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Document selected : A8-0232/2015

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PV 05/10/2015 - 11
CRE 05/10/2015 - 11

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PV 06/10/2015 - 7.12
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PE 557.178v02-00 A8-0232/2015

on the role of local authorities in developing countries in development cooperation


Committee on Development

Rapporteur: Eleni Theocharous



on the role of local authorities in developing countries in development cooperation


The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000,

–       having regard to the report adopted in July 2014 by the UN Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals,

–       having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2014 on the EU and the global development framework after 2015(1),

–       having regard to the report adopted on 8 August 2014 by the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing,

–       having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, of July 2014,

–       having regard to the United Nations ‘Millennium Development Goals Report 2014’,

–       having regard to the outcome document of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) High-Level Meeting in Mexico City, of April 2014,

–       having regard to the report ‘Dialogue on localizing the Post-2015 Development Agenda’ prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Taskforce(2) and UN Habitat, of 31 October 2014,

–       having regard to the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) 2014 report ‘Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda: opportunities at the national and local levels’,

–       having regard to the 2014 Human Development Report of the UNDP entitled ‘Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience’,

–       having regard to the UN Secretary General’s Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Agenda,

–       having regard to the UN ‘Gender Chart 2012’, which measures improvements regarding the gender equality aspects of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),

–       having regard to the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 and to the report of its follow-up Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June 2012,

–       having regard to the May 2013 report of the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda,

–       having regard to the June 2012 report of the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda to the UN Secretary General, entitled ‘Realising the future we want for all’,

–       having regard to the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020,

–       having regard to the declaration and action plan adopted at the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan, South Korea, in December 2011,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the human rights legal framework,

–       having regard to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action,

–       having regard to the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development,

–       having regard to the European Consensus on Development(3) and the EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour in Development Policy(4),

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 15 May 2013 entitled ‘Empowering Local Authorities in partner countries for enhanced governance and more effective development outcomes’ (COM(2013)0280),

–       having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2013 on local authorities and civil society: Europe’s engagement in support of sustainable development(5) and to the Council conclusions of 22 July 2013 on local authorities in development,

–       having regard to Article 7 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which reaffirms that the EU ‘shall ensure consistency between its policies and activities, taking all of its objectives into account’,

–       having regard to Article 208 TFEU, which stipulates that ‘the Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries’,

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 5 February 2015, entitled ‘A Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015’ (COM(2015)0044),

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2014, entitled ‘A decent life for all: from vision to collective action’ (COM(2014)0335),

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 13 May 2014, entitled ‘A stronger role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries’ (COM(2014)0263),

–       having regard to the Commission staff working document of 30 April 2014, a toolbox entitled ‘A right-based approach, encompassing all human rights for EU development Cooperation’ (SWD(2014)0152),

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 27 February 2013, entitled ‘A decent life for all: Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future’ (COM(2013)0092),

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 12 September 2012, entitled ‘The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe’s engagement with civil society in external relations’ (COM(2012)0492),

–       having regard to the Commission’s public consultations on the preparation of an EU position, entitled ‘Towards a Post-2015 Development Framework’, which ran from 15 June to 15 September 2012,

–       having regard to the Commission Communication of 8 October 2008, entitled ‘Local authorities: actors for development’ (Sec(2008)2570),

–       having regard to the joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on the European Union Development Policy entitled ‘The European Consensus’(6),

–       having regard to the European Charter on Development Cooperation in Support of Local Governance launched during the European Development Days, on 16 November 2008,

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 12 April 2005 entitled ‘Policy Coherence for Development’ (COM(2005)0134), and the conclusions of the 3166th Foreign Affairs Council meeting of 14 May 2012, entitled ‘Increasing the Impact of EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change’,

–       having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 24 February 2015 entitled ‘A decent life for all: from vision to collective action’,

–       having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 9 October 2013 entitled ‘Empowering local authorities in partner countries for enhanced governance and more effective development outcomes’,

–       having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of the 9 June 2010 entitled ‘Spring package: EU action plan for achieving the Millennium Development Goals’,

–       having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 22 April 2009 entitled ‘Local authorities: actors for development’,

–       having regard to Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation for the period 2014-2020(7),

–       having regard to its legislative resolution of 2 April 2014 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Year of Development (2015)(8),

–       having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the Millennium Development Goals – defining the post-2015 framework(9),

–       having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 19 May 2014 on a rights-based approach to development cooperation, encompassing all human rights,

–       having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 12 December 2013 on financing poverty eradication and sustainable development beyond 2015,

–       having regard to the Joint ACP-EU Declaration on the Post-2015 Development Agenda of 20 June 2014,

–       having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–       having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A8-0232/2015),

A.     whereas local authorities, being essential state and institutional actors as regards local governance, the emergence of grassroots democracy and sustainable territorial development on the basis of local-community involvement and its democratic expression, will have an essential role to play in achieving the post-2015 objectives;

B.     whereas local authorities (LAs) play a crucial role in the definition, organisation and achievement of development objectives;

C.     whereas LAs are a strong interface between community and national and global goals in a post-2015 agenda;

D.     whereas LAs play a crucial role in safeguarding vulnerable populations in fragile states in crisis and in middle-income countries;

E.     whereas the new global sustainable development framework offers an opportunity to secure the broad involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs), local authorities and national parliaments; whereas the empowerment of LAs and CSOs is absolutely essential to ensuring correct, transparent and accountable governance;

F.     whereas the EU has been deeply involved in supporting LAs in developing countries, aiming to contribute to poverty reduction and the achievement of the MDGs but also to mainstream democratic governance at local level;

G.     whereas representatives of sub-national governments and LAs have contributed to the sessions of the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG), and the Global Taskforce has co-led UN consultations on ‘localising the post-2015 development agenda’ with the UNDP and UN-Habitat;

H.     whereas the UN Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Development Agenda reiterates the need for the new development agenda to be transformative, universal, people-centred, and built on the principles of human rights and the rule of law; whereas the Secretary-General calls for innovative partnerships, including LAs, to be the main actors implementing this agenda at the level closest to citizens;

I.      whereas most critical objectives and challenges of the post-2015 global development agenda will depend on local action and strong partnerships;

J.      whereas the world’s population is projected to grow from around 7 billion people to 9.3 billion people by 2050, with the major part of this growth expected in developing countries, particularly in urban areas; whereas excessive urbanisation is undermining the sustainability of development in all its dimensions;

K.     whereas two and half billion new urban inhabitants will need to have access to education, health services, jobs, food, sanitation, transport, housing and electricity; whereas this poses key challenges for local and regional authorities and municipalities which are responsible for providing those services;

L.     whereas the Rio Declaration stresses that indigenous people and their communities have a vital role in environmental management and development; whereas governments should recognise and duly support their identity, culture and interests, and enable their effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development;

M.    whereas poverty reduction is uneven, and inequalities between and within countries, which have increased in both developed and developing countries, represent a major development challenge;

N.     whereas violent conflicts and humanitarian crises continue to obstruct development efforts; whereas vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the elderly are harder hit by military conflicts and crises and local authorities are key frontline actors in conflict prevention and management;

O.     whereas additional efforts are still needed to halve the percentage of people suffering from hunger, as 162 million young children are exposed to malnutrition; whereas hidden hunger can be defined as micronutrient deficiency, which can cause irreversible effects on health and socio-economic consequences linked to a reduction in people’s productivity;

P.     whereas climate change and environmental degradation threaten poverty reduction and constitute a major challenge for local authorities, as they affect local communities in the first instance;

Q.     whereas more new and decent jobs need to be created in order to respond to demographic growth on a global scale; whereas the private sector is a major generator of jobs, both in developed and developing countries, and can thus be an essential partner in the fight against poverty;

R.     whereas aid continues to play a unique role in poverty reduction and as a game-changer in developing countries; whereas it must be better targeted so as to meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations; whereas aid alone is not enough, and use must therefore be made of innovative financing;

S.     whereas the mobilisation of international, public and private finances will be crucial for the promotion of sustainable local development;

T.     whereas the EU and its Member States, as the largest official development assistance donors, but also key policy-setters and actors on decentralised cooperation, should thus remain the driving force during the next phase of negotiations under the UN framework, especially regarding the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals;

U.     whereas Article 208 TFEU establishes that eradication of poverty is the primary objective of EU development policy and establishes policy coherence for development;

I. Local authorities (LAs) as actors for development and the role of the European Union

1.      Recalls that the Busan Partnership provides an expanding forum for new development actors such as local and regional actors;

2.      Stresses that the new guidelines set out in the Commission's communication on LAs and on recognising their role as state stakeholders represent a major step forward for the European Union’s new development agenda;

3.      Highlights the need for these new guidelines to be translated into the effective implementation of European cooperation, both in terms of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and in terms of the Development Cooperation Instrument;

4.      Stresses that strategic planning at national and local level is absolutely essential to the promotion and integration of the three main dimensions of development: the social, economic and environmental dimensions;

5.      Welcomes the support given to strengthening LAs’ capacities through the local authorities thematic line – particularly the support given to strengthening the coordination structures of LAs at national, regional and EU-wide levels – and the establishment of a partnership at EU level;

