EU enlargement will have major impact on cities and regions

Eurocities seminar will deal with the impact of EU’s enlargement on cities and regions in the accession countries.

A seminar, organised by

Eurocitiesand theBrussels Capital Regionin Brussels on 26 September, will deal with the impact of European Union’s eastward enlargement on cities and regions in the accession countries.

Cities and regions have major competencies in implementing certain EU laws such as the environment, energy, transport, public procurement, state aid, social policy, vocational training, food and health control, and regional policy. They will also be involved in EU Structural Funds programming and implementation, as well as in a broad range of EU programmes.

The seminar will identify and discuss how Central and East European cities approach the challenges of EU enlargement. It will address how cities are being prepared for membership by the EU and by their national governments, by their own initiative or through participating in transborder co-operation and international networks.

In its paper “Assessing the Fundamental Needs of Central and Eastern European Cities”, Eurocities says that regional and local authorities of CEE candidate countries are not involved nor sufficiently informed on accession negotiations in areas directly affecting regional and local government.

Eurocities warns that accession is “still treated much more as a co-optation of states rather than as an accession of people, of citizens and their societies”.

Eurocities calls upon the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Member States to invite appropriate representations of the local authorities to participate in the process of negotiations. It recommends amending the existing Accession Partnerships, including an explicit reference on the necessity for sufficiently preparing CEE sub-national government for EU accession.

The paper says that local and regional authorities should be involved in the ‘needs assessment’ and annual programming exercise conducted by the Commission together with each candidate country under the Phare programme.

It says that a co-operation programme between cities in the EU and CEECs should be established in all relevant fields of expertise, and the PHARE institution-building (twinning) programme should be open to subnational government. Eurocities is willing to design a specific programme for co-operation between EU and CEE local and regional authorities in association with PHARE. This would be directed at strengthening their institutional and administrative capacity and establishing efficient and effective administrative systems capable of applying the acquis communautaire.

Eurocities invites EU governments and institutions to follow a more decentralised approach for existing and future financial assistance programmes enabling cities to have direct contact with financial institutions. It urges city involvement in all EU policy initiatives or programme implementation with a multiplier effect in central and eastern European countries.

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