“Positive Conversations” Governance Post-COVID-19

On July 9, 2020, the “Positive Conversations” experience began, with a dialogue between ORU Fogar President Abdessamad Sekkal and Thierry Cornillet, founding president of AIRF. The initiative arose from the latest interventions by President Sekkal summoning the regional world and, especially the members of ORU Fogar, to have a great post-COVID-19 debate on the role of the regions in future governance. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reactivated the role of the public administration. In all territories, the central government has taken control. In some cases, this control has been done in close collaboration with the local and regional governments. In others, the pandemic helped a recentralization that was already latent.  Everywhere, in every possible way, regions have played a key role.   Thus, the initiative “Positive Conversation” is intended to be a first contribution to this debate. At this moment in which face to face meeting remain difficult, ORU Fogar starts a virtual format that must allow an agile and open debate.  

The conversation (of half an hour) between president Sekkal and founding president of the International Association of Francophone Regions, both staunched regionalists, did not disappoint. Abdessamad Sekkal argued that the health crisis has highlighted more than ever the need for effectiveness of public administrations “Today, he explained, the limited public funds we have must be spent effectively. And the intermediate governments are more effective as they are closer to citizens. Central governments can set the broad lines and general objectives, but only the regional governments can adapt them to the territory”. According to him, the states should design measures that are adapted to the territory. He also expressed his belief that the regions are also an ideal scale for citizens to participate to political processes. 

Thierry Cornillet, former European deputy, was in favor of “decentralizing power, which is a previous step to decentralization. We must cede power to the territory, which is a way of bringing it closer to the citizens.” He explained at a time when public confidende in the institutions is at a low, "the adherence and identification of the population to their respective region is very positive." He trusts that “in the nature of things a strong regionalization of the country will impose itself”. He called for joint work between the central state and the regions. “They must not confront each other but work together. The state is here to promote the management of the regions". In this sense, he warned about the risk of using the region-central state dialectic as a political tool.  

As they were concluding, president Sekkal upheld that “global agendas would only advance if the regions are included”. Both stood up for regions as actors of the proximity policy and as a necessary scale to promote economic development.  And finally, both supported the need to strengthen the capacities of the regions.



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