Following the 2019 The Forum “Cities and Regions for Development Cooperation”, the opinions aims at further exploring the possibilities for EU regional and local authorities to:
support the development of Sub-Saharan African countries, not least with the aim of tackling the root causes of migration,
explore and help design a more proactive role for European cities and regions in creating partnerships with African decentralised authorities, civil society organisations, NGOs, agencies and the private sector, building on previously adopted CoR opinions in this field, notably on decentralised development cooperation and partnerships
launch a fresh discussion concerning constructive solutions that cities and regions can develop for addressing the root causes of migration from Sub-Saharan African countries, enhancing cooperation and mitigating migration-related tensions,
open a structured debate, with a view to creating later on pilot projects and exploring the allocation of appropriate financial resources for a "Marshall Plan" with Africa,
promote the idea of win-win collaboration in the medium and long run, whereby both of the parties can benefit by discovering new ways to help African countries to flourish, gaining insights into different cultural and organisational settings and promoting the culture of local and regional governance.
During the opinion process, the CoR stregthened its relations with several key stakeholders, including international and regional organisations (such as UNHCR, IOM, UCLG-Africa), civil society organisations, and interlocutors in the the European institutions (Commissioner Jourova, relevant services in the European Commission's DG HOME and DG DEVCO, and the European Parliament's DEVE secretariat).
Further building on the discussion initiated through the opinion, the CoR CIVEX commission held a thematic debate on "Covid-19, development cooperation and migration" on 25 June 2020 with the participation of Koen Doens, the European Commission's Director-General for International Cooperation and Development, Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's DEVE Committee, and Pam Belcher-Taylor, Mayor of Paynesville, Liberia.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- reiterates its support for the proposed Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) as a vital source of funding for targeted support for sustainable development; calls again for the establishment of specific programmes with their own budget – not only as part of the NDICI – aimed at supporting the work of EU cities and regions in the development field, including a range of long-term projects in Africa;
- is convinced that the establishment of such dedicated programmes could enable Europe's regions, cities, businesses and NGOs – as well as the citizens that belong to them – to increase their potential to be active in the promotion of sustainable development outside the EU, improve their knowledge of life in other parts of the world, notably in Africa and to develop business opportunities in the process;
- proposes that such programmes be based on calls for participation to regions with special emphasis on cross-border cooperation, in order to pool experience, human resources, and know-how;
- points out that some of the EU's outermost regions have close historical ties with Africa and experience in fields of interest to their neighbours; calls for opportunities for cross-border cooperation to be maximised, making the most flexible possible use of the opportunities provided by the next period within the framework of European territorial cooperation and the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI);
- supports the broadest possible contributions of cities and regions and their municipalities also in those EU Member States that do not currently maintain intensive development cooperation links with African countries;
- suggests that projects for sharing good practices, such as the CoR’s Nicosia Initiative are a useful tool to build direct and concrete cooperation between EU and non-EU partners at local and regional level;
- calls for pilot projects and other related activities to be launched as soon as possible, as these are necessary for successful long-term assistance to African states, where it is possible, for political and security-related reasons, to reduce interest in irregular migration not only to the EU but also within Africa.