" of Europe's regional and local authorities: "We are firmly speaking out against moving away from the most successful integrated EU policy that exists, against all forms of renationalisation of this policy. Cohesion Policy has proven to be an excellent decentralised strategy that is achieving two objectives: one is to implement EU objectives at regional and local level. The other is to empower cities and regions to better achieve their objectives." Addressing the Commission's newly designated regional policy chief and the members of the European Parliament's committee on regional development, Van den Brande emphasised that regional policy is not just a vehicle for other strategic goals. Instead, it has to be a "global European development policy at the disposal of all European citizens." This is especially important as Europe's new rulebook, the Lisbon treaty, now requires the EU to respect the principle of "territorial cohesion" - meaning the harmonious development of all regions in the European Union: "All EU policies must recognize the impacts of their activities on the ground and must be aware of their effects on local communities. All EU policies need to take this new objective into account in their planning, implementation and evaluation stages." Commissioner-designate Johannes Hahn strongly argued against the renationalisation of regional policy and stressed his willingness to work together with regions and local authorities: "We need the expertise of the regions to sustain a successful regional policy and to modernise it. At the same time, European regional policy has to follow an integrated approach and must be linked to all other EU policies. The success, reform and implementation of regional policy can only be achieved through coordination at the European level, and in cooperation with the regions." The Commissioner-designate also spoke in favour of a close working relationship with the Committee of the Regions: "Cooperation with the Committee of the Regions will be very important to me, to better understand and represent the concerns of regions and local authorities. I look forward to developing a good partnership." President Van den Brande addressed the hearing of Commissioner-designate Johannes Hahn at the invitation of Danuta Hübner, Chairwoman of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development (REGI). Notes to editors 1. The Committee of the Regions' views on major EU policies, including cohesion, are outlined in the brochure 'Building Europe in Partnership'. 2. 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.
Met dank overgenomen van Comité van de Regio's (CvdR), gepubliceerd op vrijdag 15 januari 2010.