Back Congress Bureau adopts a Declaration on the impact of central government COVID-measures on local and regional authorities

Congress Bureau adopts a Declaration on the impact of central government COVID-measures on local and regional authorities

The Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted the following Declaration during its meeting held by video conference on 9 June 2020 :

“The Congress Bureau expresses its concern about the democratic self-governance and financial autonomy of local and regional authorities in Council of Europe member States, in particular in view of recovery plans in the aftermath of the crisis.

It highlights the fact that some governments have imposed, within or outside the context of states of emergency, measures with far-reaching consequences for fundamental rights and freedoms and the democratic functioning which have also impacted the sub-national level - be it through relocation of powers, increase of central states’ surveillance or postponement of local and regional elections.

Stressing the crucial role of municipalities and regions in the management of health care, service delivery and awareness of citizens, particularly in major crisis situations, the Bureau underlines the fact that local and regional authorities have been among those most affected by the decline in economic output.

While recognising the special tasks and responsibilities of central governments in crisis situations, the Bureau makes specific reference to the basic principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Governance such as consultation and financial autonomy and urges the national authorities concerned to remove restrictions and restore democratic functioning at the local level, in full compliance with the Charter. Extraordinary measures must always be temporary only and under democratic control.

The Bureau further calls on national authorities to ensure, in the frame of recovery plans, that cities and regions will receive the necessary support to overcome the unprecedented economic downturn stemming from COVID-19, and to become resilient in the face of possible future major crisis situations.

In conclusion, the Bureau emphasises the role of European cities and regions as key partners of national governments for the restoration of the economy, social life and normal democratic functioning at the local and regional level. They must be involved in setting-up mechanisms and procedures for future emergency situations in their role as actors of multi-level governance.”

The meeting of the Bureau was followed by an exchange of views with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić. She presented, in particular, the guidelines prepared to assist the 47 member states in respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law as they struggle with the COVID-19 crisis and highlighted the essential role of local and regional authorities in this regard.

Bureau of the Congress Strasbourg France 9 June 2020
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