„The focus of my work? Actively working towards a Europe of citizens and of regions that lives up to its name.”
Tobias Gotthardt has been a member of the Bavarian parliament for the FREE VOTERS since 2018. Since 2017, he has been a member of the Federal Executive Committee of the FREE VOTERS. He is also Chairman of the Committee for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Relations and a substitute member of the European Committee of the Regions.
What is your work like as a member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR)?
The members of the CoR are advocates for regional interests and provide ideas for regional initiatives. This is precisely where I see the focus of my work: working actively towards a Europe of citizens and regions that lives up to its name.
You are also Chairman of the Committee for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Relations in the Bavarian regional parliament. How do you reconcile these two roles?
The large number of appointments doesn't always make it easy – COVID-19 of all things, along with its new digital solutions, have made the work in the CoR easier. However, I also like focusing on Brussels, using my time there for numerous other discussions. Fortunately, the European network is not new to me: I worked as a parliamentary officer in Brussels for many years.
Is working at a local level the right way to bring Europe closer to its citizens?
Let me return the question: Where, if not locally and regionally? This is especially true for the Conference on the Future of the EU. It makes little sense for Europe to let this platform just be a self-contained echo chamber. We need members of the CoR and regional parliaments as active building blocks of the Conference. We need a variety of local events - not oversized posters in the Brussels European Quarter.
How can the European Union support German lander and regions?
Europe must take the regions - even more so the regional parliaments with legislative functions - very seriously and involve them directly. The Commission has made great strides on this since the Timmermans working group. The European Parliament still has potential for development. We also need to further strengthen and reform the CoR.
What is your position on the dialogue between European regions, for example Austria in your case?
As Chair of the European Affairs Committee, regional cooperation with the Czech Republic and Austria is very important to me. This is also reflected in personal encounters and genuine friendships. Especially during the current pandemic, I have become even more aware of the value of personal relationships. The CoR and our EDP are also a wonderful basis for deep European friendships that have a political impact.
#Europatag und Start der #CoFoE am Sonntag. Grund für mich als #Europaausschussvorsitzender und mein Team, mal wieder in die kreative Trickkiste zu greifen. In sechs Minuten Sternstunden erklären wir System und Zukunft von Europa. Klickt euch rein. ;-) https://t.co/RBop8Ix8Z1— Tobias Gotthardt MdL (@TobiGotthardt) May 7, 2021