Solidarity between regions and cities at the heart of European democracy
Marseille, France, 3-4 March 2022 – Efus took part in the 9th European Summit of Regions and Cities of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), which was organised this year in Marseille (FR) jointly with the Région Sud, on 3 and 4 March.
The key themes were societal challenges, cohesion and recovery, democracy, youth engagement and, in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, solidarity.
The CoR organises this summit every two years to gather elected representatives from regional and local authorities and discuss the main challenges facing the European Union. This year’s event was organised under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (1 January-31 June 2022).
Solidarity with Ukraine
Reflecting European unity and solidarity with Ukrainian local and regional authorities and above all citizens, the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, said, “We should never turn a blind eye to the violation of law. As free people, as a values-based union, we are united. Freedom, democracy and justice will prevail.”
Benoît Payan, Mayor of Marseille, a city which is Vice President of the French Forum for Urban Security(FFSU), emphasised the key role of cities and regions in protecting democratic values and highlighted that “cities represent and embody what is most important for humanity.”
In correlation with these declarations, on the second day of the Summit the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, highlighted that, “Europe starts in its regions, cities and villages. Our democracy is rooted in our local and regional governments.”
Cross-border cooperation: a vision for 2050?
Willy Demeyer, President of Efus and Mayor of Liège (BE), participated in a roundtable discussion on Cross-border cooperation by 2050. He highlighted how important such cooperation is for cities and regions and stressed that the Benelux Union is one of the most integrated regions of Europe, where cross-border cooperation is particularly intense and valued. As an example, he mentioned the cooperation between the City of Liège and German cities on the other side of the German-Belgian border in managing the Covid-19 health crisis. He added that Belgian and German cities now plan to cooperate to provide joint support to Ukrainian refugees.
Showcasing the BeSecure-FeelSecure (BSFS) project
Promoting a holistic vision of urban security, the EU-co-funded BeSecure-FeelSecure (BSFS) project was showcased at Efus’ stand on site, where Efus Programme Manager Eszter Karaczony gave information to interested summit participants.
Furthermore, in order to multiply BSFS’ outreach, the project’s promotional video was showcased at the summit’s virtual exhibition space, which hosted more than 50 exhibitors. Besides BSFS, Efus used this online fair to present its positions and activities, for example through its Manifesto.
EU-level presence and multilevel cooperation
This EU-level event was a good opportunity for Efus to present its network and enhance the visibility of its activities and projects. Multilevel cooperation and EU support to local and regional authorities are crucial to design and implement sustainable solutions seeking to foster democracy, enhance social cohesion and reinforce resilience.
> More information on the Summit and the Declaration of the European Union’s Regions and Cities on Solidarity with Ukraine