Reinforce the CoR strategic messages in the field, in particular regarding the involvement of local and regional authorities in development policy;
Recall the CoR's actions and tools for stimulating and developing LRA's development efforts, e.g. Assises, fora such as ARLEM and CORLEA, Portal
Provide some concrete proposals for strengthening the role of LRA,
Make a plea for increased financial allocations to activities in support of decentralisation and empowerment of LRA.
The CoR opinion has generated an important feedback from the European Parliament and the European Commission and has managed to steer the debate about the role of local and regional authorities in the development policies in a very crucial moment marking the ongoing negotiations on the post-2015 Development Framework and in the run-up to the 2015 European Year of Development. The CoR rapporteur has been re-appointed in September 2014 by the Civex commission to draft another opinion on the post-2015 development framework.
The CoR opinion is referred to in the Resolution adopted by European Parliament's Plenary session on 22 October 2013 (T7-0432/2013) and a number of the opinions' ideas are reflected in the Resolution. The latter makes for instance the promotion of decentralisation and a territorial approach to development (TAD), which leads to calling on the Commission and the EEAS to establish a more ambitious policy dialogue with and within partner countries to promote TAD and a comprehensive approach to decentralisation, and to give priority in the future programming period to strengthening the capacity of LAs and CSOs to influence and monitor decentralisation reform processes. The Resolution recalls as well "the added-value of decentralised cooperation in promoting both TAD and decentralisation" and "stresses that European LAs are very well placed to cooperate with their counterparts in the process of decentralisation, notably fiscal decentralisation". Regarding decentralisation, it also "[a]sks the Commission to strengthen national decentralisation reforms in the elaboration and implementation of good governance and development contracts, sector reform contracts, and state building contracts".
The recognition of LRA association is also reflected in the Resolution, by which the European Parliament "[c]alls on the Commission to engage in more strategic partnerships with national, regional, and international associations and networks of LAs".
As for funding, the EP supports the direct funding of LRAs, recalling that they are eligible in all DCI programmes, and calls on the Commission and LAs representative organisations to encourage a wider participation of LAs in all DCI programmes.
Finally, the EP "calls on the Commission to continue its support of decentralised cooperation and partnerships between LAs from EU and partner countries", stating that these partnerships "have proven to be efficient tools in the reinforcement of the capacity of LAs in key sectors which contribute to poverty eradication".
The European Commission has taken up the CoR's opinion in its 56th follow-up report and in a letter of 29 January 2014 from Commissioner Pielbags to Civex President, Mr Costa.
Commissioner Piebalgs, in his letter to Civex Chair, has welcome the CoR's opinion and its involvement all along the drafting of the Commission's communication. The Commission intends to continue supporting Local Authorities and their Associations in partner countries and "will support those countries that have shown an interest and willingness to adopt and implement decentralisation processes". To this end, the Thematic Programme "Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities in Development" 2014-2020 will seek to enhance institutional and organisational capacities of LAs.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- fully endorses the Commission’s approach in this new communication, in which LRAs are recognised in their political role as policy-makers and decision-makers, requiring an adequate level of autonomy, capacity development and financial resources;
- welcomes the idea that support to the public sector in partner countries, with the aim of encouraging a more effective and efficient design and implementation of national development policies and plans, should also take into account the important role of the local public sector;
- encourages the Commission to adopt the rules (Implementing Rules of the Financial Regulations) for full financing "where it is in the interests of the Community to be the sole donor to an action" in its programmes, e.g. for Non-State Actors and Local Authorities;
- agrees with the Commission that the EU should adapt its support to the growing role, potential and needs of LRAs and associations of LRAs in partner countries, with a view to moving beyond aid effectiveness to development effectiveness; and emphasises that this implies increased financial allocations to activities in support of decentralisation and the empowerment of LRAs and their associations;
- expresses its willingness to contribute, with Commission technical and financial support, to developing a means of evaluating and monitoring the decentralisation aspects in partner countries, in cooperation with all interested parties;
- states that, in order to secure broad involvement of local authorities in the post-2015 agenda, a truly participatory process is needed and, in contrast to the development of the Millennium Development Goals, this involvement must be secured early on in the development phase of the post-2015 agenda, with the necessary financial resources;
- reiterates its support for the designation of 2015 as the European Year of Development demands therefore that the budget provides for adequate financial support to local and regional authorities' initiatives;
- reaffirms its readiness to provide European LRAs with a political space for developing their international and cross-border cooperation.