Latest News (Site updated Friday, September 19, 2014 | 12:00)

Herwig van Staa: “The referendum in Scotland is a victory for democracy and the rule of law”

[19/09/2014 11:00:00] ''Following a widespread democratic debate, held peacefully according to the institutional rules of the United Kingdom, the people of Scotland have expressed their views massively and freely. This referendum is a victory for democracy based on the rule of law,'' stated Herwig van Staa, President of the Congress. ''The Congress respects the choice made by the Scottish voters. We support strong regional self-government, respecting everyone’s traditions. But we hope that this regional self-government can develop within the national framework, in close synergy with central government,'' he added. The Congress will hold a debate in its Chamber of Regions on 14 October to discuss the situation in Scotland after the referendum and has invited political representatives from London and Edinburgh.''
Press release
Agenda of the 27th Session
File ''27th Session''

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]

Autonomy, resources and responsibilities: priorities according to Armenian local elected representatives

[16/09/2014 11:30:00] Over 150 mayors and municipal councillors from all the provinces (marzes) in Armenia came together at two seminars on “Promoting local democracy in Armenia” held by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Gyumri and Sisian on 9 and 11 September 2014. They discussed measures which could be taken at central and local level with a view to effective implementation of the Congress recommendations adopted in March 2014. The priority requests emerging from the discussions included the need for administrative reorganisation, increased financial resources, greater autonomy for local authorities and broader responsibilities for local authorities and municipal councillors. These points will be set out in an “Appeal to the government of Armenia” and could serve as the basis for a programme of reforms.
Press release

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), carried out a monitoring visit in Greece from 16 to 17 September. High-level meetings were 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 also met 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 gallery

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.

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The agenda in brief

26th Session of the Congress
22 September - Meeting of the CIVEX Commission of the Committee of the Regions / Brussels, BELGIUM

Calendar of events
Calendar of local and regional elections in COE member states

VIDEO CLIP - The Congress in brief YouTube

Drapeau européenPolitical dialogue with governments
Azerbaijani Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers
Leyla GüvenLeyla Güven, former Congress member