Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, it is more important than ever that Welsh Councils have strong relationships with EU networks and the European partners they represent.
The WLGA, through its European Office, is already engaged with a number of key networks in Brussels. We will continue to work with these organisations, to influence the EU institutions, and build partnerships with a range of European partners.
List of our main EU Networks:
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
CEMR is the oldest and broadest European association of local and regional government. It has a wide membership (local and regional authorities from more than 40 countries) and covers a range of themes. CEMR is part of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), which represents the interests of local governments on the world stage. Click here for a full briefing.
EUROCITIES is a network of major EU cities, thus has fewer members than CEMR and a focus specifically on urban issues under the themes of: Culture; Economic Development; Environment; Knowledge Society; Mobility and Social affairs. Whilst the WLGA cannot itself be a member (as an association), our EU Team based in Brussels closely follows the work of EUROCITIES, and can attend some Brussels-based events on behalf of Cardiff, the only Welsh member. Click here for a full briefing.
European Network for Rural Development (ENRD)
The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) is the structure that brings together all the stakeholders aiming to achieve improved rural development results in the EU.
The ENRD supports the effective implementation of EU Member States' Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) by generating and sharing knowledge, as well as through facilitating information exchange and cooperation across rural Europe.
The ENRD was established in 2008 by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. In the current programming period 2014-2020, the ENRD has four key objectives:
1. Increase the involvement of stakeholders in rural development;
2. Improve the quality of Rural Development Programmes;
3. Better inform on the benefits of Rural Development policy;
4. Support the evaluation of Rural Development Programmes.
The main stakeholders of the ENRD include National Rural Networks (NRNs); RDP Managing Authorities and Paying Agencies; Local Action Groups (LAGs); European stakeholder organisations; agricultural advisory services and other interested rural development stakeholders and organisations.
The Wales Rural Network (WRN) is a member of the ENRD and both the Welsh Government and all the Local Action Groups across Wales are key stakeholders. Whilst the WLGA itself is not a member the WLGA EU Team follows the work of the Network and engages with Network staff based in Brussels as part of our wider work monitoring key EU developments of interests to Rural Local Authorities in Wales and representing their interests in Brussels.
Committee of the Regions (CoR)
The Committee of the Regions is the European Union's assembly of local and regional representatives, which provides sub-national authorities with a direct voice within the EU's institutional framework. All legislation proposed by the Commission that will affect regions must go through CoR. European Union Membership is required to be a member of CoR. However, UK members can continue their mandate until 2019. The WLGA and National Assembly for Wales each have a full and an alternate member of CoR. For WLGA it is Cllr. Bob Bright (full) and Cllr. Ronnie Hughes (alternate). Click here for a NAfW/WLGA report on the activities of the Welsh representatives of the CoR (Jan 2016).
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (‘The Congress’)
The Congress is the ‘local and regional arm’ of the Council of Europe, Europe’s leading human rights organisation. Members are councillors, mayors and presidents of local and regional authorities and their role as part of this pan-European political assembly is to promote local and regional democracy, improve local and regional governance and strengthen authorities’ self-government. Wales has two Congress Members, one from local government and one from the National Assembly for Wales. The WLGA’s Congress member for the 2016-2020 mandate is Cllr Ronnie Hughes (Conwy Council/ WLGA EU Affairs Spokesperson). The Congress provides a forum for elected members of over 200,000 European regions and municipalities to discuss and report on various issues concerning local councils. Click here for a full briefing.
Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD)
The Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) is a European wide network working in the field of language policy & planning for Constitutional, Regional and Small-State Languages (CRSS) across Europe. NPLD works closely with the EU institutions to raise awareness of the importance of linguistic diversity, particularly for minority languages. The network aims to facilitate the exchange of best practices among governments, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and experts from all over Europe. The Welsh Government is the Welsh member of the NPLD, but the WLGA also takes a strong interest in this network. WLGA monitors developments in this area by attending NPLD meetings and monitoring their weekly briefings.
UKBO is a network of UK Brussels Offices, including Regional Government, city offices (e.g. Bristol) and local government associations. It is an Ideal platform for discussing ‘big issues’ such as the EU referendum or EU Cohesion Policy, affecting all levels of UK government and other stakeholders.
The European Local Authority Network is a group of local government partners from across Europe, represented in Brussels. We meet regularly to discuss EU policy priorities and how implications for local government. This group is not exclusively for EU Member states, as a representatives from Norway and other non EU countries are included in this group.
Wales House Wales House partners (WLGA, Welsh Government, National Assembly for Wales and Welsh Higher Education Brussels) usually meet monthly. Meetings cover EU issues that affect all Wales House offices, e.g. ‘Brexit’, joint events, Ministerial visits to Brussels. Outside of these meetings, there is an informal working relationship between the partners to share information on areas of shared interest.
For more information contact: Lowri Gwilym, Lucy Sweet or Anne Stone