THE LOCAL AND REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE
IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE LONDON CONFERENCE ON
STRUCTURAL POLICY AND AGENDA 2000, HELD ON 5 FEBRUARY 1998,
Reiterates what it affirmed in the "Valencia Appeal" in 1995, in the "Thessaloniki Declaration" in May 1996, as well as in its "Resolution on the enlargement of the European Union" of 11 December 1997 and which are based on the principles of the European Charter on Local Self-Government, namely:
1. That local and regional authorities have a leading role to play in European construction and enlargement in order to build a strong and united Europe close to its citizens, which joins together all public and private partners in the balanced development of its territory.
2. That the Europe which emerges from the implementation of Agenda 2000 should be:
3. That reforms be undertaken, prior to enlargement, in order that agreement be reached on the following points:
4. That the Committee of the Regions, whose role has been confirmed and strengthened by the Treaty of Amsterdam, be compulsorily consulted during each phase of defining, planning and evaluating the structural funds.
THE COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN MUNICIPALITIES AND REGIONS
I - With regard to partnership:
1. Explicit guarantees for the implementation of a partnership between the European Commission, the Member States and local and regional authorities be provided for in the future Structural Fund regulations.
2. This concept of partnership be understood as involving, through local and regional authorities organised as a viable partnership, all the actors participating in local and regional development: the public and private sector, associative sector, social partners, universities and research centres and representative organisations of local and regional authorities.
3. A new form of partnership be created with the representative organisations of local and regional authorities to ensure:
4. Learning mechanisms be developed in order that innovative actions and the exchange of experience between European local and regional authorities, supported by the structural funds, enable them to rapidly respond to changes and to the emergence of an information society.
5. A specific juridical instrument, applicable to all the Directorates General of the European Commission be established for all forms of interregional co-operation so that it may fully contribute to cohesion and integration throughout Europe.
II - With regard to urban and rural policies:
1. The impact of a balanced and harmonious development of urban areas in Europe is vital at the economic as well as the social level. Urban questions are of fundamental importance and should be treated as such by the European Commission. Specific programmes such as "URBAN" should be developed in order to allow all urban areas, whether in zones eligible for Structural Funds or not to deal with their specific situations (regeneration, security, housing, employment, poverty...). Actions carried out by the Union in this area must be conceived and applied in partnership with European local and regional authorities. Furthermore, their representative organisation, CEMR, must be associated with the preparation and the organisation of the next Urban Forum.
2. The questions of maintaining or setting up activities in small and medium-sized towns be included in the strategy on urban questions at Community level: the vitality of these areas depends as much upon maintaining "urban" type activities as agricultural ones.
3. The interdependence between the rural and urban environment be recognised at Community level, and that the co-ordination of European structural and rural development policies (alongside the Common Agricultural Policy) be ensured with the partners in these areas.
4. The concept of a "flexible eligible area", where the viable partnership functions and rural and urban policies are coordinated, be recognised by the Commission as an instrument for the implementation of structural policy.
5. Current indicators become comprehensive in order to assess the impact of Community policies on "functional integrated areas" so as to take into account all criterion for the development and/or the decline of these areas (unemployment rate, migration rate, establishment of businesses, poverty, active/inactive ratios, competitiveness, availability and quality of public services, etc.).
6. In line with this assessment, a certain flexibility be applied in the allocation of the structural funds: within a given planning period, situations may arise whereby new areas facing difficulty require support, while those of other areas may improve and require less assistance. A part of the funds should be reserved for these adjustment measures.
7. Exchanges and co-operative links between local and regional authorities benefiting from community support and those involved in the Territorial Pacts for employment must be encouraged for a better co-ordination and a maximal impact from these measures.
8. Access to new information technologies as a factor in integrating territories be facilitated through community aid, particularly for small and medium-sized cities and areas which are sparsely populated.
III - With regard to enlargement:
1. The need to strengthen the structures of local democracy in the future member countries be integrated within the pre-accession process as defined by the Commission and the Council.
2. The Commission's interregional co-operation policies integrate, starting today, an element allowing local and regional authorities from the future member States to receive the information and training necessary to actively participate in the process.
3. Pre-accession policies promote equal opportunities between women and men in all areas and all decision-making levels of society.
4. Pre-accession policies respect the principles of sustainable development.
5. Especially close attention be given to socio-economic changes which the border regions of the existing and future member states will have to integrate. These zones should benefit from increased support through European cross-border and inter-regional co-operation policies in order to achieve the adjustments (differences in levels of development, salaries, migration...) necessary in these regions.
6. The national representative associations of local and regional authorities from the applicant countries, most of which already participate in CEMR activities and are thus kept informed about the community dossiers and the work of the Committee of the Regions, be systematically associated with this work by being granted the status of observer.
7. The States taking part in the pre-accession phase be invited by the European Union to provide their local and regional authorities with all information relative to pre-accession negotiations. Furthermore, these local and regional authorities should be associated by the future member states in the negotiations on issues relevant to them.
8. The development of the information society is a powerful factor in Community integration, particularly for the new member countries. The European Commission should promote the access of local and regional authorities from the future member countries to the information society in order to reduce geographical imbalances and to compensate for the unequal access of the territories to communication means.