Adopted in Belfort on 26 November 2009
1. The involvement of regional and local authorities as genuine partners in the EU multilevel governance system is a pre-condition to ensure the sustainable development of the Union and enhance its legitimacy.
2. AER therefore calls for a sincere application of the sub-national subsidiarity and partnership principles which are at the root of a sound multilevel governance and warns for any attempt to renationalise regional policies.
3. AER considers that at least two conditions must be fulfilled to help the development of a genuine multilevel governance:
a. First, the right political framework
b. Second, the right political culture and capacities:
4. As for the political framework, to complete the progress brought by the Lisbon Treaty, AER proposes to:
a. Create an observatory of multilevel governance gathering all big interregional organisations and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and whose task would be to monitor the implementation of the Charter on multilevel governance proposed by the CoR, and work on the multilevel governance progress reports.
b. Set up an ad hoc Committee at the CoR, gathering partner organisations such as AER, which could offer their expertise and activate their networks to ensure that infringements in the principle of subsidiarity are reported.
c. Implement multilevel governance throughout the whole decision-making process, including the pre-decision phases, by better structuring the consultation process. Proposals: allocation of an extra space for Regions at Forums, distinct from civil society; setting up of an organising Committee for the structured dialogues.
5. As for the political framework, AER also insists on the need, for Member States, to acknowledge Regions as genuine partners in the EU governance system, and calls upon them to:
a. Adopt the reference framework on regional democracy of the Council of Europe, which it considers as a first step towards a more binding document
b. Implement the EU directive on the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC)
c. be open to the setting up of European territorial pacts, based on tri-partite agreements
6. As for the political culture and capacity building aspects, AER considers that:
a. With regards to EU co-funded projects, technical assistance should be made more simple to access, with an appropriate level of funding; the scope of Interreg IVC should be extended to joint pilot actions and projects.
b. The principle of multilevel governance should be better communicated, and underlines that key role it plays in this context through its Training Academies and decentralised communication activities (Citizens Fora, Communication Award).
7. To conclude, AER underlines that the debate on multilevel governance should be run in synergy with key debates on, in particular, the new EU regional strategies (macro-regions), the EU budget review, or the future EU regional policy and the expected White Paper on territorial cohesion. AER will closely follow these debates and provide with positions to complete its present position on multilevel governance.