“All levels of government needed to respond to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis and local authorities were and remain on the front line. There will be lessons to learn about the division of competences and the need for coordination between layers of government in crises such as this,” stated Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić during the online event "Covid-19: local and regional authorities on the front line", organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, on 7 December 2020.
Council of Europe Secretary General stressed the need to ensure adequate funding and resources for local and regional authorities in order to enable them to respond to emergencies and provide appropriate public services.
Referring to the Athens Declaration resulting from the November 2020 session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, she underlined that “these principles apply to the functioning of local democracy, just as much they do to central government”. The Athens Declaration seeks to guide member states in responding effectively to the public health crisis in full respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It calls for the protection of vulnerable populations, sets out the obligations entrusted to member states during major crisis situation and recalls that exceptional measures must be strictly necessary, proportionate, limited in time and in full compliance with the European Convention on human rights.
“Council of Europe standards do not apply only to functions carried out by central government. Multi-level governance requires a multi-level approach” concluded Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić.
Anders Knape, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and Kostas Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens took part in the meeting. Michael Roth, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany participated with a video message on behalf of the German Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.