This event aimed at promoting local authorities as a driving force for development policies in order to strengthen the efficiency of development aid. Exchanges between European institutions and local authorities in Europe and partner countries were made through five conferences dealing with different themes (the European Commission’s communication on local authorities, decentralization, cross-border and interregional cooperation, the post-2015 international agenda on development and the role of local authorities, as well as capacity-building for the latter) and a plenary session devoted to the conclusions of the Rapporteurs.
Mr. Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development Cooperation, insisted on the importance of the participation of local authorities, emphasizing the fact that “global commitments can only bear fruit if action at local level is real and effective”. He also affirmed the necessity to put greater emphasis on a territorial approach to development. Local authorities have, in this sense, a significant proximity to the civil society and the private sector which allows the participation of citizens in development policies. Ms. Mercedes Bresso, Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions, confirmed the knowledge and the added value of the EU in this domain, arguing that “such a development policy having territories as a focus is similar to the EU cohesion policy” and that “decentralized cooperation with partner countries further demonstrates its relevance”.
It is thus essential for decentralized cooperation to make efficient progress by establishing a multilevel partnership with local and regional authorities. According to the President of the Committee of the Regions, Mr. Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, “it is vital that development cooperation work towards building up partners’ capacities, especially the capacity to create and use their own resources”. Such is the positioning that should be taken in the next EC’s communication, he believes.
Eunomad is in line with this collaborative approach with local authorities, some of them being directly involved in members’ practices and in the activities of the network. The network acknowledges the growing importance of the actions by local authorities in the South and in the North, particularly on the link between migration-development-integration/citizenship. The role they play to value migrants, their civic integration in host societies and their participation in projects of decentralized cooperation in the South is essential in the context of the management of diversity at a local level.
Moreover, the commitment of local actors and, in particular, of organizations of migrants and of young people with a migrant background, in decentralized cooperation projects, represents an opportunity for local authorities to better face the challenges of international solidarity, but also to better manage “living together” policies and social cohesion.
With this view, Eunomad decided to highlight the role of local authorities in development cooperation during its seminar in Brussels on May 13-14 2013. For more information on the seminar