EU Integration Capacity of UMT
Since 2005, Turkey has entered into an intense reform process which brings with it the possibility of enhanced democratic norms in local and national decision-making. The new laws adopted in 2004-2005 have introduced a drastic shift in the relationships between central and local administration, to set them in line with the standards and criteria laid down in the European Charter of Local Self-government (art. 8). Municipalities’ need has increased for a strong organisation to represent them, as this process unfolds.
The EU approximation process has implications for the municipalities of Turkey that should not be underestimated. This calls for adequate preparations by UMT and its members. It also requires that UMT can position itself strategically, both in domestic and international EU-negotiations. It is important for UMT to be able to orient its members on certain policy issues of concern, upon which EU-accession will have an implication. Finally, UMT aims to provide a stronger base of support to its members in accessing EU funding opportunities.
Over the last few years, UMT has become increasingly active in the area of international representation, particularly concerning the EU approximation process. This is evident from its engagement in international alliance organisations like the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR). UMT has also various cooperations with the Ministry of European Affairs, which has the primary role in Turkey’s EU-integration process.
In the latter stages of Tusenet, support was provided to develop a publication outlining the likely consequences of EU-integration for Turkish Municipalities. This was based on similar preparations by SALAR in the build-up to Sweden’s EU-integration in 1995, which led to a much larger Government-commissioned study. As a result of this support, the book on European Union and Local Governments in Turkey was published (EU and Local Governments in Turkey_Part 1 and EU and Local Governments in Turkey_Part 2).
There is a significant amount of other initiatives planned for the coming years, but the extent to which these are explored will depend to a large extent on the process of Turkey’s EU-integration.
Under this component, TUSELOG activities so far included;
– Revised and updated version of “EU and Local Governments in Turkey” book in Turkish.
– Establishment of UMT EU-working group, which will play a more central role in analysis and representation of UMT on EU-integration
– Swedish participation in a Twinning Workshop organised by EU delegation in coordination with UMT.
– SKL International’s participation in a consortium that is responsible for implementing the EU financed project for strengthened EU-capacity in provinces.
– Efforts to exchange knowledge and experience between different EU related projects.