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News Euro-Med local representatives urge priority to tangible action in new UfM Assembly

Over seventy local and regional representatives from thirty countries around the three shores of the Mediterranean have met in Barcelona for the inaugural meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities (ARLEM), calling on the EU to ensure an "inclusive process" and to give "priority to tangible action", according to a press release from the Committee of the Regions (CoR).

"Our belief is that the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) must not fall into the trap of Barcelona, restricting itself to traditional diplomatic relations,” declared CoR President Luc Van den Brande (picture), who was elected co-president of the new assembly. “We therefore offer our commitment at grassroots level, geared to implementing practical projects through the contributions of the regional and local authorities that strive on a daily basis to improve quality of life for our fellow citizens … What ARLEM needs is a grassroots structure that can operate independently of the international political context."
Mohamed Boudra, mayor of Al Hoceima in Morocco, who was also elected co-president at the inaugural meeting, outlined the work programme that ARLEM members had set themselves: "In 2010, our activities will focus on four areas: urban and territorial development, decentralisation, the information society and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. ARLEM members, with their regions and local authorities, have committed themselves to twinning and decentralised cooperation initiatives in these areas."
A second CoR press release said participants were determined to go beyond traditional diplomatic relations by launching concrete cooperation programmes on issues such as immigration, climate change, urban development or cultural exchange. Closeness to citizens, efficiency in project management and tackling real life issues would be at the heart of this cooperation, which should underpin the institutional framework of the UfM, it added.
For Hamid Chabat, the mayor of Fez, Morocco, the launch of ARLEM creates new perspectives and a new quality of political dialogue. “ARLEM is an enormous step forward in the political relations within the Euro-Mediterranean region. It is the first time that regional and local elected representatives from the region have taken their destiny into their own hands. We hope that the cooperation launched by ARLEM will be concrete and beneficial for the three shores of the Mediterranean.”
The mayor of Haifa (Israel), Yona Yahav, appealed to the newly formed organisation “to avoid letting political divisions jeopardize its goal of greater cooperation. If it can do that, then ARLEM is sure to succeed.”
ARLEM is a response to the request to put the role of regional and local authorities in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership on an institutional footing. It gives the partnership a territorial dimension and seeks to involve local and regional authorities more closely in the specific projects of the Union for the Mediterranean. It is a joint project of the Committee of the Regions, regional and local authorities around the three shores of the Mediterranean, and European and international associations representing regional and local authorities working on the ground.
ARLEM's two co-presidents will now meet the UfM secretariat to examine arrangements for ARLEM's formal recognition as the second pillar of the process, alongside the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. (ENPI Info Centre)
ARLEM 2010 – conclusions
ARLEM 2010 – photo gallery
Luc Van Den Brende – speech

Contact information Athénaïs Cazalis de Fondouce (email:
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information ENPI Info Centre
Keyword(s) UfM
Geographical coverage Spain
News date 22/01/2010
Working language(s) ENGLISH