EU Delegation to Lebanon: strengthening cooperation with municipalities
As part of its collaboration with local authorities, the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon held yesterday 20 March a one-day meeting in Beirut with over a hundred representatives of Lebanese municipalities and municipal unions. With this meeting, the EU Delegation seeks to structure and enhance the important bilateral cooperation that Member States of the EU and their cooperation agencies have with Lebanon in the field of local development and decentralization, in addition to the assistance provided by the European Union.
Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, Head of EU Delegation told participants that "the EU is built on the 'subsidiarity principle'". She explained that "this principle seeks to reinforce those at the level closest to citizens, so long as those at the upper levels cannot act more efficiently." She added that "this principle could also be called the 'proximity principle' as it aims to strengthen the legitimacy and capacity of local institutions closer to the end-user."
Workshops and discussions were held all day around the problems of local governance, the provision of services, decentralization, land use, and the different needs and challenges facing local authorities. During the debate, the EU also called on municipalities to consider a consultation mechanism so that they take part in cooperation programming and implementation. Meanwhile, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to provide the different concerned ministries with financial resources and expertise to advance sectoral reforms that are implemented on the ground by local actors. A report will be prepared about the events of the day that will be shared with the political and economic leaders of the country and posted for discussion, so that the debate can continue beyond this meeting.
In recent years, municipalities and municipal unions have emerged as indispensable and preferred partners of the European cooperation in Lebanon. The European Union, through its various projects, works with 241 municipalities, in nineteen cazas and all of the eight governorates. It currently manages sixty ongoing and upcoming grant contracts with municipalities that total €65 million. Recently, new funding of €20 million for the ‘Municipal Finance Programme’ was signed by the EU and is awaiting approval by the Lebanese Government. This programme will be an important component of institutional capacity building of the Ministry and will have a dedicated fund for municipal unions aimed at supporting local development activities. (ENPI Info Centre)