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Thursday, 15 March 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Local authorities and development cooperation (debate)

  Gay Mitchell (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I would like to commend Mr Schapira for his work on this report as well as Mr Mavrommatis for his work as shadow rapporteur. I believe this is an important part of the work of the Committee on Development.

I had the privilege to be rapporteur on the Development Cooperation Instrument: quite a controversial instrument which took us two years to agree on. As part of that, we insisted that the role of local authorities be acknowledged – and indeed it was acknowledged – and through the new implementation procedure which we have now agreed through the Development Committee’s four working parties, we must now ensure that local authorities are fully involved in the consultation process and in the implementation of development aid, and that the wishes of Parliament are not simply taken as wishes but that the DCI is taken as the legislative will of this House.

Secondly, we should not confine the involvement of local authorities to local authorities in developing countries. As a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, let me give you my own experience as chairman of the biggest local authority in Ireland. Within Dublin City Council, for example, we have a huge resource: engineers who know how to provide clean water, how to deal with sewage, how to construct roads and piers and all sorts of things, and I believe that that resource could be put to use in the developing world, not just from Dublin but from all the counties in Ireland and from all the counties and local authorities within the European Union. We should be thinking of twinning our local authorities with the local authorities in the developing world. I know that a lot of people who work for local authorities within the European Union who have skills would love to bring those skills to bear in delivering clean water and other things in the developing world. I ask the Commission to pursue this idea, not just to involve local authorities within developing countries, but to involve our local authorities who have skills and will bring them to assist the developing world. I commend that idea to the Commission and I hope it will be borne in mind.

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