Today, at the inaugural Plenary Session of the CoR, the opinion of Robert Zeman, City Councilor of Prachatice (EPP/CZ) was adopted.

The opinion “Regions’ and Cities’ contribution to the development of Africa” aims to promote a more proactive role for European cities and regions in creating EU partnerships with local and regional authorities, civil-society organisations, and the private sector in Africa. The opinion calls for a functional, efficient, and politically sustainable all-European funding mechanism for a decentralised system of development aid, investment projects, and business activities in Africa. It also calls for an efficient, robust, and secure mechanism for resolving the root causes of immigration to the European Union, which would be carefully designed to incorporate both EU actors, including regional and local stakeholders, and African states through balanced and mutually beneficial relationships.

“Cities and regions in the European Union have gained a great deal of experience of cross-border cooperation, primarily within Europe but also with local and regional authorities on other continents. Their models and lessons should be used more widely. For example, the CoR has brought together eight Libyan cities from across the conflict lines, and found municipal and regional authorities in Europe to cooperate in areas such as water and waste management. We would like to see more pilot projects of this sort. And we would like the EU’s next long-term budget, which may be decided next week, to earmark money for international cooperation between cities and regions.” stated the rapporteur during the plenary session.

He continued: “More cooperation with African cities and regions would be a win-win for both sides, and would help to make make EU relations with Africa deeper and more flexible. Building up collaboration from the local level would foster trust and personal contacts that could establish the basis for long-term success. This deeper, bottom-up approach might be particularly helpful for cities and regions in parts of Europe – including my country, Czechia – that has few national-level programmes with Africa.”

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