More than twenty liberal mayors from fifteen countries met on 8 July for the Liberal Mayors Summit. During the summit, the mayors discussed the Conference on the Future of Europe, which included a contribution by Claudia Gamon MEP (NEOS, Austria), relations with the UK post-Brexit with Sir Graham Watson and what makes cities liberal post-COVID-19.
François Decoster, President of the Renew Europe Group in the European Committee of the Regions (Renew Europe CoR) and Mayor of Saint-Omer (France), chaired the Summit and stressed the importance of the Conference on the Future of Europe:
“We have a political responsibility to make it a success – if not, a failure of the Conference will signal the failure of the EU as being a community. I feel there seems to be a tension – one between representative and participatory democracy. But to me, there isn’t any as we need both. Putting citizens at the centre of the debate is key to liberal local and regional representatives!”
Claudia Gamon MEP weighed in, urging citizens to make use of the online platform or citizen dialogues:
“This conference is about what people think the EU should do – it’s turning the debate upside down. Nobody has to be an expert on EU policy to participate as the EU should be an every day issue.”
Several mayors shared their perspective on the Conference, finding ways to contribute or organise participatory events for their citizens.
Sir Graham Watson, former President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, focused on relations with UK cities post-Brexit, discussing twinning of cities and European correspondents within municipal councils to keep the lines of communications open between the UK and the EU open. “Bear with us”, he said and continued that “as the nationalism we see which started with Trump now will continue for the time being, we also see that at the local level the population is slowly changing course – as we’ve seen in recent by-elections where Liberal Democrats have won for the first time in a century”.
Finally, following the recent resolution by the European Parliament declaring the whole of the European Union an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone, in response to anti-LGBTIQ initiatives in Poland, the mayors discussed how such resolutions can be replicated at the local level, echoing the declarations by Luxembourg, Lisbon, and Quimper declaring themselves LGBTIQ Freedom Cities.
The Liberal Mayors Summit on 8 July 2021 brought together more than 20 Mayors from 15 countries: François Decoster (Saint-Omer), Vincent Chauvet (Autun), France; Rudi Beeken (Tielt-Winge), Peter Gysbrechts (Putte), Belgium; Keith House (Leader of the Eastleigh council), UK; Andreas Kondylis (Alimos), Greece; Vytautas Grubliauskas (Klaipeda), Dovydas Kaminskas (Taurage), Remigijus šimašius (Vilnius), Lithuania; Tjapko Poppens (Amstelveen), Netherlands; Begoña Villacís (Deputy Mayor of Madrid), Spain; Simone Beissel (Deputy Mayor of Luxembourg), Luxembourg; Mārtiņš Staķis (Riga), Latvia; Ivica Puljak (Split), Ljerka Cividini (Cakovca), Croatia; Fintan Phelan (cathaoirleach of Carlow County), Naoise Ó Cearúil (Kildare), Ireland; Mirja Vehkaperä (chair of Oulu city council), Finland; Urmas Sukles (Haapsalu), Estonia; Jasna Gabrič (Trbovlje), Slovenia; Karolina Zdrodowska (deputy Mayor of Warsaw), Poland; Philip Sandberg (Lund), Malin Forsbrand (Vaxholm) and Madelaina Jakobbsson (Nordmalings Kommun), Sweden.
Cet après-midi, nouvelle réunion des #maires #libéraux @ALDEParty @RenewEurope, organisée par @RenewEuropeCoR. À l’agenda : Conférence sur l’avenir de l’Europe et panels citoyens, relations avec les #communes 🇬🇧, droits 🏳️🌈 et valeurs 🇪🇺 en Pologne 🇵🇱 et en Hongrie 🇭🇺 pic.twitter.com/ZgoYLPIloH— François DECOSTER (@fdecoster) July 8, 2021