3rd / 4th MARCH 2022

UDiTE President, Stephane Pintre attended one of the most important territorial meetings of the French EU Presidency calendar, the 9th European Summit of Cities and Regions that took place in Marseille on 3rd and 4th  March 2022 where Stéphane was supported by Simon Pascoe and Xavier Boivert. Attended by over 3000 local and regional representatives, the Summit agenda was rapidly refocused in light of the Ukrainian crisis. At the Summit, European Committee of the Regions President, Apostolos Tzitzikostas , and Governor of the Greek Region of Central Macedonia awarded an honorary membership of Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Kiev to the Commitee.  The war in Ukraine shows that our democracy cannot be taken for granted. Adopting the Declaration of Marseille, the European Committee of the Regions along with 2000 representatives of regional and local authorities of the European Union representing over one million mayors, local and regional elected political leaders strongly condemned the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression by Russian President Putin against free Ukraine, full solidarity with the Mayors and Regional leaders. 

The Summit’s Declaration on Ukraine calls on the EU to fully support Ukrainian refugees. The Declaration strongly condemns the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine and calls the EU to urgently grant Ukrainian citizens leaving the country the refugee status under EU Asylum Law.

Renaud Muselier, President of the French Region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Deputy President of the French Regions announced the creation of a joint Southern Appeal for Ukraine, with the support of the EU Institutions to mobilise 242 European regions, 80 territories and nearly 89,000 municipalities to collect more than €20 million proof that EU territories, regions and municipalities are essential for the EU and reinforce Europe's determination to support the Ukrainian people.

Speaking via a recorded message, President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macrontalked of how the Summit showed the best side of Europe that is united, close, fair, democratic. Values for which the people of Ukraine are resisting and fighting for. The French President underlined the vital role local authorities have in this common work.

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, from Malta stressed  how regions and cities are the beating heart of the European Union underlining the clear role for regional and local government in assuring that fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are present in the everyday life of our citizens. She concluded by saying "We cannot give in to complacency. We must remain vigilant. Our European House of Democracy is precious. We will protect it."

Former mayor  and Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, said: "We can never take our democracy for granted, we have to work on it together, every day, and on all levels."

The President of the Economic and Social Committee, Christa Schweng, said: " What we are witnessing today, with the appalling developments in Ukraine, is a true attack to all the values that hold us together as a community. I am deeply convinced that being European is, in the first place, adhering to a consistent set of non-negotiable values, like the respect of freedom, of democracy, the rule of law and of fundamental rights. All this with committed citizens –men and women- at the heart. Civil society organisations are the concrete of our joint House of European democracy ."

Vasco Alves Cordeiro , First Vice-president of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "The war in Ukraine and our discussion here in Marseille on European democracy are strongly connected. We cannot make the mistake of separating the two. What we say in our Manifesto and what we want to revitalise is actually what is being attacked by the Russian aggression in Ukraine. This war shows us that we cannot take democracy for granted."

Although the war in Ukraine dominated debate, the two-day Summit held wide-ranging discussions on the future of Europe, post-pandemic recovery and cohesion, key elements of the Manifesto adopted at the end of the Summit. The Marseille Manifesto contains proposals to strengthen the EU's democratic legitimacy including calling for its regions, cities and municipalities to be gradually upgraded - through the European Committee of the Regions - beyond its current consultative function towards a binding role in a limited number of policy areas with a clear territorial dimension while avoiding additional complexity in the EU.

On the Thursday evening delegates joined a vigil outside Marseille City Hall in the Vieux Port where the Mayor of Marseille read a message from their twin port town Odessa in Ukraine. The City hall was illuminated in the colours of the flag of Ukraine in an event that atrtract in excess of 1000 people.

The Summit tackled some key topics including 'Digital makings of resilient communities', 'Cohesion and recovery', 'Future models of territorial development', 'Rural revival', 'Cities, Regions and recovery plans', 'Cross-border cooperation 2050', etc.  Some extra intrigue was added to the Summit concludes on Friday 4th March the last day on which candidates in France have to declare for the Presidential election having secured at least 500 signatures of support from Mayors across France (pairainage). 

Stephane was able to meet the Committee of the Regions Secretary General, Petr Blížkovský, Thomas Wobben, the Director for Legislative Works, Christophe Chaillou and Christophe Moreux from AFCCRE (French section of CEMR) and Emil Boc, an inspirational speaker, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and former Prime Minister of Romania.








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