The promotion of the access of local and regional authorities to European Neighbourhood Policy funding, the extension of the Covenant of Mayors to Southern Mediterranean cities and regions and the enforcement of territorial cooperation in strategic fields like sustainability and energy infrastructures can open the way to an innovative Euro-Mediterranean cohesion policy. This was the ambitious message delivered on Monday by regional and local representative from more than 30 countries, gathering in Bari for the third plenary of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), co-organised by the Puglia region and chaired by ARLEM co‑presidents Mercedes Bresso, president of the Committee of the Regions, and Mohamed Boudra, president of the region of Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate (Morocco).
"A year after the start of the Arab spring, ARLEM has succeeded in clarifying how the EU can better support local communities in the southern Mediterranean area during this delicate transition and how new cooperation opportunities are being brought about by the regionalisation and devolution of powers to local authorities undertaken in crucial states like Tunisia" said Bresso after the adoption of the annual report on the territorial dimension of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), which was drafted by ARLEM co-presidents. "These efforts will assist in the implementation of an innovative regional and cohesion policy aimed at supporting the convergence of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean in creating a sustainable development model based on a transparent and efficient administration, as well as a more open and dynamic business environment and, overall, on concrete improvements in the quality of life and in the opportunities offered to citizens" concluded Bresso.
"From the Bari plenary came a strong encouragement for the Egyptian democratic transition" said Ali Abdelrahman, governor of Giza (Egypt), elected as new ARLEM co-president by the Southern Mediterranean members, with a mandate starting in August 2012, together with Ramon Luis Valcárcel Siso, president of Murcia (Spain).
"20 years after the Rio Climate Conference, the failure of the strategies followed until now as well as the new cooperation opportunities linked to the current democratic movements are pushing Euro‑Mediterranean regions and cities to join their efforts in a new phase in the fight against climate change, based on a more consistent and decentralised approach" observed Nichi Vendola, president of the Puglia region. With the adoption of his report on climate change and desertification and of the report on renewable energy in the Mediterranean - rapporteur Michel Lebrun, Wallonia (EPP/BE) – ARLEM members made clear that a concrete, joint commitment in the field of sustainability can dramatically accelerate the improvement of services like water and waste management, energy and local transport which are key factors in the quality of life of millions of citizens of the area. This improvement is capable of creating new jobs and economic and social growth as well as supporting the democratic opening of societies and governments.
Green growth and jobs are also among the objectives of the report on the role of small and medium enterprises in the Mediterranean drafted by rapporteur Fathallah Oualalou (Rabat/Morocco), while the preservation and enhancement of cultural heritage in the Mediterranean was the topic of the report drafted by Asim Güzelbey (Gaziantep, Turkey).
To be updated on the latest developments, visit the ARLEM website
Note to editors
ARLEM is a response to the request to put the role of regional and local authorities in the Euro‑Mediterranean Partnership on an institutional footing. It therefore gives the partnership a territorial dimension and seeks to involve local and regional authorities more closely in the specific projects of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The Barcelona Declaration, adopted by the Euro-Mediterranean Conference in November 1995, stated: "Municipalities and regional authorities need to be closely involved in the operation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. City and regional representatives will be encouraged to meet each year to take stock of their common challenges and exchange experiences."
ARLEM, a joint project of the Committee of the Regions, regional and local authorities around the three shores of the Mediterranean, and European and international associations representing regional and local authorities working on the ground was launched in January 2010 and facilitates the establishment of contacts, good practice sharing between cities and regions and the promotion of inter-municipal and inter-regional cooperation.
ARLEM is composed of 84 members from the European Union and its 16 Mediterranean partners: Members are representatives of regions and local bodies and hold a regional or local authority mandate. ARLEM is chaired by a co-presidency, equally representing the Mediterranean partners and the EU.
The current co-president of the Mediterranean, Mohamed Boudra, president of the region of Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate (Morocco), is ending his mandate and a new president has been elected in Bari.
The co-president from the EU is the president of the CoR, currently Mercedes Bresso.
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