What is European Local Democracy Week?
“European Local Democracy Week” (ELDW) is an annual European event where local authorities from all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe organise public events to meet and engage with their citizens on issues of current interest. The aim is to promote and foster democratic participation at a local level.
Local authorities who took part in the ELDW in the past editions said it leads to:
- better involvement of citizens in public life and interaction with local authorities,
- testing citizens’ acquaintance with the participatory tools and their trust in local institutions,
- improving social cohesion and respect of the others in the community,
- taking part in a network of European municipalities and regions keen to improve local democracy in their place and across Europe.
The week around 15 October has been chosen for holding this event as a tribute to the European Charter of Local Self-Government, opened for signature on that date in 1985.
ELDW 2012 will officially take place between 15-21 October. However as this year’s event is scheduled at the same time as the October Session of the Congress, members may choose to schedule their European Local Democracy Week for a more convenient time in October.
“Human rights make for more inclusive communities” is the leading theme of the 2012 edition of European Local Democracy Week. European municipalities are encouraged to develop targeted programmes and activities according to their own priorities, such as involving vulnerable groups, improving inter-generational dialogue, ensuring public service quality etc.
What is the purpose of European Local Democracy Week?
ELDW aims to enable local populations to meet their elected representatives at national and/or local events. Its purpose is to raise European citizens’ awareness of how local authorities operate, and inform them of the opportunities available for taking part in decision-making at the local level.
During ELDW, local authorities are encouraged to reflect on their responsibilities as key actors in democratic societies. The vitality of local democracy improves the quality of life in our communities and enhances the effectiveness of local governance.
Furthermore, the Week creates the opportunity to assert local democracy as one of the common components for constructing a democratic Europe, and informs the public and elected representatives about the Council of Europe and its Congress’s role in this area
Who can take part in ELDW ?
ELDW is intended for local and regional authorities (local communities, cities, municipalities, provinces, regions).
Citizens and NGOs are both the principal beneficiaries of ELDW’s activities, and its main actors. Young people can also play an essential role in making the Week’s messages widely known, and the Youth and Children Councils are strongly encouraged to participate in the Week.
Local Authorities may organise different events with their citizens and target groups during the week of October when ELDW is officially held each year. They can also organise ELDW events on other dates if they cannot schedule activities during that period.
Regions and Intermediate local authorities, such as County Councils and provinces, can contribute to ELDW in various ways, mainly:
- Registering their participation as a Partner of ELDW 2012, organising their own initiatives involving citizens and other local partners, focusing on activities related to their competencies (cultural, education, social and health services, ombudsmen offices, etc.).
- Co-operating with other participating local authorities by supporting their initiatives with their institutional logo and by financial or ‘in-kind’ support (printing leaflets, providing equipment, printing ELDW posters and leaflets).
- Disseminating information to local authorities in the region/county to raise awareness of ELDW and the role of the Council of Europe and the Congress in promoting local democracy.
Who is responsible for this event?
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, as a political assembly composed of elected officials from local and regional authorities of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, is responsible for the coordination of ELDW across Europe. John Warmisham, member of the Congress and Salford (UK) City Council, is the political Coordinator of the Week. More info on contacts.
The European dimension of local democracy
Proximity, a vibrant local democratic life and good governance at the local level are aspirations largely shared by most Europeans.
Several organisations work towards promoting local democracy in Europe. The Council of Europe is committed to promoting a style of local self-government that meets the needs of citizens wherever they may be. The Council of Europe also initiated the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the body in charge of monitoring its implementation in each country. Through this instrument the signatory states undertake to recognise the principle of local self-government in domestic legislation.