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Emmanuel Macron to European local and regional leaders: you are at the heart of European democracy  
​​French President Emmanuel Macron discussed European values and the renewal of democracy with members of the European Committee of the Regions during the plenary session on 1 December. The French President stressed "the representativeness and importance of the CoR" and the fundamental role of subsidiarity and cohesion. 
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron to the CoR plenary session for a debate on the renewal of democracy and European values. The French president confirmed the key role played by local and regional authorities in the defence of European values and democratic renewal and expressed his willingness to involve the CoR in the work of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (see the recorded debate here).

As European citizens seek to respond to various economic, social, environmental and political challenges, and on the eve of the launch of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2022, President Macron's participation sends a strong signal to all elected representatives on the ground in Europe. The debate focused on the partnership and trust between the Union and its citizens, which are based on common values and the defence of democracy. President Macron (see the transcript of his speech and conclusion) underlined that regional elected representatives are the heart of European democracy, welcoming the crucial role they are playing in tackling the COVID pandemic. He spoke of the need to build a 'European demos' with local and regional authorities, including in the possible context of the reforms needed to make the European Union work better from the bottom up. He also stressed the particularly important role of local and regional elected representatives in overcoming key challenges such as the energy transition, digital transformation or social cohesion. He expressed his intention to work with the CoR during the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union to promote fundamental European values and principles.

Apostolos Tzitzikostas (see his speech) said: "I thank President Macron for the opportunity to discuss what unites us: the future of the European project and the defence of our democratic values. The European Committee of the Regions represents more than one million elected representatives from nearly 300 regions and 90,000 municipalities and is an indispensable element for grassroots democracy, which is the future of the European project. It guarantees the diversity of our territories in the service of economic and social cohesion and ensures respect for our values based on subsidiarity, the rule of law and fundamental rights. I am reassured that, in these times of uncertainty and change, Europe will soon find itself under the leadership of France, the founding country of Europe, the country of human rights and today the country driving an ambitious agenda in favour of European sovereignty."

Vasco Alves Cordeiro, 1st Vice-President of the CoR, added: "Listening to Europe's citizens is vital to save the European project, but acting is equally important to avoid frustration and mistrust in it. The question is more and more not whether we are listening to citizens, but how far we are prepared to go to do what Europeans want. We must show our determination and ability to change our Union for the better before the next European elections, and we must do so by anchoring it in its cities and regions. Dialogue with citizens must not be a short-lived listening exercise, it must become permanent."

The transcript of President Macron's speech and conclusion is available here.

The video of the Plenary debate is available here.


Michele Cercone

Spokesperson of the President

Mobile: +32 (0)498 982 349

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