Reference Framework for Regional Democracy

While the rights recognised in the European Charter of Local Self-Government apply first and foremost to local authorities, the Charter stipulates that they may also apply to regional authorities where they exist. However, the magnitude of regional development in Europe calls for a specific legal instrument to address the issues of regional governance.

Therefore, in November 2009 in Utrecht (Netherlands) , the Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government adopted a Reference Framework for Regional Democracy. This text is a result of more than a decade of work from the Council of Europe Congress and its partners.
Photo : Family photo, Ministry Conference, Utrecht

A Code of rights and duties of regional entities
The Framework has two principal functions: to serve as a source of inspiration when countries decide to establish or reform their regional authorities; and to act as a body of principles on which the Congress can rely in monitoring regional democracy in the Council of Europe member states.

The text stresses the principle of subsidiarity, the principle of social and territorial cohesion and the need for solidarity among the components of a sovereign state.

For regional authorities, the Framework provides principles concerning their democratic structure, their organisation, competences and own resources, their place within the state, their relations with other authorities, and their relations with citizens.

Utrecht Conference

Special File
Key dates
1997: Congress adopted a draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government, which received full support of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. However, this project was not accepted by national governments as a binding instrument.

2002: the Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government adopted the so-called “Helsinki principles” of regional self-government.

2008: the Congress adopted a draft European Charter of Regional Democracy. This text was not accepted in the form of a convention but conducted to the elaboration of the Reference Framework.

2009: The European ministers responsible for local and regional government adopt the Regional Framework on Regional Democracy at the Utrecht Conference