Latest News (Site updated Monday, November 30, 2015 | 11:30)

Leen Verbeek: “We need balanced responses and inclusive policies to face the challenge of extremism”

[20/11/2015 15:30:00] “We are facing a major crisis situation today. It is with balanced policies that go beyond repression and take into account both safety and human rights issues that we can face these challenges together” stated Leen Verbeek (Netherlands, SOC), Vice-President of the Congress, addressing the participants of the Lab “Countering radicalisation”, as part of the fourth World Forum for Democracy on 19 November 2015. This Lab focused on new strategies to prevent radicalisation and to improve outcomes for all residents by more successfully integrating migrants into society. “Local and regional authorities are the main vectors for inclusive policies and can contribute to sustainable solutions in response to radicalisation” the vice-president said. Talking about the ‘’Strategy to combat radicalisation at grassroots level’’, he reminded the participants not to fall into the trap of equating refugees with terrorism. “As local authorities we have to stand together in this fight. It is essential that we work together and profit from the experience of each other”, Leen Verbeek concluded.WFD
Interview MediaBox Mr Verbeek
Full text on the lab 12
Forum website
Congress special file

Jean-Claude Frécon: “The millions of European local elected representatives form a great network which we must mobilise to prevent radicalisation”

[19/11/2015 10:00:00] “The attacks in Paris targeted young people, the generation who go to concert halls, in mixed neighbourhoods where cultures meet, intermingle and intermarry. We will continue to promote this ‘living together’, while respecting differences and respecting religions,” said Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon at the opening of the Conference on the Prevention of Radicalisation Leading to Violent Extremism in Aarhus, Denmark, on 18 November 2015. “As local elected representatives, we have our part to play in the months and years ahead in contributing to the efforts to combat radicalisation and terrorism. In the some 200 000 local and regional authorities in the Council of Europe’s 47 member countries, there are several million local elected representatives who are in direct contact with residents and have detailed knowledge of their areas and neighbourhoods. These elected representatives form a great network looking after our communities,” he said.
Speech (French)
Aarhus Conference website
Congress File

The Latvian example inspires Albanian Mayors and their associations

[27/11/2015 18:00:00] A delegation composed of local and regional elected representatives, experts and a member of the National Agency for Territorial Reform from Albania participated in a study visit to Latvia, organised jointly with the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, from 24 to 26 November 2015. This visit was timely as the Albanian Parliament is discussing at present a new draft law on the organisation and functioning of local governance. The visit included presentations on the structure of the Latvian national association and its role in advocacy and in budgetary negotiations which provided the Albanian delegation with concrete examples of how the processes related to consultation among local government units and with the national authorities could be enhanced in Albania.
Full text of the News

Involving citizens in the decision-making process, a key feature for enhanced democracy in Georgia

[26/11/2015 14:30:00] Eighteen Georgian mayors and “gamgebelis”, heads of provincial municipal districts, were sharing best practices and increasing their knowledge of standards of local self-governance within a workshop “Mayors - Leaders for change” organised by the Congress in Tbilisi from 24 - 26 November 2015. This workshop aimed to reflect on the challenges of engaging citizens in ethical decision-making processes, as well as discuss issues related to enhancing trust in local authorities. “Georgian mayors and “gamgebelis” are striving towards European democracy and to further exchange with peer mayors from Europe. Our goal is to have as many satisfied citizens as possible, but this is impossible without their involvement in decision-making processes” stressed Davit Narmania, Mayor of Tbilisi, Head of the delegation of Georgia to the Congress. Members of the Congress, Angelika Kordfelder, (Germany, SOC) and Saša Paunović, (Serbia, SOC), as well as local and international experts, discussed key principles of leadership and local democracy with the workshop participants.
Full text of the news
Website - Programmatic Co-operation Framework 2015-2017
News - Announcement

