The President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Michel Lebrun, joined EU leaders including President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Prime Minister of Latvia, Laimdota Straujuma, for the launch of the European Year for Development in Riga, Latvia. During his speech he stressed the importance of local and regional government in not only raising awareness among citizens of the importance of development aid, but how they can share knowledge to make aid more efficient and effective.
"With the EU committed to spending €51.2 bn on development aid between 2014-2020 reaching some 150 countries worldwide, the EU is the largest provider of aid in the world. We should never forget that many European regions and cities are heavily involved using their financial, technical and human resources. There is a need to increase European public awareness and we want to make sure that regional and local authorities working on the ground get the strongest possible support", stated President Lebrun.
He further reminded the audience that local and regional authorities were among the first to deal with problems such as hunger, poverty, health and access to water or global environmental challenges such as climate change. European local and regional authorities, he added, can help tackle global poverty offering aid adapted to the needs of local communities and so strengthen the capacity of their counterparts in developing countries. Michel Lebrun therefore called on other EU leaders to develop a strategy that involves all levels of government, "because only if we all are working together closely we can face this challenge more effectively".
The CoR will host a number of events including the Fourth European Assises of Decentralised Co-operation
, in partnership with the European Commission, in June 2015. This major event held every two years brings local and regional authorities from the EU and developing countries, as well as representatives from the EU institutions and Member States, together to promote sustainable development policy to consider the vital role of local authorities.
European Year for Development 2015
The aim of European Years is to raise awareness of certain topics, encourage debate and change attitudes. During many European Years extra funding is provided for projects that address the Year's special topic.
2015 is the first year to be dedicated to EU development. This topic is picked at a challenging time for with 2015 coinciding with the end of the cycle of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the definition of the Post-2015 Agenda where the international community will come together to agree on a new course of action to end poverty, promote sustainable development and address climate change.
More information on the European Year for Development