Opening Remarks and Addresses
Mr. Daniel Janssens, Secretary General of the Committee of the Regions, opened the Second Plus Europe Conference underlining that this event was both timely and important, since it had the opportunity to pass to European leaders a strong message about the needs, problems but also capabilities of European business and professional service organisations and civil society.
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Mr. Janssens transmitted a strong message of support from the Committee of the Regions and its members, while expressing the view for a better and more inclusive government and a more democratic Europe.
Despite the challenges that local and regional authorities face (such as recovering from the crisis, tackling unemployment, especially youth unemployment, and reconnecting with citizens), Mr. Janssens stated that after the European elections of May, the Committee of the Regions, together with the chambers of commerce, professional organisations such as Rotary International, could be intermediaries between the EU institutions and the general public in promoting and explaining the wider European interest.
Mr. Arnaldo Abruzzini, Secretary General of Eurochambres, noted that in many Member States they are questioning whether we should have more Europe or Europe as such. While pointing out that the concept of multilevel governance had its opportunities and dangers (too much bureaucracy), Mr. Abruzzini defended the role of the chambers of commerce –as well as other entities- as intermediaries. Nevertheless, he alerted that they faced a great challenge because of the changes in society, economy, business, etc, which have transformed the way people connect each other. Therefore, Mr. Abruzzini stated that those who risked paying the price for these changes were the intermediaries. To solve that, he believed that intermediaries should be the first movers, with a strong capacity to change and adapt to the new environment.
Finally, Mr. Jacques di Costanzo, member of the Board of Rotary International and President of the Second Plus Europe Conference, stated that this conference gave an opportunity to Rotarians to be involved in European governance and to strengthen their contribution to the society according to Rotarian ethics.
Moreover, Mr. Di Costanzo said that the Plus Europe Conference could also be a good opportunity for young professionals, with the long-term objective of increasing Rotary International membership.