Towns and cities must find the right partners to foster intercultural dialogue

[24/11/2015 14:30:00] ''Towns and cities, regions and states” must work together to foster respect and tolerance. It is important to bridge the gaps and overcome the ignorance that divide cultures, and to promote the role of education in acquiring the skills that are necessary for democracy,'' said Dusica Davidovic, member of the City Council of Nis (Serbia, SOC) and member of the Congress, during the lab on intercultural responses to prevent hatred and radicalisation, sponsored by the Congress in the context of the World Forum for Democracy (Strasbourg, 18 - 20 November). She drew attention to the educational work carried out by the NGOs in this context and underlined that it was not always easy to find the right local partners and the public authorities therefore had to choose their partners carefully. Two original initiatives were presented during the lab: one, launched by the Council of Europe, is aimed at identifying and teaching the skills required to establish and maintain intercultural and democratic values. The other, which is being carried out in Rwanda, is aimed at consolidating dialogue between all communities through traditional dancing in which the entire community can come together.WFD
Interview Mediabox D. Davidovic
Full text on the lab 9
Congress Special file
Forum website

Mayors, councillors and local representatives from 22 European countries call for the creation of an alliance of European cities to prevent radicalisation

[18/11/2015 18:00:00] Attending the International Conference on the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism, in Aarhus, a hundred or so mayors, councillors and local representatives from 22 European countries adopted a joint declaration. They call for concerted action by local authorities, in close consultation with national governments, as part of an alliance of European cities to counter the increase in radicalisation and the acts of extreme violence to which it gives rise. The declaration highlights the exceptional nature of the network constituted by the millions of mayors and local councillors throughout Europe. “This unique network of elected representatives can contribute, through its members’ knowledge of their area and population, to an early warning system for any drift towards radicalisation. We ask national authorities to systematically include local decision-makers in the drawing up and implementation of strategies that are being developed at European and national levels”, declared the conference participants.
Press release
Aarhus declaration
Conference website
Congress File

Congress Vice President at the opening of the World Forum for Democracy: “It is essential, to protect our citizens without jeopardising their freedom granted by democratic values”.

[19/11/2015 11:30:00] “The terrorist attacks we have witnessed this year in European cities are examples of the terrible devastation that a refusal to understand and accept others can cause”, said Clemens Lammerskitten (Germany, EPP/CCE), Member of the Niedersachsen Parliament and Vice-President of the Congress, during the opening of the fourth World Forum for Democracy on 18 November 2015 which focuses on the theme ‘Freedom vs control: For a democratic response’. “The Congress has been working over the last two decades on the development of inclusive and resilient communities that can serve as a protective shield to prevent radicalisation at local and regional level” he pointed out. In this context, the Congress adopted at its March 2015 Session a ‘Strategy to combat radicalisation at grassroots level’. The Congress is the official sponsor of three labs this year, focusing on ‘Intercultural responses’, ‘Freedom games’, and ‘Countering radicalisation’.WFD
Congress Special File
Forum Website

From radicalisation to resilience: the Congress takes part in an international conference organised by the City of Aarhus and the Jutland police

[18/11/2015 16:30:00] A Congress delegation took part on 19 and 20 November 2015 in an international conference organised by the City of Aarhus (Denmark) on “Building resilience to radicalisation and violent extremism”. “The role of local authorities, the guarantee of individual freedoms through a human rights-based approach and the added value which networks of cities can provide are key factors for an effective fight against radicalisation”, said Jean-Philippe Bozouls, Director a.i. of the Congress, speaking at the opening of the conference on behalf of the Congress. He outlined the results of the previous day’s work at the political conference on the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism, jointly organised by the Congress and the European Forum for Urban Security, in Aarhus. “The declaration adopted yesterday by elected representatives from 22 countries specifically calls for the launch of an alliance of cities against radicalisation to capitalise on the unique network constituted by millions of mayors and local councillors throughout Europe. As a result of its members’ detailed knowledge of their area and population, this network of elected representatives can contribute to an early warning system for any drift towards radicalisation”, he concluded.

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The agenda in brief

29th Session 

1 December - General Assembly, and Bureau meeting of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) / Brussels, BELGIUM
2 December - Meeting of the Bureau of the Committee of the Regions / Brussels, BELGIUM

Calendar of events

Calendar of Local and regional ELections


Drapeau européenYouth activities
Drapeau européenFocus on Ukraine
VIDEO CLIP - The Congress in brief YouTube

Drapeau européenPolitical dialogue with governments
Bulgarian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers