Council of Europe Congress President condemns illegal annexation by the Russian Federation of Ukrainian territories

Strasbourg, France 30 September 2022
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Council of Europe Congress President condemns illegal annexation by the Russian Federation of Ukrainian territories

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, made the following statement:

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the process of illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories that has been launched by the Russian Federation in flagrant violation of international law which Russia continues to disregard, as it was the case with Crimea and the city of Sevastopol in 2014. These territories are and will remain an integral part of Ukraine.

President’s Putin decision to illegally annex the occupied territories in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia dangerously escalates the unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine and gravely imperils the legal order which has existed in Europe since 1945, based on the respect of international law and its principles of territorial integrity and political independence of States.

I call on the Russian authorities to stop the process of illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories, abide by international law and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe reiterates its commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognised borders, and will continue to extend its unwavering support to Ukraine and its people in their struggle against the aggressor.”

See also:


Congress Secretary General reports on activities to the Committee of Ministers

Political Dialogue Strasbourg, France 28 September 2022
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Congress Secretary General reports on activities to the Committee of Ministers

On 27 September 2022, Andreas Kiefer presented the activities of the Congress since his last communication to the Committee of Ministers in March. He underlined in particular the agenda of the forthcoming Congress session in October 2022, which includes among others debates on the future of the Council of Europe, on the impact of hate speech and fake news on working conditions of local and regional elected representatives, on human rights and the environment and on the reception of women and children refugees. He recalled the continued support provided by the Congress to local authorities in Ukraine and its reconstruction and reiterated the Congress’ denunciation of the abduction of mayors and the holding of so-called referendum in the areas occupied by the Russian troops.

Mr Kiefer gave an overview of the developments of the Congress over the last twelve years of his mandate. He stressed that the profile of the Congress as an institution based on a Statutory Resolution of the Committee of Ministers had been raised and further developed by comprehensive self-chosen reforms. He thanked the representatives of the member States for supporting and accompanying the work, mission and adjustments implemented by the Congress, recalling that the allocation of sufficient budgetary and human resources was the condition for the Congress to fulfil its tasks.

Concerning the reflection on the future of the Council of Europe currently under way, he said “stable institutions, which are able to deliver, economies of scale and relevance through meaningful impact should be the guiding principles to the upcoming reform process in the run-up to a possible fourth Summit of the Council of Europe” underlining that the Congress and its network of members would actively contribute to this process.

The Congress Secretary General communication to the Deputies takes place twice per year as part of the dialogue that the Congress has developed with the Committee of Ministers.

 Activity report CG(2022)42-22
 Congress activity reports


Thomas Andersson calls for greater youth engagement in cross-border governance at AEBR annual conference

Novi Sad, Serbia 29 September 2022
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Thomas Andersson calls for greater youth engagement in cross-border governance at AEBR annual conference

“We in the Congress are convinced that decentralised cross-border co-operation is a crucial factor for territorial development and territorial cohesion on our continent”, stated Thomas Andersson (Sweden, ILDG), Chair of the Current Affairs Committee of the Congress, speaking at the Annual Conference of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) on “New solutions for the future of cross-border regions”, in Novi Sad, Serbia, on 29 September 2022.

In his speech, Mr. Andersson highlighted the Congress’ contributions to territorial co-operation, presenting good practices and Congress recommendations regarding cross-border cooperation and making particular reference to the Congress resolutions on “Prospects for effective transfrontier co-operation in Europe” and “Inter-regional co-operation in Europe: trends and prospects”.

Mr Andersson also drew attention to the importance of youth as a generator of change, in line with the conference’s focus on youth participation in cross-border cooperation. “Promoting young people’s engagement in building transborder communities is certainly one solution to guaranteeing the future of cross-border regions”, he stressed.


Call for tenders for the provision of consultancy services in the Republic of Moldova

Call for tenders Republic of Moldova 27 September 2022
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Call for tenders for the provision of consultancy services in the Republic of Moldova

The Council of Europe is currently implementing the project “Reinforcing the culture of dialogue and ethical open local governance in the Republic of Moldova” as part of the Council of Europe Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova (2021-2024).

In that context, it is launching a tender procedure for the purchase of local consultancy services in the field of local government and migration management in the Republic of Moldova.

Providers of consultancy services are sought to support local authorities with the management of the influx of refugees, including by developing the capacities of the association of local authorities to promote resilience, as well as integration and inclusion of the refugees in local communities, in particular through provision of policy and legal expertise to local public authorities.

The deadline for submission of applications is 10 October 2022.

The expected start date is 24 October 2022.

Tender documents

Interested consultants are invited to apply and submit their offer for the provision of local consultancy services in line with the Tender File and the Act of Engagement, which contain a full description of the terms and conditions of engagement and the scope of activities.

  Tender File

  Act of Engagement


Congress to observe cantonal elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Observation Elections Strasbourg, France 26 September 2022
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Congress to observe cantonal elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina

A 14-member delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will carry out an election observation mission from 29 September to 3 October to observe, specifically, the elections of the ten Cantonal Assemblies in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the vote in the Brčko District. Cantonal elections will be held on 2 October 2022, as a part of the general elections organised on the same day in the whole country.

Prior to the Election Day, the delegation, led by Stewart Dickson (United-Kingdom, ILDG), will meet with the President of the Central Election Commission (CEC), members of the diplomatic corps as well as with representatives of political parties and candidates running in the elections.

Joint briefings are also scheduled with OSCE/ODIHR Core Team and delegations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament. The delegation will finally exchange views with domestic and international NGOs and media representatives.   

On Election Day, nine Congress teams will be deployed in all ten cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Brčko District to monitor the election procedures in polling stations.

The preliminary conclusions will be presented by the Head of Delegation at a press conference in Sarajevo on 3 October 2022 at 11h30 CETS (Venue: Hotel Holiday, Sarajevo, Room INN).

