'The crisis in Ukraine represents a major challenge for Europe and for our Organisation. In the face of this challenge, the three main bodies of the Council of Europe – the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly and the Congress – must speak with one voice”, said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, speaking at the 26th Congress Session on 26 March 2014. She firmly condemned the referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution, and the annexation of this territory by the Russian Federation. Moving on to talk about the place of young people in society – which is the Congress Session theme for 2014 – Ms Brasseur stressed the need to set up mechanisms which enable young people to contribute actively to the day-to-day life of the towns and municipalities they live in. “All the measures we are taking at national or international level will be successful only if their implementation is handled in an adequate way at local and regional level”, she concluded, while welcoming the good co-operation between the Congress and the Parliamentary Assembly.
During its plenary session in Strasbourg, the Congress adopted a declaration on Ukraine following an urgent debate, on the situation in the country, on 25 March. The declaration was presented by Marc Cools (Belgium, ILDG) and received 148 votes in favour, 22 votes against and 8 abstentions. The Congress states that it “does not accept the validity of the referendum, held on 16 March last, without the minimum democratic guarantees that should be in place for any vote. This pseudo-consultation should on no account pave the way for a change of borders between Russia and Ukraine.” The Congress declared its readiness to send a delegation to the Ukraine, including to the region of Crimea, to examine the situation. It is also at the disposal of the Ukrainian authorities to take part in a mission to observe the local elections to be held on 25 May 2014. The day before, the Congress Bureau had reaffirmed its willingness to maintain a dialogue with Russia.
The Congress adopted a recommendation on the situation of local and regional democracy in Sweden, following a monitoring visit to the country by the co-rapporteurs Luzette Wagenaar-Kroon (Netherlands, EPP/CCE) and Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC) in September 2013. The rapporteurs emphasised the high quality of Swedish local democracy, which comply, on the whole, with the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. In particular, they welcomed the recent incorporation of the principle of proportionality in the Swedish Constitution, intended to ensure that restrictions on local self-government do not exceed what is necessary, and the granting of regional development competences to numerous county councils. 'The Swedish government has amended the country's Constitution and introduced the principle of proportionality. It is now important to incorporate the subsidiarity principle too. This will provide a solid guarantee, in law, for local and regional democracy in Sweden', said Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, when presenting the report.
Lowering the voting age to 16: a way of increasing young people’s democratic participation?
Comment renforcer la démocratie par les médias électroniques ?
Human rights policy at regional level: examples of good practice in Europe
Local democracy in Armenia
The Congress calls for the release of Leyla Güven
Local and regional democracy in the Netherlands
Local and regional democracy in the United Kingdom
The Congress adopts a strategy on the right of local authorities to be consulted by other levels of government
Empowering youth: a shared responsibility for cities and regions
Roma youth inclusion through respect for their rights and access to education
Youth education and training: regions invest in twin-track schemes
Is there a real place for young people in local and regional democracy?
The Council of Europe Congress, promoter of human rights implementation at local and regional level
Signature of a Cooperation Agreement between the Congress and the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF)
Local governance and implementation of human rights at local level among the priorities of the Austrian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers
Publications: Special edition on the 20th Anniversary of the Congress and “The State of the Congress 2013” magazine
An action plan for cooperation between the Congress and the Assembly of European Regions
All news of the 26th Session