The EESC was delighted that it could contribute through an exploratory opinion requested by the European Parliament, to the debate which Parliament is holding on improving governance and the partnership in the EU's cohesion policy.
In the EESC’s view good governance implies ‘multi-level government’ and partnerships with representative organised civil society at regional level. Consequently, the EESC agrees with the Council and the Commission as to the desirability of effective "multi-level government" and better governance in applying EU-Funds and implementing EU-policies. The question is not ‘if’, but ‘how’. It is a matter of fine-tuning bottom-up initiatives and top-down framework conditions.
The EESC endorses the Parliament’s proposal to set up a formal Council of Territorial Development. It would underline ‘multi-level government’ and it would make discussions and agreements more obligatory. "Multi-level government" is a flexible structure of relations between Commission, governments, and regional and local authorities, tailor-made according to specific situations and thematic considerations rather than a hierarchical framework of competences between governmental layers. Good governance is characterised by open-minded relations and a less strict application of the "subsidiarity" principle.
Practical evidence shows that decentralised responsibility and accountability foster leadership and vision. These usually form a firm base for public-public partnerships as well as for public-partnerships with a number of stakeholders such as social partners, chambers of commerce, companies, development agencies, housing organisations, quangos, environmental agencies, social organisations, schooling facilities at all levels, architects, and artists. Consequently, representative organised civil society at regional level should be given the opportunity for responsible and transparent involvement in defining and executing EU regional programmes. Taking local and regional (non-governmental) views on board will contribute to the acceptance of the values of the Union by the citizens.
The EESC is of the opinion that well-structured consultations can lead to successful partnerships with non-governmental stakeholders in the whole chain of defining, monitoring and evaluating regional policy. Flexible "multi-level government" and good governance, and corresponding synergies focussed on tailor-made solutions can be most helpful to respond to the ultimate objective of EU and national regional policy, which is to activate existing forces and hidden potentials of regions and cities.