European Committee of the Regions visits Maastricht
On 7 February, the 25th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty, a conference of the European Committee of the Regions was held in the Provincial Government Buildings. Under the title of ‘Reflections on Europe, 25 years after the Treaty’, the current state of cooperation and the outlook for the short term were discussed.
The Committee of the Regions (CoR) consists of 350 members, who represent the regions and cities of the 28 European Member States. Via the CoR, local and regional authorities have a say in the detailing of EU legislation. The conference was held in the context of the Europe Calling! programme, which commemorates 25 years of the Maastricht Treaty but also addresses the future challenges facing Europe.
The members of the CoR, together with their president Markku Markkula, were welcomed in the Provincial Government Buildings on the River Meuse by Governor Theo Bovens of the Province of Limburg and Mayor Annemarie Penn-Te Strake and Executive Councillor Gerdo van Grootheest of the Municipality of Maastricht. Later in the day, the conference participants visited the Sphinxkwartier district, where in pop venue Muziekgieterij the start sign was given for the YO!Fest; a festival where young people of the ‘Generation Maastricht’ from home and abroad debated Europe.
In his speech of welcome, Governor Bovens referred to the importance of the regions in the development of Europe. “My experience is that regions can connect so much better than nations”, the Governor emphasised. “Take the candidacy of Maastricht for the title of 2018 European Capital of Culture. Maastricht was working together with Aachen in Germany and Liège, Eupen and Hasselt in Belgium. In the end, the jury considered the bid a bridge too far, but we saw the opportunities in this region. In many cases, national regulations make cross-border cooperation difficult. However, regions can serve as an example when it comes to international cooperation.”
Mayor of Maastricht Annemarie Penn-Te Strake concurred with the Governor’s opinion: “For the people who live in border regions, Europe is a daily reality. Perhaps the solution for revitalising European unification can best be sought in the border regions, rather than in national capitals and Brussels.”