The "Declaration on Regionalism" in Europe was adopted by the AER in 1996 during the General Meeting of European Regions in Basel (CH). It is a reference document for new regions or those undergoing expansion. It defines the norms and criteria for regional development and fixes the different steps to be undertaken so that the region can beacknowledged as a fully-fledged political entity. There is currently awide range of different regional structures in Europe. The "Declaration" has not chosen to promote a specific type of regionalism but sets out ageneral framework within which the regions may develop.
"The Assembly of European Regions strives to have regionalism recognised not only within the European Union but also beyond. At a time when, within Europe, the strengthening of the European Union is being reflected upon, the role of the regions in the unification process is gaining importance. Themes such as the distribution of responsibilities and the cooperation through partnerships between the various policy levels have consequently come to the fore, subsidiarity being the basic principle to define everyone's role. The movement for regionalism is strong within the European Union as well as beyond. It is fuelled by the belief that the powers vested in the European Union, the (Member-) States and the regions are complementary.Regions, federated states and autonomous communities are above all mainstays of democracy; they strongly support cultural diversity in Europe and they are major partners in socio-economic development. This is why they should be able to take responsibilities in the policy areas where they have a competitive advantage, amongst others, in economics (employment), culture, the environment, regional and country planning, scientific research etc.The Declaration on regionalism adopted by the Assembly of European Regions offers a reliable guide for regions on the way to enlargening and strengthening their powers. It is a document of norms and standards, an entity of beacons and stepping stones. It is not a charter that fixes the minimum norms for recognition of a region. The rich diversity of regions in the AER yields a great number of models and structures to streamline regional development. The Declaration on regionalism sets out the guidelines within which the AER member regions develop. Thus they endorse the AER objective: strengthening regional development.
By this Declaration the AER wants to show what it, together with its members, strives for. They can enrich and strengthen the AER. This is why the Declaration is distributed, presented and discussed within the AER as well as beyond. In our capacity as former and current Presidents of the AER, we want to further promote regionalism in Europe, thereby enabling regions to take up more responsibility in a Europe that is closer to the citizen".