One last question: After being CoR’s President for more than two years, what is your personal resume?
Mr. Markkula: Throughout the first half of this mandate, despite the economic crisis, the migration crisis and the political crises, three things have driven me. First, the potential for societal and technological innovation to provide solutions for regions and cities is high. This is not just about driving economic recovery; it‘s about finding new solutions to old and new problems by co-creating favourable conditions for sustainable growth. And the EU‘s leadership is starting to see this – Presidents, Prime Ministers, Commissioners and MEPs. Science and Government working together. It‘s about investing in human capital and making Europe smarter.
Second, I have seen the potential of regional and local politicians to take a lead. Fellow CoR Members from across the political spectrum consistently inspired me – from our work on investing in jobs in Europe to the cooperation we have with the EU‘s neighbours. For me, it’s all about making regions and cities catalysers, enablers and drivers for renewal. The policy guidelines and measures announced by the European Commission on 18 July for “Strengthening Innovation in Europe‘s Regions“ are a strong signal for place-based, sustainable growth, as proposed in our recent CoR opinions on the future of cohesion policy beyond 2020 and on smart specialisation.
And finally, the potential of “Reflecting on the EU“. The CoR is modest. We keep our feet firmly on the ground. But, every day, we see how acting locally, we can achieve things at the EU level and beyond. I hope my Presidency of the European Committee of the Regions will be remembered most for having shown our potential to renew Europe despite times of crisis. Regions and cities give the EU a future which is invented and built from the bottom up.
Mr. Markkula, thank you very much for the interview!