UNITEE, the New European Business Confederation met with Bart Somers, Mayor of the Belgian city of Mechelen and winner of the World Mayor Prize in 2016 for his commitment to create an inclusive society.
The city of Mechelen, Belgium, has experienced a drastically transformation in the fifteen years of Somers’ mayorship: from being known as a declining city awash in crime to one of the best places to live in Europe. Citizens of Mechelen are now proud to be mechelaars.
The Mayor’s top priority is to prevent segregation and radicalisation of locals. To achieve this objective, Mr Somers engages in constant dialogue with all citizens and combats group thinking. At the same time, the Mayor listens to mechelaars’ concerns and provides them with a clean and secure city to live in.
Bart Somers has managed to lead a community with more than 124 nationalities, by making diversity the new normal. President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group in the Committee of the Regions he is the rapporteur of the opinion Combatting Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: Prevention mechanisms at local and regional level. The Mayor of Mechelen, is convinced of the role cities and regions will play in the 21st century.
UNITEE, the only organisation in the EU representing entrepreneurs with a migrant background, welcomes the work of this inclusive Mayor and highlights the importance of dialogue and cultural exchange among citizens.