Notwithstanding another challenging year due to the COVID-pandemic, we look back at some successful highlights and achievements of 2021.
In 2021 we saw several high level engagements with our group, ranging from French President Macron presenting the priorities of the upcoming French Presidency at the European Committee of the Regions, or the participation of Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, in our first ever Liberal Regional Ministers Summit, discussing investment and recovery with ministers from five different countries, or Guy Verhofstadt discussing the Conference on the Future of Europe, a true liberal project where citizens are key and central, with our members and our delegation to the Conference, consisting of five local and regional representatives.
This year also saw the launch of our podcast, Letters from Brussels. This 15-minute podcast written for the members of the Liberal Mayors Network and the Liberal Regional Ministers Network, brings to liberal mayors first-hand information from the highest level of the European Union that is relevant to their work as subnational leaders and will help them and their citizens connect with European decision-making, and contribute to strengthening the Union. For Renew Europe members it provides a concise summary of key events from the CoR plenary. The podcast also always carries fascinating stories about the city of Brussels itself, capital of Europe and of Belgium, and home to more than 1 million people, with a history going back centuries. You can listen to the most recent episode, as well as find all previous episodes, on our website.
Several of our members also distinguished themselves on the European and global scale, with our President François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, and Matus Vallo, Mayor of Bratislava, being awarded, respectively, the World Public Service Award for Services to his Community and the World Mayor Future Award for his goals and projects to transform the Slovak capital into a green, compassionate city. Our rapporteur on Europe’s climate ambition, Vincent Chauvet, successfully defended and worked for the recognition of the important role of local and regional governments, but also non-party stakeholders, at COP26, while Manuel Alejandro Cardenete, Deputy Minister at the Regional Ministry of Tourism in Andalucia, and Renew Europe CoR Coordinator for Natural Resources and Tourism was elected President of NECSTouR in September. NECSTouR is the voice of European regions committed to economic, social and environmental sustainability through tourism – an increasingly important driver of destination competitiveness. Three liberals also became national ambassadors on climate neutrality for the Covenant of Mayors: Robert Van Asten, Gunars Ansins and Andres Jaadla.
And finally, our group, and Kate Feeney in particular, worked for a more inclusive society by pointing to the crucial role local and regional representatives have to eradicate LGBTIQ+ phobia, leading to an ALDE Party resolution, while also jointly committing to stepping up the European Committee of the Regions’ work to protect LGBTIQ rights and freedoms across cities and regions by making the EU an LGBTIQ+ freedom zone.
We are looking forward to 2022 to continue contributing to a more liberal Europe.