Ladies and gentlemen
- I would like start by welcoming this first conference on inter-municipal co-operation, and commending the Government of the Republic of Moldova, our international and local partners for promoting IMC in Moldova.
- And I am very pleased to be present at today's event because inter-municipal cooperation is an integral part of local democracy which is at the heart of the CoE values and priorities;
- The fact that today's conference is organised outside Chisinau, near a very old and beautiful village, is also remarkable, as we need more often to go out of the capital and help improve the lives of those who cannot benefit from the opportunities offered in big cities.
- With your permission, I would like to say a few words about the CoE's view on inter-municipal cooperation and about our intentions in Moldova.
Actuality of the topic
- We all know that local authorities face many challenges:
- - how to raise quality of local services?
- - how to ensure an efficient administration?
- - how to ensure sustainability of local development policies?
Moreover, upcoming decentralization and transfer of more competencies to local government in Moldova will require provision of new services.
Small municipalities of insufficient capacity may have difficulty providing quality services on their own or responding effectively to the community's expectations. Larger municipalities have more opportunities for investment in local services and infrastructure, but investors generally seek larger economies of scale and more integrated development to make their investments more viable.
In such situations, inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) can offer a genuine way forward. It can be complex, but it has the potential to deliver significant advantages to all municipalities, be they large or small, to attract public and private investments including access to external funds such as EU grants.
Successful IMC can raise the quality of local government services, bring efficiency and effectiveness in administrations, lead to more rational urban planning and sustainable local development policies.
- And I am very pleased that this useful tool has been incorporated into the recently adopted policy documents - National Strategy and Action plan on decentralisation.
- We hope it will be successfully used in putting in practice the objectives of the reform.
CoE standards setting and guiding role
- As you know, CoE has always had various means for promoting local and regional policies and values.
- The activity of the European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy under the CoE umbrella is a relevant example in this sense.
- In addition, in 2008-2009, Council of Europe, together with our partners, UNDP Regional Centre in Bratislava and Open Society Institute, have developed a set of modern and practical tools on inter-municipal cooperation in response to requests coming from various countries, including Moldova.
- A Toolkit on inter-municipal cooperation was compiled and includes a Manual, a Guide for Practitioners, a Training Library and a website.
- They provide a clear explanation of inter-municipal cooperation, including on its opportunities and risks, the steps needed to plan a successful inter-municipal cooperation project, the legal forms and financial options, methods of accountability, etc.
- The toolkit helps develop inter-municipal cooperation awareness and capacity at central and local levels and in local government associations.
- It was meant to be adapted to the specific circumstances of each country and was introduced, in collaboration with UNDP, in Moldova as well.
CoE activities in Moldova
- You may know that in the past the CoE's Congress for Local and Regional Authorities has supported Moldova in its reform of the territorial units.
- More recently, Council of Europe has provided expertise at the development of the Strategy and Action Plan on Decentralisation and we stand ready to continue our support to the Government in this field.
- Soon CoE will organise an expert mission on inter-municipal cooperation. Several experts are going to assess the situation at the local level and provide recommendations. The ambition of this initiative is to connect in this exercise the localities from both banks of Nistru/Dniestr river. We hope to succeed in this.
- Moreover, in September this year, CoE jointly with the State Chancellery is planning to organise a conference for local authorities on common solutions to overcoming difficulties at the local level in the context of global economic crisis. And I would like to use this opportunity and to thank the Government of the Republic of Moldova and, particularly the State Chancellery, for excellent cooperation we have had till now.
- I will, perhaps, need an entire morning session to list all our initiatives and intentions in this domain, so I shall not prolong these introductory words and just conclude by saying that the Council of Europe will continue providing its support to the Government and to the local authorities to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of local public services delivery to citizens.
- I wish you a very interesting and rewarding discussion.