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Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) is a new initiative within the Eastern Partnership Flagship Initiative on Sustainable Municipal Development, launched during a high level conference, co-organised by CORLEAP and the European Commission, in Yerevan last October.
The M4EG initiative is partly inspired by the EU Covenant of Mayors, an urban climate and energy initiative which brings together local, regional and national authorities voluntarily to implement EU climate and energy objectives. Thanks to its voluntary nature, participatory approach and clear objectives, the Covenant of Mayors has proved very successful in the EaP region.
On 28 April a call for proposals for the new EU-funded “Mayors for Economic Growth Pioneers Projects” (M4EG) was launched. This multi-country call for proposals contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the new EU-funded Mayors for Economic Growth initiative supporting cities in the Eastern Partnership region Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The initiative aims at strengthening local authorities’ capacity to implement smart local economic development through enhanced local governance, better planning and more efficient municipal management. Through the initiative, the joining cities should develop and implement Local Economic Development Plans, receiving technical assistance and scientific support from the EU. The champions will receive grant support to implement pilot projects included in cities’ Local Economic Development Plans. The budget for Lot 1 announced for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, or Moldova is to the amount of €5 million.

ARS_4191Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, announced the launch of the call for proposals: ‘On the behalf of the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, I would like to reconfirm EU support to local authorities as actors for change, as enablers of ensuring balance. The EU has been working closely with local authorities in the regions, and will continue to do so. This project complements what the EU is already doing in Armenia, which is supporting different spheres in the regions’.

ARS_4177Vache Terteryan, the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, highlighted the importance of the initiative during the current economic crisis: ‘M4EG will enable community representatives to think of new ways of cooperation to bring about economic improvement. I am sure that, together with other EU initiatives and projects, M4EG will be a good opportunity for local communities and provide additional resources to solve problems’.

A high-level conference was held on 26-27 October, 2016 in Yerevan to celebrate 20 years of local government in Armenia. Representatives of central, regional and local authorities from across the Eastern Partnership (EaP) gathered in Armenia’s capital to launch new EU support initiatives for local sustainable development and economic growth in EaP.
The EU has officially launched the new “Mayors for Economic Growth initiative” (M4EG) and the second phase of the Covenant of Mayors East (CoM East), which target business and energy efficiency respectively. These actions are aimed at fostering cooperation between local authorities and civil society organisations to enhance accountability, exchange good practices, and strengthen municipalities’ capacity to be efficient and effective administrators and promoters of local development. By encouraging public-private partnerships, these initiatives are also expected to contribute to the creation of new job opportunities at the local level and increase GDP per capita growth.
The event was organised by the European Commission, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia, the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), and CoM East.
14522809_1141089429278318_1092564134457294953_nThe Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, addressed conference participants, stressing the importance of effective and accountable local governance : ‘The European Union realises that the capacity of local authorities to be effective development players depends on the existence of effective relations with other levels of governance and conducive national frameworks. Local authorities are important agents which should have their own development agendas coherent with national policies. Regional development is essential, because the gap between Yerevan and the regions is high. The EU is trying to help Armenia narrow this gap’.
Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Davit Lokyan echoed the Ambassador’s sentiment: ‘Strengthening local democracy will create such conditions that will ensure more active participation in the formation of local authorities. Our goal is to have more vibrant communities, large and financially stable communities, and transparent and fair management at the local level to ensure that people are able to solve vital issues in cooperation with local government’.
The conference also marked the signing ceremony of 25 new local authorities from EaP countries joining the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. On the second day of the conference discussions focused on the prospects and benefits of a new Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in EaP countries.

Armenia hosted the first meeting of the conference for regional and local authorities of the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) on 18 September 2015. Local and regional representatives from the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries, which form the bureau of CORLEAP, came to Yerevan to take part in the events. The members approved an action plan for 2016-2017 and reaffirmed their commitment to pursue common goals.
CORLEAP was established by the committee of the regions (CoR) in 2011 to bring a regional and local dimension to the EU’s Eastern Partnership. CORLEAP brings together 36 regional and local politicians – including 18 from the CoR representing the EU and 18 from Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine).
The Eastern Partnership Summit of Heads of State and Government in Riga in May recognised the work of CORLEAP in promoting cooperation at the regional and municipal level of government, and called for the European Commission to ensure appropriate, targeted support to local and regional authorities in the Eastern Partnership. The CORLEAP action plan for 2016-2017, approved by the bureau members in Yerevan, defines priorities for further actions regarding decentralisation, capacity building and funding opportunities for local and regional authorities in Eastern Partnership countries.
ARS_3164During the press conference in Yerevan, CORLEAP co-chair, President of the Committee of the Regions, Markku Markkula, gave a regional overview: ‘Many factors contribute to an improved business environment, and to cross-border and territorial cooperation in the region. The Riga Summit was the starting point for further developing comprehensive cooperation with EU in all areas of mutual interest. Member states endorsed our requests for new financial means to be used for territorial development and capacity building at the local level. We also support a customised, tailor-made approach that should be adopted by the EU in relation to expectations, possibilities and tasks for any specific partner country, including Armenia’.
Emin Yeritsyan, the Co-chair representing the Eastern Partnership countries, outlined areas of reform: ‘Our continued focus will be on decentralisation and public administration reform, while providing a forum for exchange of best practices in different fields. The ongoing territorial administration reform in Armenia can serve as a good example to other partner countries. We also aim to facilitate our local and regional authorities’ access to EU funding and provide advice on effective and sound public financial management’.