Enhancing Active Participation of the Baltic States' Sub-national Governments in the Process of EU Enlargement

Background
Program objectives

Program activities
Management
Duration of the program

BACKGROUND

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are firmly on their way towards the EU membership. As in other EU accession countries, negotiations over individual chapters and the process of enlargement as such have been so far dominated by the national governments in all three countries. Sub-national governments often lack capacity to formulate and advocate clear positions concerning the impact of EU accession on their functioning (e.g. impact in the field of environment, regional development, employment, etc.). In addition, sub-national governments do not have a "check list: outlining impact of legal harmonization on their activities after the accession that would give them an opportunity to formulate their needs and make sensible use of the EU funds after the accession.

LGI intends to support a more active participation of sub-national authorities and their representative bodies (i.e. local government associations) in the three Baltic countries in the preparation for EU membership and the use of EU funds. Preparing sub-national governments for EU membership is crucial for successful enlargement. Helping associations in the accession countries to review the impact on their activities after the enlargement, formulate and advocate their needs vis-?-vis the EU, strengthen contacts among associations in the accession countries and their counterpart EU associations, and build direct contacts with EU bodies stands in center of LGI EU accession initiative.

LGI is currently working within its EU accession initiative with local government associations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. LGI intends to expand its EU accession activities and include in the initiative local government associations from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This program was designed on the grounds of a brainstorming session of the three Baltic LG associations supported by LGI in February 2002).

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

· To offer local government associations in the three Baltic states an opportunity to prepare national studies outlining potential impact of legal harmonization in the areas of regional development, environment and employment.

· To assist local government associations in the three Baltic states with preparation of position documents outlining needs of the associations to cope with EU membership

· To offer local government associations in the three Baltic countries consultancy assistance in their research work from EU local government associations (on-line and in-workshops assistance)

· To offer local government associations in the three Baltic states an opportunity to advocate their positions towards their national governments and the EU

· To offer local government associations and their members in the three Baltic countries an opportunity to get prepared for a sensible use of EU funds that would help them in coping with the requirements of the EU accession

· To offer local government associations an opportunity to increase capacity of their members with respect to the EU membership and its impact

· To increase the level of networking among local government associations in the three Baltic States and their counterpart EU local government associations

· To offer local government associations an opportunity to increase the level or extent of services provided to their members after the EU accession

PROGRAM ACTIVITIES

This program will rest on three separate projects complimenting and building on each other. Individual projects will be launched only upon successful completion of the previous project. For this reason each of the three projects will be funded as a separate activity.

I. Impact of EU Accession on Local Governments in the Baltics - Workshop

This two-day workshop will be organized in February 2003 in Riga. The workshop will be attended by the total of 27 experts from the three Baltic associations (9 per each country - 3 groups of 3 experts from each area). Project coordinators from each Baltic association will also participate to make records on decisions and to follow-up the project afterwards. Presenters will come from EU local government associations (Sweden, Denmark). Representatives of the Committee of Regions and local EU delegation will be invited.

The first one and half days of the workshop will be focused the experience of local government associations from the EU member states with the impact of their accession to the EU on local government operation in the areas of:

(a) regional development
(b) environment
(c) employment and social policy

Presenters from EU local government associations will present

(a) review of changes faced by LGs after the accession
(b) review of LG needs created by such changes in operation
(c) overview of how the needs have been addressed
(d) review of the role of LGs in meeting the new needs after the EU accession
(e) comparison with the forthcoming enlargement and options for the Baltic local governments/local government associations

The second half of the second day of the workshop will be devoted to a brainstorming session focused on preparation of outlines for policy research in the three Baltic states in the three areas of (a) regional development, (b) environment, and (c) employment and social policy.

Date and venue: Riga, 6-7 February 2003

II. Preparing Local Government in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for EU Membership - Policy Development

Under this project LGI will support three one day workshops for 9 experts from the Baltic states (3 per each country with expertise concerning the topic of the workshop - i.e. 3 different teams per each country during the course of the project) and their advisors from the EU local government associations. Each workshop will be focused on a specific issue (i.e. regional development; environment; employment and social policy). Each workshop will include:

a) presentation of national studies concerning the topic of the workshop
b) presentation of relevant case studies by the advisors from EU LG associations
c) discussion

Teams of three experts from the three Baltic countries will prepare national studies presented at the workshops (each team will have 3 months to prepare their study). Outlines for the studies will be prepared n joint effort with advisors from the EU local government associations. Advisors will also comment on draft version of the study and discuss the second draft version during a relevant workshop. Final versions with final updates to English versions will be completed as a follow to each workshop.

Studies (about 40 pages each) will be prepared and published in national languages and in English and disseminated by the three associations. Based on English versions of national papers, host association of each workshop will also prepare 20 pages summary regional discussion paper in English that will be published by LGI as discussion papers.

Outputs:
- 3 national studies in local languages per each workshop
- 3 national studies in English per each workshop
- 1 regional summary/discussion paper in English per each workshop

National studies will include:

a) description of current situation in respective area/topic (references to closed chapters, governmental policy in a particular field, etc.)
b) assessment of the impact on EU membership on sub-national governments in the respective area/topic (e.g. impact of the EU employment policy on activities of local governments as employers, impact of procurement/state aid regulations on business development on local level, e.g.)
c) suggestions for policy development/policy modification on the national/EU level with respect to the impact of EU accession in a respective area/topic
d) suggestions for actions that should be taken by local government association with respect to the EU accession and the respective area/topic

Dates and venues:

Workshop 1: EU Accession and the Impact on Local Governments in the Area of Environment
Vilnius, 13 June, 2003
Workshop 2: EU Accession and the Impact on Local Governments in the Area of Employment and Social Policy
Tallinn, 20 June, 2003
Workshop 3: EU Acession and the Impact on Local Governments in the Area of Regional Development
Riga, 4 July, 2003

III. EU Memberships and the Impact of Legal Harmonization on Local Governments in the Baltics: Role of Local Government Associations - Conference

This two-day conference for 60 members of local government associations from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be organized in Riga on 5 - 6 December 2003. Up to 10 participants from EU local government associations, CEMR, Committee of Regions and local EU representations will be invited. The conference will make the results of policy research available to a wider audience of local governments representatives in the Baltics and will focus on determination of assistance required from the EU for coping with the membership requirements (i.e. training needs, policy development needs, etc.)

Date and venue: Riga, 5 - 6 December 2003

MANAGEMENT

This is an in-house program of LGI. Overall management will therefore rest with LGI project manager. The Union of Local and regional Governments of Latvia will take on local coordination with assistance from the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania and Association of Estonian Cities - i.e. ensuring that papers are prepared on time, that logistics for workshops are in place, that publications are prepared, etc.

DURATION OF THE PROGRAM

This program will last 14 months (1 December 2002 - 31 January 2004).

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Kaimo Käärmann  15.05.2003