The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) welcomes the State of the Union address made by European Commission President Juncker, particularly its plea to strengthen democracy and defend the key values the EU stands for.

However, the CPMR says President Juncker’s speech has fallen short of acknowledging the need for a refocused Europe, which places social, economic and territorial cohesion at the heart of the European project.

Regions are the natural allies of the EU Institutions in driving forward a change agenda. They are the bridge that builds legitimacy between the European project and its citizens and are essential in delivering change centred on strengthened economic, social and territorial cohesion across all of Europe’s territories.

Europe’s challenges, such as migration, climate change, unemployment, social and economic disparities and innovation, play out at the local and regional level, and are part of the responsibilities of the CPMR’s regional governments and authorities. It is at the regional and local level that solutions will occur, and where President Juncker’s vision can be effectively implemented.

CPMR President, Vasco Cordeiro, said: “I agree with Mr. Juncker that the wind is back in Europe’s sails. I know that much of it has been ‘swept along’ by  European regions and their support for their citizens and economy. Europe’s maritime regions, represented through the CPMR, are essential to this vision of moving Europe forward. Work with us, and together we can find solutions to Europe’s challenges that work at the local level and help transform the lives of our citizens.”

CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said: “The CPMR is already organising regional conventions and debates on the future of Europe and its look forward to being centrally involved the Democratic Forums planned for 2018, and in promoting its vision of a fairer, more inclusive and democratic European Union, with regions at its core.”