Latest News (Site updated Friday, October 28, 2016 | 15:00)
Mayors determined to improve local governance
[28/10/2016 15:00:00] “We, the mayors, have a primary role in leading change in our communities and in implementing innovative and ethical actions at the local level, where citizens have a real say”, stated Saša Paunović (L-SOC), Deputy Head of the Serbian Delegation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, during the high level conference on “Fostering sustainable development in Eastern Partnership countries”, held in Yerevan, Armenia, on 26 October 2016. He emphasised the need for empowered local authorities and active citizens, and the vital role national associations have in supporting their members and in raising their concerns at national level. Mayors involved in the co-operation activities of the Congress, and in particular in the project “Strengthening institutional frameworks for local governance” participated in this conference. It was organised as a part of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) Action Plan 2016-2017, jointly with the European Commission and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia.
Call for Tenders: Provision of facilitating, coaching and training services on local democracy in Ukraine
[27/10/2016 10:30:00] The Congress is currently implementing the project “Promoting Local Democracy in Ukraine” as part of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2015-2017. Within this context, the Congress has developed peer-to-peer exchanges with the participation of Congress members, both from Ukraine and other member states of the Council of Europe, as well as local and international experts. Comprehensive and tailor-made support to various target groups (such as mayors, councillors and young local leaders) are proposed in different settings to improve their co-operation as well as their management and communication skills, in particular towards the citizens. Specific attention is paid to political pluralism and to the inclusion of women. Building the ownership and strengthening the capacities of local stakeholders to co-produce local policies will allow them to participate in the overall decision-making and reforms in the country. To fulfil the project’s objectives, a Call for tenders for the provision of facilitating, coaching and training services on local democracy in Ukraine has been issued on 26 October 2016. The deadline for the submission of bids is on 28 November 2016.
Call for tenders More information
Congress took part in a regional conference on the “follow-up to the recommendations of international Election Observation Missions in the countries of the Eastern Partnership”
[17/10/2016 11:00:00] “Since 2001, the Congress has been observing some 30 elections, at local and regional level, in the countries of the Eastern Partnership notably in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine,” stated Congress Vice-President Breda Pecan (Slovenia, SOC) at a conference on the follow-up to recommendations of international election observers in Eastern Partnership countries, in Venice, on 25 October 2016. The conference was organised by the Division of Electoral Assistance and Census of the Council of Europe (DGII). Breda Pecan highlighted recurring issues included in the Congress’ Recommendations such as the need for better accuracy of voters’ lists, for depoliticisation of election administration as well as for prevention of misuse of administrative resources. She also pointed to the post-electoral dialogue introduced by the Congress in order to strengthen the implementation process after elections.
More information Speech by Breda Pecan
Jos Wienen: 'Implementing the rule of Law is an on-going task which requires the commitment of all levels of governance'
[24/10/2016 10:00:00] How can one assess the extent to which a country upholds the rule of law? The Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law) answered this question in March 2016 by adopting the Rule of Law Checklist. On 21 October, in the context of Venice Commission-Congress co-operation, Jos Wienen, Congress rapporteur, presented a resolution to promote this checklist at local and regional level. “This draft resolution is fully in line with the valuable co-operation between our two organs: the Venice Commission as a legal body and the Congress as a political body,” underlined Jos Wienen. “This “Rule of Law Checklist” is undoubtedly a key document to assess the degree of respect for the rule of Law in our countries. With this tool, you can, on the basis of simple and detailed questions, consider how far the rule of law is guaranteed in a given country,” he explained.
More information Presentation by Jos Wienen Video - Statement by Jos Wienen Resolution: 'Rule of Law Checklist' Interview Jos Wienen
The Congress adopts a roadmap against corruption at local and regional levels
[24/10/2016 11:00:00] Preventing corruption and promoting public ethics at local and regional levels, which are “indispensable requirements for stability and democracy”, were the main theme of the 31st session of the Congress, which opened on 19 October, with two debates followed by the adoption of two resolutions aimed at implementing these principles.
Herwig van Staa (Austria, EPP/ECC), who has for many years been committed to fighting corruption, spoke of the importance of ensuring that the regions had courts of auditors that are independent of political leaders. This requirement is particularly essential given that, as a result of European funds, local and regional authorities are having to manage increasingly large budgets. He then presented a 6-point roadmap, including both practical measures and political principles.
The Congress will draw up six individual reports on misuse of administrative resources during electoral processes, public procurement, transparency, conflicts of interest, the protection of whistle-blowers and nepotism.
