What is the role of national associations of local authorities? Leendert VERBEEK (Netherlands, SOC), Vice-Chairman of the Congress Monitoring Committee, spoke on this issue at a round table in Minsk, Belarus, on 12 September 2018.
“Each country that adheres to the European Charter of Local Self-Government undertakes to follow at least twenty of its thirty principles,” stated Mr VERBEEK, stressing the flexibility of this “à la carte” system, which has made it accessible to the 47 Council of Europe member States despite different national systems.
“It is Article 10 of the Charter which requires member States to recognise the right of local authorities to belong to a national or international association of local authorities for the protection and promotion of their common interests," Mr VERBEEK explained, adding: “This provision is widely accepted by the member States, which thus recognise the role played by national associations in the institutional dialogue.”
“This right is generally enshrined either in the constitution or in law,” he continued, underlining that this right is also closely linked to the right of communities to be consulted by the central government on all matters affecting them.
“National associations are active partners of the Congress, which defends their place as key interlocutors of central governments and the local and regional authorities they represent,” he added. In this context, in 2014, the Congress developed a strategy on the right of local authorities to be consulted by other levels of government, as well as guidelines for national associations and delegations to strengthen their dialogue with governments. These will be considered for adoption by Congress members at their 35th Session in November 2018.
"I understand that the Belarusian legislation provides for the right of councils to form associations. The Congress is ready to support you and to share some successful experiences in the field of the development of national associations," he concluded.