The meeting room of the Permanent representation of France to the EU was full on 17th December in the evening. The Alpine convention, under Italian presidency, together with France and the Alpine Space programme were organising a conference in advance of the official approval by the European Council meeting on 19-20 December 2013 in Brussels of the launch of a European Union strategy for the Alps.
A high-level panel assembled notably Danuta Hubner, president of the REGI Committee of the European Parliament, Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional policy, Thierry Repentin, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Samo Merzel, Slovenian Chair of the Alpine Space programme, Marco Flavio Cirillo, representing the Italian presidency of the Alpine Convention, the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign affairs currently chairing the Council and the president of Tyrol. All congratulated the involved regions and organisations for the work accomplished on the initiative of the regions, welcomed the upcoming decision by the Council and wished a promising future to this new strategy.
“We are there”
As we write now it is reality, the Council of European Head of States and governments has approved officially the decision to launch the Alpine strategy: a great fay for the people of the Alps, rewarding their hard work in the two previous years. “We are there”, said Bernard Soulage, Vice-President of Rhône-Alpes region, in the stakeholders panel who introduced the conference.
A historic day also we hope for mountains in general, who should benefit from the recognition of what mountains deliver to society at large and of their economic potential, through the elaboration of this strategy in which mountain contributions to European welfare and growth should be made explicit.
Of course there is still a long way to go to transform this decision in concrete results and and outcomes for Alpine people. This should take at least another year and a half. But, for now, let’s celebrate!
More information on the Alpine convention website.20 December 2013