Latest News (Site updated Thursday, December 12, 2013 | 15:30)
Communication of the Congress Secretary General to the Committee of Ministers
[11/12/2013 18:30:00] In his communication of 11 December 2013, Andreas Kiefer Congress Secretary General presented an overview of the main activities of the Congress from April to November 2013. He noted that the Congress has continued to develop a three stages’ monitoring of the situation of local and regional democracy in member states : monitoring, post-monitoring dialogue and targeted cooperation activities. He recalled that the Congress is actively engaged in political dialogue with governments to encourage the implementation of its recommendations. At the 25th session in October, the European Charter of Local Self-Government was ratified by the 47th member state ( San Marino ) and it now covers 100 % of the territory of the Council of Europe. In 2013, Congress sessions were devoted to responses by local and regional authorities to the challenges of the economic and financial crisis. In 2014, the general theme for the Congress sessions will focus on strengthening democracy and social cohesion for young people and their participation in democratic life.
Communication by Andreas Kiefer Congress Activity report (April-December 2013)
Seminar on “Regional or minority languages in Europe today”
[11/12/2013 10:00:00] ''21 years have passed since the adoption – under the impetus of the Conference of Local and Regional Authorities, the predecessor of the Congress – of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Substantial progress has been made, in particular in the 25 Council of Europe member states which have ratified it. We must not, however, delude ourselves: the political, economic and social processes under way are not conducive to increased efforts to promote regional or minority languages,'' said Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC) at the close of the seminar held on the subject by the Congress in Paris on 9 and 10 December 2013. ''This lack of interest, if not reluctance, being shown regarding the promotion of regional or minority languages is mainly – but not solely – due to the crisis that has been affecting Europe since 2008. However, when the various players at local, regional, national and European level join forces, results are achieved. It is therefore necessary to continue the dialogue with our member states, in the hope that the positive examples discussed during our seminar will persuade them to move forward,'' he concluded. The seminar was an opportunity to take stock of the situation of regional languages from the point of view of the European Union and the Council of Europe, following the report on the subject adopted by the European Parliament in September 2013.
Conclusions Press release Programme European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Congress rapporteurs pay second visit to Leyla Güven
[09/12/2013 10:30:00] On Saturday 7 December 2013, the Congress rapporteurs on Turkey, Anders Knape (Sweden, EPP/CD) and Leen Verbeek, (Netherlands, SOC), visited former Congress member Leyla Güven, in the E-type prison in Diyarbakir, accompanied by Jean-Philippe Bozouls, Executive Secretary to the Chamber of Local Authorities.
During this visit, made at the request of the Congress Bureau and with the authorisation of the Turkish authorities, the rapporteurs were able to have a long discussion with Mrs Güven. They will report back to the Congress Bureau at its next meeting on 10 February 2014. “This Christmas, Leyla Güven will have been in prison for four years”, declared Anders Knape”. “This situation is very sad. It is difficult to understand how this can happen in a Council of Europe member state”.
“We found Leyla Güven with her resolve unbroken, displaying remarkable courage, despite her long detention, with no end in sight, and her seemingly unending trial” added Leen Verbeek.
Ms Güven, former Mayor of Viransehir Municipality, has been in prison in remand detention since 29 December 2009, together with a large number of other elected local politicians, charged under Turkey’s penal and anti-terrorism laws. Gaye Doganoglu (EPP/CD), Head of the Turkish delegation to the Congress, also participated in the mission.
Photo: (from right): Congress rapporteurs Anders Knape and Leen Verbeek, accompanied by Jean-Philippe Bozouls, in front of the E-type prison in Diyarbakir Press release
The City of Liverpool signs the Pact of Towns and Regions to Stop Sexual Violence against Children
[09/12/2013 09:30:00] On the occasion of the visit of Johan van den Hout, Congress Thematic Spokesperson on Children, to the United Kingdom, Roz Gladden, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool signed the Pact of Towns and Regions to Stop Sexual Violence against Children, on 6 December 2013. The aim of the Pact is to raise local elected representatives’ awareness of the proposals made in the Pact, and encourage them to implement them in their own authorities so as to prevent abuse, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, whilst ensuring full participation for children. This is a Congress contribution to the Council of Europe ONE in FIVE Campaign designed to promote the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (the Lanzarote Convention) in the 47 member countries.
Photo: Town Hall of Liverpool, United Kingdom Pact of Cities and Regions to stop sexual violence against children Congress contribution to the ONE in FIVE Campaign
Meeting of the Contact Group of the EU Committee of the Regions and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
[11/12/2013 11:30:00] The Contact Group, chaired by Committee of the Regions member Jean-Vincent PLACÉ and the Vice-Chair and member of the Congress Gunn Marit HELGESEN (Norway, EPP/CCE), met on 9 December 2013 in Paris. The group discussed the implementation of actions and synergies between the Congress and the CoR, in particular: multi-level governance, devolution and regionalisation in Europe; neighbourhood policies; joint activities to be organised in 2014, and the 20th anniversaries of the CoR and the Congress. “The European Charter of Local Self-Government and the Reference Framework on Regional Democracy can be an important basis for the drafting of the Charter on Multilevel Governance planned by the CoR” concluded Congress President Herwig van Staa (Austria, EPP/CCE). Other Congress participants taking part in this meeting included Leen Verbeek (the Netherlands, SOC), Marc Cools, (Belgium, ILDG), Merita Jegeni Yildiz, (Turkey, EPP/CCE) and Oleksiy Goncharenko (Ukraine, SOC).
Andreas Kiefer : “People are holders of rights and not mere objects of governance”
[03/12/2013 16:00:00] ''Local and regional governments are fully-fledged actors and stakeholders in creating conditions for the exercise of human rights in their communities and in ensuring their full implementation'', underlined Andreas Kiefer, Congress Secretary General, at the Conference ''Human rights at local and regional level'', in Graz (Austria), on 3 December 2013. ''Because human rights are concrete, so is their realisation, which takes place not in an abstract legal space but in a concrete environment where people live, work and interact – in the environment of our communities, of our towns, cities and regions'', he explained. M. Kiefer underlined, in particular, the importance of training of politicians and civil servants, awareness-raising, benchmarking and setting up independent complaints’ mechanisms accessible at local level. Photo: (from left to right) Stefan Hoflehner, Gemeindebund, Renate Kicker, (ETC), Claus Starl (ETC), Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress, and Martin Haidvogl, Chief Executive of the City of Graz News Presentation by Andreas Kiefer Resolution 296 (2010) Recommendation 280 (2010) Resolution 334 (2011)