The Assembly of European Regions: the European voice of the territories

Logo of the Assembly of European Regions

The AER: Story and objectives 

The Assembly of European Regions, AER, was formed 35 years ago, in a radically different world indeed. The founding regions met in Louvaine-la-Neuve on 14 – 15 June 1985 and created the AER, which at the beginning was called CRE/CER (Conseil des Régions d’Europe / Council of European Regions). The creation of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in 1994 and the Chamber of the Regions in the framework of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CALRE) in 1994, exemplified victories for AER in advocating for the regions in Europe. In 2020, AER is a network comprised of 150 regions from 30 countries, both inside and outside the European Union. 

The work of the Assembly of European Regions is guided by its political priorities. For the period 2020-2025, they are: promoting democracy and good governance; nurturing territorial cohesion and fostering cooperation; ensuring a liveable future for citizens and fostering a Europe of equalityAs a member-led organisation, AER’s work is inspired by its many members and is driven by specific clusters of members working within the organisation’s institutional entities. AER’s work can be summed up with 3 P’s “Policy – Projects – Programmes”. Policy work at AER is multidimensional. It balances interregional policy learning among members as well as institutional relations and advocacy towards European institutions. 

Structure of the AER 

The Committees are a trusted space where policymakers interact with peers from all over wider Europe. They are the place where knowledge and experience exchange happens and where new forms of collaboration are shaped. The work in the committees informs regional policy-making. The Bureau is the primary political voice of AER. It engages AER members in political debates and policy discussions of a pan-European and global nature and defines the overall political priorities of the network, setting the strategic direction of its advocacy work. The Bureau and its taskforces seek to influence European-level policy-making. 

The Project Unit disseminates knowledge on funding opportunities (for EU and non-EU members), facilitates the building of consortia and makes sure that AER and its members get the most out of EU project opportunities. The Assembly of European Regions is supported by a secretariat of professionals based in two offices (Strasbourg & Brussels) as well as a wider network of Seconded Officers who are civil servants working in AER member regions. 

Policy work at AER is multidimensional. It balances interregional policy learning among members as well as institutional relations and advocacy towards European institutions. 

Programmes and flagship initiatives of the AER 

AER has three long-standing programmes; Eurodyssey – Europe’s first interregional youth mobility programme, AER Summer Academy – a mutual learning event for young people and AER politicians and YRN (Youth Regional Network) – where activists and young politicians from Europe’s regions gather together to learn from one another and serve as a voice for the youth in European regions. 

#CohesionAlliance. AER is a founding member of the Cohesion Alliance – a coalition of those who believe that EU cohesion policy must continue to be a pillar of the EU’s future. The Alliance was created through cooperation between the European Committee of the Regions and the leading European associations of cities and regions. It demands that the EU budget after 2020 makes cohesion policy stronger, more effective, visible and available for every region in the European Union. The Cohesion Alliance regularly issues joint statements, organises advocacy events, and meets with relevant policy-makers to keep cohesion at the top of the agenda. 

Regions 2030. With only ten years left to achieve Agenda 2030, the time for action is now. National and regional strategies, much like the Sustainable Development Goals themselves, do not exist in a vacuum – they need a holistic approach. At least 100 of the 169 targets underlying the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals cannot be reached without proper engagement and coordination of local and regional governments. Regions 2030 is the Assembly of European Regions’ initiative to promote sustainable development and the implementation of the SDGs in Europe’s regions. 

Intercultural Regions Network. The Intercultural Regions Network is a joint initiative by the Council of Europe and the Assembly of European Regions, which aims to provide a platform for regions to share knowledge, resources and experiences to promote intercultural integration at the regional level. The Intercultural Regions Networks is the product of the AER Taskforce on Migration and is closely related to AER’s ongoing EU-funded project INCLUDE-EU. 

Eurodyssey Youth Mobility Programme. Eurodyssey is AER’s youth mobility programme operating between AER’s member regions for over thirty years. The programme was established in 1985 and celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2020. It aims is to improve the chances of young Europeans to integrate into the labour market by offering them the opportunity of a work experience placement abroad. The programme is open to young Europeans between the ages of 18 and 30, unemployed or recently qualified, living in a participating region. The work placements are organised and financed by the host regions. Since its creation, over 10,000 young people have benefited from Eurodyssey work placements. 

For more information: 

La Regionisto had organised in April 2020 a conference in partnership with the AER to discuss the voice of the regions in the EU with the students of the College of Europe.

Published by LA REGIONISTO

La Regionisto focuses on regional economic, political or cultural issues. Its aim is to enable everyone to deepen their curiosity for various regions of Europe and beyond, in a classic or fun way. We welcome articles written in any language and from any approach!

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