Dear President of the European Committee of the Regions,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to attend today the opening event of the 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities that Romania has the privilege to host this year.
It is not by chance that this event is taking place in Bucharest, in the thick of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council! We took up the motto „Cohesion, a common European value” as we wanted to convey a message on the importance of this principle in building a Union for citizens.
The European citizens need hospitals to provide quality medical services, well-equipped schools to ensure quality education, better roads, security, prosperity, equity and stability. In brief, a better life.
2009 is the year of many changes, but it should equally be a year of continuity. The European agenda and developments are marked by multiple challenges we need to respond through cohesion, unity and solidarity.
People’s trust is gained over time but it can be lost in a moment. We have the necessary resources, capacity and strength not only to preserve but to boost confidence in the European project, by continuing investment which have brought prosperity to thousands of regions, cities and local communities.
From this premise, Romania started its tenure as the holder of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, under the sign of the open and constructive dialogue with you, the ones who promote and represent the interests of the citizens. We have a common goal and I am convinced that together we are able to strengthen our confidence in the fundamental values that unite us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today’s debate is a very useful platform for shaping the European future. We want a European Union that is strong, united, a cohesive one that works so that no one, no city, no region is left behind.
Millions of people feel the concrete benefits of European development policies in their everyday life. The prosperity offered by the European project is the result of development policies, among which cohesion has a fundamental role.
Romania’s term at the Presidency of the Council of the EU overlaps this stage of redefinition of the European project for the next decade. Therefore, we have the opportunity to be more actively involved in this process, even more than just in the 12 years that have passed since joining the European Union.
Now, we are part of this important demarche and it is not only an honor, but also a duty to actively participate, in an articulate and consistent way in the decision on the EU’s future.
By the motto we chose for the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, we sought to connect with the current debates at European level, we wanted to highlight the fact that the European citizens have to feel the benefits that the EU brings to everyday life.
The cohesion policy needs be continued and strengthened in the future financial programming given its essential role in reducing gaps among regions as well as in establishing solid bonds between our communities. However, we must prove more power of action
But we need to demonstrate more power when taking action and anticipating the challenges, so that we are prepared to deliver the solutions expected by European citizens.
In Romania we have an expression that very strongly defines the power of unity: “Unde-s doi, puterea creste”. For with great numbers must come great strength to face any challenge.
Our motto reflects the importance of recognizing and returning to the foundations of community building by using cohesion in all its dimensions: political, economic, social and territorial cohesion. We do not have time to waste! Europe is undergoing fundamental change, and it is our duty to provide as quickly as possible the security to a strong community that advances united and capable of protecting its interests and citizens.
We need a more integrate, cohesive Europe, built on consensual objectives and directions, observing the fundamental European values and principles and avoiding fragmentation. We need a Europe with strong regions and cities. This first implies a closer connection between authorities and citizens and that the projects should be defined starting from the citizens’ expectations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The agenda of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council is ample, and we intend to follow it to contribute to defining the European project for the next decade.
Our actions have at center the concern with strengthening the economic growth, stimulating investments and protecting citizens in front of social and economic challenges.
Funds earmarking after 2020 reflects the way in which the European Union will look in the future and the emphasis we will put on consistent and fair development for all member states.
The Financial Framework 2021-2027 should achieve balance between growth and convergence policies and provide the response to the more recent challenges we are facing at European level.
At the end of the negotiations on the future multiannual budget, the cohesion policy must remain the main investment strategy. We need to further invest in our communities to provide them all the necessary levers to develop in a balanced way. Investing in our cities means more jobs and higher incomes for citizens.
The value of cohesion is emphasized by its dual quality - a common European value and the expression of unity and solidarity among the EU Member States, its regions, its cities and its citizens.
The cohesion policy managed to provide integrate development strategies bringing together projects from a wide range of areas- infrastructure, youth, human resources, and business sector, urban development, environment protection, research, innovation, climate change and energy efficiency.
There are several examples in Romania outlining the benefits of the cohesion policy and Romanians know that the development over the last 12 years is largely due to European funds, fact reflected by the high level of confidence in the European project.
Furthermore, the cohesion policy created partnerships and bridges between European institutions, and Europe’s cities and towns, and the projects which have been carried out, have brought the European Union closer to citizens, led to improved living standards and all these achievements really represent the European added value.
The European cities and regions still have many differences, have different potential and problems, have different traditions and development conditions. However, in recent years, informal cooperation in the field of territorial cohesion and urban development has been strengthened, coordinated action has been taken and the same principles leading to overcoming challenges, have been addressed.
I would once again like to thank the President of the Committee of the Regions for the strong signal that has been given since the start of debates on the next financial framework, regarding the need to pursue this policy as a policy addressing all regions and cities if we really want a more integrated, inclusive, more ecological and prosperous future for the European Union.
Demographic change, migration, labor market developments, and technological progress call for greater flexibility and agility in the cohesion policy.
There is a need for a Europe fully connected to the principles of the European Social Rights Pillar in order to provide equal opportunities and access to the labor market, better working conditions, stronger inclusion and social protection, and uniform access to quality services.
Economic progress is closely linked to social progress.
More than ever, we need to invest in people, to help them become more competitive, acquire new knowledge, have access to the same facilities wherever they are. We need to ensure people’s access to high quality health services, quality education, wherever they live, in a big city or a small town.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are part of a large family, and there may be differences of opinion in any family. Let us turn the diversity of opinions into a factor of progress for a stable, better future for future generations. We are all around the same table. Let us be open to dialogue and have a constructive approach, let us put all the good things into practice for the benefit of our citizens.
I am convinced that the Bucharest Declaration will definitely contribute to the preparation of the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, and together we will convey a firm signal of confidence in the future of the European Union.
Let’s give the citizens what they expect from us: a stronger Union, a more prosperous one, closer to citizens!