The Committee of the Regions (CoR) welcomes the conclusions of the Summit in which Heads of State and Government give a prominent place to local and regional authorities and explicitly recognise the role of local democracy in Eastern Partnership (EaP) policies. This follows up to the recommendations made by the CoR joint political assembly of regional and local representatives from the EU and Eastern partners (CORLEAP), which was represented at the Summit by the Committee of the Regions' First Vice-President, Mercedes Bresso, and CORLEAP co-chair, Mamuka Abuladze, from Georgia.
In order to make a decisive difference to citizens and support policy reforms, local authorities must be involved as active partners in the Eastern Partnership. This message was successfully delivered by the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) to the Summit that was held in Vilnius on 29 November. The Summit's conclusions highlight the "significant role" of local democracy and local self-government in the Partnership, and support the inclusion of local and regional authorities in the implementation of EaP policies. They also emphasise the importance of developing regional cooperation and macro-regional strategies across the EaP space.
Speaking at the Summit, Mercedes Bresso, First CoR Vice-President, said: "The Heads of State have given full recognition to the added value of having a territorial dimension in the policies covered by the Eastern Partnership. This is a significant achievement for the CoR which, via the CORLEAP, has worked over the past years to ensure better integration of local and regional authorities in EaP policies". "The inclusion among EaP priorities of territorial cooperation and of support for capacity building within local authorities is also welcomed, especially so as it reflects the challenges pinpointed by the CORLEAP." To build up on this positive development in the EaP strategy, Mrs Bresso called for the creation of a real "Regional Development Programme for the Partnership in order to successfully balance growth among the various territories".
Mamuka Abuladze, President of the Georgian Association of Local Authorities and CORLEAP co-chair, recalled the main recommendations of CORLEAP to further empower regional and local authorities from the Eastern partners, namely public administration reform, fiscal decentralisation and territorial cooperation. He stressed that: "All those three issues could have a strong effect on enhancing the capacities of the local and regional authorities. What is more important, it could improve the key issue of the responsiveness of the EaP policy to citizens".
The CORLEAP will now concentrate its work on proposing and developing instruments to help deliver on those commitments. Its 4th plenary session, to be held in Tblisi, Georgia, in 2014, will mostly focus on macro-regional strategies and territorial cohesion policy.
The Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) was established by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in 2011 to bring a regional and local dimension into the EU's Eastern Partnership. CORLEAP brings together 36 regional and local politicians - including 18 from the CoR representing the EU and 18 from the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). By involving the local and regional levels in the implementation of the EU's Eastern Partnership, the CoR aims to strengthen local and regional self-government in the partner countries and bring the Eastern Partnership closer to its citizens.
For more information, please contact:Nathalie VandelleTel. +32 2282 24 99
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