In its meeting held today, Thursday 5 February, coinciding with the beginning of the 6th mandate of the Committee of the Regions the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe re-elected Bas Verkerk as its President and endorsed his candidacy to the presidency of the Committee of the Regions. Bas Verkerk, Mayor of the City of Delft, echoed the words expressed by many members during the group meeting: “ALDE has returned as a larger group than at the start of the previous mandate and we will once again be an influential group in the CoR. This is crucial at a time when the political situation of Europe is evolving rapidly and unpredictably. That is why we intend that the liberals be part of the driving force of the European Committee of the Regions, as is the case in the European Commission and the European Parliament. We firmly believe that the presidency team of the CoR should be open to the ALDE Group and that is why my colleagues have put me forward as candidate for CoR President. I look forward to presenting my case to the CoR plenary for a Committee which is more confident and effective in achieving impact on the EU legislative process. ”
Verkerk will lead the group of liberals that counts 45 full members and 41 alternates from more than 30 national political parties in 17 member states.
The inaugural meeting that was held in the European Parliament, and hosted by former CoR member Ivan Jakovcic MEP, also served to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the formation of the ALDE group in the Committee of the Regions and the 20th anniversary of the existence of a liberal group in the CoR. Jakovcic who presented the priorities of the ALDE group in the EP REGI Committee said: “governing on regional level is the very foundation of democracy and in order to create synergy our groups in the European Parliament and in the Committee of the Regions need to work together and deliver consistent messages.”
The group also discussed policy matters with Fredrick Federley, ALDE coordinators in the ITRE committee of Parliament, who presented the priorities of that committee and highlighted how important it is for the MEPs in ITRE to receive input from the CoR so that the creation of the EU Energy Union and the Digital Single Market work effectively and successfully for Europe’s citizens.
The festive reception saw the participation of former Presidents of the CoR liberal group: Graham Tope, Flo Clucas, and Kent Johansson, who led the creation of the ALDE-CoR group. Addressing the gathering on behalf of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, Vice-President Izaskun Bilbao said: “ALDE in the CoR starts its new mandate by reinforcing the core principles of the functioning of the EU – subsidiarity and proportionality – and more importantly, a project we need in order to face the global challenges of today, namely a federal Europe.”
Sir Graham Watson, President of the ALDE Party, whose initiative it was to bring together the ELDR and EDP Parties into one political group was unable to attend, but recorded a video message in which he stressed the importance of working together as liberals and democrats across the European Union: “We do so effectively in our parliamentary groups and we have so much we can achieve together – let’s see what we can do to make the alliance stronger for the future!”