Multi-level governance in practice: CoR fosters sharing of experiences in territorial cooperation across borders
Under the heading "Multilevel governance in practice at local and regional level – Decentralised policy strategies in the European Year of Citizens", more than 100 participants, including policy makers and senior experts from all levels of government, gathered in Bolzano, Italy, to discuss and compare the various tools of local and regional decentralised cooperation within the framework of multi-level governance.
António Costa (PT/PES), chair of CIVEX committee and Mayor of Lisbon, pointed out: "It is important that Europe's local and regional authorities meet in a region which exemplifies the challenges and opportunities of cross border cooperation and is a model for other regions. It is in such a setting that a stronger sense of European citizenship can be developed." The concrete implications of a functioning multi-level system were highlighted by Vladimir Kissiov (BG/EPP), CIVEX 1st Vice-Chair: "Multilevel governance is a concept that may seem very abstract to the citizens but it can bring very simple answers to everyday situations. This is particularly true when it leads to cross-border cooperation mechanisms such as the EGTC and macro-regions. This system is also of special relevance for the new Member States as it represents a great opportunity to modernise administration and make it more user-friendly."
The multilevel system embracing the EU, the Member States, regions and local authorities requires optimum coordination of information flows and decision-making processes. This also applies to the EGTC of Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino. "The Tyrol Euroregion is held up as an example in Europe. Involving the regional parliaments in the highest decision-making body of the EGTC assembly on an equal footing ensures that elected representatives of the people participate in decision-making in the Tyrol Euroregion", said Herwig Van Staa (AT/EPP), President of the Tirol Regional Assembly and coordinator of the EGTC Platform of the Committee of the Regions (CoR).
In the context of the European Year of Citizens 2013, a special focus was given to the involvement of citizens in local decision-making. As stressed by Luis Durnwalder, Regional Councillor/Chairman of the Bolzano Autonomous Provincial Executive: "In the era of Facebook and the iPhone people more and more want to be directly involved in decision-making processes. Direct contact with the public, from local to EU level, is of decisive importance for successful policy". In this context there is renewed interest in the Euroregion system, according to Mr Durnwalder, which can give a specific impetus to successful administration, to the benefit of the public.
The seminar was preceded by the CIVEX meeting during which members adopted a draft opinion on the European Commission's communication on Local Authorities in Development Cooperation (rapporteur Hans Janssen (NL/EPP)). The Commission's initiative represents an important next step in the recognition of cities and regions as partners in EU development policy, as well as of the CoR role in stimulating and coordinating local and regional authorities’ development efforts. The CoR has indeed engaged in setting up forums for that purpose, including the "Assises on decentralised cooperation", the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP).
The CIVEX commission also held a first exchange of views on the European Commission's EU Citizenship Report 2013 (rapporteur Theodoros Gkotsopoulos (EL/PES)) to debate issues such as the role of local and regional authorities in strengthening EU citizenship and in helping European citizens to exercise their social rights. On the basis of a working document drafted by António Costa, the European Commission's EU Smart Borders Package was also subject to discussions so as to look into the implications on local and regional authorities in migration flows at external borders.
CoR / N.V.
Watch our video about the CIVEX commission's meeting (subtitled in English):