Interview with Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions


Gabrovo – A place that makes you smile

I am so impressed by the whole setting of the Innovation camp, by the leadership of your mayor Tanya Hristova, and also the fact that you’ve been able to get the people here – those who are innovative and especially the ones who are eager to find something new. I liked the presentation at the opening of the Camp yesterday – it was not just a background and showing Gabrovo’s commitment, but also a place that makes you smile. This is not just a sentence or nice words, but it’s something that I found in these three days and that is the reality. It is great that you have succeeded to gather here all those people who are not just committed to make changes, but to make it a reality. Your mission is to get the others on board and make Gabrovo a really special place in Europe.

Your key messages at the final plenary session today and tomorrow at the Citizens’dialogue

I intend to link some of the major findings of this Camp like what is needed to happen in Europe. So, use Gabrovo and many of the outcomes of this camp as kind of guiding signs like what we should be doing in other parts of Europe as well. Because, what we do need now is – we need pioneers, who like Tanya Hristova can be showing the way to the others what to do as well. Just to name a few – Europe now is looking for a new kind of platforms for shared and collaborative economy where people are more anxious to work with each other , both in the real life and virtually.

Describe Gabrovo in 5 words

For and with the people, and of course that famous smile of you.


What is the next challenge professionally and personally for you?

Apply some of these messages as kind of outcomes. I can apply them in my keynote speeches in many of the Brussels events, including our big opening at the Parliament ‘s hemicycle where I am addressing along with commissioner Korina Cretu on What Europe needs today and tomorrow? We will be opening the Week of cities and regions next Monday, and on the following day I can deliver the same message to the President Donald Tusk. I can bring that grass root movement from the bottom to the very top and make them convinced that we can create this kind of minds and mentality in Europe and that Gabrovo and a few others can really show the way.

In the short term, what should we do in the next six days?

You need to do what you have described in that guidebook of the human brain. Link the results of this camp to those, give the message to me and the other CoR members, so we can deliver it, use us all the time when we are talking about Gabrovo. Push us because we are personally committed to work with you and to implement the best ideas of this camp.