24 October 2014
Category : Entrevista
EUROsociAL was present at the 12th edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities organized by the Committee on Regions and the Directorate-General of Regional Policy of the European Commission. In what is known as Open Days, EUROsociAL, through the FIIAPP, organized a seminar on regional Latin American policy which included the participation of Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for the European Commission's Directorate-General of Development and Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean – EuropeAid, who spoke to us about the present and future of Euro-Latin American cooperation in regional terms.*
The agenda for change that European cooperation is promoting is focused on good governance, inclusive and sustainable growth, and human development. Is territorial cohesion a priority in this agenda?
In fact these are the main aspects of our new approach to cooperation for development. Although territorial cohesion is not mentioned specifically, if we ask how all these new and ambitious programmes are going to be carried out, our new cooperation approach involves local authorities and local agents through regional development.
And if we examine all these policies, whether in the area of democratic governance or social development, overall they must be implemented on a local scale. This is what the Member States and the Parliament have asked us for, and clearly these are programmes that can make a real difference.
Is there an example of work in this line?
If we look at the large countries we are working with, and in Latin America there are more large countries than small ones, whether we’re talking about Peru, Colombia or Ecuador, it’s at the regional and local level where progress can be made. In Peru, for example, we set up a very effective regional programme to combat childhood malnutrition, and the government has reproduced it in all the regions. So, to fulfil the agenda for change through territorial and local agents, it’s necessary to have a satisfactory example.
The experiences of the Directorate-General for Regional Policy of the European Commission are being utilized by some cooperation programmes like EUROsociAL. What do you think about this collaboration?
I’m enormously grateful to have solid partners like DG Regio for the application of new policies. Something we Europeans are undoubtedly proud of is our regional policy for its capacity to have a positive impact on people, on regions, and on countries overall. I recall that 60 years ago, Spain was still considered a developing country, but that’s no longer the case. We have problems in Eastern Europe, but it will catch up with the rest. And this is because of the very important role regional policies play. Of course, DG Regio, as the owner of these policies, has the experience and the historic memory that confirm it.
How will this cooperation be in the future?
For us, it’s absolutely essential to work with the key partners we trust. But this trust can only be achieved if they provide some added value in the regions. Therefore, working with DG Regio represents an enormous advantage for our Latin American partners. It’s hard to know what the future holds, but we have several agreements that we must develop with DG Regio.
I think we have plenty of ideas we would like to pursue in coming years in the area of territorial and regional policy in Latin America, be it in investment for the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises, or in the area of social inequality and environmental problems. All these areas are part of DG Regio’s scope of action and represent the basis for our future work in Latin America.
*This interview was videotaped and can be watched in its entirety at this link: Interview with Jolita Butkeviciene
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