Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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EU accession - 07.07.2022

How can we support Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia’s joining the European Union?
It was a few days after the outbreak of war by Russia: Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia each submitted an official application to join the EU. Since then, Ukraine and Moldova have been granted official candidate status to join the Union, while for Georgia, EU leaders recognised its "European perspective," a sort of prelude to formal candidacy.

But how can these countries that are betting on a European future prepare themselves? CEMR’s members adopt a declaration on the subject at their Policy Committee meeting, on 5 July 2022.

While it is undeniable that the enlargements of 2004, 2007 and 2013 have mechanically led the EU to play a greater role in Ukrainian, Georgian and Moldovan politics, the road to the membership for these countries is still long and perilous.

In this context, local and regional governements and their representative associations can contribute to bringing them closer to the EU. As affirmed in the declaration, CEMR “commits to defending a Trio holistic approach and is ready to accompany the EU accession process of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia from a local perspective.

For almost 25 years, CEMR, later supported by PLATFORMA, has been providing unstinting support to local governments in the EU’s eastern neighbours. As the declaration explains, CEMR’s network works continuously “to strengthen local autonomy and institutional capacity and foster multi-level governance reforms.”

In order to accompany the necessary institutional reforms and to ensure a sustainable integration process, CEMR’s members recommend “decentralised cooperation (...) to ensure a sustainable integration process.” And they specify that “peer exchanges, municipal partnerships, mentorship, study visits, twinning, seminars and training” are all levers to bring these three countries closer to the European Union.

While CEMR is ready to “continue to underpin its member associations in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in their contribution to the EU accession process”, let’s hope that the European institutions and the relevant authorities fully involve local and regional governments in this process in due time.

As the European Commission points out, “the reform of public administration and the decentralisation process in these three countries are essential components of the EU accession criteria.” Europe is not built from the top down. In order to create a common base, it is necessary to start from the bottom.
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