On 24-28 February 2020, 20 representatives of the most active and successful M4EG Signatories from the 6 participating countries took part in a study tour for decision makers to Latvia, organized by the M4EG Secretariat jointly with Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (LALRG).
The main objective of the study tour was to explore the processes and results of the public administration transformation that Latvia has gone through since the breaking up of the Soviet Union.
The delegation was comprised of mayors, deputy mayors, or special advisors to mayor on economic development issues – all those people who are at the heart of local economic policy formulation.
The main focus of the tour was the role of the local governments in the public administration system of Latvia, and their interaction and cooperation with key stakeholders both vertically and horizontally.
During the visit, the M4EG delegation had meetings with the national level stakeholders, like Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, the Parliament of Latvia (Saeima), and Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, which represents an example of academia engagement in the local/regional economic development efforts. In addition, the participants visited three local administrations in Vidzeme Planning region (Cesis and Amata municipalities, Valmiera city) and also had an opportunity to explore the way Riga City administration is performing its work.
Among the main points of interest, that the participants noted as most interesting and relevant for their countries, were: transition from linear to circle economy, defining and exploiting unique local competitive advantages, using innovation and hi-tech based solutions, local budgeting processes, promoting clustering and agro-cooperation of small producers, etc.
Apart from the benefits of studying best European practices in local governance and economic development, the participants of the study tour also made use of an excellent opportunity to establish high-potential partnerships. So, an Expression of Interest for Cooperation between the Local Association of Mayors of Gagauzia (Moldova), and the Association of Latvian Local and Regional Governments was signed during the visit.