The European Union's pledge to deepen cooperation with the six members of EU's Eastern Partnership through 20 deliverables steps by 2020 is a "very welcome demonstration of commitment" to ensure that the benefits of closer relations with the EU will be felt by cities and regions in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, according to Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions.
President Lambertz represented the EU's local and regional authorities at the Eastern Partnership Summit, which was held on 24 November in Brussels. President Lambertz said: "The Eastern Partnership has matured over the course of eight challenging years since its creation. This Summit aims to translate these stronger political ties into practical benefits not just for our partner countries, but also for their citizens, regions and cities. The plan for '20 Deliverables for 2020' is a welcome demonstration of commitment, and since the last Summit two years, I have seen the involvement of local and regional authorities grow in all stages of projects. This is good practice and good politics, because local and regional administrations are the providers of many public services and are the level of government closest to citizens. The Eastern Partnership is gradually becoming a true partnership between all levels of government."
President Lambertz emphasised the need for more concerted, long-term support for cities and regions: "There are thousands of municipalities and other forms of local government in the Eastern Partnership. Their voice is still feeble but their voice will become stronger because of the decentralisation process. We want to help them gain the voice and authority they need to make their cities and regions more prosperous, more sustainable, safer, more resilient, and more inclusive. That will benefit them and the EU."
As part of its own efforts to support the Eastern Partnership, in 2010 the European Committee of the Regions created the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), which brings together CoR members with representatives of local and regional administrations from all six Eastern Partnership countries. President Lambertz is co-chair of CORLEAP; his fellow co-chair, Volodymyr Prokopiv, Head of Kyiv City Council (Ukraine), also spoke at the Summit.
Addressing national leaders, Mr Prokopiv emphasised the importance of city-to-city and region-to-region cooperation as a stabilising force. The EU's global strategy and its neighbourhood strategy emphasise the need "for more effective partnerships" to promote political, social and economic resilience, he said, before continuing: "None of these objectives can be achieved in a sustainable manner without the involvement of local and regional authorities – the level of governance closest to citizens."
In a bilateral meeting with the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and in his speech to Heads of Government and State in the Summit, President Lambertz highlighted some of the ways in which cooperation is developing between regions and cities in the EU and the Eastern Partnership. Cross-border regions are developing ties through shared development strategies, or through shared an EU legal instrument called the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation . In increasing numbers, local and regional authorities in the Eastern Partnership are joining bottom-up initiatives that enjoy financial and technical support from the EU – the Global Covenant of Mayors , whose signatories pledge to exceed the EU's climate targets, and Mayors for Economic Growth , whose members are developing sustainable economic development plans.
Tel. +32 473 843 981