“In our cities and regions, our locally and regionally elected EPP politicians are in close contact with people and their everyday lives. Together with our Spitzenkandidat, we are working for a common Europe geared towards winning the 2019 European elections.” With these words, Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions (EPP-CoR), opened the European People’s Party (EPP) high-level debate entitled ‘A Europe closer to its citizens, a Europe that delivers and protects’ on 10 December in Klosterneuburg, Austria.
“One of my main priorities is to reconnect people with Europe. This is why we value our local and regional politicians and work closely together at all levels. We are the only party in Europe that is strongly committed to the principle of subsidiarity and strong regions”, said EPP Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber, who participated in the debate together with the Federal Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz and the President of Lower Austria Region, Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
Chancellor Kurz summed up the achievements of the Austrian Presidency during the second half of 2018. He then spoke about how the EU needs to work together with the regions on issues that require broader cooperation while maintaining flexibility on smaller issues, based on the EPP motto ‘united in diversity’. “Politicians should put their focus on issues that truly matter to people,” he concluded.
Ludovic Orban, President of the National Liberal Party of Romania, announced the upcoming Summit of EPP regional and local leaders with the Spitzenkandidat in view of the EU 2019 elections, which will take place on 16 March in Bucharest.
Other speakers highlighted the role of regions in fostering a sense of identity and providing concrete solutions to the citizens in different areas of life. Europe’s regions need the EU, but the EU also needs all its regions, was the conclusion of the day’s discussions.
The event was organised upon the invitation of Johanna Mikl-Leitner, President of Lower Austria (EPP-CoR), Joseph Daul, President of the EPP and Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria and Chairman of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP).
The full list of speakers included:
- Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions
- Stefan Schmuckenschlager, Mayor of Klosterneuburg
- Othmar Karas, MEP, Head of Austrian People’s Party Delegation to the European Parliament (via video message)
- Nikola Dobroslavić, President of the Dubrovnik-Neretva Region, EPP-CoR member
- Reinhold Lopatka, Chair of the EU Affairs Committee in the Austrian National Council
- Arno Kompatscher, Governor of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol, President of the European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino, EPP-CoR member
- Jelena Drenjanin, Stockholm Region, Municipal Assembly of Huddinge, EPP-CoR member
- Andrea Kaufmann, Mayor of Dornbirn, Austrian Association of Municipalities
- Brigitta Pallauf, President of the Regional Parliament of Salzburg, EPP-CoR member
- Johanna Mikl-Leitner, President of Lower Austria, EPP-CoR member
- Janez Janša, President of Slovenian Democratic Party
- Ludovic Orban, President of National Liberal Party, Romania
- Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources
- Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria, Chairman of the Austrian People’s Party
- Manfred Weber, EPP Spitzenkandidat, Chairman of EPP Group in the European Parliament
- Moderators: Dara Murphy, Vice-President of the EPP, Campaign Director for the 2019 European Elections and Bettina Blumenthal, ÖVP.
Photos of the event are available here.