Julie, along with her colleague Afzal Khan MEP, joined the leader of the European Parliament's Socialist and Democrats Group, Gianni Pittella, to show off the diversity and integration of the North West.
Julie said 'It was fantastic that Gianni took time out of his busy schedule to visit the North West region and see for himself how elected Labour members - councillors, MPs and MEPs - work hard to improve everyday life for constituents.
We are a region of extraordinary diversity with Manchester being one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, second only to New York, with up to 200 different languages being spoken on its streets. Gianni's visit gave him a good sense of the excellent progress the city has made both socially and economically, placing itself at the forefront of the regional devolution agenda, building on the success of partnership working across the combined authority, promoting inclusivity and opportunity via its focus on world-class education and research.
However, it's the local communities that give Manchester its distinctiveness so it was especially good for Gianni to meet leaders from different faith and ethnic minority groups. Gianni was able to offer hope to those he spoke to, reassuring them of his commitment to build dialogue where conflict exists and to ensure that EU investment would prioritise jobs and sustainable growth, especially with regard to young people.
I first met Gianni at a Culture Action Europe Conference in Rome during autumn 2013, before I was elected. I know that he understands the important role that arts, culture and heritage can play in the development of a cohesive society.
Although this was a flying visit he will return in the summer months when he will also visit other parts of the region including Cheshire and Cumbria. We look forward to showing him some of our unique cultural heritage sites such as Hadrian's Wall, the Lake District National Park, and our world-class museums, galleries and cultural venues such as Liverpool's International Slavery Museum. He will also have the opportunity to see for himself West Cumbria's Energy Coast.'
Gianni Pittella told Mancunian Matters
“I decided after this day to come again in the summer. I want to have an intense conversation with different groups of Muslim, Catholic, Jewish groups and other people who live in Manchester; because I’ve touched with my hands [after speaking with different representatives] that the integration here is successful.
“I was in the centre for integration, and I realised that I need to take this to the assembly in the European parliament to show that it is possible and in fact a duty for us to work to act in favour of this integration.”