6.      Recognises the important role LAs have in developing countries; encourages the establishment of partnership arrangements between LAs in EU Member States and LAs in developing countries in areas such as training and human capacity to allow for greater benefits such as better environmental planning;

7.      Feels that these coordination structures play an essential role in terms of providing technical and methodological support for the development of local capacities by facilitating the exchange of know-how in order to support the decentralisation process and the provision of basic services; feels that they are also a suitable forum for political dialogue and for making the voice of LAs heard at all levels of government;

8.      Urges the EU to promote decentralised cooperation as a way of implementing the development framework post 2015; to this end, calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of making decentralisation a priority funding sector for its external aid financing instruments, starting with the DCI and the EDF, and to step up efforts to include LAs as full stakeholders in the implementation of the 11th EDF in partner countries, regions, and in relation to sectorial and budgetary assistance; calls on the Member States to accord an appropriate role in their development programmes to LAs and to coordinate their activities with those of the Commission and of other Member States;

II. Political dialogue, mobilisation of financial resources and presentation of accounts

9.      Stresses the need to ensure a fairer transfer of resources from national level to sub-regions, towns and municipalities;

10.    Stresses the need, as part of the ongoing process of decentralisation, to encourage national governments to transfer part of their national budget resources to regional and local government levels; feels, to this end, that greater support should be given to strengthening the financial and budgetary capacities of LAs, including through their associations;

11.    Believes it essential that some European budgetary assistance be allocated to funding local authorities;

12.    Stresses the importance of establishing, as part of European cooperation, a genuine political dialogue among local authorities that would make it possible to assess current progress, difficulties and prospects for improving the effectiveness of assistance at local level;

13.    Calls for the institutionalisation of this dialogue while drawing on existing coordination structures within the different cooperation frameworks;

III. Role of local authorities in the implementation of the MDGs: lessons learned

14.    Underlines that the MDGs revealed the crucial role of LAs in the fight against poverty and in the delivery of community services, such as water and sanitation, primary healthcare and education;

15.    Welcomes the spread of decentralised development cooperation initiatives and the use of mechanisms for cooperation among cities;

16.    Stresses the need to allocate additional resources to strengthening the capacities of decentralised authorities so that they can provide high-quality public services, guarantee equality of opportunity and build social cohesion;

17.    Regrets that the MDGs did not take sufficient account of the importance of the local dimension for development; regrets that development programmes do not take sufficient account of the cultural dimension, which is vital to understanding the local context ; calls for consideration to be given to the cultural dimension in local, national and international poverty reduction strategies;

18.    Regrets that the current MDGs are lacking in clarity as regards tailoring global targets to national and local dynamics;

IV. Definition of the post-2015 development agenda: challenges and opportunities

19.    Considers that the post-2015 process should provide a clear vision for an implementation of Rio+20 outcomes that recognises the role of LAs;

20.    Stresses the importance of setting reliable targets and indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals that match the contexts, needs and worries of local populations; calls on the EU to strengthen the role of LAs and to take their expertise into consideration in other SDGs;

21.    Calls on the EU to continue to give particular attention to LAs in development planning, implementation and financial aid flows; stresses that this would require a truly participatory process, conducted early on in the development phase, and that, with this in mind, decentralised public aid must be recognised and reinforced; underlines the need to ensure their increased participation in defining development strategies;

22.    Calls on the Union to ensure that LAs are better represented in international negotiations on the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda at the International Conference on Financing for Development and at the COP21 international climate conference;

23.    Calls on the EU to continue to support an autonomous goal on cities and human settlements;

V. Need for a renewed effective global partnership (with CSOs, the private sector, etc.)

24.    Calls on the EU to contribute to strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships, localising the implementation of the post-2015 agenda;

25.    Calls for a clear definition and division of responsibilities among partners;

VI. Partnerships with the private sector

26.    Recalls that the public sector will be a key enabler and implementer of the new global development agenda and underlines that mobilisation of public revenue and reinforcement of the fiscal system based on people’s taxpaying capacity and fair returns for transparent exploitation of natural resources will be vital for its effectiveness;

27.    Reiterates the need to support the emergence of a middle class through the promotion of private entrepreneurship by young people and women in particular;

28.    Stresses the importance of empowering local, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in job creation and promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, notably through public-private policies;

29.    Reiterates the need to implement effective accountability mechanisms and to define mandatory social and environmental safeguards;

VII. Partnership with civil society

30.    Considers that the post-2015 global development agenda needs to change the role and impact of CSOs; believes that Member States should work closely with CSOs by setting up mechanisms for regular dialogue, which should be sufficiently effective to receive positive feedback from civil society;

