Latest News (Site updated Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 9:30)

Congress expresses full support to new strategic vision of Council of Europe Secretary General

[16/09/2014 16:00:00] Congress President Herwig van Staa addressed the Minister’s Deputies on 16 September 2014 after the presentation of the Statutory Declaration of the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland – who was re-elected in June 2014 - and the presentation of his strategic vision for the next five years term. ‘’The Congress will continue to focus its activities on the common priorities of the Council of Europe: high-quality monitoring of local and regional democracy and election observation as well as support to member States in the follow up of recommendations through post-monitoring dialogue” he stated. M. van Staa also underlined that ‘’The Congress is, and will remain, a strong partner in contributing to the coherence and relevance of the activities of the Council of Europe and supporting the work of its Secretary General’’.
Speech by Herwig van Staa
Committee of Ministers website
Photos [Flickr]

Congress visit to monitor local and regional democracy in Greece

[16/09/2014 10:30:00] A delegation of the Congress, composed of Arthur Torres Pereira (Portugal EPP/CCE) and Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC), will carry out a monitoring visit in Greece from 16 to 17 September. High-level meetings are foreseen in Athens, notably with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Administrative Reform and E-governance Minister, Gikas Hardouvelis, Finance Minister, as well as Argyris Dinopoulos, Minister of the Interior. The delegation will also meet with Evangelos - Vasileios Meimarakis, President of the Greek Parliament, Sotirios Al. Rizos, President of the Council of State, N. Aggelaras, President of the Hellenic Court of Audit, Vasilis Sotiropoulos, Ombudsman of the City of Athens, as well as John Sayas, Deputy Ombudsman of Greece. Photo: Arthur Torres Pereira (Portugal EPP/CCE) and Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC)
Press release
Photos [Flickr]

Georgia: Congress contributes to post-electoral conference in Tbilisi

[16/09/2014 16:30:00] The Congress’ evaluation of the local elections observed on 15 June 2014 was among the contributions presented at a post-electoral conference ('The 2014 Local Elections: Lessons Learned and Steps Ahead') organised on 16 September 2014 by the Council of Europe in co-operation with USAID, the Swiss government and IFES. Congress member Pearl Pedergnana (Switzerland, SOC) summarised major findings and recommendations resulting from the observation mission and which will be debated and adopted at the 27th Congress Plenary Session on 15 October.
More information and Congress report
Statement by Pearl Pedergnana
Conference website

Ludmila Sfirloaga: ''Encouraging women’s participation in political life is a democratic requirement''

[16/09/2014 13:30:00] ''Like political pluralism, participation by women is vital to democratic life. This requirement is enshrined in the Congress Charter, which provides that women must make up at least 30% of members of all national delegations'', said Ludmila Sfirloaga (Romania, SOC), Vice-President of the Congress, in an address to the participants at the workshop on ''Observation of elections: the role of civil society'' held on 16 September 2014 as part of the Lisbon Forum. ''The regular holding of free and fair elections at local and regional level and encouragement for the participation of women in political life are among the criteria for granting the new status of ''Partner for local democracy'', which the Congress is preparing to adopt at its session in October 2014,'' said Ms Sfirloaga. She also highlighted the experience of the Congress, which has conducted over 100 local and regional election observation exercises since 1990, throughout Europe and also in the countries of the Mediterranean basin, for instance in Israel in 2008 and in the Palestinian Territories in 2005.

Ukraine ratifies the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government

[09/09/2014 09:00:00] On 2 September 2014, the Parliament of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada) adopted the law on the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority by a majority of 260 votes. This is a positive step forward in the implementation of Recommendation 348, which the Congress adopted in 2013 following two monitoring visits to Ukraine, in May 2012 and April 2013. ''The Congress has been keeping a close track on the development of local and regional democracy in Ukraine and will continue to offer its expertise to the Ukrainian authorities as part of a post-monitoring programme'', said Congress President, Herwig van Staa.
Press release
File ''Ukraine and the Congress''

Exchange of views between the Congress and a Committee of Ministers’ Rapporteur Group

[12/09/2014 17:30:00] On 9 September 2014, Karl-Heinz Lambertz (Belgium, SOC), Congress thematic spokesperson on co-operation with the intergovernmental sector of the Council of Europe and President of the Congress Governance Committee, held an exchange of views with the Committee of Ministers’ Rapporteur Group on Democracy (GR-DEM). In particular, they discussed the document Recurring problems identified during monitoring missions, submitted to the Committee of Ministers in December 2013, which analyses the issues encountered in member states in the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. The discussions also focused on the contribution by the Congress regarding the situation in Ukraine, problems of local finance and the Committee of Ministers’ replies to Congress recommendations. The exchange of views was part of the enhanced political dialogue between the Congress and the Committee of Ministers. The President of GR-DEM, Ambassador Helle, agreed to meet in the near future with the Congress Bureau, which previously held exchanges of views with the two former chairs of the GR-DEM, Ambassadors Gacek and Berends, the permanent representatives of Poland and the Netherlands respectively.
Statement by Karl-Heinz Lambertz
Intervention of Andreas Kiefer
Document ''Recurring issues based on assessments resulting from Congress monitoring and election observation missions''

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