Latest News (Site updated Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | 16:30)

Calais, Lampedusa, Siirt: European local authorities facing migration flows

[27/03/2015 16:00:00] A number of European municipalities are confronted with unprecedented migration flows, particularly as a result of conflicts and political instability and insecurity in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. This phenomenon has a key impact at local level, as municipalities are in the front line when it comes to receiving these new migrants and refugees and are faced with huge difficulties in providing basic services such as health care, education and waste management. In the light of the situation on the ground, the Congress held a debate on 24 March on the theme 'local authorities facing migration flows' with the participation of the mayors of Calais (France), Lampedusa (Italy) and Siirt (Turkey), which are all particularly affected.
Interview with Giuseppina Nicolini, Mayor of Lampedusa
Interview with Cardinale Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento
Interview with Natacha Bouchart, Mayor of Calais

Norms regarding media neutrality during electoral campaigns

[31/03/2015 17:00:00] “When we talk about media neutrality, we usually think of the voters’ right to be comprehensively informed during electoral campaigns. It is a necessary condition for voters to make an informed and thoughtful electoral choice”, stated Jos Wienen (Netherlands, EPP/CCE), moderating the workshop on Norms regarding media neutrality during electoral campaigns, at the 12th European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies (EMB) on 31 March 2015 in Brussels. “But media neutrality is also important for parties to communicate about their programmes and priorities and to provide an arena in which candidates can debate”. Focusing on the preservation of freedom of expression as an underlying principle, the participants discussed the different facettes to the notion of 'media neutrality' and regulation depending on the type of the media; the issue of ethics in journalism as well as the issue of ownership of the media and the way this could influence fair electoral campaigns.
Speech Jos Wienen
Full text of the news

Youth delegates participate in the Congress Session and comment it on Twitter

[31/03/2015 14:30:00] Fifteen youth delegates participated in the 28th Session of the Congress from 24 to 26 March 2015 in Strasbourg. The youth delegation consisted of young local and regional politicians and youth activists from fifteen countries. The delegates were allowed to take an active part in the session and committee meetings and contributed a youth perspective to the debates. The aim of inviting the youth delegates was for them to prepare their vision of how young Europeans can participate in the Congress’ work, in the future, in a more sustainable manner. The youth delegates presented their proposals to Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, (Austria, SOC) President of the Chamber of Regions, and John Warmisham (United Kingdom, SOC),Congress Vice-President, who was also representing the Congress’ newly created ad hoc reflection group on the participation of young people in the Congress’ work.
Full text of the news
Interview with Tasnim Miah (United Kingdom) and Miroslav Denci (Slovakia)
Interview with Henrik Wickström (Finland) and Julija Mackevic (Lithuania)
Interview with Teona Lavrelashvili (Georgia)
Interview with Kenny Van Minsel (Belgium)
Photo Gallery

Bureau declaration on the Kobane corridor

[27/03/2015 10:30:00] In a declaration adopted on 26 March 2015, the Bureau of the Congress expressed its solidarity and support with the population and local government administration of Kobane, as well as with the other cities in the region, which have been and continue to be victims of extremism, and stressed the need for support from the international community. It called on the Turkish authorities to keep their border open with a permanent and safe corridor, and to allow free passage of all consignments of medicine and medical supplies, as well as of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics for the civilian population, and to make free movement legally possible for the inhabitants of the region. The Declaration follows the speech of the Mayor of Kobané to the Chamber of Local Authorities, which met on 25 March during the Congress 28th session.
Text of the Declaration

Barbara Toce: “Women change the way politics are done”

[30/03/2015 17:30:00] Barbara Toce, Vice-President of the Congress (Italy, SOC) and Mayor of Pedaso, participated in the Women Mayors’ Summit, in Istanbul, on 28 March 2015. She focused on women’s political participation at local level and on the implications this has for the urban environment. “I strongly believe that women’s role in the developing of neighbourhoods and cities is crucial, particularly for creating an urban environment based on social cohesion,” she stated addressing the participants to the session on “Women’s Touch in Cities”. She underlined, in particular, the necessity to encourage women to run for office and to stand for elections, to develop women's networks, and to set quotas. “If we want to increase the participation of women in politics, we need a catalyst, and quotas can play this role,” she explained. “We also need awareness raising campaigns to encourage the election of women. And, to complete women’s presence in decision-making structures, we must promote their participation in organisations outside of government,” she added.
Programme (pdf)
Resolution 303 (2010
Recommendation 288 (2010)

