Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Commissioner stresses role of local and regional dimension in Eastern Partnership

The EU’s interest in cooperating with partner countries at the local and regional level is constantly growing, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle has told participants of the conference on the Local and Regional Dimension of the Eastern Partnership.

In his speech in Brussels today he said the recent Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit inWarsaw had highlighted the crucial importance of local and regional government as “an important link between central administration and citizens”, and “a leading actor in promoting regional and local development to the economic and social benefit” of the citizens.

The Commissioner reiterated the importance of the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) and touched upon the latest initiatives to promote regional development, namely Pilot Regional Development Programmes covering the EaP region, with a €70 million budget for 2012-13, which the Commission is developing in close cooperation with partner countries, as well as the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD), due to be launched by the Commission.

These programmes, based on the experience of the EU cohesion and agricultural policies, will promote regional development and social cohesion while helping to reduce socio-economic disparities in the region, the Commissioner said.

Štefan Füle also emphasized the importance of cross-border cooperation and contact in the region.

The Commissioner said following calls for proposals for cross-border cooperation programmes, with a budget of €400 million for 2007-13, the first funds had already started flowing to the beneficiaries, “bringing real benefits on the ground.”

The mobility of people is another important element in facilitating these cross-border exchanges, the Commissioner said, with reference to mobility partnerships with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, Visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and action plans for full visa liberalisation with Ukraine and Moldova.

The review of the European Neighbourhood Policy emphasized that there are no limits to partners' European ambitions,” stressed the Commissioner, adding: “Strong, efficient local and regional government is a key instrument in helping to fulfill these aspirations.”

Source of information -  ENPI Info Centre

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