Thus, the delegation from Catalonia was headed by the Minister for Foreign Action and Open Government, Victòria Alsina, who was also in charge of handing the presidency symbol to the head of the delegation from Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, First Vice-President responsible for the economy, relocation and regional preference, Stéphanie Pernod. Undersecretary for Relation with international delegations, Alan C. Rizzi, and State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Tourism, Patrick Rapp, represented the delegations from Lombardy and Baden-Württemberg, respectively. President of the Catalan Government, Pere Aragonès, also received all the delegations for a short exchange before the official part of the event.
The Four Motors for Europe celebrate the handover of the presidency from Catalonia to Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
In addition to the symbolic handover of the presidency symbol, the event was an opportunity to review the state of the network, make a balance of the outgoing presidency and present the main pillars of the presidency programme prepared by Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. In this respect, minister Alsina was happy with the outcomes of the Catalan presidency: “We have contributed as much as we have been able, despite the difficulties, to lay the foundations for a transition towards a more sustainable society that leaves no one behind”. The minister highlighted some of the initiatives promoted by Catalonia: the creation of the 4ME Business Passport, the new working group on Sustainable Food Systems and the central event of the Catalan presidency on the 2030 Agenda and the European Green Pact.
First Vice-President Pernod believes that this period invites us to be innovative, to reinvent our cooperation policies and actions, in line with the challenges of the territories and European strategies. “The Four Motors for Europe, the main industrial regions in their respective countries, have all the assets to be at the forefront of this reconquest of Europe's industrial and technological sovereignty”. The programme of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes presidency identifies six major themes:
- Economy, innovation, energy and digital transition: “promoting relocation in the regions to increase Europe’s industrial and technological sovereignty”
- Sustainable tourism and health tourism: “supporting the tourism transition”
- Professional training, apprenticeships, higher education, and student mobility: “renewing training practices to encourage participation among target groups and increase their employment; adapting methods to companies’ needs”.
- Agriculture and food sovereignty: “promoting the quality of regional products”
- Climate and environment: “taking action together and promoting the Regions’ initiatives at the international level, in conjunction with the European Green Deal and the French presidency of the European Union”
- Health and disability: “sharing our experiences managing the health crisis”
Secretary Rapp – who was unable to travel from Stuttgart due to the current situation of the Covid-19 virus in Germany – emphasized the jointly built reliable structures and resilient relationships our regions have built in the past decades, which, most importantly, have resulted in mutual trust – something that we should be proud of. He thanked the Catalan Government for demonstrating in the past months that still much is to be done so that societies and economies can emerge stronger from the crisis, and welcomed the approach of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes presidency aimed at Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth in the current context where the pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses and interdependence of European Economies. “It is important that the economically strong regions of the Four Motors for Europe regain their industrial and technological sovereignty”.
Undersecretary Rizzi underlined the importance of the current path in which we are committed to controlling the pandemics, while at the same time trying to design a restart strategy that combines the needs of economic recovery, environmental protection, the fight against climate change and the inclusion of all in growth. The Four Motors for Europe must have the audacity to exploit the broader context, such as the national Recovery and Resilience Plans, the European New Green Deal or the Glasgow agreement, to play a growing role in these decision-making scenarios, to give more weight to our requests, to collaborate in key projects and to contribute innovative policies to the European community.
The interventions of the institutional representatives were complemented by a keynote speech “Science, Policy and Transformative Resilience” of Dr. Asun Lera St. Clair, Senior Advisor at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and a member of the Advisory Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia (CADS). In addition, two of the on-going initiatives of the association were presented during the ceremony: the 4ME Business Passport – presented by Roger Suárez, a member of the working group Economy – and the creation of the new working group Sustainable Food Systems – presented by Carmel Mòdol i Bresolí, Secretary for Food, Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda at the Catalan Government.