European Committee of the Regions

Brussels, 4 December 2015

Jean-Claude Frécon tells the EU Committee of the Regions: “let’s step up our co-operation”

The President of the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Jean-Claude Frécon, addressed the 115th plenary session of the EU’s Committee of the Regions in Brussels on Friday 4 December 2015.  This was the first time a President of the Congress has addressed the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions.

Given that the two institutions celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2014, the President felt that it was essential to “look at how we can work towards closer and deeper co-operation”.  In this connection, Mr Frécon highlighted examples of co-operation, whether in the field of observing local and regional elections or co-operation projects in the Eastern Partnership countries.  “We have reached a point where it is possible to identify common priorities which could enable us to move from co-operation to joint action,” he added, citing the example of Ukraine where the Congress was heavily involved in the current reforms and for which the Committee of the Regions had set up a specific task force.  Mr Frécon also referred to possible synergies and closer co-operation in the enlargement countries.

“We could also identify joint thematic priorities such as the fight against corruption,” he said.  He pointed out that the Committee of the Regions’ debates on migration and the integration of refugees, held the previous day, reflected those held by the Congress at its October session.  He added that the Congress intended to pursue its work on topical issues such as radicalisation.  To this end, it had adopted guidelines for local authorities to combat radicalisation.  An international conference on preventing radicalisation leading to violent extremism had also been held in Aarhus on 18 November this year and the Congress was planning on holding a summit of mayors on this question in Rotterdam in 2016.  He concluded by saying that “the Congress will now be working on setting up an Alliance of European Cities to combat violent extremism and compile an educational toolkit for local authorities.”