Welcome wordsThe 2015-2017 mandate of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) started on 12 February 2015, with the election of the new President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Markku Markkula, Espoo City Council, Finland. President Markkula, who will act as the co-president of ARLEM representing the EU group, joins the co-president representing the Mediterranean group, Hani Abdelmasih Al Hayek, Mayor of Beit Sahour, Palestine, who was nominated in December 2014. Mr Markkula and Mr Abdelmasih Al-Hayek will act as co-presidents of ARLEM for the next two and a half years.
Hani Abdelmasih Al-Hayek
We would like to thank the outgoing co-presidents of ARLEM, Michel Lebrun and Yousef Ali Abdel-Rahman, for their commitment to ARLEM over the past two and a half years. We pledge to continue their efforts, and the efforts of their predecessors, which have turned ARLEM into a well-established assembly, a well-respected forum for political debate and an integral part of the governance structure of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), representing the so-called "territorial dimension" – essentially the interests of local and regional authorities from the three shores of the Mediterranean. During our mandate, we will focus on supporting the process of decentralisation and on promoting the "territorialisation" of the UfM's policies, programmes and projects, particularly, thus ensuring that they take into consideration the particular needs and concerns of local and regional authorities. We will also work towards strengthening the institutional capacity of local and regional authorities to manage public policies, particularly through the ARLEM capacity building project in the area of urban development. Within the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), our aim is to highlight the role of local and regional authorities as strategic partners for good governance and successful development outcomes. In this context, we also seek the implementation of a cohesion policy in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region and the adoption of a macro-regional approach. Our overall aim is to bring Euro-Mediterranean cooperation closer to the citizens, therefore producing tangible results in people's daily lives.
Markku MarkkulaHani Abdelmasih Al-HayekARLEM co-presidents