Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Congress of European Municipalities and Regions

CEMR statutory affairs - 14.05.2003

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's address to CEMR General Assembly : 'The Convention doesn't talk much about the European citizen"
In a pre-recorded address shown at the opening of the general assembly of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions in Poznan (Poland), on 14 May 2003, Chairman of the Convention and CEMR president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, has deplored the fact that the Convention does not pay enough attention to the European citizens.
'During the debates at the Convention, he said, I often think of the citizens of Europe. I'll tell you frankly : I don't hear much talk about them! The convention talks about institutions, agencies, (”¦) but the men and women of Europe are not often mentioned (”¦). In my view, what is important is for Europe to offer them more than successful European integration. (The Convention) is not there to merely add yet another chapter to history books or to constitutional law. Its aim is to ensure that the men and women of Europe see their problems solved in a more positive and more satisfactory way".
The ultimate goal of the Convention on the future of Europe
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing also explained to the 700 representatives of local and regional authorities from all over Europe what, in his view, should be the ultimate goal of the Convention : 'How can we make a bloc of 450 million inhabitants work? This is the third largest bloc in terms of population after China and India, far ahead of the USA, Japan or Russia. How can we ensure that its rules are democratic, that its inhabitants have equal rights, that its decisions are taken with transparency, rapidity and efficiency? (”¦)We are going to simplify the system, we are going to make it more efficient, closer to the citizens, and I hope that by doing so it will be able to produce better results. (”¦) It is a difficult objective, because deadlines are tight and matters involved are complex in themselves, (but) we will do all we can to achieve it".
A much needed balance for Europe local and regional authorities
As President of the Council of European municipalities and Regions, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing addressed the issue of the local and regional authorities' role in tomorrow's Europe : 'It is a fascinating issue. We must keep our mind absolutely open on this. From the start, we have associated them (local and regional authorities) to our works; we have listened to them, and their representatives bring us extremely useful and interesting elements. Of course there will be a role for local and regional authorities. What must this role be in the preparation, the consultation and the elaboration of EU projects? And, on the other hand, how can they implement themselves European texts and legislation that in most cases directly concerns them ? In a nutshell, we must better organise their representation, better organise their consultation, and create much shorter circuits between the associations of local and regional authorities - like CEMR - and all the European institutions.".
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing believes that the solution lies in finding the right balance between governance and proximity : '(Local and regional authorities) must be involved in global governance on one hand, but they must remain close to the citizens on the other. And there lies the difficulty for them : if they get too involved in governance, they lose their proximity with citizens; but if they limit themselves to remaining close to the citizens, they are not part of the EU decision process. Thus we must find the right balance. And I believe CEMR will have much to tell us on this issue".
The CEMR General Assembly takes place in Poznan between 14 and 16 May 2003. Besides the political debate on the future of Europe that is taking place this Wednesday 14 May, several workshops are organised on various issues such as the future of Cohesion policy; migrations, asylum and integration; Education in the 21st century; and sustainable development, social cohesion and environmental protection.
There is a session on twinning on 15 May - with the 'Golden stars" awards ceremony with prizes awarded to the best twinning projects -, and on 16 May the session will be dedicated to the challenges of enlargement.
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