Congress delegation:

Mr Stewart DICKSON, United-Kingdom (ILDG, R), Congress Spokesperson on Observation of Local and Regional Elections, Head of Delegation/Rapporteur.
Ms Kirsten Morild Vincent ANDERSEN (SOC/G/PD, R), Denmark
Mr Cemal BAS (EPP/CCE, L), Türkiye
Mr Jean-Paul BASTIN (EPP/CCE, L), Belgium
Ms Majlinda BUFI (SOC/G/PD, R), Albania
Ms Jacqueline FEHR (SOC/G/PD, R), Switzerland
Mr Josef FREY (SOC/G/PD, R), Germany
Ms Cecilia FRIDERICS (ECR, L), Hungary
Ms Tanja JOONA (ILDG, L), Finland
Mr Jimmy MOLONEY (ILDG, L), Ireland
Mr Jorge SEQUEIRA (SOC/G/PD, R), Portugal 
Mr Artur TUSINSKI (NR, L), Poland
Ms Sevdia UGREKHELIDZE (EPP/CCE, L), Georgia
Ms Juliia VUSENKO (EPP/CCE, R), Ukraine

Expert:
Mr Pavel PSEJA, Member of the Group of Independent Experts of the Congress (Czech Republic)

See also: Congress webpage on the observation of local and regional elections

Contact: Dušan Vojnović   +33 3 90 21 56 99


Climate strategies must involve local and regional authorities

Current Affairs Committee Izmir, Türkiye 26 September 2022
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Climate strategies must involve local and regional authorities

Congress Spokesperson on Environment and Climate Change, Cemal Baş (Türkiye, EPP/CCE), participated in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)’s meeting of the Network of Contact Parliamentarians for a healthy environment in Izmir, Türkiye on 23 September 2022.

"It is clear that national and international climate plans can only succeed if they are developed with the involvement of local and regional authorities”, he said, underlining the importance of cooperation between Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and PACE on the right to a healthy environment. Mr Baş expressed Congress’ support for an additional protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on environmental matters, which would enshrine the right of local authorities to participate in decision-making on environmental matters, given that, in many member States, their role in environmental policy is not explicitly recognised.

The spokesperson also drew attention to the Congress’ commitment to the environment: notably, its upcoming third volume of the Human Rights Handbook for local and regional authorities on the environment and sustainable development, and the joint report of the Monitoring Committee and Current Affairs Committee “A fundamental right to the environment: a matter for local and regional authorities”, which will be submitted for adoption during the 43rd session of Congress on 26 October 2022.

“In the current context, we can no longer think good local and regional governance without thinking green. Cities and regions must take preventive action, not be on the reactive”, he continued, stressing the role of cities and regions as “first responders” to the effects of climate change.

See also:


The Bureau of the Congress met in Lelystad, Netherlands

Lelystad, the Netherlands 23 September 2022
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The Bureau of the Congress met in Lelystad, Netherlands

At the invitation of the President of the Congress, the Congress Bureau held its meeting on 23 September 2022, in Lelystad, Flevoland, the Netherlands.

On this occasion, the Bureau had an exchange with Dutch local authorities.

The Bureau continued its discussion on the Russian Federation's war against Ukraine, endorsed the President's statements of 31 August and 5 September 2022 and issued a statement on this matter reaffirming its commitment to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and describing these so-called referendums as a "a denial of rule of law, human rights and democracy” and called upon the Congress members to make full use of the cities4cities platform.

In view of the possible 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, the Bureau approved the contribution of the Congress to the High Level Reflection Group on the future of the Council of Europe and will continue its discussions at the next Congress session.

The Bureau also took note of the situation of local and regional democracy in Türkiye, where opposition politicians including Congress former members, are in long-term detention.

The Bureau considered the forthcoming cantonal and local elections respectively in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 2 October 2022 and in Slovenia on 20 November 2022 and the Congress delegation which will participate in the observation of these elections.

The Bureau approved the agenda for the next Congress session to be held in Strasbourg from 25 to 27 October 2022.


President of the Congress, Leendert Verbeek: "So-called referendums organised in the occupied territories of Ukraine are a denial of the rule of law, human rights and democracy"

Bureau Lelystad, Netherlands 23 September 2022
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President of the Congress, Leendert Verbeek:

On the occasion its meeting on 23 September 2022, in Lelystad, the Netherlands, the Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, endorsed the President of the Congress’ statements of 31 August and 5 September 2022 and issued the following statement:

"The Bureau of the Congress of the Council of Europe reiterates that the so-called “referendums” announced by the Russian Federation in the militarily occupied territories of Ukraine would be an abuse of this democratic instrument and a further attempt to destroy democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine”.

These referendums are contrary to international law and the Constitution of Ukraine and, as such, are illegal and their results will be null and void. The recommendation adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in 2021, recalls that referendums, like any other electoral process, must take place in accordance with democratic principles and internationally recognized standards, in particular with respect for the rule of law and human rights.

We will never recognise any referendums organised under intimidation in the occupied territories of Ukraine. We reject this denial of the rule of law, human rights and democracy and reaffirm our commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our member State Ukraine, within its internationally recognised borders.

We also condemn the pressure exerted on the citizens of the occupied territories as well as the continuing abduction of local elected representatives. This is a clear attempt to intimidate the civilian population through coercion and suppress their resistance in the occupied territories.

The values that we defend of democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout the continent do not weaken us, contrary to what some would have us believe, but strengthen us in our freedoms and our desire to build more inclusive, equitable and resilient societies.”

See also:


Kristoffer Tamsons: Hate speech and fake news detrimental effect on working conditions of local and regional elected representatives

Governance Budapest, Hungary 23 September 2022
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Kristoffer Tamsons: Hate speech and fake news detrimental effect on working conditions of local and regional elected representatives

“Hate speech and fake news are on rise in Europe, particularly on the internet and social media, and have a detrimental, paralising effect on working conditions and effectiveness of local and regional elected representatives and by extent on local and regional democracy as a whole”, stated Congress Rapporteur Kristoffer Tamsons (Sweden, EPP/CCE) at the opening of the conference “Hate Speech and Fake News – Fate or Issue to Tackle?” held in the framework of CEE e|Dem and e|Gov Days 2022 in Budapest, on 22-23 September 2022.

Mr. Tamsons presented the draft report on “Impact of hate speech and fake news on the working conditions of local and regional elected representatives” which will be debated for adoption at the 43rd Session of the Congress, on 25 October 2022.

He underlined the absolute need to provide an adequate legal and regulatory framework at the national level to counter online and offline threats, while ensuring the balance between freedom of expression and the limitations that can or must be apply to freedom of expression.  The aim of the report is to analyse the impact of hate speech and fake news on local democracy and to propose responses, at local, regional and national levels, in line with relevant European standards and best practices.

See also:


Congress promotes deliberative democracy and inclusive models of co-creation with citizens

Co-operation Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina 22 September 2022
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Congress promotes deliberative democracy and inclusive models of co-creation with citizens

The Congress organised a European Conference on Democratic renewal: innovating with deliberative democracy in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), on 20-21 September 2022. It brought together local and regional officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina and international experts.

The event was opened by Mostar Mayor Mario Kordic and Congress Director Rafael Benitez. Taking stock of successful deliberative practices from Brussels and Ostbelgien (Belgium), Paris (France), Ireland, Bologna (Italy), Gdansk (Poland), Istanbul (Türkiye), Northern Ireland (United Kingdom), an Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), participants discussed the added value of adopting deliberative approaches in decision-making as a form of “collective wisdom” and a response to democratic backsliding.

