Council calls for cities to be better taken into account as part of development programmes
Member States encourage the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) “to deepen their structured dialogues with cities and local authorities”, in the conclusions adopted at the External Affairs Council on Monday 25 June. They also emphasise the importance of decentralised cooperation and twinning between towns and local governments in the promotion of personnal connections.
Those conclusions are the Council’s response to a Staff Working Document on European Union (EU) cooperation with cities and local authorities in third countries published last month by the European Commission. It discusses how the EU external policies and cooperation contribute in urban context to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda, the New European Consensus on Development and the EU approach to resilience.
Member States are also calling on the EU executive to speed up measures for enhancing multilevel cooperation, particularly twinning, as part of the future urban development programmes. The conclusions read: “The Council stresses the importance of promoting people-to-people links at local level and recalls that the use of tools such as decentralised cooperation, twinning for cities and local authorities and city pairing has good potential for strengthening the capacity of cities and local authorities alongside institutional cooperation and technical support.”
These are all new positive points according to Marlène Siméon, the new director of PLATFORMA. “These conclusions represent the new urban agenda priorities,” she said, welcoming the Council’s sentence: “the fulfilment of EU policy objectives can only be achieved through strengthened partnerships with cities and relevant local authorities in third countries”.
She does, however, highlight certain shortcomings, beginning with the need to avoid exclusively focusing on the major cities. She also reiterates that there is a lack of a specific programme on local authorities in the future Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), which the European Commission presented mid-June.
Ms Siméon also expressed her wish for local government to have observer status at the Council on development cooperation issues (‘working party codev’), on the same basis as the NGOs.
It is worth mentionning that the Austrian government is preparing to take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU and has already met PLATFORMA to discuss the role of the local governments in development cooperation.
(Picture: © European Union)