After a three-year hiatus, Partenalia members finally had the opportunity to meet in person on October, 13th in the European Capital for the first time in their new headquarters of 35 Square de Meeûs for the network’s annual Political Council.
The members also participated in the two European Week of Regions and Cities workshops organised by Partenalia and the European Confederation of Local Intermediate Authorities (CEPLI) on Proximity Tourism and Energy Resiliency.
The members met to review the activities of the past year to which the covid crisis fortunately did not put a halt as the association was able to hold internal working meetings and an European Week of Regions and Cities Side event online and even manage to organise a hybrid format (online an onsite) conference at the Museum of Leonese Village in Mansilla de las Mulas in a rural area of the Province of León on Proximity Tourism and the promotion of Local Patrimony (the full stream of conference is available on www.partenalia.eu).
Elections to the Managing Board took place as they do every couple of years. The members unanimously reelected President Manuel Baltar of the Deputación de Ourense and elected provincial councilor André Viola of the Département de l’Aude and provincial councilor Bartolomé Nofuentes of the Mancomunitat de L’Horta Sud as Vice-president.
The president reiterated his deep conviction - which has been reinforced during his previous presidential mandates - that the existence of Partenalia is essential to defend the fundamental role played by local intermediate governments and that, through this defense, the work of the network allows the interests of medium and small territories, citizens and municipalities to be taken into consideration by the European institutions.
President Baltar explained that several contacts had been established in member countries not previously represented within the network with the aim of attracting new members from these countries and expanding the geographical diversity of Partenalia and promoting the creation of European consortia between voluntary partners.
President Baltar reminded members of the importance of communicating about the existence of the network, its actions and its positions (declarations) during the various events in which they participate when relevant. In addition, President Baltar insisted on the importance of strengthening and deepening collaborations with other European networks.
The president reminded participants that Partenalia always supports, through letters of recommendation, the European projects of its members.
He welcomed the candidacy to the vice-presidency of Mr. André Viola, president of the CEPLI, as it reinforces the already very close collaboration between the two networks.
Noting the importance for the network of having a Managing Board that represents the geographical diversity of its members, Département de l’Aude presented its candidacy for one of the two vice-presidents of the network.
The Aude vice-presidency will ensure that the French perspective, regarding the position of Local Intermediate Authorities within the European administrative landscape, can be represented within the network.
The vice-presidency of Aude will support the presidency by replacing it in its role as representative of the network if necessary and if the latter so requests. This will ensure its stability.
Mr. Nofuentes reaffirmed his ambition for and commitment to the future of the network, which he sees as an essential instrument for representing the interests of local intermediate governments within the European administrative landscape.
Mr. Nofuentes proposed the creation of a newsletter sent to members in order to keep them informed about the publication of calls that are of strategic interest to local intermediate governments and about news (events, European legislation, etc.) that have an impact for this level of government.
Mr. Luca Menesini presented the Provincia di Lucca (see presentation available on the Partenalia website).
Mr. Luca Menesini explained that is convinced that Partenalia is a very useful tool for greater integration of local intermediate governments in the European project and for facilitating cooperation between provinces of various Member States.
For these reasons, he presented the candidacy of the Provincia di Lucca to join Partenalia as an observer member for two months as permitted by Partenalia's statutes with the aim of joining as a full member at the end of this period and officially during the next Political Council.
Mr. Luca Menesini recalled the current situation of the Italian provinces after the 2016 territorial reform that took away some competences from them, although they are now in the process of being revitalized. This situation reinforces their conviction that enormous benefits can be derived from participation in networks such as Partenalia.
The coordinator of Partenalia, commissioned by presidents Alin-Adrian Nica from the Judet (province) of Timiş and Ionel Ovidiu Bogdan from Judet of Maramureş (Romania), introduced both provinces to the participants(see presentation available on the Partenalia website). Both Judets having had expressed their willingness to join Partenalia as observers.
The members thus unanimously voted in favour of the membership of all three provinces to Partenalia. The network is now present in five member States.
The members decided that the next Conference of Partenalia would take place in the Province of Segovia during the first trimester of 2023 and will focus on the better access to EU funds for small municipalities and SMEs , especially with the aim of fighting rural depopulation.
As was decided during the General Assembly of the CEPLI, network of which Partenalia holds the vice-presidency, the annual political conference will take place in Ourense. CEPLI members decided that the conference would be held on March, 7th.
Partenalia members have decided to increase the frequency of their online meetings to keep giving impetus to the network and reinforce the sense of belonging of the partners. Representatives of various EU programmes, most notably funding programmes, will be invited to participate in order to provide the members with tailored-made information for Local Intermediate Governments.
Partenalia members decided to give their support to the Marseille Manifesto insisting on the significance of point n°5 :
“We therefore call for the European Committee of the Regions to be gradually upgraded beyond its current consultative function towards a binding role in a limited number of policy areas with a clear territorial dimension while avoiding additional complexity in the EU. Giving greater consideration to the expertise of local and regional authorities in the elaboration and implementation of EU law will lead to better regulation and greater democratic legitimacy in the EU. This reinforcement of the principle of subsidiarity can be achieved by granting the European Committee of the Regions better access to negotiations between the EU institutions on legislative proposals (trilogues) and by giving regional parliaments, in duly defined circumstances, a formal role in proposing EU legislation.”
The next Political Council of Partenalia will take place before March, 31st.