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Finse Markku Markkula verkozen tot voorzitter van het Comité van de Regio's

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Markku MarkkulaMarkku Markkula (EPP), member of Espoo City Council in Finland, has been elected President of the European Committee of Regions (CoR). The election took place during the CoRs’ constitutive plenary session in Brussels as the assembly entered a new five year mandate. Markkula will take the helm of the EU’s assembly of local and regional authorities for the next two and half years with Karl-Heinz Lambertz (PES), President of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, serving as the First Vice-President.

Voormalig lid van het Finse parlement (1995-2003), Markku Markkula volgt de Belg op Michel Lebrun (EVP). Als lid van het bestuur van de regionale raad van Helsinki-Uusimaa en voorzitter van de Espoo City Planning Board, werkt Markkula als adviseur aan de Aalto Universiteit in Finland met een focus en expertise op het gebied van onderzoek, innovatie en onderwijsbeleid van de Europese Unie.

“I love my region of Helsinki as well as northern Finland, Lapland, where I was born and went to school in a small village north of the Arctic Circle. The whole of Finland is far from the centre of Europe and close to our external common borders, suffering some territorial disadvantages being scarcely populated and distant, but sincerely committed to the European Union and its values”, Markkula said.

Following his election and speaking in front of a packed plenary room, Markkula stressed that delivering growth and jobs through the involvement of Europe’s regions and cities would be at the centre of his time in office.

“We have to build an inclusive alliance across public and private sectors and across borders to support our regions and cities in Europe to push forward a new wind of positive change; thus we will  boost smart growth and create sustainable jobs. Societal and industrial innovation need be a key part of the 315 billion euro investment package. We have to improve conditions for dynamic entrepreneurship and introduce measures to rebuild the confidence of our citizens through improved dialogue”, President Markkula remarked.

Expressing serious concern about recent developments in Europe and at its borders, the new CoR President called for a renewed European Neighbourhood policy. He argued that this must be delivered at local and regional level, both with the EU’s Eastern Partnership and Euro-Mediterranean countries. “Across the continent we are seeing serious threats and challenges to our fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of speech and national sovereignty. Finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine is of utmost importance for regions in Europe. Together, we all play a role to fight terror. That means also in our communities where integration of immigrants and mutual cultural understanding is not an option, but a civil duty”, he stated.

De verkiezing zag ook Karl-Heinz Lambertz elected as the CoRs’ First Vice-President. Lambertz replacesCatiuscia Marini (President of the Italian Region of Umbria). Lambertz has been a CoR member since 1998, having been Minister-President of Belgium’s German-speaking Community from 1999 to 2014. According to an agreement between the two CoRs’ largest political groups, it is expected that Lambertz will take over the presidency for the second half of five year mandate.

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“I would like to congratulate Markku Markkula on his election as the Committee’s President and I’m very much looking forward to working closely together with him over the next five years. I aim to ensure that the CoR continues to take the lead in fighting to restore the investment capacity of regional and local authorities at European level, such as the fact that co-financing under the Structural Funds should be put on an equal footing with national financing of the European Funds for Strategic Investments. Secondly, I will continue to champion the importance of services of public interest “, Lambertz said.”

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