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The International Relations of Local Authorities

From Institutional Twinning to the Committee of the Regions: Fifty Years of European Integration History

Series:

Fabio Zucca

This book examines the innovative and supportive role that the Council of European Municipalities and Regions has played in the process of European integration, focusing on the idea of a federal state centred on municipalities, the basis of Western democracy.
The author’s analysis considers the twinning of cities within Europe to be a political action that will lead to a Europe for its citizens. He argues that the global financial crisis could lead to the break-up of the European unification process and that the way to deal with this challenge is to give local authorities greater involvement in decision-making processes.
The book is the result of research in little known and rarely consulted archives and brings significant new information into the academic sphere. This focus on the local level is increasingly relevant, offering new perspectives on current issues within European integration and explaining the dynamics of a process still under way.

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Preface (Mercedes Bresso)

Extract

15 Preface Mercedes BRESSO President of the Committee of the Regions The development of international relations between regions and local authorities has for years been a constant European policy objective. On this subject, it is sufficient to observe the importance of territorial cooperation in the 2014-2020 draft budget presented by the European Commission at the end of June 2011. From environmental protection to culture, from the mobility and security of citizens to cooperation for development, to research, the fundamental role played by local adminis- trations in implementing the European Union’s objectives and commit- ments on the international stage has become increasingly evident. It is an extremely dynamic situation, which is at odds with the scepticism of so many players at all levels on the European political stage, and with the demagogic campaigns against the international status of local authorities. Visits to headquarters in Brussels, or participation in international fairs and events, have often been the object of controversy and political clashes, and it is certainly fair and useful to question the manner in which local initiatives and efforts integrate with national foreign policy. However, it is evident that, especially when it becomes weaker, the local authorities’ capacity to establish relations at an international level is a vital element for the development of communities and can contribute to connecting them to opportunities and innovative processes beyond their national borders. In this sense, structural funds have played a decisive role, not only because specific investments for territorial cooperation are established in operational...

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