'EU enlargement and globalisation have created new opportunities and challenges for the European regions. The Constitutional Treaty currently in the process of being ratified in the Member States and the Lisbon Strategy imply the greater involvement of regions in all aspects of European governance in the next future, especially if we want to bring the European project closer to the citizens' stated Lars-Gerhard Westberg (Västra-Götaland-S), Vice-President of the AER Institutional Affairs' Committee, at the conference on 'The role of the regions in Europe: a Scenario for 2010', organised by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) in Dubrovnik on 29th April.
'European competitiveness and entrepreneurship will not improve unless they can build on existing conditions and opportunities in Europe's regions, towns and municipalities', said Mrs Catarina Segersten Larsson, Chair of the Värmland County Council Executive Committee (S). In her contribution "The Lisbon Strategy: the role of the regions in creating the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010", Mrs Segersten Larsson pointed out that it is crucial for achieving the ambitious goals of the Lisbon Agenda, that the EU develop more grass-roots perspectives in all European policies and that the regions accept their responsibility in this process. Referring to the discussion paper by Mr Anders Gustâv, Chair of the ECOS, Committee of the Regions, which will be presented next week, Mrs Segersten Larsson insisted on a two-way approach to the implementation of the Lisbon Agenda on the regional level: improving regional competitiveness and developing public-private partnerships.
The conference also allowed regions to have an in-depth discussion on the impact of the Constitutional Treaty on the role of the regions in European governance, on new opportunities for regional participation in European policy making and on how the regions can contribute to the goal of bringing Europe closer to the citizens.
The conference was held in Croatia, a country where the issue of EU membership is currently at the forefront of the citizens' minds. If the current stalemate between the EU and the Croatian government over co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ITCY) is settled, it will be the regions that will have a leading role to play in preparing the country for EU membership. Through drawing upon the expertise of its 250 member regions, the AER will assist the Croatian regions in preparing for this challenge.