VIII. Supporting domestic accountability and capacity building

31.    Stresses that governments must be accountable both to domestic stakeholders and to the international community;

32.    Underlines the importance of transparency and the promotion of multi-stakeholder dialogues in strengthening the participation of local cultures, indigenous peoples, migrants and minorities;

33.    Considers that strong efforts need to be made to improve the capacity of LAs to deliver public services;

34.    Stresses the importance of promoting good governance at local level by promoting the principles of accountability, transparency, participation, responsiveness and the rule of law;

35.    Encourages the creation of local consultation platforms as part of budgetary planning;

36.    Stresses the urgent need to reform official data collection services;

IX. Indigenous peoples and development planning

37.    Stresses that indigenous people should be deeply engaged in the preparation of local and regional development and investment plans;

38.    Calls on national governments and LAs to: (a) strengthen local legislation to establish recognition of traditional land tenure arrangements; (b) cooperate with traditional authorities in managing natural resources; (c) address the gender and intergenerational issues that exist among indigenous peoples; (d) protect indigenous knowledge; (e) strengthen the capacity of indigenous peoples to participate in development planning;

X. Transfer of technology

39.    Stresses that national governments and LAs should create an enabling environment for the transfer of technologies;

40.    Considers that such cooperation should also include longer-term investments;

XI. Cities and human settlements

41.    Applauds the mobilisation and commitment of African cities in the preparations for the Habitat III United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development; calls on the Commission to support these mobilisation processes and to factor support for the management of a sustainable urbanisation process into its partnership plans;

42.    Welcomes the decision of the OWG to include a stand-alone goal regarding urban sustainable development;

43.    Underlines the importance of adopting a territorial approach to address issues such as waste management and urban poverty, reducing inequalities, empowering citizens, inclusive and participatory democracy, innovative infrastructure design, service provision, land management, the contribution of cities to global environmental change and their impact on ecosystems, reducing risks of natural disasters and energy use, etc.;

44.    Stresses the importance of supporting developing and least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance;

XII. Good governance and the fight against corruption

45.    Stresses that international cooperation to tackle illicit financial flows should be stepped up to ensure a level playing field in the area of taxation of local and international companies;

46.    Stresses that decentralising power is an effective means of combatting corruption, including corruption originating from multinational companies, and of contributing to modernisation of public administration and responding to people’s needs through economic and social reforms;

XIII. Strengthening the mobilisation of resources

47.    Stresses that creative and equitable financing mechanisms need to be explored;

48.    Stresses the paramount importance of the mobilisation of national resources at local level in the success of the post‑2015 agenda, as it is a key factor in the implementation of both national and local development strategies and policies; stresses, in this context, the urgent need to consolidate LA capacities in partner countries in the area of municipal taxation and budgetary planning; welcomes the gradual introduction of local finance observatories, which deserve greater support from the European Union;

49.    Considers that it is more effective to act at local level in order to improve living conditions for communities, especially in rural areas, and that one important challenge for LAs and national authorities is to encourage progressive reintegration of the informal sector without discouraging innovation;

50.    Calls on the World Bank and the international financial institutions to update environmental and social safeguard policies;

51.    Recalls that local governments are on the frontline to deal with an increasing number of crises, but that most of the time they lack the capacity, and the means, to develop an effective response;

52.    Calls on the Commission to encourage the mobilisation of innovative sources of financing for decentralised cooperation, including loan‑grant blending instruments, not yet adjusted to meeting the specific needs of LAs;

53.    Urges the European Union to hence bolster the decentralised budgets that are a prerequisite for local development;

54.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0059.


The Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments for the Post-

2015 Development Agenda towards HABITAT III.


OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p.1.


Council Conclusions 9558/07, 15.5.2007.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0432


OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.


OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 44.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0269.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0283.


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Louis Aliot, Ignazio Corrao, Nirj Deva, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Charles Goerens, Heidi Hautala, Maria Heubuch, Stelios Kouloglou, Arne Lietz, Norbert Neuser, Maurice Ponga, Cristian Dan Preda, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Elly Schlein, Paavo Väyrynen, Bogdan Brunon Wenta

Substitutes present for the final vote

Seb Dance, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Louis Michel, Eleni Theocharous, Jan Zahradil, Joachim Zeller

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

James Carver





Charles Goerens, Louis Michel, Paavo Väyrynen


Nirj Deva, Jan Zahradil


Ignazio Corrao


Maurice Ponga, Cristian Dan Preda, Eleni Theocharous, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Joachim Zeller


Seb Dance, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Arne Lietz, Norbert Neuser, Elly Schlein


Heidi Hautala, Maria Heubuch




James Carver


Louis Aliot




Stelios Kouloglou, Lola Sánchez Caldentey

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

-  : against

0  : abstention

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