Everyone in ALDA today celebrates the European Council’s decision to initiate Accession negotiation talks with Ukraine and Moldova and to grant the candidate status to Georgia. We are welcoming the proposed steps towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, hoping for a more firm decision in March 2024. This bold move underscores the firm commitment of these countries to European values and outlines a pragmatic path for the European Union’s enlargement agenda.
ALDA stands ready to assist in these integration processes and the European aspiration of the countries involved. As mentioned in the report of our International Conference on the importance of local governance for the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries on the road for EU accession, which was held in Skopje (North Macedonia) on October 19 & 20, 2023, ALDA believes in fostering democracy through a ground-up approach, playing a pivotal role in aligning these countries with the EU acquis.
As these nations embark on the path of deeper integration with the EU, ALDA emphasises its dedication to promoting local democracy. As expressed in the Declaration of Vicenza, the Organisation, its members and partners, firmly believes that empowering local communities is essential for achieving comprehensive and sustainable development.
ALDA acknowledges the crucial role of grassroots democracy in helping these aspiring nations meet the rigorous standards set forth by the European Union. We are also confirming the crucial role of the Local Democracy Agencies as instruments of city diplomacy, multi-stakeholder and long-term partnership, stabilising peace but also cohesion in future steps (see ALDA Flagship Initiative in Ukraine and the Activity Report of the LDAs).
ALDA is actively engaged in facilitating the alignment of these nations with EU norms and standards. Moreover, the Association emphasises the importance of a comprehensive and inclusive approach to ensure that the benefits of EU integration reach every corner of society.
While celebrating this momentous occasion, ALDA expresses concern regarding the suspension of the adoption of a 50 billion aid package for the Ukraine Facility. The prompt disbursement of aid is vital for the survival of Ukraine amidst the Russian brutal aggression, especially to local authorities and civil society organisations who are at the forefront of providing immediate relief to the communities and maintaining democracy in the country.
ALDA urges the Council to adopt the Ukraine Facility at the next meeting in early January, ensuring the strong role of the local approach and ‘environmental conditionality’. ALDA underscores the importance of a robust support system to assist Ukraine in meeting the necessary criteria for accession successfully.
ALDA stands as a steadfast ally in the pursuit of European integration for Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia and confirms its commitment to support the accession of Western Balkans. Through its commitment to local democracy, the Association aims to contribute significantly to the realisation of European values, democracy, peace, and standards in these aspiring nations, fostering a stronger, united Europe.