31 January 2017 The National Assembly delegation at the Interparliamentary Conference on “Local and Regional Authorities in the Enlargement Region and the EU Regional Policy”
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Interparliamentary Conference on “Local and Regional Authorities in the Enlargement Region and the EU Regional Policy”
A National Assembly delegation comprising Zarko Micin, member of the Committee on the Judiciary, Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Dusica Stojkovic and Muamer Bacevac, members of the European Integration Committee, and Jovan Jovanovic, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, took part in the Interparliamentary Conference on “Local and Regional Authorities in the Enlargement Region and the EU Regional Policy”, 30-31 January 2017, in Brussels.
The Conference was attended by MPs and parliamentary support staff from the Western Balkan countries and Turkey, viz. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, as well as the Pristina parliament.
The Conference was also attended by MEPs Alojz Peterle, Iskra Mihajlova, Jens Nilsson, Terry Reintke, Tonino Picula, Franc Bogovic and Ivan Jakovcic, representatives of the Committee of the Regions, as well as EU regional policy and IPA fund experts.
The participants were greeted by the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. He emphasised the importance of the EU’s regional policy, stressing that the principle of subsidiarity is the chief principle governing the European Commission’s implementation of the policy since the projects are conducted at the local and regional level. Therefore, the capacities of local and regional authorities’ should be bolstered to ensure the best absorption of IPA funds and become fully prepared to join the EU and use even larger structural funds. He said it was important that all the countries in the EU accession process conduct their reforms consistently so as to enable the functioning of a law-governed state and eliminate the problem of corruption which is a prerequisite for the attraction of investments and creation of jobs. The use of EU regional policy instruments can be useful to create new opportunities for educated young people and motivate them to remain in their local communities i.e. to prevent their exodus. That is why the capacities of local administrations need to be improved, for which the enlargement region has the European Commission’s support.
In his speech Zarko Micin emphasised the importance of continuing the EU enlargement policy since it is the cornerstone of the EU and contributes to the stability and economic progress not only of the new member states, but the Union itself. The continuation of the EU enlargement policy and continuity in the opening of the negotiation chapters with Serbia, sends a positive signal to its citizens, which is extremely important since they will be voting at the referendum on whether Serbia should join the EU. He also stressed the important role the local authorities play in the implementation of EU legislation. To that end, the Serbian Government i.e. its Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government had prepared a Draft Law amending and modifying the Law on Local Self-Government which enables local self-government units to, via their bodies, follow the European integration process and develop administrative capacities in line with the law and foreign policy of the Republic of Serbia. The amendment to the legislative framework is expected to allow local authorities to actively follow the European integration process and take part in it, in which defining developmental priorities for local self-governments, information on the EU programmes and funds they can apply for and training personnel to draft projects according to the European format, are of paramount importance.
Dusica Stojkovic said that the European Union is the biggest donor in Serbia with its 200 million EUR a year for projects relating to the improvement of living standards. That is why it is important to continue with the good practice and promote cooperation especially within regional and cross-border cooperation programmes financed from the EU IPA funds.
The MEPs gave a historical overview of the development of regional policy in the EU since its foundation stressing that it is one of the Union’s most important sector policies, taking up over 30% of its overall budget. They also presented the funding priorities for the 2014-2020 budgetary period and spoke about the experiences of the countries they come from as regards the use of EU cohesion funds.
The participants of the Conference agreed that the Western Balkan regions and their mutual cooperation require more attention.
14.00 - the National Assembly Speaker meets with OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Secretary General (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, diplomatic salon of Prince Pavle)