Local and regional authorities (LRAs) have gradually become key players in the strategy of the enlargement of the European Union and in its foreign policy. The added value of the participation of LRAs in the enlargement process, and their contribution to the creation of a sustainable democratic local and regional dynamics in the new member states, is widely recognised, and good examples of relevance of multilevel governance also exist in the regional approach to the European Neighbourhood Policy, in both its Mediterranean dimension and in the Eastern Partnership.
Both the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM
), part of the governance of the Union for the Mediterranean, and the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP
), provide operational dynamics and an integrated territorial dimension to the neighbourhood policy.
Now that decentralisation figures high on Ukraine's political agenda, it is possible to fully measure the value of dialogue that has been carried at local and regional level, as well as its importance to the democratic stability of this European partner.
Twinning and cooperation programs in border regions have become an essential tool in the accession process in the framework of the neighbourhood policy, and perpetuate the values of European integration by developing new forms of solidarity. City diplomacy
is also another lever for political cooperation in the framework of the external action of the European Union which should not be overlooked, for it frequently allows overcoming major diplomatic and political obstacles.
Recognising the contribution of territorial governance and decentralised cooperation, European and international institutions have strengthened in recent years the role of regional and local authorities in global governance.
An ARLEM project on institutional capacity building in the field of urban development – a political priority of the Union for the Mediterranean – is currently under preparation and will be launched in early 2015. Coordinated by and directed to LRAs from all three shores of the Mediterranean, and benefiting from the participation of territorial associations and other public entities, in true multilevel fashion, this project is dedicated to both elected authorities and public administration officials, and aims to improve the quality of public management and public services delivered to the populations. With a view to generating mutual understanding among neighbouring cities and regions, the project will include the exchange of experiences and know-how, fostering not only North-South but also South-South dialogue.
A joint initiative of the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission, the European Portal of Decentralised Cooperation for Development
serves as the main entry point for cooperation carried out by LRAs and seeks to provide a response to the lack of information on LRA cooperation activities, helping to identify gaps and duplications. The Portal also exists to support the development work undertaken by LRAs, promoting new partnerships among them and mobilising different stakeholders to work together, thus generating collaborative multilevel approaches to attaining development goals. Open to all LRAs from the EU and partner countries, as well as those interested in issues related to decentralised cooperation, the Portal consists of four main parts: an atlas
, a library
, a projects stock exchange (bourse
), and a forum.