Further to the decision of the President of the Congress and the Presidents of the two Chambers, the meetings of the three Congress Committees have been rescheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will be organised on 21 September 2020 in Strasbourg.
The meetings of the three Committees on 21 September will be an opportunity for Congress members to exchange views and experiences regarding the management of the ongoing pandemic in Europe’s cities and regions. Therefore, thematic debates on "Safeguarding the European Charter of Local Self-Government in extreme crisis situations", "Protecting minorities in cities and regions in times of fundamental crisis: Lessons learned during the COVID-19 outbreak" and "The COVID-19 pandemic and challenges for multi-level governance" will be organised involving also youth representatives and international experts.
In view of the adoption during the September meeting, the Monitoring Committee is currently preparing draft reports on Austria and Ukraine for the consultation process. The draft monitoring report on Portugal is being prepared for the adoption by written procedure. Monitoring visits to the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Albania Azerbaijan and Ireland have been postponed to autumn this year, as it is the case for the post-monitoring visit to the Republic of Moldova. Monitoring visits to Spain and Germany, originally on the work programme of this year, will be carried out in 2021.
With regard to the observation of local and regional elections, further to the postponement of the local elections in Serbia, the respective Congress mission was also cancelled. With regard to further possible election observation missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine, the Congress stands ready to consider the deployment of observation missions, pending on further decisions of the according authorities. At the same time, a reflection paper is being prepared on the challenges of holdig local and regional elections in times of Corona which will be discussed at the meeting in September. On the same occasion, also the new Congress Human Rights Handbook on social rights will be presented.
As far as the Current Affairs Committee is concerned, reports on "Youth Work: The role of local and regional authorities" and "Culture without borders: cultural heritage management as a tool for local and regional development" are currently being finalised and will be ready for debate and adoption on 21 September. In addition, Terms of Reference (ToR) for a new report regarding “The role and responsibilities of local government in protecting LGBTI+ persons in the context of rising extremism and homophobia” have been adopted by written procedure on 3 April together with the ToR for the appointment of a Congress Thematic Spokesperson on Climate Change and Environment.
Draft reports on "Smart cities: the challenges for democracy", "Developing the urban-rural interplay", "Home-sharing platforms: challenges and opportunities for municipalities" and "Territorial solidarity and justice: towards better burden-sharing between regions" are currently being completed by the Governance Committee and will be presented for adoption on 21 September. Terms of Reference (ToR) for a new report on “Regional identities: improving dialogue to reduce regional tensions“ have been sent to the members of the Governance Committee for approval by 30 April. Further ToR for future reports are under preparation covering topical issues such as “Smart regions” and “Deliberative democracy in cities and regions“.