The EUROsociAL+ programme has been providing support to this Central American country during the process of approving a Regional Development Law
As part of the support that the EUROsociAL+ Programme, which is funded by the European Commission, is giving to Costa Rica to advance its public social cohesion policies, a delegation of nine deputies from the Regional Development Legislative Committee and two representatives of MIDEPLAN got to know first-hand the experiences of Spain and France with regionalisation, decentralisation and territorial equality.
The EUROsociAL programme has supported Costa Rica’s regional and decentralisation development policy since its early stages, including the approval by the Legislative Assembly of Draft Bill 19.959 “Regional Development of Costa Rica”. This exchange visit gave a final push to its immediate approval by the Costa Rican lower house.
The activity included exchanges with the Secretary of State for Territorial Administrations (SEAT) of the Ministry of the Presidency and the Sub-Directorate General of Financing for the Autonomous Communities of the Spanish Ministry of Finance. At this meeting a variety of experts presented the decentralisation process that Spain underwent during the Transition, such as the system for financing its autonomous regions.
In addition, the delegation was received by representatives of the International Cooperation, Ibero-American Affairs and Autonomous Communities committees of the Spanish Senate. In the first round, Dionisio García, senator for Zamora, explained the process for transferring the powers of the central government to the autonomous regions. He emphasised the virtues of this experience, such as the lessons learned that could be useful when defining a Regional Development Law for Costa Rica. Finally, the senator for Alicante, Asunción Sánchez, emphasised the importance of international cooperation with countries like Costa Rica and the need to bring the public closer to the different institutional processes started in each country.
The director of the FIIAPP, Pedro Flores, thanked the Senate for once again opening its doors to the FIIAPP and the EUROsociAL+ Programme which he heads, emphasising the model for cooperation represented by this Programme. The director of the FIIAPP then accompanied the Costa Rican delegation to the Spanish lower house, where they were received by the president of the Congress of Deputies, Ana Pastor.
With the aim of understanding the importance of the legislative process that was carried out in Spain, the visitors had the opportunity to travel to Cantabria and its capital Santander to find out about the experience of an autonomous region with only one province that closely resembles the multilevel structure of Costa Rica. On behalf of the Government of Cantabria, the Minister of Presidency and Justice, Rafael de la Sierra, welcomed the delegation and emphasised the importance of the process for guaranteeing the entire territory equal rights in basic services.
Lastly, at the headquarters in Paris of the French coordinating partner of the EUROsociAL+ Programme, Expertise France, the expert Patrick BROUDIC demonstrated how the French case, due to its institutional idiosyncrasies, is very close to the Costa Rican experience. The decentralisation process begun in the 80s focused on territorial planning as a deep concern for the country, which had higher levels of concentration than Spain.
All this permitted the members of the delegation a broader and contrasting view of two different models that have led to decentralisation processes on different levels, but which have both been essential for tackling the issue of territorial inequality by emphasising the importance of granting greater levels of development in areas that were lagging behind, which in turn led to greater social cohesion, as is intended in Costa Rica.