“The adequate response of authorities to citizens recommendations stemming from deliberative processes is vital to keep up the new dynamic, uphold a sense of co-creation and re-install the trust in democracy”, said Karl-Heinz Lambertz (Belgium, SOC/V/DP), Congress rapporteur on the use of deliberative methods at local and regional level.

“Deliberative processes foster a democracy closer to citizens” reiterated Stewart Dickson (United Kingdom, ILDG), Congress Spokesperson on the Observation of Elections who also highlighted the role of youth and the importance of such processes to allow for diverse perspectives and meaningful inputs for policymakers.

The Conference followed on the 1st Mostar Citizens’ Assembly and as part of its recommendations’ implementation, an ecological campaign was launched in primary schools in Mostar.

In the margins of the Conference, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Congress and the two associations of municipalities and cities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the Republika Sprska to foster the implementation of the principles of open government and public ethics at the local level in the country.

These activities were organised in the framework of the project “Innovating democratic participation at local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina” is implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2022-2025. The project aims to enhance the quality of local democracy and create opportunities for citizens to engage in innovative participatory processes in Mostar and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will promote new democratic approaches, open government, public ethics, transparent and inclusive local policy making in the country.


World Forum for Democracy: Registration is Open

World Forum for Democracy Strasbourg, France 22 September 2022
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World Forum for Democracy: Registration is Open

The 10th edition of the World Forum for Democracy will take place between 7th and 9th of November 2022, at the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, under the theme : “Democracy: a new hope?”. It will be devoted to assessing the key contributing factors to democratic decline, considering how these can be addressed, and exploring what kind of democratic future is desirable, and possible, in the interest of people across the world.

As in previous sessions, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities will take an active part in this Forum and will sponsor Lab 7 “Polarisation and democratic engagement”. This Lab is expected to take place on the second day of the Forum (Tuesday 8th November).  In addition, the Congress members will actively participate in other Labs and Forum Talks as discussants, panelists, and participants on a variety of topics such as youth participation, e-democracy, social inclusion, protection of activists and human rights’ defenders, etc.

Registration is open to all participants on the World Forum for Democracy website


Portugal ratified the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority

Post-Monitoring Strasbourg, France 22 September 2022
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Portugal ratified the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority

“The Congress welcomes the ratification by Portugal of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority,” said Leendert Verbeek, President of the Congress, on 21 September 2022, following the transmission of the instrument of ratification to the Council of Europe.

“This ratification responds to the recommendation adopted by Congress in 2020 and enshrines the right of citizens to participate in the management of public affairs. With the entry into force of the Protocol in Portugal on 1 January 2023, a new stage is opening up for Portuguese territorial democracy”, welcomed the President of the Congress. “It is fundamental that States which have not yet done so ratify this legal instrument in order to guarantee democratic participation at the closest level in all member States,” he underlined.

The European Charter of Local Self-Government is the first binding international treaty guaranteeing the rights of local authorities and their elected representatives. Its additional protocol was adopted in 2009 to supplement the text of the Charter and bring within its scope the right of everyone to participate in the affairs of a local authority, a principle enshrined in the preamble to the Charter.  To date, the Charter has been ratified by the 46 member States of the Council of Europe, but 25 of them have not yet ratified the Additional Protocol.

Portugal ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1990. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is responsible for evaluating the application of the principles of the Charter and its Additional Protocol in Council of Europe member States who ratified them.


Congress contributes to the Council of Europe's draft Convention on Artificial Intelligence

Strasbourg, France 22 September 2022
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Congress contributes to the Council of Europe's draft Convention on Artificial Intelligence

"The governance of artificial intelligence (AI) and digitisation must be human-centered, focusing on human rights and sustainable development," said Mr David Eray (Switzerland, EPP/CCE), Congress Spokesperson for Artificial Intelligence, at the 2nd plenary session of the Council of Europe Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) on 21 September 2022.

The Congress Spokesperson expressed the Congress’ support to the CAI in the development of the draft Convention of the Council of Europe on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. This draft aims to develop common principles for the design and application of AI systems and to ensure respect for human rights in a context where AI systems assist or replace human decision-making. These principles are also upheld in the report on "Smart Cities and Regions" prepared by the Governance Committee, which will be submitted for adoption during the 43rd session of Congress on 25 October 2022.

"Artificial intelligence tools must be used wisely, in accordance with the requirements of the principles of the Council of Europe, in order to contribute to a proper functioning of local democracy as well as to allow better participation in local public affairs," Mr Eray emphasized, stressing the importance of adequate regulation for local and regional authorities, especially regarding the protection of personal data, cybersecurity and the integrity of electoral processes, whilst also calling for greater efforts to overcome the digital divide.


Annual meeting of the Congress Group of Independent Experts

Strasbourg, France 16 September 2022
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Annual meeting of the Congress Group of Independent Experts

The Congress Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government (GIE) held its annual meeting in Strasbourg, France, on 15 and 16 September 2022.

The members of the GIE discussed the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in the presence of the Chair of the Congress Monitoring Committee, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC/V/DP), as well as the Congress' activities in the observation of local and regional elections. Following the adoption of a series of reports on recurrent electoral issues, a new series of publications entitled "Democratic Elections" will be launched at the 43rd Session (25-27 October 2022).

Furthermore, in the context of the war in Ukraine, an analysis of the conformity of martial law in times of armed conflict with the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government was presented to the GIE members.

Other topics included the Congress report on human rights and the environment, which will be submitted for adoption at the next Congress session, as well as digital transformation in European local governments, deliberative democracy with the experience of the Dublin Citizens' Assembly, the GIE study on the direct election of mayors, the fight against hate speech and fake news, and the draft revision of the European Urban Charter II - Manifesto for a new urbanity in the context of major crises.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Additional Protocol to the Charter on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority, an overview of the application of the Protocol in member States was presented to the members of the GIE.

 Photo gallery

The GIE brings together experts from each of the 46 member States of the Council of Europe who are competent in the field of law, politics and finance and specialise in issues relating to local and regional democracy. They provide legal assistance to the Congress within the framework of its political mission, and are involved in its Monitoring, Current Affairs and Governance Committees.


