Pescara, Abruzzo (I), 6th July 2011
The Assembly of European Regions (AER), together with the region Abruzzo (I) and the Italo-Tunisian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, organised today a conference on the situation of regional democracy in Europe as follow up of its delegation’s visit to Tunisia last May. The positive aspects and the challenges related to decentralisation were at the heart of this meeting, providing European regions the opportunity to share their experience with Tunisian stakeholders. About 20 Tunisian representatives – members of government, entrepreneurs, NGOs – were present.
Today, while regions are a reckoned part of the European landscape and have acquired an increasing weight through time, it is more important than ever for them to learn from their counterparts. The conference thus aimed at exchanging examples of its members’ best practices. To this end, a panel of experts from AER member regions – Abruzzo (I), Catalunya (E), Dolnoslaskie (PL), Istanbul (TR) and Västra Götaland (S) – presented the state of play of decentralisation in their respective countries.
One conclusion of the day is that decentralisation should be at the core of Tunisian reforms. The Tunisian revolutionary movement, which originated in the country’s most disadvantaged regions, considered the establishment of local governments as a key issue that needs to be included in the new Tunisian constitution. Fully aware of the importance of regional development for Tunisia, AER decided to cooperate with the Tunisian authorities and living forces by exchanging European best practices and by providing them with relevant input on decentralisation reforms.
“Most European countries are decentralised and this strategy has proven its efficiency” stated Klaus KLIPP, AER’s Secretary General, adding that “empowering regions does contribute to more democracy, civic participation, innovation and economic development. Regional democracy should therefore be considered as a major pillar for the country’s reconstruction, which is why we consider it essential to work with the Tunisian authorities and to show them how regional governance can benefit the whole of the country and continent”.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together 270 regions from 34 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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