Latest News (Site updated Friday, December 9, 2016 | 17:30)
Recurring monitoring issues of the Congress and checklist to prevent misuse of state resources in elections discussed at December meetings of the Venice Commission
[09/12/2016 15:30:00] 'The Monitoring Committee is dealing with issues that are probably the most normative at the Congress - including constitutional questions relating to local and regional democracy. This is why deeper co-operation with the Venice Commission is so important', underlined Leen Verbeek, Netherlands (SOC, R), Chair of this Committee, at the 109th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission.
He outlined recurring issues identified by the Congress including inadequate financial resources for local and regional authorities, the restricted definition of their competences and the lack of consultation with regard to central government. 'However, the absence of direct applicability of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in domestic legal systems is a new and particularly worrying problem,' he explained stressing the risk of re-centralisation in member States. With regard to transversal problems identified during missions to observe local and regional elections, Mr Verbeek referred to the misuse of administrative resources during electoral processes as the most pressing issue.
More information Speech by Leen Verbeek Presentation by Stewart Dickson Resolution 402 (2016) Joint Guidelines - Venice Commission
Local councillors in Ukraine advocate changes in favor of modern democratic behaviour at local level
[09/12/2016 09:30:00] 25 Ukrainian local councillors, mostly in their first electoral mandate, met in Kyiv to discuss the implementation of the principles of the European Charter on Local Self-Government in Ukraine, to improve their understanding of the local democracy tools and mechanisms. They strongly expressed their will promote modern democratic behaviour at a local level. This expectation for change was supported by Congress Member Andrew Boff (United Kingdom, ECR): “You have the power to change. You are not alone. It is in the power of councillors to ask questions to executive authorities”. This expectation for change was supported by Congress Member Andrew Boff (United Kingdom, ECR): “You have the power to change. You are not alone. It is in the power of councillors to ask questions to executive authorities”. The seminar also welcomed the participation of Volodymyr Prokopiv (Ukraine, EPP) Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Congress of local and regional authorities and Congress Member Pikria Avaliani (Georgia, SOC). Participants exchanged on good practices to promote citizens’ participation, ethical decision-making, their roles and responsibilities within the current trend of decentralisation reforms in the country with experts and peers from Georgia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.
Seoul Human Rights Conference: ''Human rights are relevant if they are implemented for everybody at any time”, says Congress Secretary General
[06/12/2016 16:30:00] Speaking at the opening of the 1st Seoul Human Rights Conference on 5 December 2016, Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer said that “while it is state organs that ratify international human rights treaties, it is local authorities to a large extent which translate international obligations into practice''. “Human rights provisions do concern a considerable part of the daily tasks of local and regional authorities be it civil, political, economic, social or cultural rights”. He presented the Congress Human Rights Action Plan based on the preparatory work done by Congress members at the 2015 Graz Human Rights Conference and the work of the Monitoring Committee. The Republic of Korea has ratified four Council of Europe conventions and is a member of the Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law). Many speakers referred to the strong preventive effect of Council of Europe standards and highlighted the need for local politicians and administrations to contribute to the respect of human rights for the benefit of all.
Video of the speech (start at 25:00') - Opening of the Conference Conference website
“Greek municipalities are on the frontline of the fight for local democracy,” says Congress President
[05/12/2016 11:30:00] Speaking at the annual conference of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) in Thessaloniki on 3 December, Congress President Gudrun Mosler-Törnström welcomed closer co-operation between KEDE and the Congress and stressed the importance of strengthening consultations between local and central authorities, as well as local competences and financing, particularly for island municipalities. She expressed her hope that Greece and the Congress would soon enter into post-monitoring dialogue on these issues. “I appreciate the efforts of Greek local authorities to host and offer assistance to refugees and migrants, despite having minimum funding in this area,” said the President, adding: “You are on the frontline of the fight for the rights of municipalities.”
Meeting of the Congress Bureau in Strasbourg
[05/12/2016 13:30:00] The Congress Bureau met in Strasbourg on 1 and 2 December for its last meeting in 2016. It approved the draft agenda of the 32st Session of the Congress (28-30 March 2017), the terms of reference of committees and the Congress’ contribution to the Cypriot chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. The Bureau members also appointed the rapporteurs for the Bureau and the thematic spokespersons for the period 2017-2018 and held a broad exchange of views with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, with whom they discussed the situation of local democracy in member states, in particular Turkey, Poland, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. The Bureau also heard a statement by the Chair of the Group of Independent Experts (GIE), Angel Manuel Moreno Molina, and it considered, in particular, the way in which the European Charter of Local Self Government had been received in member states. Finally, the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Roma issues, Valeriu Nicolae, presented the 'Dosta! & UEFA Respect' project against racism, anti-gypsyism and violence against women. At the end of the meeting, the Bureau members donned the Dosta! Campaign t-shirt to symbolise their commitment against discrimination towards Roma.
Agenda of the Bureau and access to documents Photos [Flickr]
Liisa Ansala: “The project on citizen participation in Armenia broke the ground for future work on participatory democracy”
[05/12/2016 11:00:00] “The project on consolidating local democracy in Armenia and strengthening local councillors’ leadership, implemented under the Council of Europe Action Plan for Armenia, has made a critical impact in this country’s local communities,” stressed Congress Vice-President Liisa Ansala at the project’s final conference in Yerevan on 5 December. She welcomed the workshops and seminars that reached almost 400 councillors and young local leaders over the past three years, as well as step-by-step action to engage local residents in decision making and community building in the municipalities of Akhtala, Artik, Urtsadzor and Vardenik. “The space of ‘learning by doing’ created by this project, the good practices of community meetings and peer-to-peer exchanges will live on, spread and repeated in other communities, thus advancing further participatory democracy,” she said.
Congress Greeting cards 2017
[01/12/2016 10:00:00] The Congress Season's Greetings 2017 e-card is available online. You can add a personal message and send it to your contacts by e-mail.
Download the greeting card 2017