Bernd Vöhringer addresses the Association of Irish local Government: “Efficient local authorities require strong structures to represent them at national and European level”

Trim, Ireland 15 September 2022
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Bernd Vöhringer addresses the Association of Irish local Government: “Efficient local authorities require strong structures to represent them at national and European level”

Bernd Vöhringer, President of the Chamber of Local Authorities and Mayor of the German city of Sindelfingen, attended the Association of Irish local Government Seminar on "Celebrating Local Government", held 14 and 15 September 2022 and underlined that it is essential to give local and regional elected representatives all the support they need to carry out their missions in response to everyday challenges and crisis situations.

Addressing the theme “Local Government - Leading out in Challenging times”, he stressed that the key to efficient multi-level governance and resilient and strong societies was a well-functioning local democracy which requires strong local authorities and strong structures to represent them at all levels of governance. Recalling the many challenges democratic societies have been facing over the last years, in particular the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, he underlined that local and regional authorities are the ones which are on the frontline, responding to the citizens’ daily needs, expectations and grievances in all circumstances. He praised the Congress for playing a central role in supporting them in this regard. "The Congress provides local elected representatives and their associations a forum to exercise peer-to-peer relations and mutual support. One concrete example of this inter-solidarity is the Cities4Cities platform that we launched to put in contact Ukrainian cities with European cities willing to help them," he said.

The seminar was organised as part of the Irish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Irish Minister for local Government and Planning, Peter Burke and the Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy will participate in the 43rd session of the Congress on 25 October 2022.


Congress promotes local democratic renewal through deliberative democracy

Co-operation Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina 15 September 2022
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Congress promotes local democratic renewal through deliberative democracy

The Congress organises a European conference on “Democratic renewal: innovating with deliberative democracy”, which will take place on 20-21 September 2022 in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conference aims to bring together local leaders, mayors and presidents of councils across Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of Europe.

They will discuss the main trends in the area of collaborative governance and innovative co-creation between local authorities and citizens, and the added value of deliberative democracy in times of multiple crises. Through good practices from Bologna (Italy), Brussels and Ostbelgien and (Belgium), Gdansk (Poland), Ireland, Istanbul (Türkiye), Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) and Paris (France) participants will delve into follow-up and institutionalisation of deliberative processes, as well as the empowerment of citizens, including underrepresented groups.

The event is open for public and media. Those interested to take part in the conference online are invited to register by filling out this form.

This event is organised in the framework of the project “Innovating democratic participation at local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina” implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2022-2025. The project aims to enhance the quality of local democracy and create opportunities for citizens to engage in innovative participatory processes in Mostar and elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It promotes new democratic approaches, open government, public ethics, transparent and inclusive local policy making in the country.


International Day of Democracy: Congress President calls for strengthening democratic resilience on the European continent

Presidency Strasbourg, France 15 September 2022
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International Day of Democracy: Congress President calls for strengthening democratic resilience on the European continent

On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, celebrated each year on 15 September, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, has made the following statement:

“This year, we are marking International Democracy Day as our societies find themselves under enormous strain from multiple crises affecting them – the consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, continued threat of climate change and environmental degradation, migration, social and economic problems and growing polarisation of our societies. More than ever, these crises bring to the fore the urgent need for building stronger democratic resilience of our societies, the need for upholding our democratic values and pursuing our work of strengthening democratic institutions and processes at all levels of governance, and for engaging citizens in order to regain their trust in these institutions.

These crises are also a stark reminder that the work of democracy building is never finished. In the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, we are convinced that this work must be pursued in our communities, to embed democratic values and anchor democracy at the level closest to the citizens. We are also convinced that democratic resilience is built from the bottom up, for the level of our villages, towns, cities, provinces and regions, our territorial communities, and that strong local democracy translates into stronger democracy at all levels. Multi-level governance provides the responses to crises most tailored to citizens’ needs and expectations, and therefore local and regional authorities must be equipped with the necessary resources and freedom to act, as laid down by the European Charter of Local Self-Government. On this International Democracy Day, the Congress is committed to pursuing its mission of advancing and strengthening on the European continent local and regional democracy – which is a landmark feature of Europe’s democratic model.”


Current Affairs Committee: Refugee women and children, environment and human rights, local and regional media on the agenda

Current Affairs Committee Remote 14 September 2022
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Current Affairs Committee: Refugee women and children, environment and human rights, local and regional media on the agenda

The Congress Current Affairs Committee met remotely on 14 September 2022.

On the agenda was a report on " the reception of women and children refugees in Europe’s cities and regions", which follows a Congress visit to Poland in July 2022. The report examines the specific needs of women and children on the run, the role of local authorities and regions in the reception processes, as well as challenges and best practices in this regard.

Members of the Committee also approved a preliminary draft recommendation and resolution on a fundamental right to the environment, drawn up jointly with the Congress Monitoring Committee, which proposes the elaboration of an additional protocol on environmental matters to the European Charter of Local Self-Government. These texts will be debated for adoption during the 43rd Session of the Congress (25-27 October 2022).

Furthermore, the Committee discussed the terms of reference for a report on "Local and regional media as watchdogs of democracy". It also examined a proposal to draw up specific recommendations for local and regional authorities on how to be resilient and to rebuild after major crises.


The Monitoring Committee adopted reports on the situation of local democracy in Belgium, Sweden and Denmark

Monitoring Committee Remote meeting 14 September 2022
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The Monitoring Committee adopted reports on the situation of local democracy in Belgium, Sweden and Denmark

The Congress Monitoring Committee met remotely on 14 September 2022. The meeting was opened by Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria SOC/V/DP), Chair of the Monitoring Committee.

The Committee members adopted draft reports on the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Belgium, Sweden and Denmark. The rapporteurs presented recent developments regarding local and regional self-government in these three countries and an analysis of the implementation of the Charter, article by article. These reports will be debated for adoption at the 43rd Session of the Congress to be held in Strasbourg, France, from 25 to 27 October 2022.

Furthermore, the Committee held an exchange of views and adopted a preliminary draft resolution to endorse the revised Code of Good Practice on Referendums, adopted by the Venice Commission and the Council for Democratic Elections.  This resolution encourages the authorities to implement the guidelines and good practices as defined by the Venice Commission, which are also reflected in the Congress report on referendums at local level adopted in 2021.

Also on the agenda was an exchange on the situation of local and regional democracy in the Republic of Moldova in the context of the implementation of the roadmap and the post-monitoring political dialogue between the Congress and the Moldovan authorities.


