EU: Strong involvement of regional, local authorities essential to Success of Eastern Partnership

Written by | Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

A strong involvement of regional and local authorities is essential to ensure a successful implementation of the Eastern Partnership, said participants in the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership, held on Tuesday in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“Unless strong, vital and active local and regional authorities exist, there can be no successful reform in Eastern Europe,” said Lithuanian Foreign Vice-Minister, Andrius Krivas, in an address before the Conference.
Over the last two years, the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities has stressed the reform of public administration, fiscal decentralisation and territorial co-operation. These activities have served as a basis for guidelines targeted at EU authorities and Member States. The Conference of Regional and Local Authorities is convinced that in order to bring the EU Eastern Partnership initiative closer to its citizens, one must ensure the stronger involvement of local authorities and their representatives in the planning and implementation of this initiative.
The Conference members adopted political guidelines meant to bring EU initiatives closer to citizens. The guidelines will be submitted to the forthcoming Eastern Partnership Summit, scheduled in Vilnius in November.
The Conference was established in 2011, based on a proposal by the Committee of the Regions, an EU body representing local and regional authorities. The conference includes 18 representatives of the Committee of the Regions, and 18 representatives of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership.
In another development, Lithuania’s Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevicius, told the 147th Bureau Meeting of the Committee of the Regions that “decentralized administration level in a number of policy areas is much more efficient both in terms of costs and quality of services, and it is also closer to citizens.”
Decisions taken at this level ensure sustainable and long-term growth and competitiveness of the European Union’s economy, he said, reiterating his government’s resolve to implement a national regional policy, seeking to reduce regional disparities in the economic and social development, promote development in target territories, and also upgrade coordination between the national regional development policy measures and regional EU policy.
Lithuania’s regional policy aims to develop regional innovation systems, which, through combined efforts of businesses, academic community (universities, colleges) and other participants (innovation centres, science and technology parks, business incubators, etc.), could help develop small and medium-sized businesses in the region, said the Prime Minister.
Lithuania is currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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