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Study on the Competencies, Financing and Actions Undertaken by Local and Regional Authorities in International Development
Decentralised development cooperation is growing in importance across the globe. Many developed nations are finding that increasing multi-level cooperation in development assistance can make a significant and positive impact on overall foreign aid programmes and policies. In a number of federal and politically decentralised countries, such as Belgium, Germany and Spain, this trend is the most pronounced. Within the EU, the additional funding which local and regional governments contribute to overseas development assistance is allowing Member States to move more rapidly towards meeting the long-term goal of assigning 0.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) towards ODA. Thus decentralised development cooperation not only improves the quality of aid but the quantity as well.

This report provides a qualitative assessment of the role of decentralised cooperation in international development and paints a comprehensive picture of the nature of development strategies across the EU Member States.


The first – and largest – section of the report describes the types of activities undertaken by local and regional authorities in each of the EU-27 Member States.

The outline for each country includes an overview of:

· the essential characteristics of each country’s administrative structure;

· a description of the national legislative framework for local or regional government action;

· a description of the national legislative framework for local or regional government action in the sphere of decentralised development cooperation within the international arena;

· a description of the key actors in the provision of ODA at the local or regional level, or, where no such actors exist, at the national level;

· an overview of the main financial mechanisms through which local and regional actors are able to provide the necessary resources to support their development cooperation activities;

· a summary of the main issues relating to the capacity of local and regional actors in the sphere of development cooperation.


Taken together, the individual country reports deliver a coherent assessment of the framework and capacities among Member States to undertake multilevel actions in international development. The information contained within these country reports is used to generate a short comparative overview which summarises the main characteristics of Members States’ approaches to decentralised development cooperation, grouping countries together according to their common characteristics. This comparative overview should provide a firm foundation for further discussion of how the role of local and regional authorities in international development can be both facilitated and harnessed across the EU’s 27 Member States, and points to areas for potential future development for each group of countries.

Based on the evidence presented in section one, the second section sets out a number of policy recommendations and proposals for decentralised development cooperation. Not only does it highlight areas of good practice in regulatory frameworks, it also notes models of good practice in the multilevel governance of development cooperation across the 27 EU Member States. This section also highlights those areas where LRAs can work together to facilitate good practice in the area of decentralised development cooperation, multiplying innovative ideas and developing spaces for the exchange of ideas and experience between local and regional actors across the EU. This segment of the report also recommends approaches which might improve cooperation across the other levels of EU authority in an effort to further support decentralised development cooperation.

The third and final section of the report provides a description of the principal sources of information on decentralised development cooperation in the Member States. This includes an overview of the primary documentary evidence relating to decentralised cooperation in the 27 Member States. This evidence can serve as a reference point on decentralised development cooperation.

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