James Moloney: “We must give young people a place at the forefront in national and international policy-making forums”

Youth Mollina, Spain 13 September 2022
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Photo taken during the 21st edition of the University on Youth and Development (UYD 2022), North-South Centre of the Council of Europe

Photo taken during the 21st edition of the University on Youth and Development (UYD 2022), North-South Centre of the Council of Europe

At the opening of the 21st edition of the University on Youth and Development (UYD), organised by the Council of Europe’s North-South Centre on 12 September 2022 in Mollina (Spain), James Moloney (Ireland, ILDG), Vice-Chair of the Current Affairs Committee and Congress Rapporteur on rural youth, underlined the importance “of making the younger generation part of governance” in line with the values and standards of the Council of Europe and of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

"Youth work comes in many shapes and does not fit into one single mould”." underlined Mr Moloney, presenting the Congress activities in this field. Among them is the “Rejuvenating Politics” initiative”, a programme that allows youth delegates from the 46 member States to participate in Congress sessions and meetings. More recently, the Congress adopted a report on youth work, as well as guidelines encouraging local and regional authorities to get young people involved in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr Moloney also presented the report on the future of youth in rural areas and shared some of the specific battles that young people in rural areas have to fight such as access to education and employment, service provision, and less opportunities than urban peers to participate in public and political life. To address these challenges the Congress calls for meeting young people where they are at, engage with them in an intersectional way, and listen to their feedback for instance by engaging with rural youth organisations to better understand needs and creating advisory youth councils.

“What better way to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure a sustainable future than by involving the young generation who represents both the present and the future.”, he concluded.

See also: Youth participation

The 21st edition of the University on Youth and Development (UYD) gathered over 235 youth workers, youth leaders, decision makers, experts from the field and institutional representatives. This year, the 10 activities focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 “the role of young people in promoting peaceful and inclusive societies”.


Congress President condemns the continuing abduction of Ukrainian local elected representatives

Presidency Strasbourg, France 5 September 2022
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Source: Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC)

Source: Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC)

In light of the continuing abductions of Ukrainian local elected representatives, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, endorsing the statement made by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović on the occasion of the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, made the following statement:

“I demand the immediate and unconditional release of all local public officials in Ukraine and condemn the abhorrent practice of abduction and detention.

Mayors, as leaders in local communities, are particularly targeted for their role as the main pillar of fierce resistance against the occupation. Their enforced detention constitutes a serious violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. Attacks on local leaders are attacks on the community.

Since the beginning of the war, more than 50 local elected representatives, including 34 mayors from different regions of Ukraine, have been abducted by Russian forces. This is an obvious attempt to intimidate the civilian population and supress its resistance in the occupied territories.

To date, the mayors of Dniprorudne (Zaporizhzhia region), Vilkhivka (Kharkiv region), Hola Prystan, Kherson, Hornostaivka, Zelenyi Pid, Verkhnii Rohachyk (Kherson oblast) remain in captivity.

I wish to reiterate the Congress’ stand in this regard and stress that the Russian Federation carries full responsibility for the war against Ukraine and for its disastrous humanitarian consequences, while restating our solidarity with Ukraine and its people in their struggle against the aggressor.”

See also:


Congress President warns of fictitious Russian "referendums" in Ukrainian territories

Presidency Strasbourg, France 31 August 2022
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Congress President warns of fictitious Russian

Against the background of mounting indications of possible "pseudo-referendums" in Ukrainian territories currently occupied by Russia, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, has urged the Russian authorities to refrain from such plans.

As part of the regional elections scheduled for 11 September in the Russian Federation, according to the analysis of international NGOs, so-called “referendums” could be organised in Ukrainian areas currently occupied by Moscow, notably Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as well as in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

“This would mean that President Putin would continue his imperialist policy, which brought a war to Europe that had never been seen after 1945 on this scale. I therefore urge the Russian authorities to refrain from such plans,” said Congress President Leendert Verbeek.

The Congress has always spoken out loud and clear in favour of preserving the territorial integrity of Council of Europe member countries, according to the Congress President. “Russia is no longer a member of the Council of Europe. But Ukraine is - and we stand united behind this country and its people and we will do whatever it takes to continue supporting Ukraine and helping its local and regional authorities," Mr Verbeek made clear.

A recommendation on holding referendums at the local level, adopted by the Congress in 2021, contains clear guidance on how referenda should be organised at the local and regional level - and what should be avoided. "If Russia uses the referendum, a valuable democratic instrument in itself, to further intensify its aggressive policy vis-à-vis the Council of Europe member State Ukraine, this is an abuse of this instrument and a further attempt to destroy democracy and the rule of law. Therefore, should Russia stick to the plans for such fictitious referendums in Ukrainian territories, the results will be null and void for us,” concluded Congress President Leendert Verbeek.

See also:


Reinventing democratic institutions with youth participation

Letterkenny, Ireland 30 August 2022
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Reinventing democratic institutions with youth participation

"In the face of the current crises, democratic institutions need to be “reinvented” with citizens’ involvement – and in particular young people – to make sure that citizens have constant access to governance, not limited to elections alone," stated Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer, on 30 August 2022, at the opening of the Assembly of European Regions' (AER) Summer Academy, in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland.

"Local and regional authorities are best placed to engage young people directly in decision-making and democratic processes," he insisted, recalling that the "necessity of youth participation" - which is one of the priorities of the Irish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers - has been promoted by the Congress for decades, notably through the European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life and through several reports, the most recent of which are on the role of local and regional authorities in strengthening youth work (2021), the future of young people in rural areas (2022) and on children's involvement for sustainable cities (2022).

"Participation means engaging with young people on an equal basis," the Secretary General stressed, pointing out that the Congress is the only international organisation to allow young people to sit in a European assembly alongside local and regional elected representatives. Developed in the framework of its "Rejuvenating Politics" strategy, this initiative offers youth delegates from the 46 Council of Europe member states the opportunity to contribute, without voting rights, to debates during Congress sessions and committee meetings.

Congress Youth Delegate Leonard Wilks (Switzerland) took part in the debate on “Youth and regional government” which focused on how regions can better promote youth engagement and get young people truly involved in decision-making processes within their communities, from youth councils to entrepreneurship and other forms of civic activism.

The Assembly of European Regions (AER) has been a statutory partner of the Congress since 10 February 2017 and can attend, without voting rights, the meetings of the Congress Bureau and committees. In addition, a co-operation agreement was signed between the Congress and the AER on 25 February 2014, with a view to collaborating on matters of common interest, strengthening their complementarity and developing synergies.


International Youth Day : “Creating stronger links between youth and other generations can help us find solutions to today’s challenges” says Congress Spokesperson

International Youth Day Strasbourg, France 12 august 2022
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International Youth Day : “Creating stronger links between youth and other generations can help us find solutions to today’s challenges” says Congress Spokesperson

On International Youth Day, 12 August 2022, Congress Spokesperson on Youth, Laura Lauro (Italy, EPP/CCE), expressed her support for this year’s theme: “Intergenerational solidarity” and stressed the need to develop strong intergenerational connections to build more inclusive and democratic societies.

