A delegation of the Committee of the Regions attended in Rabat high level meetings with Moroccan ministries and the Arlem Bureau. The discussions focused on finding ways to better support the democratic decentralisation of powers in the Arab Spring area and how to strengthen the regional dimension of the EuroMed partnership.
From the rules related to the election of regions’ presidents and assemblies, to defining regional competences in the different policy areas. From the vital questions related to regions’ own resources, fiscal reform and equalisation, to the relations between the public and with the private sectors and the promotion of new investments. The challenges and options of the on-going regionalisation process were among the hottest issues in the meetings between top level representatives of Moroccan national and regional government and the Committee of the Regions (CoR)'s President, Mercedes Bresso.
“Morocco is facing the crucial challenge of regionalisation, of giving a new and significant role to local and regional authorities", said Bresso. It is therefore, “important for us to be here now, to provide to our Moroccan friends the full support and cooperation of the Committee of the Regions and of the Mediterranean Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities”(Arlem). According to Bresso, “the efforts put in place in the Arab Spring area to decentralise the institutional assets shows that there is no democracy without the factual involvement of local communities in the shaping and implementation of policies and rules.”
“Regionalisation in Morocco is today a huge construction site", said the Moroccan Interior Minister, M. Mohand LAENSER, "An independent ad hoc commission has delivered relevant results which must to be put now into practice and translated into legislation, with a strong involvement of local and regional authorities.” In this perspective Laenser said, “The experience shared within the European Union's (EU) Committee of the Regions and the partnership opportunities promoted by the Arlem can give a strong contribution to make the process successful”. As well as meeting Minister Laenser, Bresso held a series of bilateral meetings with relevant players in the regionalisation process including M. Youssef AMRANI, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister in charge of EU relations and former Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), as well as with the Secretary General of the Minister for Urban Policies, Essaid ZNIBE.
During a lively debate on regionalisation, the Head of the EU Delegation in Morocco, Eneko Landaburu, underlined the fact that the EU has recently reaffirmed its full support for the wave of democratisation of the Arab Spring and last year revised its neighbourhood policy to better answer the specific needs of this phase. The more the opening process goes ahead in the field of democracy and civil and social progress, the stronger the EU's commitment in terms of political and financial cooperation. In this context regionalisation plays a relevant role. “We are working effectively with the Moroccan government in several fields", said Landaburu, "but we have to do more and we need to work more and more directly with the regional authorities in order to better address local needs and to meet the citizens’ expectations of a more direct democracy.” In this perspective, once the new regional framework will be established, the EU will be ready to further support regional cooperation also through an incisive role of the Arlem. A role recognised also by the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean, as shown by the invitation to the regional conference on growth and jobs to be held in Tunis in December, and by the on-going elaboration of a memorandum of understanding to promote the access of regions to UfM’s calls for projects.
The preparation of the fourth Arlem plenary session in Antakya (Turkey) in January February 2013 and the implementation of 2012 work programme were then the main points of the Arlem bureau's agenda, which was also the occasion for a first exchange of views on the draft annual report on the state of the territorial dimension of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), and on the prospect reports on vocational training and on tourism.
The meeting, co-chaired by President Bresso and Mohamed Boudra, President of the Taza - Al Hoceima- Taounate Region (Morocco), saw the participation of the next Arlem co-presidents, current CoR first Vice-President Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, President of the Murcia Region (Spain),and M. Youssef Ali Abdel Rahman, governor of Giza (Egypt).
“On the South shore of the Mediterranean, we are living in an historical moment of transformation”, said President Boudra, “the Arlem is giving its relevant contribution to support this process and to promote the exchange of good practices and the establishment of new synergies within the Euro-Mediterranean partnership”.