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Where are towns and regions in future EU development aid?

31 August 2018

While MEPs just started discussing the European Commission proposal on the future Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, PLATORMA, the pan-European coalition of local and regional governments – and their associations – active in city-to-city and region-to-region development cooperation, gives its views.

“The European Union needs the support of local and regional governments in the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The added value they bring to development cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda is essential. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal on the future Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument doesn’t show how this will be done”, said Marlène Siméon, Director of PLATORMA.

She added that the absence of specific financing modalities for local governments in the Commission’s proposal is surprising. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda, which is at the core of European development aid in the coming years, clearly gives a pivotal role to local and regional governments. This was recognised by the new European Consensus on Development, which specifically mentioned city-to-city cooperation, or decentralised cooperation, as an aid delivery modality. However, decentralised cooperation is poorly reflected in the new Commission’s proposal.

For ten years, PLATFORMA has been defending cities and regions’ key role in EU’s external aid and succeeded in getting local governments and decentralised cooperation clearly mentioned in the New Urban Agenda and the new European Consensus on Development.

The strategic role of local and regional governments

“The European Commission’s proposal is a bit short-sighted when it comes to the contribution of local and regional governments to our international cooperation strategies in the coming years”, stressed Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR). “While towns and regions are considered as key players on urban governance, they are absent from the Commission’s perspective on key challenges where they actually have a strategic role”, he added. Indeed, on migration issues, on the improvement of the business environment, on climate change and on other key issues for the EU development aid agenda, local governments are nowhere to be seen.

In July, PLATFORMA published a position paper which presents a series of recommendations addressed to EU Member States and Members of the European Parliament. Their inclusion in future negotiations will enable the EU to implement a development policy of the 21st century. EU external aid is a policy that is not the exclusive prerogative of central governments, but ensures a partnership approach to achieve common goals.

(Photo by Niels Steeman on Unsplash)