European Parliament President Antonio Tajani engaged with local and regional leaders across Europe on May 11th in the 123rd Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions under the headlight of ‘Reflecting on Europe’.

The debate opened with President Tajani highlighting three key priorities for him: security, migration and youth unemployment. “Citizens all over Europe ask for solutions, on security, on immigration on employment and look to Europe for such solutions. At the same time, citizens are asking us to change. They see Europe as stuck in its bureaucracy and slow to react.

President Tajani stated that “as local representatives, you can have a leading role in communicating Europe to our citizens at the local level. One MEP may have a constituency of 300,000 citizens involving ten or more local and regional councils. In our system of subsidiarity, you are the closest to the citizen.”

We need your help in getting Europe closer to its citizens. Above all, we must ensure that our communication is a two-way exercise. We must listen more than we speak, and we must make sure that the ideas and the concerns of the citizens pass through to our decision-making process”, President Tajani continued and complemented the CoR initiative “Reflecting on Europe”.

President Markku Markkula said in his address that “I believe that citizens and their expectations must be at the heart of all political actions. In this sense, I fully share your views expressed recently that we need more political leadership; more politics and less bureaucracy. Locally and regionally elected politicians are ready to work to face the youth discontent, the lack of hope that is pushing them to choose extremism and populism over openness and solidarity. Mayors and presidents of regions deliver solutions for their cities and regions as catalysers and enablers for sustainable growth and jobs, but also for entrepreneurship, innovation and digitalisation, as well as enhancing social inclusion and migrant’s integration.”

EPP-CoR President Michael Schneider highlighted the benefits from closer cooperation with the European Parliament: “Through cooperation with the European Parliament, we can work on tackling populism through better communication and political responsibility, increased security and safeguarding our identities, and secured Cohesion Policy as well as a strengthened Social Market Economy.”

Whereas Mauro D’Attis defended the call for more subsidiarity and Europe across the regions as well as in Brussels: “There is now more need for Europe in the periphery and less Europe in Brussels, giving more weight to the demands of the communities in the decisions that are taken here.”

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