More information Interview with Herwi Van Staa Resolution on the prevention of the corruption and the promotion of public ethics Video of the Debate
Chamber of Regions: debate on implementation of the European Social Charter at regional level
[25/10/2016 10:30:00] While local and regional authorities' prerogatives in the social field have increased in many member States, the European Social Charter is still not widely known among Europe's local and regional elected representatives: during a debate held on 20 October, the Spanish judge Luis Jimena Quesada, former chair of the European Committee of Social Rights, explained how the Charter worked and what benefits it offered to the members of the Chamber of Regions.
Far from being a 'catalogue of social rights', the European Social Charter was a means of measuring the progress made by the States signatories in this field and contributed, in the eyes of Mr Jimena Quesada, to forging a more solid European conscience. While the Charter's application was first and foremost a task for the States, the local and regional levels also had a role to play in spontaneously implementing it within the scope of their own powers. Good coordination between local, regional and national authorities was important for optimum application of the Charter, in the interest of all citizens and also of the country itself.
More information Video - Statement by Luis Jimena Quesada (in French)
Jean-Louis Testud: “Metropolitan governance structures should be democratically accountable and not involve any erosion of local democracy”
[21/10/2016 16:00:00] In the framework of its 31st Session (19-21 October 2016), the Congress adopted a resolution and recommendation on Good governance in metropolitan areas. The report provides an overview of the complex and multi-layered nature of the governance of metropolitan areas and the associated challenges in terms of representative democracy, emphasizing the need to maintain democratic legitimacy and accountability in metropolitan areas. “For metropolitan areas to function effectively, they need appropriate governance structures and a large degree of autonomy” stated Jean-Louis Testud (France, EPP-CCE), the new chair of the Governance Committee of the Congress. He underlined the key role of the citizen participation to improving the democratic accountability and legitimacy of decision-making. The report called on territorial authorities in metropolitan areas to ensure a clear division of tasks and responsibilities and to establish partnerships with the different tiers of government, civil society and the business sector.
Speech by Jean-Louis Testud Report - Good governance in metropolitan areas Resolution - Good governance in metropolitan areas Recommendation - Good governance in metropolitan areas File - 31st Session
Inger Linge: “Women’s political participation is vital for our representative democracies”
[24/10/2016 15:00:00] The Congress adopted, in the framework of its 31th Session on 20 October 2016, a resolution and a recommendation on women’s political participation and representation at local and regional levels. The report provides an overview of the legal and policy framework of both the Council of Europe and the Congress that supports balanced participation and representation of women and men in political decision-making. “Women are still seriously underrepresented in politics and continue to face difficulties in becoming involved in equitable numbers”, stated Inger Linge (Sweden, EPP-CCE), Congress rapporteur. She underlined the importance for local and regional authorities to develop gender-disaggregated statistics to monitor and evaluate nominations and the evolution of elections. The presentation of the report was also marked by the intervention of the Mayor of Altmünster, Elisabeth Feichtinger. 'I managed to jump onto a moving train”, she stated, comparing politics to a train which women could only board once it was well underway. Finally, the Congress calls on governments to consider the adoption of legislative reforms to implement quotas for candidates in elections, to revise the electoral system where it has a negative impact on women’s political participation and to implement the Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2003)3.
Photo: Congress Rapporteur: Inger Linge (Sweden, EPP/CCE) Report on Women's political participation and representation Speech by Inger Linge, Congress member and Rapporteur Speech (in German) by Elisabeth Feichtinger, Mayor of Altmünster Interview mediabox with Inger Linge Interview (in German) with Elisabeth Feichtinger Video of the Debate File - 31st Session
Preventing radicalisation in towns, cities and regions: the Congress consolidates its strategy
[25/10/2016 10:30:00] The Congress committees on current affairs and governance have held joint discussions on the Congress’ strategy to prevent radicalisation in towns, cities and regions. The report and resolution presented by Josef Neumann (Germany, SOC) and Bert Bouwmeester (Netherlands, ILDG) urge the Congress to consolidate its activities in this field by adopting methods to foster pluralist, inclusive and culturally diverse societies in Europe, and by incorporating the concept of “interconvictional dialogue” in its initiatives to foster intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. The adopted resolution calls on local and regional elected representatives to contribute to these initiatives by using the resources set out in the “Organising intercultural and interreligious activities” toolkit. It also invites them to become members of the “Alliance of European Cities and Regions against Violent Extremism” for which the Congress, the European Forum for Urban Security and the Municipality of Rotterdam are organising a Summit of Mayors in Rotterdam on 9 November 2016 .
Report CG31(2016)15 Video of the debate Presentation by Joseph Neumann Presentation by Bert Bouwmeester Video - Statement by Josef Neumann (in German) Interview Bernd Voehringer