Meeting in Kołobrzeg, Poland, the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) organised today a conference focusing on future developments of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The debate highlighted the contribution of regions and cities to support the EU in dealing with challenges ranging from the Ukraine crisis to the management of the last waves of migration.
François Decoster (FR/ALDE), chairman of CIVEX, underlined that “the association agreements recently signed by Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement (DCFTA) with Ukraine, are a significant step towards fostering sustainable democracy. The commitment of these countries to pursue the objectives laid out in the agreements and common European values are an important contribution to the progression of Eastern Partnership (EaP) as a whole”. In line with this, the Marshal of West Pomeranian region and first vice-chair of the CIVEX commission, Olgierd Geblewicz (PL/EPP), reiterated that the role of local and regional governments in the ENP is particularly crucial in the context of Ukraine. He stressed that “we must work together to strengthen confidence in the power of law and order, in the benefits of cooperation with citizens as well as in the values such as transparency and fairness in public life. Sharing the know-how of local democracy and self-governance is our duty”. Mr. Geblewicz also emphasised that the EU should focus more on issues such as security, governance, migration and mobility.
The Committee of the Regions contributes to the ENP through its Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) and the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM). May's EaP Summit in Riga further enhanced the role of CORLEAP as a key tool to develop the regional and local dimension of the Eastern Partnership. “It is time for the EaP to support more the reform processes in each partner country. CORLEAP and the CoR can play a specific role to promote decentralisation and constitutional reforms, as we are doing in Ukraine stimulating debate at the local and regional level, with civil society organisations, government counterparts and other stakeholders”, Mr Decoster said. On the basis of the Riga Summit conclusions, the outcome of the ENP revision and consultations with partners, CORLEAP will adopt its action plan 2016/17, focusing on the development of and cooperation between cities and regions from the EU and EaP.
The CoR opinion on the renewal of the ENP has been prepared by Nikolaos Chiotakis (EL/EPP) and will be adopted in the July plenary session. Migration and low civic engagement were among other issues on the CIVEX meeting agenda. In the draft opinion on the European Citizens' Initiative, the rapporteur Luc van den Brande (BE/EPP) emphasised the initiative's potential to overcome democratic deficit and the role of regions and cities in supporting its implementation. CIVEX members also had a first discussion on the draft opinion on the European Agenda for Migration, prepared by François Decoster. The debate emphasised a need for solidarity among the European regions and member states in migration policy, including shared financial responsibility.
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