News Presidency

The RLEG calls for more plural, open and participatory European institutions in Bilbao

2023 March 22
  • The RLEG Initiative has met in Bilbao in defence of greater recognition of the Regions with legislative powers in the European Union
  • The Bilbao Declaration was approved at the meeting
  • The Lehendakari advocated a model of multilevel governance in Europe and demanded that regions with legislative powers and constitutional nationalities be formally recognised as having a unique role in European governance

The RLEG Initiative, led by the Basque Government, met this morning at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao in defence of greater recognition of Regions with legislative powers in the European Union, where a series of concrete improvements to the current system have been adopted. These are included in the Bilbao Declaration, approved today.

In the framework of this high-level event of the RLEG Initiative, for the first time in a face-to-face format, the Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu welcomed the Presidents and senior political representatives of the Azores, Catalonia, Corsica, Flanders, the Aland Islands, the Balearic Islands, Madeira and Valencia.

Opening the meeting, the Lehendakari argued that “it is possible, and more necessary than ever, to create a model of multilevel governance that benefits democracy.” He called for a model that gives a voice and decision-making capacity not only to member states, but also to small countries, nations or regions with legislative capacity. “We are all part of this European project in which we believe. We are necessary and we must contribute,” he remarked.

According to the Lehendakari, the current management model will be more effective if it incorporates more actors, given that, in his opinion, diversity brings richness to a Europe “which cannot leave out those who are a little smaller, just because they are smaller”. “Europe is heterogeneous, diverse and pluralistic. Their decision-making bodies must also be so,” he added.

The aim of the RLEG Initiative is to place the Regions with legislative powers in their rightful place in the European Union's decision-making process, with full respect for their constitutional powers.

The Bilbao Declaration approved today is, in the words of the Lehendakari, a new step towards achieving a common objective: to have more pluralistic, open and participatory institutions. “Institutions built by and for European citizens. Institutions that give greater space and participation to diversity, which is Europe's great asset,” he pointed out. In this sense, Iñigo Urkullu demanded that regions with legislative powers and constitutional nationalities be formally recognised as having a unique role in European governance.

In addition to the Lehendakari, the President of Flanders, Jan Jambon, the President of Corsica, Gilles Simeoni, the Vice-President of the Aland Islands, Harry Janson, the Minister for External Action and the EU of Catalonia, Meritxell Serret, as well as the Secretaries General and Directors General of Foreign Affairs of the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands, the Azores and Madeira also took part in the event.

The event was also attended by prominent members of the European institutions and academia, all of them experts in democracy and multilevel governance, such as Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council, Alain Lamassoure, former Member of the European Parliament, François Alfonsi MEP, and Colin Scicluna, Head of Cabinet of the Vice-President of the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica, among other participants.


The RLEG Initiative is a network of 17 governments of regions and autonomous regions with legislative powers, many of which represent peoples or nations within their Member States.

RLEG members are strongly committed to the values and principles of the EU and work to ensure effective multi-level governance in the Union and to further improve the application of the decentralised dimension of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

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Politicians attending the event