“Rural exodus and progressive urbanisation have led to major territorial transformations in Europe, widening the gap between urban areas and peripheral areas” stressed Anders Knape, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, during the session entitled “How to Reconcile the Core and the Periphery?”, at the Economic Forum of Aix-en-Provence on 5 July 2019.
“Problems concerning basic services such as employment, mobility, transport and access to digital infrastructures can create a sentiment of marginalisation or even abandonment amongst the population of peripheral areas”, explained Mr. Knape, warning against the loss of public trust in institutions and political representatives, the risk of a shift towards populist parties and the dangers for the democratic functioning of societies.
“Local and regional authorities play an essential role in rebuilding fairer democratic societies by and for all citizens”, stated the President. “They are at the forefront in assessing the population’s needs and contributing to the development and implementation of innovative policies that consider the needs of all territories, in collaboration and with the active participation of citizens. Through their action on the ground, they can promote territorial cohesion and sustainable local development, as well as interaction and interdependence between the different territories”, he added, recalling that this was the message addressed by the Congress’ in its contribution to the Helsinki Ministerial summit in May 2019.
“It is essential for central powers to rely on local representatives to reduce tensions in our territories, revive the citizens’ confidence in institutions and therefore ensure the democratic stability of our societies”, concluded Mr. Knape.