Latest News (Site updated Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 17:30)

Jean-Claude Frécon, President of the Congress condemns the Donbas local elections of 2 November as being “useless and counterproductive”

[30/10/2014 17:30:00] “I roundly condemn the holding of “elections” on 2 November in the two self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, which will take place in total contradiction with the laws and the Constitution of Ukraine,” stated today Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC). “These so-called elections have no democratic value whatsoever. They are not only useless; they are actually counterproductive to the fragile peace process that was initiated in Minsk.”
Press release

The Congress invites 20 young Ukrainian leaders to discuss the practices of local democracy on the occasion of the World Forum for Democracy

[30/10/2014 14:30:00] The Congress is to take part in several plenary sessions and thematic workshops (“Laboratories” - LABs) during the World Forum for Democracy, which is to take place from 3 to 5 November 2014 at the Palais de l’ Europe, Strasbourg (France). Focusing on the theme of “From participation to influence: can youth revitalise democracy?”, the Forum will bring together leaders, opinion shapers, activists from civil society and representatives of firms, universities, media and professional groupings. In this context, the Congress is organising a study visit, from 3 to 7 November 2014, for 20 young Ukrainian leaders who will be attending the Forum and meeting local elected representatives of the City of Strasbourg and the towns of Saverne in France and Kehl and Kappelrodeck in Germany. Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC), President of the Congress, will take part on 3 November in the round table session on “Young people – actors of global change?” and on 4 November in the plenary session of the Forum on the theme of “Youth empowerment for democratic transformation?”.
Press release
Forum website

Armenian mayors share their practical experience about citizen participation

[29/10/2014 16:30:00] « Citizen participation is one of the pillars of local democracy and a key element for developing effective local governance ». This is the main message of the « Effective citizen participation » workshop organised by the Congress in Aghveran, Armenia, for a selected group of Armenian mayors. After the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self Government in May 2013, the Armenian Government introduced a new legislation making it mandatory for local authorities to inform, consult and actively engage with their citizens. During the workshop, which took place on 29 and 30 October, mayors exchanged views about how to concretely implement these obligations and on different participation methodologies. Congress Members Alina Harutyunyan (Armenia, EPP/CCE) and Lusine Avetyan (Armenia, EPP/CCE) presented examples of best practices in citizen involvement in their communities. This was the fourth workshop of the leadership programme organised by the Congress in the framework of the project « Support for the consolidation of local democracy in Armenia », financed by the Government of Denmark. Two more workshops will be organised in 2015.
Co-operation activities of the Congress

Andreas Kiefer: ''Decentralisation favours the development of regional parties''

[27/10/2014 16:30:00] Regional parties, which are not present nation-wide, have emerged as a result of decentralisation in several European countries. “Decentralisation creates new political arenas and favours the establishment of regional and/or ethnic political parties in a system of checks and balances”, Andreas Kiefer, Congress-Secretary General, said in an international conference on “Regional parties after the EP-elections: Identity, scope and relevance” organised by the European Centre for Research on Federalism at the University of Tübingen, Germany, in cooperation with the “Akademie für Politische Bildung ” held in Tutzing, Bavaria, on 23-25 October 2014. Both Congress and Parliamentary Assembly have members coming from these parties, based on the criterion that national delegations must reflect the political landscape of the national and regional parliaments concerned. Speakers in the conference presented the situation and developments in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as the countries in the Balkans and the European Free Alliance, a network of regional parties in Europe.
Powerpoint presentation [pdf]
More information (German)

Jean-Claude Frécon, the new President of the Congress, addresses the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

[22/10/2014 15:30:00] “The Congress, an assembly of elected local and regional representatives, has become for both European governments and the other Council of Europe entities a loyal, operational and effective political partner. Within an intergovernmental organisation it has managed to find its rightful place, and it is with your support that this development has been possible”, said Jean-Claude Frécon, the newly elected President of the Congress, during his exchange of views with the Ministers’ Deputies of the Council of Europe on 22 October 2014. “We shall continue to consolidate our activities of monitoring the European Charter of Local Self-Government and observing local elections, while further increasing implementation of our recommendations through political dialogue with governments”, he explained.
Speech (French)
Committee of Ministers website

Youth Delegates participate in the Congress for the first time

[17/10/2014 16:00:00] 'Empowering youth: a shared responsibility for cities and regions”: was the theme of the 27th Session of the Congress held from 14 to 16 October in Strasbourg. For the first time young delegates, aged 16 to 30 years, from 34 different countries, took part in the Congress’ session and spoke at all the debates, sitting together with the members of the Congress in the hemicycle. They also participated in the meetings of the three Congress committees. On 15 October a special youth debate was on the agenda of the Session. The Youth Delegates decided on the two topics of the debate, namely “Youth (Un)employment” and “Co-management and the setting up of joint decision-making bodies”. Both topics were introduced by the Youth Delegates and debated together with members of the Congress. To ensure everyone’s voice was heard, including those who were not able to be there, comments on Twitter were screened live in the hemicycle with the hashtag #youthsession2014. On 16 October the Youth Delegates issued their recommendations to the elected representatives of the Congress, aimed at empowering young people in Europe to participate in the public debate and decision-making process.
Press release
Declaration of youth delegates
Video of the debate
Media Box Interviews of young delegates

Council of Europe Congress issues declaration on separatist tensions in Ukraine and neighbouring countries

[17/10/2014 10:30:00] The Congress adopted a declaration on separatist tensions in Ukraine and neighbouring countries on 16 October, at its 27th session held in Strasbourg (France). The Congress had already condemned the annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation in a declaration made at its previous session in March 2014. In the latest declaration 'condemns Russia’s military intervention in the east of Ukraine, and condemns all forms of pressure by Russia on its neighbours'. 'The security of this continent is seriously threatened by the Russian Federation’s repeated failure to comply with international rules and the principles and values of the Council of Europe that it signed up to when it joined the Organisation', states the text presented by Marc Cools (Belgium, ILDG) on behalf of the Congress Bureau. The declaration was adopted following a debate lasting some three hours, in which the speakers included: Vyacheslav Nehoda, First Deputy Minister of Regional Development of Ukraine, Valeriu Chiveri, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, Oleksii Reznikov, Deputy Mayor, Chairman of Kyiv City Council, Tengiz Shergelashvili, Deputy Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, and Fikrat Mammadov, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Session
Press release
Text of the Declaration
Video of the debate

Monitoring of local and regional democracy in Belgium

[16/10/2014 16:30:00] The Congress examined, on 15 October 2014, a report on the situation of local and regional democracy in Belgium on 15 October 2014, compiled after two monitoring visits carried out by Congress rapporteurs Henrik HAMMAR (Sweden, EPP/CCE) and Urs WÜTHRICH-PELLOLI (Switzerland, SOC), the first to Brussels and Tervueren on 8 and 9 October 2013 and the second to Brussels from 4 to 6 February 2014. The recommendation adopted underlines that the constitutional and legislative foundations of self-government are fully complied with throughout the country and that the scope of local self-government is generally respected. The Belgian authorities are invited to improve the procedure for consulting the communities and regions, in particular in the case of local authorities in the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. Session
Press release
Report CG(27)7
Recommendation 366 (2014)
Video (English version)
Presentation by Henrik Hammar, Rapporteur
Presentation by Urs Wüthrich-Pelloli, rapporteur

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The agenda in brief 
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27th Session of the Congress

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