The Committee of the Regions is a key institution in strengthening the territorial dimension of European policies, in maintaining a strong focus on economic, social and territorial cohesion and in drawing more attention to the specific needs and challenges of local and regional authorities in the European Union.
The mayors, as well as the city and regional counsellors are the soul behind our projects. Those who often spend after-hours time on ensuring that projects emerge, grow and succeed.
Those who actually know what does and what does not work. They have the ‘know who‘ as well as the know-how. In one word: they have, as we say here in Brussels, the 'ex-per-ti-se'.
We need political drive at the highest level, but we also need commitment and ownership of people on the ground.
Policies can in no way be implemented, without their support. We cannot talk about regional policy without direct and proactive participation of regions and cities.
It was with this conviction that I told the representatives assembled yesterday at the Committee of the Regions, that the Commission and me personally count on their support in implementing the Cohesion Policy.
During the discussions, some representatives expressed concerns that the Investment Plan for Europe could divert money away from the EU's existing cohesion policies and I want to resolutely dispel these concerns: there is no overlap between the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF). The overall ambition of the Investment Plan is to stimulate additional investment in the European economy and to promote growth and job creation and I count on the regional and local authorities to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the Plan.