The High-Level Group Congress/European Committee of the Regions (CoR) of the EU held its annual meeting on 29 January in Paris. The meeting brought together Presidents Anders Knape, Gunn Marit Helgesen and Xavier Cadoret of the Congress, CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz and Luc van den Brande representing the CoR CIVEX Commission, as well as Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer and CoR Secretary General Jiří Buriánek.
Opening their meeting by paying tribute to Mayor of Gdansk Pawel Adamowicz, participants expressed grave concern about pressure faced by local elected representatives today in Europe.
The participants expressed grave concern about the consequences of the current situation in Europe for local and regional democracy, pointing to the dangers and pressure faced by local elected representatives today. They stressed the need for greater advocacy vis-à-vis national governments of the added value of decentralisation as well as of the key role of local and regional elected representatives, with their direct access to citizens, in upholding the social fabric of communities. It was agreed to use the occasion of the 25th anniversary of both institutions in 2019 to bring this position forward, by holding a joint event in Brussels on 27 June.
Presidents Knape and Lambertz also underlined the importance of bringing together the institutional impact of both the Congress and the CoR, noting in this regard the acquis of the Congress in monitoring the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, as well as positive cooperation between the two institutions in the framework of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), the CoR Task Force on Ukraine and Working Group on Western Balkans, the Congress Reflection Group on Mostar and the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM). Other issues discussed included the situation of local democracy in Turkey and possible co-operation in support of decentralisation in Belarus, Tunisia and Morocco.