By Ossi Savolainen, Regional Mayor, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council – hosts of 45th CPMR General Assembly, in Helsinki, Finland, 18-20 October 2017
Globalisation, digitalisation, climate change and demographic change. These are just some examples of factors that shape our future.
What is the role of the European Union and regions in facing these challenges? And how can we seize the many opportunities linked to the very same challenges, including start-ups and new businesses utilising digitalisation, the sharing economy, the circular economy and the silver economy?
Discussion about the future of Europe is taking place at the moment in Brussels, in Member States and in regions. In the last few months, the European Commission has produced several Reflection Papers concerning the future of Europe. Now it is up to us to not only react to the Commission’s proposals and ideas, but also actively engage in this discussion by providing contributions, opinions and ideas from European regions.
The active stance being taken by the CPMR in this discussion is very welcome and of the utmost importance. By contributing to this vivid European debate and emphasising the role of regions, we are not solely bystanders. We, the European regions, are actively shaping our future.
Regions have always been –and will remain in the future – a backbone of the European Union. “Europe of the Regions” is rooted strongly and permanently in the history of the European Union. Regions are closest to Europe’s citizens, a crucial position in the current political context, given the importance encouraging connection, unity and understanding in the EU. In this regard, regions have an integral role to play.
Regions also boost competitiveness. It is at regional and local levels where the EU´s competitiveness is created. Regions provide important innovation platforms and ecosystems for companies, start-ups, universities and citizens. Smart specialisation is an excellent example of fostering competitiveness at regional – and at the end of the day –European and global levels.
There are, of course, also many challenges ahead, such as Brexit, uncertainty about the future Cohesion policy and the EU´s financial framework from 2020 onwards. Yet, challenges are made to be overcome.
Together, showing unity and determination, by delivering the message that regions are an integral part of the EU, we will ensure our message is heard.
The Helsinki-Uusimaa region is willing to contribute actively to the European discussion on the Future of Europe. Our region wants to be a smart, internationally orientated and forward looking partner when building our common future.
We implement our quadruple-helix smart specialisation strategy with high ambition level and commitment – and we are also very open to interregional and international collaboration with our partners.
As a regional mayor of Helsinki-Uusimaa, I congratulate the CPMR for its active participation in the future of Europe discussion. Europe’s future and the role of regions will also be an important topic at the CPMR’s 45th General Assembly, being held in Helsinki, Finland in October.
We look forward to welcoming the CPMR and our fellow regions to Helsinki – let us shape and build the European future of regions together!