Latest News (Site updated Thursday, June 22, 2017 | 11:30)
Bilateral meetings between the President of the Congress and the authorities of the Czech Republic
[16/06/2017 16:00:00] Gudrun Mosler-Tornstrom held bilateral meetings in Prague on 15 June with the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomir Zaroalek, the Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Jana Fischerova and the Deputy-Minister of Interior Petr Misna. The meetings were organised during the Czech chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. The Congress President highlighted the importance for the Congress to develop a political dialogue with the governments of the member States during their chairmanships. She also stressed the importance for the Congress to have a good cooperation with the national associations of local and regional authorities, which can help to implement the Congress' recommendations and give the Congress' work greater visibility in the member States. After the meetings, the President went to chair the meeting of the Bureau of the Congress in the capitale city of Moravia, Brno, at the invitation of the Czech Union of Towns and Municipalities and the Mayor of Brno.
Photo: (from left to right) Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, Congress President, Lubomir Zaroalek, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Andreas Kiefer, Congress Secretary General
Congress takes part in seminar on local institutional reforms in Europe
[21/06/2017 11:30:00] The Congress took part in the European seminar held by the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) at the French National Institute of Local Studies (INET) in Strasbourg on 19 and 20 June on “Territorial reforms and training of local elected officials and local public servants in Europe”. In his opening address, Xavier Cadoret (France, SOC), Vice-President of the Congress, reaffirmed the importance of striking a fair and effective balance between guarantees of self-government and the dynamic development of local and regional structures against a background of reforms that aimed at improving governance. He added that “the method employed when devising and implementing reforms is important. Consultation between the various tiers of government, and citizen participation, for instance through referendums, are means of achieving greater acceptance and therefore promise more effective implementation of the reforms.” Luc Martens, Congress member (Belgium, EPP/CCE) and municipal councillor in Roeselare, also spoke during the workshop on “Modernisation of local public action in Europe: towards better democratic governance?” He praised the move towards greater flexibility in forms of local governance, while highlighting the risks associated with excessive outsourcing of services.
More information Agenda of the seminar Speech by Xavier Cadoret (French version)
Congress' participation at the 111th Session of the Venice Commission
[19/06/2017 16:00:00] Stewart Dickson (United-Kingdom, ILDG), Member of the Chamber of Regions of the Congress, presented the Congress’ monitoring activities regarding the European Charter of Local Self-Government and election observation during the 111th Session of the Venice Commission, on 16 March 2017. On this occasion, he informed the members of the Venice Commission of the recent monitoring visits to Italy, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein and San Marino, countries in which the small surface area may have a decisive impact on the organisation of local democracy and application of the Charter. 'In this regard, Congress plans to dedicate a debate during its plenary session in March 2018', he said. Mr Dickson also drew the Venice Commission’s attention to the ongoing process of discussion with the Greek national authorities to launch a post-monitoring dialogue with Greece which is now considering the possibility to hold a constitutional reform affecting also local self-government.
Full text of the news Agenda Speech - Stewart Dickson
Instruments to engage citizens: towards improvement of Georgia’s local governance system
[19/06/2017 14:30:00] “Local authorities should be supported by a framework enabling them to effectively take heed of their citizens, analyse their ideas, and ensure that these voices are projected into decision-making” affirmed David Narmania, Head of the Delegation of Georgia to the Congress and Mayor of Tbilisi, when addressing participants of the conference on ‘Institutionalised citizen participation: an instrument for democratic governance’.
The event, organised jointly between the Congress and the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia, served as a platform for analysis of the foundation for local governance in Georgia and the effectiveness of the instutionalised mechanisms for citizen participation; contributing in turn to “the achievement of sustainable and achievable outcomes”, as put by Carlo Natale, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia. Exploring good practices in Georgia and Europe, representatives of the central and local authorities, civil society, experts and Congress members, shared their opinions on amendments to the ‘Code of Local Self-Government’. The exchanges held will contribute to the production of “tangible results for citizens”, stated by Irakli Matkava, First Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, and to the discussions on the development of a new decentralisation strategy.
Local councillors play a key role within the decentralisation process in Ukraine
[19/06/2017 15:30:00] A three-day workshop organised in Odessa, from 13 to 15 June, by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, gathered together 32 councillors from 7 Southern and Eastern regions of Ukraine. Discussions focused on their engagement and priorities to develop their communities, as well as on ways to enhance trust of citizens. Notably, they had the opportunity to share their experience in implementing initiatives on local democracy with experts from Ireland, Lithuania and Ukraine. As Sergiy Mazur, member of the Congress (Ukraine, CRE-ECR), pointed out: “Exchanging good practices with councillors from other European countries is key for Ukrainian local councillors to succeed in creating resilient communities”.
This workshop was organised in the framework of the project “Promoting local democracy in Ukraine”, which is part of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2015-2017. It aims to improve the implementation of democratic principles in Ukraine, by enhancing the institutional and leadership capacities of local elected representatives (mayors and local councillors), and disseminating nation-wide good practices of local democracy.
Congress leadership: “Europe needs long-term integration policies to help migrants and build an inclusive society.”
[16/06/2017 11:30:00] The Congress participated in the Seminar “Integration policies at the local and regional level” organised by the city of Brno, on 15 June 2017, on the occasion of the Czech Chairmanship of the Council of Europe. Gunn Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP/CCE), President of the Chamber of Regions and Gabrielle Neff (Germany, ILDG), Chair of the Current Affairs Committee, took part in the panel discussion “Integration of people facing exclusion”. Anders Knape (Sweden, EPP/CCE), President of the Chamber of Local Authorities, opened the Seminar. “Europe needs long-term integration policies to help migrants and build an inclusive society. Otherwise the already high tensions in our societies which have given rise to political backlashes from ultra conservative groups risk getting worse,” he stated.
He deplored the lack of coordination and means which makes the work of local and regional councillors difficult. He underlined the necessity to adopt an approach based on two pillars that need to go hand in hand: early and rapid integration and respect for human rights and human dignity. “The one without the other is neither desirable nor possible,” he said addressing the Czech mayors attending the seminar.
He urged local elected representatives in Europe to take leadership and speak out against prejudice and to deliver the services to both migrants and host communities in order to pave the way for an inclusive society.
Speech of Anders Knape Agenda
Congress President presents political priorities at Feldkirch Conference of Regional Parliaments
[15/06/2017 15:00:00] Addressing the bi-annual 'Joint Conference of Presidents of Regional Parliaments in German-speaking EU countries 'held in Feldkirch (Austria) on 13 June 2017, President Gudrun Mosler-Törnström presented the Congress’ political priorities, in particular, the strengthening of democracy and human rights at grassroots level, the integration of migrants and the fight against corruption, radicalization and violent extremism in Europe's cities and regions. She underlined that these objectives will be achieved through the Congress' statutory monitoring tools including the observation of local and regional elections as well as through cross-border cooperation, exchanges of good practices and the further development of local and regional networks in Europe. The President stressed the Congress’ commitment in the continued assessment of the situation of local and regional democracy in all Council of Europe’s member states. While the situation was alarming in some countries, she insisted one should remain optimistic since “there are many cases demonstrating the effectiveness of our efforts to achieve more democracy at local and regional level”. She also confirmed the Congress' dedication to support decentralization reforms in member countries, as demonstrated at a conference recently held in Eupen (Belgium) where participants had the opportunity to discuss with experts about territorial reform projects in different European countries.
Speech by Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (German version)