Paris, Ile-de-France (F), 10 October 2008
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) today called for greater “coordination and subsidiarity” in the face of the global financial crisis. The issue was at the top of the agenda of a two-day meeting in Paris of AER’s political Bureau, comprised of senior politicians from 30 member regions of the wider Europe.
“Although these two principles might appear to make strange bedfellows, Europe does need a coordinated, pan-European approach while recognising that regional and local authorities must play a crucial role in tackling the crisis,” Ile-de-France minister and AER Acting President Michèle Sabban said today.
Invited to the bureau’s debate on the crisis, MEP and former French Minister for European Affairs Pierre Moscovici echoed AER’s call, declaring that “the regions must be partners in a coordinated, Europe-wide approach to this crisis”.
Around one-third of AER’s member regions fall outside the EU zone. While welcoming the efforts of the French Presidency to coordinate a joint EU response to the crisis, AER is also pushing for a broader response that takes into account the interconnectedness of EU and non-EU economies across the wider Europe. A case in point: a number of AER’s regional authorities in the UK have invested deposits in the failed Icelandic banks.
Michèle Sabban: “AER is the perfect example of how governments working together are much more effective in tackling challenges than those who go it alone. The EU, the member states and the other states across Europe would do well to follow AER’s example by working with each other, the private sector and with us, the regions. Not to mention by exchanging innovative ideas, experiences, and best practices to find solutions to – and lessons from – the crisis.”
The importance of SME’s to regional growth and jobs was stressed throughout the bureau’s debate on the financial crisis. Michèle Sabban: “As SME’s are a key pillar of regional economic activity, regional authorities supporting these businesses must be able to do so with minimal higher-level intervention and top-down administrative burdens.”
Around one-third of public expenditure is implemented at local and regional level. Since the current crisis will reduce the availability of funding and revenue for regional authorities, some AER Bureau members have expressed concern that reduced spending on public services could incite public backlash against regional authorities.
“In times of crisis regions are a beacon of security and confidence,” Hampshire (UK) Deputy Leader Roy Perry said today. “States must therefore ensure that regions are not blamed if a school or hospital cannot be built due to spending cuts.”
Addendum: MEP report presented
AER invited MEP Alain Lamassoure to present his report “European Citizens and Community Law Implementation” to the bureau today. In his presentation, Mr. Lamassoure drew particular attention to the need to secure greater mobility for citizens. Around 10 million EU citizens are currently living in legal limbo within EU countries outside their own, “much like a 28th member state”, he said.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 13 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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