Coronavirus: President von der Leyen highlights role of regions and cities in recovery and beyond

This morning, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, addressed the opening session of this year’s edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities via videoconference. In her remarks, President von der Leyen praised the vital role of regional and local actors: Local and regional governments have their finger on the pulse of Europe’s citizens. It not only helps to solve small, everyday problems, but also to master the great challenges of our time. Coronavirus is one of those. Local authorities were the first line of defence when the crisis hit.” The President emphasised that “regions and cities will be at the core of NextGenerationEU”. She said: “All European citizens have the same right to health! NextGenerationEU’s resources will therefore target the resilience of our health systems. The European funds will enable investments in new hospitals, better equipment and stronger healthcare systems – not only in the big cities but also in more remote regions.” President von der Leyen underlined the fundamental role of regional and local authorities in the recovery effort. She urged that region and cities, from the very outset, should be involved in the preparation of national recovery plans. The President also explained that #NextGenerationEU goes well beyond recovery: “NextGenerationEU will mend our social fabric and repair balance sheets across Europe. And while we are doing this, we press fast-forward towards a green, digital and resilient future. We want to use these investments not only to restart the economy. We also want to use them to improve the air we breathe in our cities, or to help small enterprises take up the digital solutions. And for all this, local administrations must be in the driving seat.” Read the full speech online and watch it back here. The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create jobs and growth, implement EU Cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance. This year, the 18th European Week of Regions and Cities is spread over three consecutive weeks, each dedicated to one topic: Empowering Citizens, Cohesion & Cooperation, Green Europe. More information is available on the website.