Jean-Claude Frécon: ''Grassroots knowledge and close links with the public make local elected representatives key governance partners in the response to the crises currently sweeping Europe”
[18/05/2016 14:00:00] ''The crises that Europe is currently undergoing are different in nature, ranging from the problem of controlling the flow of refugees and migrants to problems of security, including war. Added to this is a wider crisis of confidence among the people in those who govern them and, more seriously still, in democracy'', said the President of the Congress, Jean-Claude Frécon, at the 126th meeting of the Committee of Ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 18 May 2016. ''Local and regional authorities have a particular role to play because of their broad powers and responsibilities. The fight against radicalisation leading to terrorism is a perfect illustration of this: sound grassroots knowledge combined with close links with the public make local elected representatives key partners for prevention, suppression and the implementation of deradicalisation programmes'', he added. ''It is together, at all governance levels, each working within the framework of our own powers, that we can get back on the path towards a more prosperous Europe'', concluded the Congress President, while highlighting the importance of the political dialogue which the Congress keeps up with the Committee of Ministers and its Chairmanships.
Monitoring visit by the Congress to the Republic of Finland
[13/05/2016 09:00:00] A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will carry out a monitoring visit to Finland from 17 to 19 May 2016. The delegation will examine the situation of local and regional democracy in the light of the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, ratified by the country in 1991. Co-rapporteurs Artur Torres Pereira (Portugal, PPE/CCE) and Karim Van Overmeire (Belgium), will focus on the latest developments in the field of local and regional democracy occurred since the last Congress monitoring visit in 2011 which led to the adoption of a report and a recommendation. High level meetings are scheduled with Jari Partanen, State Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government and Public Reforms, Pekka Sauri, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki, and the representatives of the Parliament, Pirkko Mattila, Head of the Administration Committee, and Annika Lapintie, Head of Constitutional Law Committee.
Press release Photo gallery [Flickr]
Celebration of Europe day in Vinnytsia: “Council of Europe values are our common heritage and belong to all of us”
[17/05/2016 12:00:00] During the speech given on 14 May at the ceremony to celebrate Europe day, in the presence of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Mayor of Vinnytsia Serhiy Morhunov, the Vice-President of the Congress praised the efforts made by the City of Vinnytsia in order to improve living conditions of citizens, to fight corruption and promote higher education of young people. She said these results were made possible by a dynamic and determined municipal policy within a peaceful Europe. She stated that Europe day symbolises the reconciliation between people after the Second World War and celebrates peace and unity in Europe. “We should never forget that it is the process of European construction that has allowed us to make peace with the past and to live without any major conflict since then” she underlined. Mentioning the crisis that have rocked European countries for several years – including the return of war in some parts of Europe and in Ukraine in particular – she said” we must find again the path towards political will and solidarity, to make our societies more prosperous and more inclusive”. Quoting the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström concluded that “Ukraine has much work ahead of it and Europe is here to help”.
Photo: (from left to right): Volodymyr Groysman, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström and Serhiy Morhunov Speech Photo gallery [Flickr] Video - TV channel THB Video - TV channel BITA Video interview - TV Channel VDT Celebration of Europe day in Vinnytsia
Gudrun Mosler-Törnström urges students in Ukraine to build on education for a better future
[17/05/2016 11:30:00] Meeting the students of the Donetsk University in Vinnytsia on 13 May 2016, the Vice-President of the Congress urged young people to get as educated as possible because “what you have once learned can never be taken away from you by force and will always help you not to be influenced by those who would try to manipulate you”. Gudrun Mosler-Törnström presented the students the work of the Council of Europe and the Congress in the field of democracy, state of law and human rights. She highlighted in particular the Congress work in monitoring the European Charter of local self-government and observing local and regional elections. She underlined that the Congress is in a process of ongoing political dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities for the implementation of its recommendations on how to improve the situation of local and regional democracy in the country. The Congress has signed in May 2015 with the Ukrainian government a road map for the implementation of the necessary reforms. She underlined that decentralisation is not a luxury but one of the most important reform priorities for Ukraine, which cannot be postponed. “Decentralization can help to relieve ethnic tensions and tensions between the capital and the regions. Decentralization therefore presents advantages both in terms of democracy and of efficiency of public administration” she said.
Congress President presents Congress medal to Yavuz Mildon
[17/05/2016 11:00:00] Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon presented the Congress medal to Yavuz Mildon, honorary member and former president of the Congress, at a ceremony held in Istanbul on 16 May 2016 on the sidelines of the International Social Integration Summit. “Like the Mediterranean Sea, you are a link between several countries and several cultures, between ideas and between women and men whose shared conviction is based on brotherhood and exchanges”, said Jean-Claude Frécon, while praising the open-mindedness and modern approach of Yavuz Mildon, who joined the Congress in 1995 and became its president in 2008. “Through your commitment and your activities, you have contributed to the exchanges between all the shores of the Mediterranean and to improved dialogue between cultures. And we know today just how much that task has again become an urgent priority in political and even humanitarian terms,” he stressed. “Victor Hugo said that the sea was a place of rigour and freedom; I would add that, as a man of the sea, you put rigour and freedom to work for Europe,” he said in conclusion. At the close of the ceremony, the Congress members attended an official dinner hosted by Hasan Akgün, mayor of Büyükçekmece and Congress member.
Andreas Kiefer : “Local and regional elected representatives need awareness raising in the field of democracy and e-governance”
[13/05/2016 10:30:00] Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer addressed the participants in the Central and Eastern European e|Dem and e|Gov Days 2016 organised on 12-13 May in Budapest, under the main theme “Multi-Level (e)Governance: Is ICT (information and communications technology) a means to enhance transparency and democracy?”. During the keynote session II, he presented the main Congress activities in particular in the field of e-democracy and e-governance, recalling that since 2008 the Congress has adopted five resolutions to local authorities and recommendations to member States on this topic. “Local and regional elected representatives throughout our 47 members States need awareness raising, capacity building and training in this area” he stated. He also underlined that in the work of the ad hoc expert committee, that the Committee of Ministers had set up, most of the exciting developments in this sphere were happening at the local level. “In the Congress we have the privilege to observe what is going on through our regular contact with practitioners and the debates that we organise on this subject. We have a role to play here in highlighting the issues that arise and alerting our governments” Andreas Kiefer concluded. In the evening the Andrassy University Budapest organised a panel discussion addressing the same topic. The main conclusion was that a lot has to be done to establish trust in data protection and privacy through the use of ICT by public authorities, where citizens often have to disclose personal information. Hendrik Hansen, Vice Rector, Andrássy University, Budapest, Dona Scola
Member of The United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration, former Deputy Minister for Information Technology and Communications, Republic of Moldova, Beth Noveck, Director, The Governance Lab, New York University, Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress Speech by Andreas Kiefer Programme of the conference Website of CEEEGov Days 2016 Compendium on E-governance and e-democracy