“Getting EU funds will be more difficult for town and regions under the new financial architecture”, blame mayors at CUF Rencontres
PLATFORMA was organising a workshop “European model – what reality for the action of local and regional governments in Europe, which advocacy tools to make it evolve?” at Cités Unies France 11th “Rencontres” of the Internationalisation of towns and regions on 22 September. Local elected officials and administration staff made clear that the new financial architecture presented by the European Commission will make it more complex for town and regions to get EU funds to finance decentraslised cooperation projects and partnerships.
Anna Lixi, team leader at DG DEVCO C5 unit (European Commission), was the first to speak in this workshop. She explained how the overall architecture of the new Neighbourhood, Development, International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) will shape EU development funding to local and regional governments.
“The support to local and regional governments will be done through other budget lines than the famous thematic budget line for local authorities,” explained Ms Lixi, who was confident that municipalities and regions will find “other alternatives” and get EU money through geographic lines. She stressed the need to establish good relation with EU Delegations and national associations of local and regional governments in partner countries.
“Proximity and dialogue”
Local elected officials and their representatives from the 6 corners of France were more than worried by this announcement, stressing that stability, confidence and long-term relationship were essential in decentralised cooperation projects.
“Decentralised cooperation offers a horizontal cooperation, where local and regional governments and their associations promote proximity and dialogue in their approach,” recalled Frédéric Vallier, CEMR Secreatry General at the opening of the workshop.
Isabelle Boudineau, vice-president of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine (France), said that making the situation more complex would open the door to big NGOs. “Efficiency in public action is reinforced by region to region cooperation, which is not the case when we work from state to state,” she stressed. “We are where big NGOs and states are never acting,” she added.
She gave concrete examples of about 10 cooperation conducted by Nouvelle-Aquitaine in Madagascar or Burkina Faso, and the close links established with the Regional networks of multi-stakeholders (RRMA for Réseaux régionaux multi-acteurs) and SO Cooperation. “The pooling of different levels of government can have this mass effect,” she insisted.
Frédéric Vallier made clear that PLATFORMA is defending a specific budget line for local and regional governments since the European Commission made its proposal on the NDICI in 2018. He stressed that the European Parliament was on the side of local and regional governments and their associations, as well as some member states in the Council, calling on mayors to lobby for direct funding to decentralised cooperation.
“Citizens at the centre”
Jérôme Tebaldi, former deputy mayor of Tours in charge of international influence and relations was insisting on the role of citizens in all decentralised cooperation policies. “We should never forget that the international action should place citizens at the centre,” he stressed, mentioning awareness raising activities, culture and education.
Oana Tisserant, newly elected local councillor in Mulhouse, in charge of international relations and cross-border cooperation, mentioned partnerships with municipalities in Algeria, Mali or Madagascar. “At the EU level, we need to create an enabling environment for resilient territories,” she said.
“In the middle of the 1990s, programs helped to develop decentralised cooperation. We need to keep this spirit in the next financial period”, concluded Frédéric Vallier, asking local and regional elected officials to support PLATFORMA in its lobbying towards EU institutions.
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