Paris, Ile-de-France (F), 8 September 2010.
At the time where the European Union faces new challenges, with the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the junction of cohesion policy with the budget and the nationalist fold of some member States, Michèle SABBAN, President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), welcomed today the European Commissioner to Regional policy, Johannes HAHN, at the Ile-de-France Region. During a private discussion, the AER President presented the expectations and proposals of the European regions in several fields.
Mrs SABBAN asked the Commissioner to confirm the agenda for the reforms regarding the EU general budget and the budget for cohesion policy, as well as its content. “We think indeed that it is necessary to establish the priorities of this strategy previous to impose any budget” she underlined.
Commissioner HAHN confirmed that, in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy, cohesion policy should be very well built in order to answer the expectations and needs of the regions. He also declared himself in favour of maintaining of the European Social Fund (ESF) in the structural funds’ family.
As part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, Michèle SABBAN underlined that without a bottom-up approach in the areas of economic development, social integration and environmental policy, the gap which has already been widening for several years between the EU and its citizens will grow even more.
For this occasion, the AER President recalled the dangers that would present a re-nationalization of the EU policies and a sectoralisation of the budget. She had already the opportunity, through a letter to the President of the European Commission at the beginning of 2010 and during a meeting with him in July this year, to stress that European construction needs to be linked with its citizens, and to give a better visibility to its actions.
Commissioner Hahn encouraged AER to pursue its efforts to deepen the European debate, and to defend the European idea.
Ms. Sabban finally presented to Commissioner Hahn the policies pursued by the European regions in terms of energy conversion and energy savings, but also the interest of partnerships between regional representatives and businesses. Commissioner Hahn has therefore called for a comprehensive discussion to determine the needs of regions in these matters, and the obstacles that they will encounter.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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