2007 marks the 50th anniversary of local and regional democracy in Europe. Since its creation, the Congress has been a key player in building genuine grassroots democracy.
The Conference of Local Authorities of Europe held its first session in Strasbourg on 12 January 1957, with Jacques Chaban-Delmas ( France ) presiding.
The year 2007 marks the 50 th anniversary of local and regional democracy in Europe . Since its establishment, the Congress has been an essential engineer in the architecture of a democracy genuinely close to the citizen.
“As far as I know, this is the first time in the history of the democracies that the representatives of the local authorities have been invited to give their opinion […], with the approval of the governments, as to the possible terms of their participation in institutions being set up.”
Excerpt from the address by Jacques Chaban-Delmas on 12 January 1957
In 1975, it became the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, bringing together all local and regional authorities. The development of local democracy and member states' recognition of its increasing role led in 1985 to the adoption of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. With the emergence of an increasingly pronounced regional dimension in a number of member states, the remit of the Conference of Local Authorities was extended to include regions.
1994 saw a new stage in the advance of local democracy, with the establishment of the present Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, adapting and reinforcing the old “Standing Conference” which it replaced.
At the 2005 Warsaw Summit, Council of Europe Heads of State and Government reasserted the importance of local and regional democracy for the healthiness of democracy in Europe and underlined the Congress' major role in carrying out this mission.