Cities and regions to cooperate in ARLEM
ARLEM is the ‘baby’ of the EU Committee of the Regions (CoR). Its 84 members are CoR members, representatives of EU and international associations active in Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and representatives of local and regional authorities from the regions concerned, named by their national governments (1). The two co-presidents were elected at the inaugural meeting: Luc Van den Brande, CoR president, and Mohamed Boudra, mayor of the Moroccan city of Al Hoceima. The 2010 work programme adopted in Barcelona will focus on urban and territorial development, decentralisation, the information society, support for SMEs, local water management, migration and cultural cooperation.
« It is our conviction that the Union for the Mediterranean must not fall into the trap of Barcelona by being restricted to classic diplomacy. We therefore offer the support of our commitment on the ground, steered towards concrete projects, » explained Van den Brande. « ARLEM will be a field-oriented body that can function independently of international political reality. » The assembly, an autonomous structure for the moment, hopes to form part of the Union for the Mediterranean ‘governance’ as an observer, beginning with the Barcelona summit, in June 2010. In October 2008, the states recognised the possibility of involving ARLEM in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
Some would like to see the EU set up a ‘strategy for the Mediterranean’ based on the Baltic Sea and Danube strategies. In his remarks to the inaugural meeting of ARLEM, Regional Policy Commissioner Pawel Samecki made it clear that if a strategy were to be put in place, it would probably be based on a totally different model. The Baltic strategy involves mostly EU member states and the Danube strategy concerns member states and applicant or potential applicant states. A Mediterranean strategy would cover a large number of non-EU countries. « Therefore, we cannot approach the issue in the same way, » explained Samecki. The commissioner does not rule out enhanced cooperation on certain topics. He mentioned migration as an example.