European Committee of the Regions and partners in the Eastern
Partnership also propose the creation of an Eastern Partnership Academy
for Public Administration.
Extra support for cooperation between border communities and for the
developments of local administrations would add significantly to the value
of the European Union's maturing relationship with countries on its eastern
borders, leading members of the Conference of Regional and Local
Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) said when they met in
Yerevan on 28 March. They also emphasised the centrality of
decentralisation to ongoing reforms intended to find an effective and
democratic balance of power in the region.
The six members of the Eastern Partnership are Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
The meeting of the executive bureau of CORLEAP did not result in official
positions, but the exchange of views – which built on work done by the
grouping since 2011 – may feed into recommendations to national ministers
attending a conference on 14 May to mark the tenth anniversary of the
Eastern Partnership. Good governance is expected to be a prominent theme at
the anniversary conference.
The bureau's exchange of views will also contribute to two reports that
CORLEAP will adopt on 12 September, at its annual plenary session. One is
on promoting people-to-people contacts through cross-border cooperation
programmes; the second is on building up the capacity of local and regional
(CZ/ECR), deputy mayor of the rural border community of Rádlo, who is
drafting the recommendations on cross-border contacts, said that
people-to-people projects had been crucial to rebuilding the trust of
people of his region and argued that little, low-cost projects in small
areas often carried the seeds for far bigger cooperation projects. These
projects do not always emerge naturally, he said. Incentives are needed –
and EU funding is one such incentive.
, chairman of Kharkiv Regional Council, was concerned about the process of
reforming and decentralising local government in Ukraine keeping its pace
ahead of parliamentary elections in October, warning that legislative
support is still needed to ensure the reforms are implemented effectively
and irreversibly. Among ideas that he put forward in his discussion paper,
Mr Chernov argued that the EU should consider creating an Erasmus programme
for local and regional representatives, as well as developing curricula and
courses tailored to local and regional civil servants and politicians.
Members of the CoR, which created CORLEAP in 2011, drew on experience from
Europe to encourage more contacts between border communities. Andris Jaunsleinis (LV/ALDE), member of Ventspils
Municipal Council, said people-to-people projects are an important means of
countering disinformation; while Micaela Fanelli (IT/PES)
of Pontecorvo municipality said that her region of Italy – Lazio – had
benefited from cooperation on rural issues with Croatian and Albanian
Human rights and fiscal decentralisation were other topics that CORLEAP
members argued should be higher up the Partnership's agenda. There were
also calls for the principle behind an initiative by the European Union –
the creation of a Tbilisi-based European School – to be expanded. Ms
Fanelli said that an Eastern Partnership Academy for Public Administration,
an idea put forward by Mr Chernov, could address a flaw in decision-making
– local and regional authorities largely base their decisions on
perceptions because they lack the technical support necessary to assess the
impact of political choices.
In addition to Mr Chernov, politicians from the Eastern Partnership
countries who attended were Sandro Sordia from Zugdidi in
Georgia, Alexei Busuioc, mayor of Capaclia in Moldova, and Anar Ibrahimov, a member of the parliament of the
Nackhichivan Autonomous Republic in Azerbaijan.
After the bureau meeting, members were joined by Vache Terteryan, Armenia's first deputy minister of
territorial administration and development, at a conference on cooperation
between local authorities and civil-society organisations, with speakers
from the EU and the Eastern Partnership addressing a large audience
comprised principally of Armenian politicians and civil-society
The conference focused on how civil society and local authorities can
overcome challenges of coordination and capacity-building as part of their
efforts to implement agreements reached between the EU and Eastern