Mission at the EU Commission

The Secretary General of UCLG Africa, participated on 26 and 27 March 2014 in a mission at the EU commission in Brussels on the Strategic Partnership between European Commission and International/ Regional Associations of Local Authorities.

The aims of the mission were to: 1) exchange on the proposal submitted on a strategic partnership between the EU Commission and UCLG Africa; and 2) participate in a meeting between DEVCO and all the regional and global associations being considered for a strategic partnership with the EU Commission.

(I) On the exchanges with DEVCO, the following issues were raised:

  1. Capacity building, what is the relationship between capacity building and relations with members?
  2. Sustainability, which Exit strategy and how to involve other stakeholders?
  3. How to link up the proposed strategy with the long term vision of UCLG Africa?
  4. The received requests exceed the availability of the budget. 5. Counter-proposal expected from the Commission next week.


  1. Redefine the objective within the framework of GADDEPA. Redefine the overall objective. The two contribute to the attainment of the objective GADDEPA.
  2. Sustainability: clarification effort beyond the political agreement. What will happen after 2021?  Sustainability strategy, and impact: mapping of aid donors. Matrix of partners. Supports received in the areas presented.  Synergies.
  3. Relations between associations and individual local authorities in the area of capacity development
  4. Clarify what are the regional resource centers and the associations of local government professionals vis-à-vis the regional and national associations of local authorities
  5. Difficult item to be funded  by DEVCO: advocacy for the African Union

(II) On the general meeting
The first part of the meeting was dedicated to comments by participating associations:

We know what to improve. We believe that there is need for clarification on the machinery to put in place. What does the Commission want exactly?

Excellent exchange meeting and the expectations of everyone were noted.

Trust services. The objective of the strategic partnership is to build a policy to enhance the effectiveness of aid, and to engage new stakeholders such as local governments in Europe to increase the impact on the stakeholders in partner countries. The overall response requires a proper consideration of the complementarity between the different proposals and to consider how to promote synergy in order to achieve a comprehensive strategic partnership.

4 strategic objectives: advocacy on global agenda, decentralization policies, research, and capacity building. It is important to clarify the Concept of partnership and there is need for a deeper dialogue about it, including how it is going to be evaluated.

Share the comments already made. We are aware that written comments will allow us to have a better understanding of the strategic partnership. Need for operational flexibility at the implementation stage.

UCLG Africa
Idea of ​​strategic partnership to be clarified, in view of the fact that it is a joint commitment with shared results whose attainment requires the commitment of everyone. It is together that we will be evaluated in 2020 when the time comes to ascertain whether the partnership generates positive or negative results.

Stresses the importance of not losing sight of the expertise of local governments in the implementation of European cooperation and the wealth of local government to local government cooperation in the perspective of sustainable cooperation.

After that DEVCO made the following comments:
These partnerships fall under priority 2 of DCI .
The meetings with the Parliament and internal controls went well. Now begins the inter-service consultation, whose results are expected in July.
Three priorities: 1) country actions (75% of the funds.  Here, it is he delegations which are active. This is where the bulk of resources for decentralized cooperation are to be raised); 2) support for regional and global networks to strengthen the role of local authorities in development; 3) development education reserved for European organizations. A big call for proposals was launched in 2013 with a substantial amount (70 million in 2014-2015, including 20% targeting local authorities).

On evaluation, the Commission proposal was that the evaluations should not be conducted ​​individually. We should mutualize and  launch a call for tenders so as to be equipped right from the beginning with an evaluation system, a consulting firm and a reference group made up of the stakeholders of the strategic partnership. This is new for everyone, and has never been initiated within the EU, for, we are starting from a tradition of support for projects. Our joint capacities can translate this ambition into reality.
The imperatives of development cooperation call for a renewal of models.

The overview reading of the Partnerships proposals shows that:

1. Advocacy aspect is all over the place. It represents 43% of the total budget of the proposals. What kind of coordination is realistic to propose in order to increase synergies between the partnerships?
What is the proportion of advocacy per se compared to service delivery to members.
Agree that advocacy could have many meanings: it can be empowerment and ownership, hence the need for clarification.

2. Decentralized cooperation: 33% of the total amount of the proposals. Is it not too much given the fact that the bulk of the decentralized cooperation resources has to be found in the first priority dedicated to country actions? There is need for a better structuring of what is done at regional and global levels and what is done at country level. On this issue Cités Unies France argued that one should consider the imbalance between demand and supply. Hence the need for regular in-country decentralized cooperation forums as an annual market place to boost and streamline the decentralized cooperation partnerships as well as peer to peer learning.

3. Geographic focus on Africa
There is here a need to avoid overlaps and strengthen genuine coordination. This should go beyond simple announcement but rather imply the implementation of true and effective complementarity on the ground.

4. Way forward
Policy leading to framework partnership and results. This requests a change of culture.
Issues to be addressed:

  • – complementarity of the different proposals
  • – link/impact of capacity development to governance and service delivery for citizen to avoid that institutional strengthening becomes mainly inwards looking
    – is there any need for overheads in a Strategic partnership, which should be different from the project approach?  The partnership implies global support to the organization which does not need to be topped up with overheads.
    – the issue of sustainability should be seriously addressed. This is a weak part of most of the proposals.


5. Next milestones

  • – Written remarks and counterproposals by DEVCO  sent within one week, and comments and second revision of the proposals to be returned to DEVCO no later than end of April 2014.
  • –  Interservices consultation within the EU starts beginning of May 2014.
    – Fine tuning of the template of the partnership from May to September 2014. At this stage it is envisioned to hire an external expert to help develop and fill the template. 
    – Official signing of the partnership agreements in October 2014.

Brussels, 27 March 2014

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi
Secretary General, UCLG Africa