Brussels, 26 June 2017

[check against delivery]

 

Thank you chair.

 

Dear Lambert,

Dear speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

 

According to all indicators, the European economy seems to start recovering from its deepest, broadest and longest economic crisis ever.

However, and this is a crucial "however": the economic recovery is not spread equally among member states, among Europe's cities and regions, and within our regions and cities!

Let us not forget that one European in five is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. That is 20% of the European population, some 100 million people…

By the same token, let us keep firmly in mind that in every Member States, some regions are struggling to adjust to an increasing globalised economy.

This leads me to myself, and you, one question:

What can we do to increase resilience in future?

Resilience is essential, at the individual as well as local and regional level, to enable every European, every city and region to be ready for both opportunities and challenges of today's and tomorrow's economy.

And we all have our role to play in this: the EU, the Member States, regions, cities and civil society as a whole.

So I ask you too, how can cohesion policy help?

How can we support and sustain your efforts?

In other words, how can we perfect the policy's contribution and help?

Our investments in innovation, in energy transition, adaptation to climate change or social inclusion provide concrete help.

Such investments help Europe's cities and regions, and their inhabitants to be better prepared for the world that is coming, to be in a position to turn new challenges into development opportunities!

I initiated a direct dialogue with Mayors on integration of migrants in cities, a key issue in building resilient cities, meaning also inclusive ones.

Also, the adoption of the Urban Agenda for the EU and our related work with cities through Partnerships is exactly targeted at this

I often say that Cohesion Policy is the cement that holds the European Union together.

This is certainly the case when we talk about resilience, social inclusion and innovation.

Through the projects we fund across Europe, through exchanges of best practise, Cohesion Policy increases our cities' and regions' resilience whilst preparing the future by boosting innovation,

And, as importantly, whilst making absolutely sure that nobody, is left behind.

This is a subject that is close to my heart, so I look forward with great interest to the discussion.

Thank you.