Underline the necessity to support the local and regional dimension of the new European Neighbourhood policy in order to bring citizens closer to a dialogue between EU and partner countries and involve new actors into the policy.
Stress the need to promote strong and democratic governance at the sub-national level and focus the attention on the issues of local democracy in partner countries and problems of regional authorities.
Express a favourable position on co-operating with "neighbours of neighbours" and greater coherence between the ENP and the EU's relation with Russia and with Turkey.
Highlight the fact that the CoR is the only EU body observing local and regional elections in the ENP countries.
Highlight the strong commitment of the CoR in developing the local and regional aspect of the European Neighbourhood policy as demonstrated by the creation of ARLEM and CORLEAP.
Reaffirm the commitment of the CoR to further promote cross-border functional cooperation with all 16 ENP countries, inter alia via cohesion policy, the revised EGTC regulation and renewed political action on "city diplomacy".
Support decentralised cooperation between the local and regional authorities from partner countries and the EU.
Request to develop a suitable mechanism to encourage direct dialogue, information exchange and know-how transfer also for the regional and local level in the partner countries – extension of LAF to ENP countries and Twinning and TAIEX instruments to sub national level of government.
In its resolution adopted on 9 July, the EP:
"11. Emphasises its conviction that, if the partner countries are to be helped to strengthen their own development potential, the political dialogue which currently characterises the ENP must give way to a broader social, economic and cultural dialogue which embraces all facets of the political, social, ethnic and cultural diversity of the partner countries; stresses the value of the progress achieved through territorial cooperation with the direct involvement of local authorities;
14. Calls on the EU to improve its coordination with other donors and international financial institutions, including through the AMICI initiative, in line with its commitment to become a more consistent, respected and effective global actor, and stresses the need for joint programming with and among the Member States; underlines that better coordination with the Member States and with the regional and local authorities (RLAs) is necessary in order to pursue and achieve a common, coherent and effective approach to the short- and medium-term goals of the EU’s cooperation with neighbouring countries, and calls for a discussion to be opened on this matter with the Council;
50. highlights the importance of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) and the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), which enable local and regional representatives to engage in dialogue with the EU institutions and to pursue economic, social and local and regional cooperation;"
The CoR opinion contributed to the European Commission's consultation exercise towards detailing the proposals for the future direction of the ENP.
The Joint Communication of the European Commission and the HR/VP adopted on 18 November 2015 states that the main purpose of the current review process is to build more effective partnerships in the neighbourhood. The Joint Communication aims at enhancing ownership by the partners and exploring more effective ways to promote reforms with each partner in mutually agreed formats. Local and regional authorities are not mentioned as such, albeit their involvement is essential for achieving the said objective. It is though acknowledged that "Accountable public administration at central and local government level is key to democratic governance and economic development. Therefore public administration reform is essential. This includes strengthening democratic and independent institutions; developing local and regional authorities; depoliticising the civil service, developing eGovernment and increasing institutional transparency and accountability."
The importance of the regional dimension is also acknowledged through " …promoting the concept of 'smart specialisation' as developed in the EU's regional policy for the design of research an innovation strategies" and taking into account that the "…modernisation of the economy, fostering innovation, the creation of jobs and boosting skills and promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion are other key aspects" of 'economic development for stabilisation' - the first of the three joint priorities for cooperation.
In accordance with the importance highlighted by the CoR, 'migration and mobility' is also among the three priorities for cooperation with partners: "The ENP will reflect an intensified cooperation on both regular and irregular migration".
The proposals for intensified cooperation on both regular and irregular migration has also been welcomed by the Council on 14 December.
The findings of the opinion and its follow-up will feed into the upcoming CoR opinion on ENP and will be further reflected in the CoR contribution to the implementation of the ENP through the activities of CORLEAP, ARLEM and the Task Force with Ukraine.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
notes that ENP cannot simply be a process between governments and EU institutions, but should also provide for the participation of other players from the partner countries. Local and regional authorities (LRAs) do play an important role in this area;
points out that the CoR is investing a lot of effort and resources in the development of the local and regional dimension of ENP. In 2010 it established the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), and in 2011 it set up the Conference of regional and local authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP);
considers that the new ENP should set specific objectives and offer its partners a clear timeframe for implementation of its policies. The new ENP will have little or no impact if there are no concrete benefits for particular stakeholders or if those benefits are only likely to emerge in the distant future;
considers an important area of ENP to be close coordination of the measures taken by the EU and its neighbours on migration issues. When it takes place in an organised manner and is favourable to the younger generations, the mobility of students, workers and public officials alike from non-EU States to EU Member States has a positive impact, not only in areas such as education and cultural exchanges, but also on the public administration. On the other hand, irregular migratory flows, which have increased sharply in recent times, present new challenges and opportunities, which must be properly managed;
strongly believes that the local border traffic (LBT) mechanism provided for under Regulation 1931/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council has been an effective tool for developing cooperation between the EU and its neighbouring countries. In light of the above, the LBT mechanism should be used on a greater scale to achieve the ENP objectives in the future;
stresses that LRAs are crucial to the success of the ENP. Consequently, the inclusion of the concepts of decentralisation and the territorial dimension within the new ENP will make it more attractive and increase its effectiveness;
stresses that as a political institution, the CoR should facilitate and promote confidence-building and low-profile cooperation at grassroots level with politicians who share European values and respect freedom of speech and the rule of law. This is equally true in the East and the South.