By serving the daily needs of citizens, local government is considered to be one of the pillars of democracy, a needed and valued tool for today’s ever increasing population of cities and multi-cultural societies and has become the fundamental factor in realizing decade-long goals.
For the last 30 years, the Union of Cyprus Municipalities has been contributing to the growing independence of local authorities, acting as the frontline of their interests in all national and international fora, from the central government to the parliament and other organizations in Cyprus and abroad.
Its members are all the 33 municipalities of Cyprus, 9 of which have been occupied by Turkish troops since 1974. The number of Cypriot Municipalities and thus the Union’s members will increase to 39 as of January 1st 2012. The Union is governed by a President and an executive committee made up of mayors and municipal councillors, all elected by the General Assembly.
The main goal of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities is to provide support to municipalities in their efforts to improve quality of life, with public works and services covering every aspect of the citizens’ daily lives. The Union’s assistance is ever present in all facets of the municipalities’ activities.
Among the Union’s major contributions and achievements during the last three decades are the following:
- Monitoring and promoting legislation in the interests of the municipalities.
- Provision of support services to the municipalities in research, studies, training, etc.
- Promotion of a common policy and practice among all municipalities regarding building and other permits, thus achieving uniformity.
- Rationalization of civil wedding procedures.
- Close cooperation with the trade unions representing Municipal staff and implementation of common job descriptions to all municipalities.
- Proclamation of principles and strategy to the environment.
- Preparation of municipalities on the structural changes brought about by the EU accession of Cyprus and help in the development of long- term cooperation of Cypriot municipalities with other European cities either through town twinnings or otherwise.
- Setting up a Brussels Office in 2005 with active promotion of its members’ interests.
- Active involvement in the drawing up of the European Charter of Gender Equality in local communities.
- Provision of reliable information on EU grants and other local government programs and opportunities.
- Organization of a number of conferences and meetings in Cyprus in cooperation with the EU Committee of the Regions and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions
- Development of an initiative (as of 2010) on the introduction of a common e-government system for municipalities.
- Active participation in conducting a country-wide study relating to the reform of the Local Government in Cyprus, as well as in the public dialogue which followed. The reform which is expected to strengthen the political, administrative and financial autonomy of the local government, is due to start in the year 2012.
Based on the above, we are now convinced that the goal of a modern and efficient local government can be attained through daily improvement, patience and insistence as well as through the activation of our Unions’ resources.
This is a major challenge and responsibility, not only for Cyprus, but also for Europe as a whole and we are willing and ready to take it on and to make it a success.