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Congress strategy to address pandemic-related challenges to local democracy

Monitoring Committee Strasbourg, France 11 February 2021
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Congress strategy to address pandemic-related challenges to local democracy

The Monitoring Committee of the Congress adopted today a report on “Ensuring the respect of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in major crisis situations”.

“In times of major crisis, guaranteeing the respect of the European Charter of Local Self-Government is essential to safeguard local democracy and ensure the resilience of local self-government,” stated the Co-Rapporteurs Leendert Verbeek (Netherlands, SOC/G/PD) and Robert-Csongor Gruman (Romania, EPP/CCE).

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a centralisation of competences in some countries to the detriment of local autonomy and has deepened social and territorial inequalities regarding access to healthcare and prosperity. “Governments should consider the territorial dimension of the impact of COVID-19 and ensure a multi-level governance approach in responding to various pandemic-related challenges,” explained the co-rapporteurs.

The report asks central governments to prioritise appropriate consultation with local authorities and the allocation of adequate financial resources, as well as refrain from excessive supervision, and to establish a stronger political dialogue with the Congress. It also encourages the Congress to pursue its monitoring activities remotely and develop other alternative strategies to on-site monitoring during the sanitary crisis. However, these measures are exceptional and must not become a substitute to standard on-site monitoring procedures.

The rapporteurs also underlined the positive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in some cases has led to strengthening multi-level governance, inter-municipal co-operation and the role of local associations in consultation. Moreover, the digitalisation triggered by the pandemic should be used as a tool of public participation in local affairs to increase transparency and citizens’ engagement.

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