“Our towns, cities and regions offer the best platforms to encourage intergenerational exchange. It is at the level of communities that young and old can interact, learn from each other, and work together to find concrete solutions,” the Spokesperson stressed. Ms Lauro mentioned some examples, in particular in northern Italy, where young people came together to deliver food to families and elderly people in need, during the height of the Covid pandemic.

Furthermore, the spokesperson recalled that intergenerational solidarity must be built both ways. She encouraged all local and regional representatives to implement this principle in their communities, for example by setting up youth councils or a mentoring programme for younger politicians in their local or regional council.

Every year, International Youth Day (IYD) celebrates young peoples’ voices, actions, and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal, and equitable engagement. (from International Youth Day | United Nations). In 2022, the theme of the International Youth Day is “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages

See more: 


The right to a healthy environment, a universal human right and an emergency for all levels of governance

Human rights Strasbourg, France 9 August 2022
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The right to a healthy environment, a universal human right and an emergency for all levels of governance

Following the resolution just adopted by the United Nations General Assembly declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal human right, Congress spokesperson on human rights Harald Bergmann (Netherlands, ILDG), welcomed this historic decision. "This recognition is a landmark development which demonstrates the urgency of collective action, at all levels of governance, to preserve our environment and fight climate change," he said, recalling that the Congress has consistently advocated the crucial and leading role of local and regional authorities.

"The Congress is convinced that a safe and healthy environment is a precondition for the enjoyment of human rights and that this is a shared responsibility. What we are aiming for is a 'green reading' of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, i.e. an interpretation of its provisions from the point of view of environmental protection, as well as the strengthening of the position of local and regional authorities in environmental decision-making," he stressed, referring to the report adopted by the Monitoring Committee in Istanbul on 30 June, which will be debated at the 43rd Congress Session (25-27 October 2022).

The Congress proposes to draw up an Additional Protocol to the Charter which guarantees local governance in environmental matters and raises awareness of local and regional authorities. Furthermore, in order to assist local and regional authorities and their administrations, the Congress is preparing a third volume of the Human Rights Handbook series for local and regional elected representatives on the environment and sustainable development, to be published in October 2022.

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International consultants - Call for tenders extended to 22 August 2022

Call for tenders Strasbourg, France 22 June 2022
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International consultants - Call for tenders extended to 22 August 2022

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is looking for international consultants to reinforce its capacity development activities, contribute to the development of policies and/or legal frameworks and other tasks, in the framework of its statutory and co-operation activities aimed at enhancing the quality of local and regional democracy in member states and neighboring regions.

The Congress is looking for consultants in the following fields of intervention, in both official languages (English and French): Decentralisation and dialogue between central and local level; Open government, citizen participation and prevention of corruption; Roles, powers and responsibilities of local elected representatives; Democratic innovations and deliberative processes ; Human rights at local level and management of migration; Gender equality and mainstreaming; Rejuvenate politics and youth engagement in civic life; Environmental policies and urban-rural interplay; Financial decentralisation and transparent public procurement; E-governance, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence; Monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government; Observation of local and regional elections.

In this respect and in accordance with the applicable regulations, the Congress is organising the international public call for tenders, with the aim of constituting a pool of international consultants via an appropriate framework contract, using the consultants selected from the pool on an as needed basis.

This call for tenders is published via the Council of Europe's e-procurement platform, if you wish to have more information and/or take part in the procedure please follow the link  Apply here

To participate in the call and submit your bids, you must register on the e-procurement platform and carefully read the tender file CdE 2022/AO/37 with detailed information on the deliverables, procedure of bidding and selection of suppliers. The limit for submission of bids ihas been extended to 22 August 2022.


BePART and get inspired! Launching of a new platform to share experiences of civil participation

Current affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 22 July 2022
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BePART and get inspired! Launching of a new platform to share experiences of civil participation

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the Conference of International NGOs and the Council of Europe’s Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy, have developed an online platform to promote civil participation. The BePART forum provides a space where local and regional authorities, as well as civil society organisations can share examples of civil participation and exchange lessons learned.

The project is a follow-up to the Revised Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process, adopted by the Congress and the Conference of International NGOs in 2019.

The website will be officially presented during a side event in the context of the 43rd Congress Session in October 2022.

Does your town or region actively involve civil society in decision making? Do you want to share your experience or good practice? Be part of the BePART forum and submit your example here!

See also:


The Congress supports the engagement of Local Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina for increased transparency and integrity of Local Public Action

Co-operation Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina 22 July 2022
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The Congress supports the engagement of Local Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina for increased transparency and integrity of Local Public Action

“Openness and responsiveness of local authorities are more vital than ever nowadays, as our societies face multiple crises”, stated Vladimir Prebilič, Congress Spokesperson on Ethics and Prevention of Corruption (Slovenia, SOC/G/PD), at the event on “Open, transparent and inclusive policies at local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, organised in the city of Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 19-20 July 2022. Recalling that “citizens’ trust in local authorities is maintained through their ability to function with integrity and in transparent, accountable and open manners”, he also shared the experience of his hometown, Kočevje, Slovenia.

Amelie Tarschys Ingre, Congress Rapporteur on making public procurement transparent at local and regional level (Sweden, ILDG), stressed the importance to prevent the risk of corruption in public procurement as a major challenge for local authorities, in particular through experience sharing and mutual learning.

The Open Government Partnership Action Plans were also put forward, with the particular focus on the role of local authorities in contributing both to national commitments and implementing their own co-creation initiatives.

The second meeting of the Platform of Exchange was organised as a peer-exchange event, gathering mayors, local councillors, senior public officials and Congress members, as part of the project “Innovating democratic participation at local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina” implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities as part of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2022-2025. The project aims to enhance the quality of local democracy and create opportunities for citizens to engage in innovative participatory processes in Mostar and elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It promotes new democratic approaches, open government, public ethics, and transparent and inclusive local policy making in the country.

See also :


2022 High Level Political Forum: "Local and regional authorities must be given the means to implement responses to crisis situations”

Presidency New York, USA 15 July 2022
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2022 High Level Political Forum:

At the 2022 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations Headquarters  New York on 14 July 2022, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities stressed the need to give local and regional authorities the financial means and decision-making autonomy to carry out their missions in response to crisis situations.

“From the war in Ukraine, to the Covid-19 pandemic, to climate change, to economic slowdown, local and regional authorities are on the front line," he said at the session on "Regional action and leveraging regional frameworks to support countries on the road to recovery and rebuilding from the devastating impacts of the pandemic".

