The development cooperation component of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement is implemented at three levels: national, regional and intra-ACP. The European Development Fund (EDF) is the core instrument for geographic cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The ARIAL programme is part and parcel of the overall intra-ACP fund – 9th EDF totalling EUR 2 884 million. Activities funded under the intra-ACP allocation cover all ACP States.
The ACP-Local Government Platform (ACP-LG Platform) was formally established in May 2001 as an umbrella organisation by representatives of existing ACP-LG associations. In 2003 the Platform submitted a project proposal for ACP Local government institutional strengthening at national and regional levels. The Platform proposal was approved by the ACP Committee of Ambassadors in October 2003. In order to allow for a proper feasibility study of the project, the Platform submitted an updated and revised project in 2005.
Following the submission of a project proposal by the Platform in 2003, revised in 2005, and in the light of the revised Cotonou Agreement (especially Art. 4 & 33.4 thereof) the ACP and the EU have agreed to create a framework programme entitled ‘Supporting and Strengthening Local Government Associations’ (ARIAL). The revised project proposal was the subject of a feasibility study in 2006. This led to the signature of the Financing Agreement in November 2007.
ARIAL aims at supporting LGs in ACP States in the decentralisation process by reinforcing their representative associations [Local Government (LG) associations]. LG associations will be targeted through ARIAL from the national level through the regional to the all-ACP/EU level. The programme is to facilitate participation of LGs in the dialogue concerning development policies with civil society, private sector, central government, and donors.
The programme consists of support to 6 regional associations of LGs (RALG) and national associations of LGs (NALG) in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, which are to be identified, among existing associations, by the programme in consultation with stakeholders in the field – and support to the ACP-LG Platform.