4th ROMANIA-BELGIUM FORUM ON DECENTRALIZED COOPERATION

Partnership, solidarity and responsibility in the “European year for Citizens" FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT
DATE: October 25th to 27th, 2013 PLACE: County house Flemish Brabant, Leuven, Belgium
Provinciehuis Vlaams-Brabant Provincieplein 1 3010 Leuven Tel: +32-16-26 70 15 E-mail: info@vlaamsbrabant.be Web: http://www.vlaamsbrabant.be Downloads\routebeschrijving-provinciehuis-februari-2010_tcm5-7139.pdf

CONTEXT:
Relations between Belgium and Romania, at the local/regional level, are very diverse and dynamic. They are constantly evolving as the reality in the two countries is also evolving. The last forum in Arad 2010 focused on more concrete projects between local authorities, institutions and NGO’s from both countries and on sharing lessons about public policies and community policies. Since then, there is a clear will of both countries to focus more on specific public policies. The Forum in Leuven will reconfirm this trend. It is expected to take the process forward and to connect it more clearly with European policies at regional level, notably the issue of EU funds absorption in Romania. After 24 years of cooperation, there is also a need to assess and to up-date the overall image that key actors in Romania and Belgium have about partnership, twinning and other local-level forms of cooperation between the two countries. Ideally, in the year of Europe for Citizens, this forum will contribute to bring Romanians and Belgians closer, within a European framework.

MAIN GOALS OF THE FORUM:
To involve larger scale communities from both countries (counties and big cities), as well as smaller scale communities, (villages, communes, towns), in decentralized cooperation To focus on specific public policies and tasks. To initiate a sustainable, partnership-type cooperation between Romania and Belgium

KEY OBJECTIVES:
 to share lessons and best practices extracted from the knowledge and the concrete experience in the past 24 years of the participants in different fields of administration and community development, and at various local levels

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 to establish permanent study groups about some of the topics that are of importance to the participants  to assess and to reconfirm existing partnerships and ties at local level; to identify their priorities for the short to medium term  to initiate new partnerships and new projects  to provide participants with useful information about what decentralization means, Romania’s debate about regionalization, EU and Belgium perspective on the topic  to increase knowledge and abilities of participants about accessing EU funds.

PARTICIPANTS:
Local authorities from both countries (county, department, city, town, village levels), civil servants from local administration, NGO’s representatives from both countries and other European countries invited as special guests, representatives of associations with local level activities, official representatives of Belgium and Romania, EU experts, others if interested (business, trade, academics, mass-media). In terms of numbers, we count on attendance by 200-250 participants. Special guests: keynote speakers, to be determined by the Steering Committee of the forum.

DRAFT PROGRAM:
Friday 25/10: 15:00: workshop between Belgian and Romanian counties and organizations of cities and villages on exchange and collaboration. 19:00: welcome to the DF and cultural event 20:00: reception offered by the county of Flemish-Brabant with local products. Saturday 26/10: 09:00: plenary opening and presentation of the forum: opening speeches by Belgian authority, RO high officials, key note speaker – TBD 10:30: coffee break 11:00: start of first round of workshops 12:30: lunch 13:30: start of second round of workshops 15:00: coffee break 15:30: plenary and panel discussion about possibilities of European collaboration and European financial support. 17:30: closing and free time. 19:00: farewell dinner. Sunday 27/10: 10:00: plenary conclusions of the workshops and the forum. Recommendations for the next forum. Launching of permanent study groups. 12:30: closure of the forum.

SUBJECTS OF THE WORKSHOPS:
     Health and health care. Sustainable tourism and agro-tourism, heritage. Civil society: women-, men-, elderly organizations. Youth: existing youth initiatives in Ro and cooperation’s B-Ro. Agriculture.

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Environment and waste management: what’s going on and education on selective collection.  Water – water management. This list is an initial proposal. Topics can be added/modified according to interest expressed by a significant number of participants. 

LANGUAGES AND TRANSLATION:
The language of the Forum will be English. Possibilities for translation depend on the funds raised for the event. In principle, there will be translation during the workshops of the Forum. The documents issued in the process of preparing the event and during the event will be in English. The main partners in the Organizing Committee will take care of translation into Romanian, French and Dutch.

FUNDING AND COSTS:
Total budget of about: 50.000 Euro Actie Dorpen Roemenie (ADR), Opérations Villages Roumains CFB-DGB (OVR), Parteneriat Villages Roumains (PVR), the Embassy of Romania in Belgium and the Embassy of Belgium in Romania are actively seeking for funding from EU institutions and other sponsors in order to cover the general costs of the forum (organization, housing of the forum, lunches and dinners, translation, paperwork, etc.). Participants should be prepared to pay for their travel and accommodation costs during the event. Travel agents and accommodation providers will be contacted in order to get special prices.

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE AND PATRONAGE:
The steering committee consists of: - representatives of ADR, OVR and PVR - the Embassy of Romania in Belgium and the Embassy of Belgium in Romania. Based on the acceptance to host the Forum, the Province of Flemish Brabant is co-partner for the event. In order to reach out to Belgian and Romanian authorities, there is a wider Committee of partners supporting the event (see annex for a complete list).

CONTACT ADDRESS FOR THE FORUM: Contact persons: • • • • • ADR: Jozef Goebels Jozef.Goebels@med.kuleuven.be OVR: Michel De Backer michel.debacker@euronet.be PVR: Agnes Jones agnesam.jones@gmail.com Embassy of Romania in Belgium: Olivia Toderean, deputy olivia.toderean@roumanieamb.be Embassy of Belgium in Romania: Roxana Macovei Roxana.Macovei@diplobel.fed.be

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