Latest News (Site updated Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | 18:00)
Ethics in local policies: local elected representatives from Eastern Partnership join forces
[28/06/2016 17:30:00] “Transparency, accountability and citizen participation need our full attention, involvement and timely reaction. Although our situations and expectations may differ, it is precisely through exchanges among peers as those we have shared during these three days that we will be able to implement these objectives,” concluded one of the local elected representatives involved in the regional seminar “Local public ethics: from vision to action”. Held in Kyiv, Ukraine, the seminar has gathered together about 100 participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and other European countries - local elected representatives, associations of local and regional authorities, members of Congress and experts. Through a combination of interactive plenary and working group sessions, involving Congress members Robert Biedron (Poland, SOC) and Saša Paunović (Serbia, SOC) extensive exchanges of experience and in-depth discussions have been carried out on how to enhance transparency and develop local public policies with higher ethical standards.
Mairi Evans: “Local and regional authorities can contribute positively to public administration reform”
[28/06/2016 17:30:00] “Cooperation between municipalities and other actors can be a useful instrument to identify efficient solutions to social problems, although non-state actors and civil society do not have the same democratic accountability and legitimacy” – stated Mairi Evans (United Kingdom, NI-NR), member of the Governance Committee of the Congress, at the conference “Public Governance as the Foundation of European Integration” on the 23 June in Vienna. Ms. Evans highlighted the shift in local and regional authorities to more flexible decision-making processes. “Local governments are increasingly fostering dynamic partnerships with civil society and the private sector in order to improve the quality of public service delivery“, she stated, while also drawing attention to the risks of corruption, especially in weak public administrations. In this respect she called for more citizen involvement in the decision-making process, through tools like e-governance and open data to foster transparency. Ms. Evans concluded by recalling Congress’ work for improving local self-government through its activities of monitoring, observation and co-operation and its contribution to help governments in the Western Balkans to implement European standards of local democracy.
Speech by Mairi Evans Programme of the Conference
Armenian community councillors: key actors of local democracy
[28/06/2016 17:30:00] 25 councillors from 18 communities of Armenia discussed their role in engaging citizens and promoting ethics in local public policies during a three-day workshop held from 21 to 23 June in Tsaghkadzor, Armenia. “Local elected representatives have the responsibility to ensure a transparent decision-making process” stated Congress member Nino Zurabishvili (Georgia, SOC) in her presentation of the case of Gori municipality, Georgia, on “Ethics in local authorities and anti-corruption measures”. While Armenia is engaged in its third anti-corruption strategy 2015-2018, experts emphasised the importance of involving citizens and promoting transparent processes, as key tools to counter corruption and encourage ethical behaviour. Presenting the results of a working group on this topic, a participant confirmed her “commitment to making proper decisions for public good and public interest, in a long-term perspective”.
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The President of the Congress meets the Prime Minister of Estonia
[25/06/2016 15:00:00] On 22 June 2016 Jean-Claude Frécon met Taavi Rõivas, the Estonian Prime Minister, whose country has held the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe since May 2016. The President of the Congress congratulated the Prime Minister on the way in which local democracy had been developed in his country. He made particular reference to the case-law of the Estonian Supreme Court, which recognises the importance of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. 'This reference to the Supreme Court is a good example which the Congress welcomes, and is quite the opposite of what Thorbjørn Jagland has denounced as “legislative nationalism”,' he said. The President also said that the Congress monitored local and regional democracy in member states every five years or so and that a visit to Estonia was planned from 6 to 8 September 2016, while the latest monitoring exercise had taken place in October 2010. The Prime Minister confirmed that an administrative reform was currently taking place in Estonia to give more weight and resources to the municipalities and enable them to provide a high standard of public services to their citizens.
Meeting of the Monitoring Committee in Strasbourg
[27/06/2016 17:00:00] The members of the Congress Monitoring Committee will meet in Strasbourg on 28 June 2016. The Committee will take stock of the latest activities carried out examining, notably, reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in Croatia and of local democracy in Cyprus, with a view to their adoption at the 31st Congress Session. The members will also be informed about the monitoring activities in Finland and Iceland and will hold an exchange of views on the post-monitoring activities in Armenia, where a roadmap was signed on 9 June and in the Republic of Moldova, where the roadmap will be signed on 7 July 2016. Karim Van Overmeire will present a draft information report on the observation of local and provincial elections held in Serbia on 24 April. The meeting will also be an opportunity for Jan Helgesen, member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), to deliver a presentation on the checklist on the Rule of Law followed by an exchange of views, and for the Committee to update the recurring issues identified in the monitoring and observation of elections missions for the period 2014-2016.
AER will co-operate with the Congress on the Council of Europe Internet Governance Strategy 2016-2019
[23/06/2016 14:00:00] “Declining trust in political structures and actors in many European countries and low voter turnout in elections show that we need new, transparent, more inclusive and easily accessible tools” stated Andreas Kiefer, Congress Secretary General, addressing the Bureau of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), in Bodø, Norway, on 22 June 2016. “The challenges identified and opportunities offered by information and communication technologies require responses at political level but also need a regulatory framework,” he added. M. Kiefer informed AER members about the activities of the Congress in this field and about the Council of Europe Internet Governance Strategy, adopted in March 2016. “European assemblies of regions, such as the AER and institutions like the Congress, need to take up the role of a knowledge pool for regions. We need to serve as a political platform for discussion on the relevance of e-democracy and e-governance to the regions, as well as to cross-border co-operation. The draft political declaration ‘(R)e-inventing Democracy – a regional approach’ you adopted today is an important step for such co-operation,” he concluded. The AER-Bureau decided to co-operate with the Congress in contributing to the Council of Europe Internet Governance Strategy 2016-2019: 'Democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the digital world'.
Speech by Andreas Kiefer Declaration of the AER AER Website Photo gallery