Cardiff was the second out of three CAAC cities, with Brest and Cork, selected to host the Atlantic Forum sessions. The day selected for the event turned out to be very significant for the European Union, as the evening before, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, had announced its intention to organize a referendum concerning a possible withdrawal of UK from the EU.
Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes for Wales did not miss the opportunity to mention the consequences of such a decision in his speech, claiming that Wales is and feels European. The dynamic presentation of Ms. Lowri Evans, Director General of the European Commission’s DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a clear EU flavor to the conference.
The parallel sessions on Smart Growth, Sustainable Growth and Inclusive Growth gave the discussion on the Atlantic Strategy Action Plan a clear EU2020 mainstreaming while facilitating the inclusion of stakeholders’ views and ground-based perspectives.
In parallel, CAAC Know Cities project presented its progress and the good practice of Cardiff in this INTERREG initiative, with the creation of Cardiff Starts. The main idea was to enhance CAAC’s role as the “missing link” between the ground and the EU institutions. As CAAC has been directly involved since the very beginning, the network kindly invited local authorities and stakeholders to discuss the views around the strategy, challenges, implications… so as to convey a wider vision from the local level to the EU “top”
CAAC has been involved in the Atlantic Strategy since its very inception, working together with other Atlantic networks and stakeholders for a better acknowledgement of the features of this area, and, above all, its cities. From CAAC we consider that there is still much room to improve the participation of local authorities in the Forum, the consultation opened by the Commission, and, of course, the Action Plan to be launched in 2014.