Latest News (Site updated Tuesday, October 6, 2015 | 11:00)
A post-monitoring of local and regional democracy was initiated in Armenia
[05/10/2015 17:00:00] A Congress delegation comprising Nigel Mermagen (United Kingdom, ILDG), Congress Rapporteur on local democracy, and Gunn-Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP/CCE), Congress Rapporteur on regional democracy, made a post-monitoring visit to Armenia on 1 October 2015.
The delegation held talks with Vache Terteryan, First Deputy Minister for Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations, on the key points in the Recommendation 351 on the situation of local and regional democracy in Armenia adopted by the Congress in 2014. It is in particular concerning subsidiarity (territorial governance, consultation and administrative supervision) and local finances (financial equalisation, tax mechanism and own financial resources). The delegation underlined the many steps taken by Armenia concerning most of the recommendations made to the authorities. The revision of the constitution currently in progress is also a fundamental element underpinning all developments in local democracy in Armenia.
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Congress delegation completed a pre-electoral mission to Kyiv
[05/10/2015 10:00:00] A delegation of the Congress, headed by Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, Congress Vice-President (Austria, SOC), made a pre-electoral visit to Ukraine, on 1 October 2015, in view of the upcoming local elections scheduled for 25 October. The main issues discussed with Congress’ interlocutors included: the new electoral law recently adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament and challenges related to the electoral system, notably the equality of chances of candidates; the situation of media and the electoral campaign as well as implications of the ongoing decentralisation in Ukraine and the territorial-administrative reform. The findings of the Pre-Election Delegation will be the basis for the preparation of the main Congress mission, to be carried out from 22 to 26 October.
Congress highlights residence requirements at post-electoral conference in Chisinau
[05/10/2015 17:00:00] The importance of voters' lists for fair electoral processes was at the center of a post-electoral conference organised by the Council of Europe in co-operation with the Moldovan authorities on 5-6 October 2015 in Chisinau. Amy Koopmanschap (Netherlands, SOC), headed a delegation to observe the local vote on 14 June 2015 and was invited to present relevant recommendations from the Congress' perspective further to the electoral monitoring. In this context, she recognized the use of the State Automated Information System 'Elections' (SAISE) which contributed, in principle, to improvements.
However, the fact that citizens living de facto abroad are allowed to vote in local elections, if in the county on E-Day, was among the issues to be addressed.
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Workshop “Mayors – Leaders for change” in Chisinau
[05/10/2015 11:30:00] The Congress is organising a workshop “Mayors – Leaders for change” in Chisinau (Moldova) on 5-7 October 2015. It will bring together around 25 selected mayors from different parts of Moldova. Organised within the thematic programme “Strengthening institutional frameworks for local governance”, it aims to provide the participants with the opportunity to exchange experience with Moldovan and other European peers on local governments’ challenges and in particular on ways to define and lead successful and ethical policies, inspire and involve citizens and stakeholders in a positive and effective manner. They will be invited to reflect on how to lead change, how to enhance trust in local authorities and citizen participation in an ethical decision-making process.
Presse release Photos (Flickr) File ‘Co-operation activities’ Eastern Partnership website
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ratifies the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government
[05/10/2015 10:30:00] On 30 September 2015, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ratified the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority. “This ratification complies with one of the points raised in Recommendation 329 adopted by the Congress in October 2012. We welcome this concrete implementation, which consolidates local democracy and citizens’ rights,” said Jean-Claude Frécon, President of the Congress. The additional protocol on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority was opened for signature by the Council of Europe’s 47 member states on 16 November 2009, supplementing the text of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It entered into force on 1 June 2012 and has been ratified by 13 countries and signed by six, for which the ratification process is under way. In the context of its monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, the Congress consistently calls on states that have not done so to ratify the Protocol.
Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon meets Prime Minister of Serbia
[01/10/2015 17:00:00] Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon held an exchange of views with the Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, in Strasbourg on 1 October 2015 on the occasion of the Parliamentary Assembly session. President Frécon presented the work of the Congress and spoke about the next monitoring mission to Serbia in 2016 (the last monitoring mission was in 2010). Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said that Serbia had registered some 164.000 refugees who transited the country on the way to Germany and Scandinavian countries and confirmed that Serbia would continue to fulfill its humanitarian obligations. Jean-Claude Frécon looked forward to the contributions of the Serbian delegation at the next Congress session debates on refugees and migration in October. The Prime Minister confirmed that he would do all he could to improve the situation of local and regional democracy in Serbia in the interest of the citizens and praised the Council of Europe and its wealth of experience which helps member States to improve their performance in respect of commitments made.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon meets Council of Ministers Chair Denis Svizdic
[30/09/2015 18:00:00] Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon held an exchange of views with the Chair of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Svizdic, in Strasbourg, France, on 30 September 2015 on the occasion of the Parliamentary Assembly session. “Our country, which is currently chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, is a committed partner in the process of strengthening the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our priorities are tackling corruption, combating terrorism and reforming the justice system,” said Denis Svizdic. The Congress President praised Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts in moving towards European integration and highlighted the expertise of the Council of Europe and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in several areas. “In 2014, we adopted a recommendation on local and regional democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and expressed the need for political dialogue with your country’s authorities with a view to monitoring its implementation. Today, we reiterate our willingness to start such dialogue at the highest level. This post-monitoring process is vital to ensure the practical application of our recommendations and the democratic functioning of local and regional authorities,” he said. For his part, Denis Svizdic confirmed Bosnia and Herzegovina’s interest in co-operating with the Congress, in particular in tackling corruption. He also invited the Congress President to take part in the Conference on the Religious Dimension of Intercultural Dialogue to be held in Sarajevo on 2 and 3 November.
Meeting between Jean-Claude Frécon and the Grand-Duke of Luxembourg: “Luxembourg is an example for us all in terms of democracy and integration”
[29/09/2015 18:00:00] Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon met the Grand Duke of Luxembourg on 29 September 2015 on the occasion of the Parliamentary Assembly session. In particular, he mentioned the Grand Duke’s address to the Assembly, especially with regard to the refugee crisis. “You underlined that fear of the unfamiliar is our worst enemy. In this respect, your country is an example for us all! Over the decades, you have treated successive arrivals of migrants as opportunities, not threats”, he said. With regard to local democracy in Luxembourg, the President underlined the excellent co-operation of the country’s authorities with the Congress delegation during the monitoring visit last March, the report on which is to be submitted to the Congress for adoption at its October session. “The level of local democracy is generally very high in Luxembourg, even though, as everywhere, there are still some situations where improvements are possible”, he said. This was the Grand Duke’s second meeting with a Congress President, the first having taken place in March 2014 during Herwig van Staa’s presidency.
Congress supports action to professionalise Albanian electoral administration
[29/09/2015 17:30:00] Impartiality and professionalism of electoral bodies, improved democratic culture and inclusiveness of electoral reform processes were at the center of a conference co-organised by the Council of Europe and the Albanian authorities further to the local elections held on 21 June 2015. Nigel Mermagen, United Kingdom (L, ILDG), member of the Congress' delegation that has observed these elections, underlined on this occasion that progress was made in respect of the general environment and the electoral campaign. He also highlighted the introduction of a 50 per cent quota of female candidates. 'However, the high degree of politicisation of electoral bodies, the quality of voters' lists and the situation of independent candidates remain issues from Congress' perspective,' Mr Mermagen stated and he pointed to professional electoral management as a precondition of citizen's trust in elections. Moreover, inconsistencies between the territorial-administrative reform adopted in 2014 and the electoral law governing the 2015 local elections were to be addressed, in particular by the Congress' draft election observation report to be adopted at the 29th Session in Strasbourg. The Tirana conference concluded that education of voters and training of members of electoral commissions, notably through the creation of a dedicated training center, were crucial to achieve further progress in view of future elections in Albania.
29th Session of the Congress: “Local responses to human rights challenges – migration, discrimination, social inclusion”
[29/07/2015 15:00:00] The 29th Session (20th to 22nd of October) will include debates on guidelines for local and regional authorities on preventing radicalisation, on active citizenship by building partnerships with civil society, as well as on the increasing poverty of women and children’s rights in times of austerity. In addition, the Congress will be considering the reports on local democracy in Luxembourg, Montenegro as well as reports concerning the observation of elections in Albania and the Republic of Moldova. The Session will also see the participation of youth delegates aged 16 to 30 who will be invited to sit alongside Congress members. Youth participation will be the focus of several debates. Several texts will also be debated for adoption, concerning “New forms of local governance”, “Trends in regionalisation in the Council of Europe member States”, “New E-tools: a game changer for politicians” and “Conditions of office of local and regional elected representatives”. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe will address the members of the Congress during the Session.
Draft agenda File '29th Congress Session'