North-South co-operation and Euro-Mediterranean dialogue

1. Event

A debate on North-South dialogue and Euro-Mediterranean co-operation is being held during the 18th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

2. Date

Wednesday 17 March 2010, from 4.30 pm (Assembly Chamber, Palais de l'Europe, Strasbourg, France)

3. Participants in the Congress debate

    - Rachid SASSI, Vice-President of the Municipality of Rabat, Morocco

    - Eberhard KOELSCH, Vice-Chair of the Executive Council of the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre)

    - Ian MICALLEF, Malta (L, EPP/CD), President a.i. of the Congress

    - Ludmila SFIRLOAGA, Romania (R, SOC), President of the Chamber of Regions of the Congress

4. Context

Political dialogue between Europe and the countries of the southern Mediterranean is a vital requirement for increasing political stability and reviving socio-economic development in the Mediterranean basin. Local and regional authorities have a key role to play, as good governance requires the full participation of all local stakeholders.

The Congress has been contributing to co-operation here for many years and supports the development of local and regional democracy in these countries through various practical measures.

    - The co-operation with Morocco has led to the establishment of an association of local and regional elected representatives;

    - The Congress maintains dialogue with the Israeli and Palestinian Authority associations of local authorities, both of which hold observer status with it. It has also observed the local elections in those countries;

    - After jointly organising the third Euro-Arab Cities Forum in Dubai in 2008, the Congress will be involved in organising the fourth forum in 2011;

    - A partnership agreement was signed at the end of 2008 with the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe;

    - In 2009, the Congress set up a Working Group on “Euro-Mediterranean Cities and Provinces” in order to “organise” its participation in the process launched with the Union for the Mediterranean;

    - A seminar on the prospects for co-operation between Morocco and the Council of Europe was held in Rabat (Morocco) in February 2010. The conclusions underlined the importance of co-operation between Moroccan local authorities and the Congress. In addition, the Congress has been asked to provide expertise following the start of the work of the consultative committee on regionalisation, which is due to establish an advanced model of regionalisation for Morocco.

5. Themes of the debate

The initiative by the Committee of the Regions of the European Union to set up the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) ties in with these objectives of decentralised co-operation. The assembly was officially launched in Barcelona in January 2010 and will enable local and regional authorities in the countries concerned to co-operate more closely.

The Congress has been assigned a seat as an observer on the new body so that it can pass on its know-how.

Its expertise and the institutional role it has within the Council of Europe in terms of helping countries to strengthen local democracy and civil society participation will make a major contribution to the Euro-Mediterranean co-operation within ARLEM. From 2010, the Congress and the new assembly will carry out practical co-operation activities.

“With its pan-European dimension, the Congress has much to contribute to the work of ARLEM, and its wealth of contacts, experience and commitment to establishing grassroots democracy in the Mediterranean region will be of great benefit to the activities of the new assembly,” said Congress President a.i. Ian Micallef at the launch of ARLEM in January 2010.


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