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

State of the Union 2023 - 14.09.2023

The Missing Piece: Local governments in President Von der Leyen's 2023 SOTEU
The Council of European Regions and Municipalities (CEMR) invited its member associations at the Secretariat in Square de Meeus, Brussels, to follow the State of the Union (SOTEU) address.
In her 2023 State of the Union speech, European Commission President, Madame Von der Leyen, highlighted the primary issues expected to influence the 2024 elections, opening her address with a call to the younger generations, implicitly encouraging them to defend the unique nature of European Democracy, particularly with a war ongoing on European soil. She placed a significant emphasis on the achievements of her mandate since 2019, such as the European Green Deal, competitiveness, AI, digital transition, enlargement, inflation, and gender equality. While we commend all the commitments and accomplishments so far, there was no mention of the strategic role that local and regional governments play in successfully implementing these initiatives.
Local and regional governments are instrumental in impacting the daily lives of European citizens. The President referenced the "Europe of the regions", but European regions require more focus and investment, especially in education, minority integration, cohesion policy, and social security.
CEMR welcomed President von der Leyen's commitment to revitalising the European Social Dialogue to respond to the deep-rooted shifts in technology, society and demography. However, cohesion policy needed to find a place in the address. We know that Cohesion policy is pivotal in promoting economic and social convergence across Europe while avoiding the surge of new inequalities. CEMR believes it should remain a central element of the EU's agenda.
Nevertheless, CEMR remains committed to working hand in hand with the European Commission to shape a greener and fairer Europe. With its unparalleled ability to represent one million elected representatives spanning 40 countries, CEMR is a critical bridge between local governments and the European Commission. In the spirit of unity and cooperation, CEMR and its members look forward to actively participating in the ongoing dialogue to ensure that local governments' voices are heard and considered in the EU's future policies and initiatives.
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