Jewish cemeteries: the Congress calls on local authorities to shoulder their responsibilities

[26/03/2015 16:00:00] Jewish cemeteries are an integral part of the European cultural heritage and must be protected from damage and desecration. The members of the Congress Chamber of Local Authorities reaffirmed this point at their 28th session in Strasbourg in adopting a resolution on the responsibility of local authorities. The Congress asks local authorities in the 47 Council of Europe member states to promote the preservation of holy Jewish burial sites, for example by ensuring that urban planning projects are supervised in order to avoid the violation or deterioration of those sites, and to take the necessary steps within their responsibilities to protect them. “The Congress has always defended the right to freedom of religion and religious expression. The protection of human dignity and the preservation of the deceased in a manner compatible with their religion is an important part of this freedom. Local and regional authorities have a role to play in the protection, preservation, management and maintenance of these burial sites because they are also part of local history”, stressed the Congress rapporteur, John Warmisham (United Kingdom, SOC), in introducing the resolution. Photo (right to left): Yossi Beilin, former Minister of Justice of Israel, Roland Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg, Mendel Samama, Rabbi of Strasbourg and Abraham Ginsberg, Executive Director of CPJCE.
More information
Press release
Report CPL/2015(28)2
Yossi Beilin, former Minister of Justice, Israel
Mendel Samama, Rabbi of Strasbourg, France
Statement J.Warmisham, rapporteur of the Congress

Decentralisation in Ukraine: new laws to come into force this year

[26/03/2015 11:30:00] With support from the Congress, Ukraine has engaged on an ambitious decentralisation programme. Several laws have already been framed to strengthen its local and regional structures, despite the military situation in the east of the country, which hinders progress. A debate held on Wednesday 25 March 2015 in the Chamber of Regions on “the regional dimension of the process of decentralisation in Ukraine” took stock of developments.
Video of the debate [Youtube]
Interview with Oleksii Honcharenko, Vice-Chair of Odessa City Council and member of the Ukrainian parliament
Speech by Gianni Buquicchio, President of the Venice Commission
Speech by Natalya Romanova (Ukraine, ILDG), Vice-President of the Congress

Combating radicalisation in Europe: Congress proposes grassroots measures

[26/03/2015 08:30:00] The Congress adopted a resolution and a recommendation on 25 March 2015 focusing on the role of local and regional authorities in combating and preventing radicalisation. The Congress will draw up guidelines on preventing radicalisation and manifestations of hate at grassroots level, to be adopted at its 29th Session in October 2015 and create a pedagogical toolkit for use by local elected representatives when organising intercultural and inter-faith activities. It is also committed to developing training modules on human rights issues and holding a Human Rights Forum at local level on a regular basis, with the first of these taking place in Graz on 28-29 May 2015. 'The recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen and Tunis have shown that this threat is more present than ever and calls for concerted action at all levels of government,' stressed Gunn Marit Helgesen, Norway (R, EPP/CCE), who presented the texts on behalf of the rapporteur Leen Verbeek, Netherlands (R, SOC). She also pointed to the necessity of allocating additional means and resources to the Congress for the local and regional implementation of the new Council of Europe Action Plan 2015-17 to combat extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism. Photo: Gunn Marit Helgesen, Norway (R, EPP/CCE)
Press release
More information on the debate
Report CG/2015(28)14PROV
Presentation by Marit Helgesen, Norway (R, EPP/CCE)
Congress strategy to combat radicalisation at grass-roots level

Local and regional democracy in Poland

Press release
Report CG/2015(28)12PROV
Speaking notes - Jos Wienen, Pays-Bas (EPP/CCE)
Speaking notes - Cynthia Hughes, Royaume-Uni (SOC)
Video of the debate
MediaBox interview with Jos Wienen

Local and regional democracy in Norway

Press release
Report CG/2015(28)5PROV
Video of the debate
Statement by Xavier Cadoret, (France, L, SOC)
Statement by Guilherme Pinto (Portugal, R, SOC)
Speech by Jardar Jensen

Local and regional democracy in Greece

Press release
Vidéo of the Debate
Rapport CG/2015(28)8

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