A briefing by Tamara Guirao, CAAC coordinator**
Despite them being mentioned by the policy positions of the Atlantic Arc Commission and the Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities and even if a slight reference was made by the first EC communication in 2011, the new Action Plan of the Atlantic Strategy does not include a clear stance on local action groups.
Already in 2012, the first conclusions of the evaluations of the Baltic Strategy indicated that the participation of local levels of governance, civil society, private sector and citizens was low. As this involvement was seen as a key for the success of the initiative, the risk of failure was directly linked to the absence of ownership and awareness.
Currently, the Atlantic Forum that has been taking place in 2012-2013 has been transformed in a series of “Atlantic Workshops”. Besides, there are plans to set-up an “Atlantic platform” composed by networks and international organizations. However, the hot question remains the same as for any EU policy, how to reach citizens?
In this sense, EU programmes like LEADER, FARNET or URBACT have found a clear solution. The local action of the projects must be supported by a “Local Action Group” or LAG (FLAG in the case of FARNET). These LAG’s are composed by the stakeholders affected by or who influence the issue that is being dealt.
LAG’s are dynamic and managed by democratic participation rules. They are not limited to informative meetings where citizens are informed about local policies. LAG’s have the responsibility to design, define, test and put into practice a Local Action Plan that will tackle a challenge.
If the Atlantic Strategy is to reach local level and significant participation, LAG’s must be taken into account.
**Together with Victoria Gómez, Tamara Guirao has been also the Trainer for URBACT Spanish Local Action Groups in 2013.