“Without successful communities, a country cannot be a successful member of the European Union” – European Commission
Normunds Popens, Deputy Director of DG Regio, said during his speech at the Lviv Municipal Partnership Forum on November 28 in Lviv. After all, most European directives are implemented in practice at the local level.
Normunds Popens represents DG Regio, the European Commission’s department responsible for urban and regional policy and will play a key role in Ukraine’s European integration at the local level. How effectively municipalities and regions move towards European integration will also determine the course of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU.
“We want to make sure that regional development management is in line with our principles. In particular, it is important for us that projects promote the maximum involvement of all stakeholders in solving local development problems,” said Normunds Popens. “Also, the principles of local development in the EU include green transformations, as well as the development of local government capacities, support for small and medium-sized businesses, and digital transition.”
Normunds Popens also spoke about the EU’s cohesion policy and announced EU programs that will become available to Ukrainian communities. These include Interreg Europe, which will be available in 2024, and the New European Bauhaus program, which plans to recognize Ukrainian projects aimed at rebuilding under this initiative and provide grants to Ukrainian organizations. The European Commission also plans to open programs for bilateral cooperation between cities.
The Lviv Municipal Partnership Forum is an annual event of the Cities 4 Cities | United 4 Ukraine initiative, which aims to promote the idea of intermunicipal partnerships between municipalities in Ukraine and the EU by sharing best practices, strengthening cooperation, opening opportunities, and coordinating efforts between national, international, and local players for rapid recovery from the Russian war and Ukraine’s European integration at the local level.
The forum is supported by the USAID Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI) and the Support to Decentralization in Ukraine project of the Swedish Association of Local and Regional Authorities (SALAR International).