As long-standing partners of the Congress in promoting regional co-operation and democracy, European regional organisations and associations can help bring citizens closer to a Europe from which they often feel far removed. This was made clear in a debate held by the Chamber of Regions on the role of these bodies on Thursday 19 October. “European regions carry out practical and pragmatic work to respond to the daily needs of citizens,” said Magnus BERNTSSON, President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), but they must “give a better explanation of what Europe is”. The task of bringing citizens and Europe closer together also falls to European regional associations, which, in addition, help build bridges between project creators and investors. Stefan August LÜTGENAU, Director of Foster Europe, Foundation for strong European Regions, called for stronger and more democratic regions, capable of promoting both union and diversity. He added that interregional co-operation was an “alternative to the sclerosis seen in Europe”. Many members of the Chamber of Regions spoke during the debate which followed. The President of the Chamber of Regions, Gunn Marit HELGESEN (Norway, EPP/CCE) conclude by saying that members of the Chamber were also ambassadors for the regions. “A strong Europe requires strong and engaged local and regional authorities,” she added.
Mediabox interview with Magnus BERNTSSON