"Europe must now find the strength to make new progress", said Riccardo Illy, President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and of the region Friuli Venezia Giulia-I, during the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions, which was held today in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the EU Founding Treaties.
Speaking during the round table on "Tomorrow's Europe, the contribution of local and regional authorities", President Illy explained that "Europe has reached huge results in the last 50 years, but it was especially during the last 14 years that the best ones came". Riccardo Illy mentioned, among others, the Single Market, the Schengen Treaty, the Monetary Union and the Enlargement.
"According to me, European regions have a fundamental role to play in boosting the linguistic and cultural diversities, which constitute the real competitive advantage of Europe", said Mr. Illy. He added that one significant instrument -in this respect- is the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), which is set to start next August: "This will be a fundamental tool, in order to build further the social and economic dimension of the European Union".
President Illy underlined that European regions share the target for a ratification of the Constitutional Treaty by the year 2009: "I strongly hope that once the Constitutional Treaty is ratified, regions will be able to express all their real potential", he said.
Riccardo Illy made a final note on enlargement: "There are countries, like Croatia, Southern-Eastern European nations and Turkey, which have great hopes about the EU. They are eager to enter it as soon as possible".
The Assembly of European Regions - AER (www.a-e-r.org) is the political organisation of Regions in Europe and their spokesperson at European and international level. Its vocation is to defend the Regions' interests in the political process and develop interregional cooperation. AER brings together 250 Regions from 32 European Countries and 14 interregional organisations.
AER Contacts: Sergio Nava, Spokesperson, firstname.lastname@example.org - Mobile: +33 678 695235, Tel.: +33 3 88 22 74 36; Francine Huhardeaux, Press Officer, email@example.com - Mobile: +33 678 695203, Tel. +33 3 88 22 74 49