During our Vice-President Juraj Droba's address to the CoR plenary on the annual state of the regions and cities report, the main focus was on Ukraine, the energy crisis and the importance of cohesion policy.
Firstly referring to "Putin's devastating war", the President of the Bratislava region praised the efforts of Europe's local and regional authorities who, upon the outbreak of war, "opened doors to the Ukrainians fleeing this massive destruction. We provided shelter, food, services, jobs and education". However, their efforts don't stop there and "we continue to support them by helping them in the reconstruction efforts. We are accompanying Ukraine on its path to EU membership", he stated.
The ECR Vice-President evoked another drastic consequence of the war – increasing energy prices. Mr Droba emphasized that "it became very clear that being energy independent was crucial for the EU". In that regard, he reiterated the importance of nuclear energy as it is one of the "most reliable sources of energy, without which, the Green Deal will simply not work". The Bratislava President acknowledged the commitment of local and regional authorities to a green transition but with "workable and realistic goals in order for it to be successful".
His last remarks were saved for cohesion policy, which Mr Droba described "as central for our regions and cities" warning that "without a new push, disparities will continue to grow between our regions".
He concluded by providing a good example of the benefits of cohesion policy from Bratislava: a cross-border bridge to promote cycle tourism and rural development connecting the region of Bratislava with Lower Austria over the Morava River.
"The VysoMarch cycle bridge not only contributes to the development of cycle tourism, ecotourism, and cross-border cooperation but also has symbolic significance, as the bridge is situated on the former Iron Curtain dividing Europe in the past", said Mr Droba.