The Eastern Partnership cannot be a success without the regional and local actors

According to what Mercedes Bresso, the president of the Committee of the Regions, said in Warsaw, the Eastern Partnership cannot succeed without the help of regional and local authorities.

President Bresso presented the recommendations from a recently launched dialogue with mayors and regional presidents from the neighbouring countries.

The European Union’s ‘Eastern Partnership’ was launched in 2008 and aims at forging closer ties with the six neighbouring countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Under these plans, new free trade agreements, gradual visa liberalisation and financial aid should help to promote democracy and human rights in the EU’s neighbourhood. The heads of state and government from the EU and the partner countries met in the Polish capital today with representatives of EU institutions to take stock of the Partnership’s progress.

Speaking at the summit, President Mercedes Bresso underlined: “Regional and local authorities are an important link between the central administrations and the citizen. They represent local communities and know their problems and specificities. We at the CoR are sure that the objectives of the Eastern Partnership cannot be achieved without the active support of local and regional authorities.”

To help fill this gap in the EU’s relations with the Eastern neighbours, the Committee of the Regions has launched the Conference of regional and local authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP). Its inaugural meeting took place on 8 September in the Polish city of Poznan and brought together 36 mayors and regional politicians from the EU and its Eastern neighbours.

CoR President Bresso presented the CORLEAP recommendations to national leaders today, requesting that the future bilateral agreements between the EU and the partner countries contain specific sections on strengthening local and regional self-government and urging more funding for projects which strengthen local democracy, human rights at local and regional level and citizens’ participation.

In their official summit declaration, the heads of state and government welcomed “the launch of a yearly Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of the Eastern Partnership held under the auspices of the Committee of the Regions”, and called upon “the Committee of the Regions to work with the local and regional authorities from Eastern partners to establish a permanent institutional framework of cooperation.”

CORLEAP will continue as a yearly event, supported by a regular exchange of project proposals, best practices and know-how, as it intends to become the hub for direct cooperation between regions and cities from the EU and the Eastern partner countries.

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