In December 2008 the European Commission launched the "Eastern Partnership " (EaP) as a means to develop relationships with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The European Commission invited the Committee of the Regions to establish a platform for dialogue between local and regional authorities from the partner countries and the EU. Set up by the CoR in 2011, the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) is composed of 36 members.
The inaugural meeting of CORLEAP was held in Poznan in Poland on 8 September 2011. Policy recommendations were adopted and presented to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw, leading to a commitment to ensure that the local and regional dimension was considered in the EaP policy.
In 2012 CORLEAP met in Chisinau, agreeing on an inventory of needs of local and regional authorities, including:
Since its launch, CORLEAP has worked closely with its members and partners on these key topics, establishing Action Plans with selected thematic priorities from Summit to Summit.
The annual CORLEAP meeting 2013 took place in Vilnius. Backed by a comprehensive political report, CORLEAP adopted recommendations ahead of the EaP Summit in Vilnius, which were referred to in the Summit's Joint declaration (article 55). The report argued that public administration reform, fiscal decentralisation and territorial cooperation could have a strong effect on enhancing the capacities of the local and regional authorities and improve the key issue of the responsiveness of the EaP policy to citizens.
In its 4th Annual Conference 2014 in Tbilisi, CORLEAP members emphasised the importance of the inclusion of local and regional authorities in the implementation of the relevant Eastern Partnership policies and of the encouragement for the representatives of national associations of LRAs.
Its 5th Annual Conference delivered recommendations for the heads of state and government gathering in Riga in May 2015 for the EaP Summit, who welcomed the further steps taken by CORLEAP in promoting cooperation at the regional and municipal levels of government, and invited the European Commission to ensure appropriate and tartegetd support to LRAs (Summit's Joint Declaration, point 25).
Within the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy review, CORLEAP highlighted the role of local and regional authorities as strategic partners for good governance and sustainable development, and the importance of bringing the EaP cooperation closer to the citizens, therefore producing tangible benefits.
CORLEAP continues to focus on supporting the process of decentralisation and regionalisation in the partner countries and on promoting the "territorialisation" of policies, programmes and projects, thus ensuring that they take into consideration the particular needs and concerns of local and regional authorities.