Mission, resources and working methods
the beginning of the 1990s, the Council of Europe has been implementing
assistance and co-operation programmes for the development of democratic
stability, in order to help member states (in particular those of
central, eastern and south-eastern Europe) to build up and consolidate
their democratic institutions.
programmes for democratic stability in the field of local democracy draw their inspiration from the
European Charter of Local Self-Government and are prepared every year by
the Directorate of Democratic Institutions (DDI) on the basis of the
needs expressed by national authorities.
scope of the assistance programme is potentially very broad. This
implies the need to set priorities and avoid the dispersion of efforts.
DDI strategy focuses on a limited number of objectives and concrete
targets, which have been defined in line with member states' political priorities,
but also with due regard to the “added value” that the Directorate’s
action can provide compared to action implemented by other agencies.
resources allocated to these programmes in the Council of Europe budget
are supplemented by funding from Joint Programmes with the European
Commission and by voluntary contributions granted by some Council of
Europe member states, earmarked to specific projects.
The purpose of the programmes may be summed up in three strategic aims,
which are related to the implementation of the subsidiarity
principle within the legal orders of the Council of Europe member
to foster the decentralisation process
to support the development of effective local and regional
to ensure that democracy takes root at local and regional
The DDI's approach to local government
reforms is characterised by the inclusion of all potential stakeholders
and the preparation of national Decentralisation Action Plans. In this
way, the proposed
legislative and institutional changes are accompanied by associated capacity-building
programmes. This allows local government reform to be pursued in a
more integrated way and helps generate the necessary consensus among
In concrete terms, the DDI's working methods centre on the following three
provision of policy guidance and support to the drafting of legislation
through legal appraisals, expert meetings, roundtables, seminars and
other similar activities;
the organisation of multilateral/regional activities, bringing together
participants from different countries, to share experience and encourage
the co-operation and the development of synergies with other organisations/implementing