Underlining that it is the responsibility of local and regional decision-makers to implement policies in response to crises, the President stressed the importance of taking into account their practical experience in designing these policies. "Giving local decision-makers more responsibility and resources helps to increase the resilience of communities and thus of societies as a whole," he concluded.

The Congress calls for central governments to closely involve local authorities and their national associations, which contribute almost two-thirds of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as illustrated by the examples of the presentations of the national voluntary reviews of Andorra, Switzerland, Greece and Italy. Municipalities and regions are also the place where SDGs 5 and 16 can be best combined by facilitating women's candidacy for local and regional councils and governments.

This event was preceded by a visit by the President of the Congress to Washington, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Congress, Andreas Kiefer, on July 11, during which he held meetings with representatives of the United States Conference of Mayors, the German Marshall Funds of the United States and of the National Democratic Institute.

See also :


Achieving the SDGs requires to involve local and regional authorities in structured consultation with central governments

Presidency New-York, USA 13 July 2022
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Achieving the SDGs requires to involve local and regional authorities in structured consultation with central governments

“In the Congress, we advocate for engaging local and regional authorities in the design and implementation of national action plans on SDGs and for their contribution to Voluntary National Reviews,” stated Congress President Leendert Verbeek during the session devoted to the localization of the SDGs, at the 5th Forum of Local and Regional Governments held on 12 July 2022, in New York.

Recalling that more than two-thirds of the SDG targets can only be implemented at local or regional level, he called for local and regional authorities to be involved in structured and regular consultation with central governments and parliaments.

The Congress is currently preparing an Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government which, for the moment, does not explicitly mention the right to a sustainable environment. " What we aim at is a “green reading” of the Charter, so to say an interpretation of its provisions from the angle of environmental protection, as well as the strengthening of the position of local and regional authorities – vis-à-vis State authorities – in decision-making on environmental matters,” he said.

This event was preceded by a visit by the President of the Congress to Washington, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Congress, Andreas Kiefer, on July 11, during which he held meetings with representatives of the United States Conference of Mayors, the German Marshall Funds of the United States and of the National Democratic Institute. Activities to support rebuilding a democratic Ukraine were in the center of the discussions with the President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Heather A. Convey, and the Director of GMF, Steven Bosacker.


Local authorities and associations engage in strengthening multi-level governance and co-operation in Ukraine

Co-operation Strasbourg, France 8 july 2022
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Local authorities and associations engage in strengthening multi-level governance and co-operation in Ukraine

“The rebuilding and preservation of democracy is a daily struggle and co-operation between local and regional authorities from Ukraine and other European countries is key to enlarging the scope of solidarity and turn it into concrete results,” stressed President of the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities Leendert Verbeek, during the opening of the online Round Table “United for Ukraine: Collaboration mechanisms of local and regional authorities in times of war”, on 6 July 2022. He emphasised that “fostering good governance and upholding the democratic values is the necessary foundation for the post-war renewal”.

Due to high commitment of the Association of Ukrainian Cities and their outreach potential, as much as 350 Ukrainian local and regional authorities and their national associations gathered to identify new and improve the existing co-operation mechanisms with their peers from other European countries. With interventions from different national, regional, local and international stakeholders, as well as from leaders of major European associations of municipalities and regions, joint priority actions were identified, and mutual trust was named as the cornerstone for Ukraine’s revival.

President of the Congress Chamber of Local and Regional Authorities and Mayor of Sindelfingen Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE), notably highlighted the Cities4Cities platform as an example of solidarity and co-operation established between cities.

Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer recalled that “co-ordination and joint action are absolutely necessary”. “There is an obvious interdependence between all actors and the constructive multilevel dialogue is crucial for the successful rebuilding of a stronger democratic Ukraine. The fight against corruption at all levels must be one of the high priorities for the reconstruction period”, he concluded.

See also:

 Video Youtube : Ukrainian - English - German

This event is organised as part of the project “Strengthening local democratic governance in Ukraine” implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Priority Adjustments to the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2022. The project aims at rebuilding capacities of local authorities and their national associations to address unprecedented humanitarian, social, economic and environmental challenges they face as a consequence of war, to reconstruct democracy and rebuild resilience at local level, as well as to implement post-war recovery measures in Ukraine.


Women and children refugees - Congress delegation collects experiences from Polish cities

Current Affairs Committee Poland 7 july 2022
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Women and children refugees - Congress delegation collects experiences from Polish cities

A delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe carried out a visit to Poland on 4 and 5 July 2022 to collect experiences of Polish cities in taking care of Ukrainian refugees. The delegation met with a wide range of stakeholders and visited temporary accommodation centres in Warsaw and Lublin to prepare a report for the Congress. Poland has received more Ukrainian refugees than any other member State, more than 90% of whom are women and children.

“Cities and regions are on the frontline; they can react quickly and adapt to the real needs of women and children on the ground. Over these two days, we saw that strong local government in cooperation with active civil society really does make the difference,” said Bernd Vöhringer and Annika Vaikla, Rapporteurs on the issue.

“We were very impressed with how well local NGOs and local administrations worked together to protect vulnerable people. Building trust between civil society and local authorities takes time and effort, but it is crucial in situations like these.” added Thomas Andersson, Chair of the Current Affairs Committee, who led the delegation.

“Polish Cities have shown determination and commitment to face this challenge. We witnessed their efforts to provide not only a temporary home, but also support and psychological help to Ukrainian women and children,” concluded the delegation.

Local and regional authorities across Europe need support and guidance to ensure that every woman and child on the run - regardless of their background or country of origin - can be safely received in Europe’s towns, cities and regions. This is the aim of the report on “the reception of women and children refugees in Europe’s cities and regions” that will be presented for adoption at the 43rd session of Congress in October 2022.

Congress Delegation

Head of the delegation:

  • Mr Thomas Andersson Chair of the Current Affairs Committee (R, ILDG), President of the Regional Council of Jämtland and Härjedalen, Sweden

Rapporteurs:

  • Mr Bernd Vöhringer Rapporteur on the reception of women and children refugees in Europe’s cities and regions (L, EPP/CCE), President of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress, Lord Mayor of the City of Sindelfingen, Germany
  • Ms Annika Vaikla Rapporteur on the reception of women and children refugees in Europe’s cities and regions (L, ILDG), Member of the Current Affairs Committee, Member of the Municipal Council of Viimsi, Estonia

Expert:

  • Prof. Dr. Birgit Glorius, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany

 Photos gallery of the visit


The Congress Governance Committee approved reports on hate speech and fake news, regional identities as well as smart cities and regions

Governance Committee Strasbourg, France 5 july 2022
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The Congress Governance Committee approved reports on hate speech and fake news, regional identities as well as smart cities and regions

The Governance Committee of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities chaired by 4th Vice-Chair Benoît Pilet (France, ILDG) and bringing together local and regional elected representatives, met on 4 July 2022 in Strasbourg, France and online.

