Reacting to today's State of the European Union address, Markku Markkula, expressed concern that the added value of cities and regions in rebuilding citizens' trust in the EU had not been sufficiently understood. "Despite living in turbulent times, Europe's foundations are strong enough to move ahead but we need to reinforce our common direction, work in partnership and show stronger political leadership at all levels of government" President Markkula remarked.
He further pointed out that the European Union needs to be simpler, deliver results that positively impact the lives of citizens and listen to the concerns of communities living in cities and regions. Referring specifically to investment, President Markkula praised the announcement by the EC's President, Jean-Claude Juncker, to double support under the Investment Plan for Europe, but added, "A better Europe is a cohesive Europe. We must ensure investment starts local and supports social cohesion if it is to succeed. Everything else will only be a top-down failing exercise leading to more populism and extremism. The EU needs to support pioneering cities and regions to speed up innovative change. "
"Investment is a shared priority in the EU but we must not forget that there are already several ways to deliver this priority. Cohesion policy – making up one-third of the EU's total budget – is and must remain Europe's main investment tool. Every financing source must remain complementary and work in synergy as they serve the same objective: to create a more prosperous, fairer and sustainable Europe ", President Markkula stated.
President Markkula welcomed the European Commission's position to migration, " The European Committee of the Regions has backed President Juncker's approach to the refugee crisis and migration flows on several occasions. We need to find urgent solutions when it comes to welcoming refugees and integrating migrants in our regions and cities."
He finally remarked, "Ahead of the informal meeting of 27 member states in Bratislava on Friday, we must also remind ourselves that the democratic foundations of our Union goes far beyond the EU's institutions. We should not get tied up in an argument about more or less Europe. We must instead listen and respond to the needs of our citizens by ensuring the relevant level of government has the ability to deliver results effectively" he stressed.