Representatives of local and regional authorities from the EU and developing countries gathered on 9-10 April in Brussels to promote a sustainable development policy having local authorities as its main drivers. They also called upon the EU to put decentralisation and multi-level partnerships at the centre of development. This 3rd edition of the "Assises of Decentralised cooperation" also gave participants the opportunity to reiterate their call to see 2015 declared "European Year for Development."
The event, jointly organized by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission, marked a new stage in involving cities and regions in development policies at a challenging time: the ongoing negotiations on the next EU budget will determine the future financing of EU policies, whereas the European Commission is working on increasing the impact of development policy, in particular through a new initiative aimed at enhancing the role of local authorities in development – a communication is to be tabled later this year. Discussions are also taking place at global level to design a new global development agenda
for the next 20-30 years and taking over from the Millennium Development Goals.
In his concluding address, CoR President Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso expressed his wish that the Commission's communication will allow to move one step closer to the establishment of a multilevel partnership with local and regional authorities: "When local features have a strong impact on the content of a policy, meaning that the policy needs to be adapted to the particular context, local and regional authorities need to shoulder their responsibilities fully. It is therefore vital that development cooperation work towards building up partners' capacities, especially the capacity to create and use their own resources." According to the President, this is where the forthcoming Commission's Communication should be heading to.
Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development Cooperation, confirmed the need to put greater emphasis on a territorial approach to development: “We particularly see a stronger role for local authorities in partner countries as key to achieving better governance and the sustainable development outcomes set out in the international agenda. That is one of the reasons the Commission is now working on a Communication on the role of local authorities in development.”
As regards the international agenda for development post-2015, the CoR President called for the establishment of a "genuine partnership" involving local and regional authorities and supporting them as they take part in discussions on the post-2015 world programme. In this regards, Commissioner Piebalgs stressed that '“Global commitments can be only bear fruit if action at local level is real and effective. That is why we believe that local authorities’ involvement is crucial to our efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and in our continued efforts to eradicate poverty once and for all.”
The European Commission is due to publish in the coming months a communication on the role of local authorities in partner countries to achieve more effective development outcomes. The CoR will adopt a resolution on the future global approach to ending poverty
at its plenary of 11-12 April to emphasise that, even in times of economic downturn, the EU shall continue supporting developing countries to maintain their efforts in reaching the Millennium Development Goals until 2015.
On 15 May the CoR will host in its premises an international aid conference on Mali, organised at the initiative of the French Republic and the EU, to help the reconstruction of the country and support the stabilization process. The event will also be an opportunity to highlight the contribution of local and regional authorities in this context.