During its March meeting the Independent and Liberal Democratic Group (ILDG) in the Council of Europe held an exchange of views with Bas Verkerk (NL/VVD), ALDE’s Group President in the Committee of the Regions in Strasburg, France.
Marc Cools, ILDG President: “ALDE-CoR is our natural partner in the Committee of the Regions, all the more that several members of our group work in both organisations. In recent years, we have come to understand that the Congress and the Committee of the Regions confront similar challenges in the field of local democracy. Our groups took the initiative to hold this exchange of views precisely because we believe that we have areas of common interest where our cooperation may bring good results One of the issues that most of our members have to face today is the management of refugee flows and the role that local elected politicians can play in combatting intolerance and xenophobia”.
In his address to the ILDG, Bas Verkerk presented the organisational structure of the Committee of the Regions.
Bas Verkerk, ALDE CoR Group President: “The CoR Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) chaired by François Decoster (ALDE-CoR, France) is perhaps the body that focuses more closely on issues discussed in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. We definitely can learn from each other and sometimes avoid unnecessary duplication in our work.”
“Regarding the refugee situation, in the end of the day, we all understand that it is up to us, local governments, to contribute to tackling the crisis. Local politicians should play a key role in policies of integration and prevention of radicalisation. There are many people who want to help, but there are also those who are afraid of newcomers. Local governments can help to find solutions. The states must give us more instruments and possibilities to do this job,” concluded Bas Verkerk.
ILDG and ALDE-CoR decided to have regular contacts. Andris Jaunsleinis (Latvia, ILDG and ALDE-CoR) will regularly report to ILDG members about ALDE-CoR activities.