The Committee approved three draft reports which will be submitted for adoption at the 43rd Session of the Congress to be held on 25-27 October 2022. The first on “Hate speech and fake news: the impact on the working conditions of local and regional elected representatives” covering also possible remedies against these phenomena was presented by co-rapporteurs Wilma Delissen van Tongerlo (Netherlands, ILDG) and Kristoffer Tamsons (Sweden, PPE/CCE). The second on “Regional identities: promoting dialogue and diversity in unity” was presented by rapporteur Karl-Heinz Lambertz (Belgium, SOC/G/PD). It addresses means and tools to inspire and ensure positive approaches to regional identities. The third report “Smart Cities and Smart Regions – prospects of a human rights-based governance approach” promotes the human-centered use of digitalisation and artificial intelligence to build inclusive, sustainable and resilient communities. It was presented by co-rapporteurs Jan Markink (Netherlands, ILDG) and Tony Buchanan (United Kingdom, PAP-NPA).

Additionally, the members debated on the revision of “The European Urban Charter II – Manifesto for a new urbanity” and appointed Anne Colgan (Ireland, ILDG) as rapporteur. They also exchanged views with Paul Rowsell, Chair of the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG), on the current work of the CDDG and potential cooperation.

Lastly, the members elected their 5th Vice-Chair Linda Gillham (United Kingdom, ILDG).


“We have to revitalise democracy and strengthen mutual trust between young people and democratic institutions” says Thomas Andersson at Youth Action Week.

Current Affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 1 July 2022
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“We have to revitalise democracy and strengthen mutual trust between young people and democratic institutions” says Thomas Andersson at Youth Action Week.

On Friday 1 July, Thomas Andersson (Sweden, ILDG), Chair of the Current Affairs Committee, participated in the closing plenary of the Youth Action Week. Addressing the 400 young participants, Mr Andersson stressed the crucial role of local and regional elected officials in ensuring the participation of young people and the revival of democracy in Europe’s cities, towns and regions.

“The Congress members, as mayors, city councillors and regional representatives, have to be at the forefront of this revival. We know that if we want to be relevant, we have to listen to you - young people” said Thomas Andersson to the participants before presenting actions taken by the Congress to include youth in politics.

Indeed, the Congress of local and regional authorities is active in promoting youth participation at local and regional levels of governance in in member states, notably with the adoption in 1992 of the European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local Life. But also, by opening its doors to young people and inviting them to be youth delegates through the “Rejuvenating Politics” initiative.

Lastly, Mr Andersson showed his support to the pledges and proposals made by the participants in the framework of the Democracy Here | Democracy Now youth campaign. “I hope that the Congress’ work will help realise the pledges and proposals you made today, but I also encourage you to go to your local administrations and make your voice heard,” Mr Andersson said, reminding the participants that they, as young people, are the future of democracy.

The Youth Action Week, organised under the patronage of the Irish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and in partnership with the City of Strasbourg, brought together 400 young people from Council of Europe member states. They discussed revitalising democracy and links with human rights, meaningful youth participation, digitalisation, and peace. The participants took part plenary session as well in working groups and workshops.

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The Monitoring Committee adopted reports on the situation of local democracy in the Czech Republic and on the observation of elections in Albania, the Netherlands and Serbia

Monitoring Committee Istanbul, Türkiye 1 July 2022
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The Monitoring Committee adopted reports on the situation of local democracy in the Czech Republic and on the observation of elections in Albania, the Netherlands and Serbia

The Congress Monitoring Committee met on 30 June 2022, in Istanbul, Türkiye in the presence of Ekrem Imamoğlu, Mayor of Istanbul, and Hasan Akgün, Mayor of Büyükçekmece. Before the opening, an exchange of views took place between the mayors, the Chair of the Monitoring Committee, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria SOC/V/DP), the rapporteurs on local democracy in Türkiye and the spokesperson on the observation of local and regional elections.

The Committee members examined a draft report for adoption on the monitoring of the application of European Charter of Local Self-Government in the Czech Republic. They also discussed reports being prepared on Belgium, Denmark and Sweden. In addition, members were informed of the results of the Congress' post-monitoring visit on the situation of local and regional democracy in the Republic of Moldova.

The agenda also included the adoption of the reports on the observation of the local by-elections in Albania (6 March 2022) and the municipal elections in the Netherlands (16 March 2022) as well as the local elections in Belgrade and several other municipalities in Serbia (3 April 2022).

All these reports will be debated for adoption at the 43rd Session of the Congress to be held in Strasbourg, France, from 25 to 27 October 2022.

The members also endorsed the third volume of the Human Rights Handbook on the Environment, adopting a preliminary draft resolution encouraging the dissemination of the Handbook. Furthermore, they adopted a report and approved draft recommendations and resolutions on "A fundamental right to environment: a matter for local and regional authorities. Towards a green reading of the European Charter of Local Self-Government".

Moreover, on the occasion of this meeting, the Committee had an exchange of views on the current situation in Ukraine's municipalities and regions as well as a debate on recurring issues based on assessments resulting from monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government

See also:


Ukraine: Statement by Congress President condemning the abduction of the Mayor of Kherson

Presidency Strasbourg, France 30 june 2022
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Ukraine: Statement by Congress President condemning the abduction of the Mayor of Kherson

I strongly condemn the continued abduction of local officials in Ukraine, most recently of the mayor of Kherson, Ihor Kolykhayev, and call for his immediate release.

The pressure and continuous offenses that the local elected representatives are suffering in the illegally occupied territories of Ukraine are intolerable. They are targeted for their key role in protecting their citizens and communities, and I want to pay tribute for their fierce resistance in defending Ukraine, Europe and democracy.

The Congress deplores the illegal war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. We continue to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and its people until the day that they will prevail.

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The Congress Monitoring Committee meeting opened today in Istanbul

Monitoring Committee Istanbul, Türkiye 30 June 2022
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The Congress Monitoring Committee meeting opened today in Istanbul

The Congress Monitoring Committee meeting opened today in Istanbul, Türkiye, in the presence of Ekrem Imamoğlu, Mayor of Istanbul, and Hasan Akgün, Mayor of Büyükçekmece. Prior to the opening, an exchange of views between the mayors, the Chair of the Monitoring Committee, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC/V/DP), the rapporteurs on local democracy in Türkiye as well as the spokesperson on the observation of the local and regional elections took place.

The members held discussions on the situation of local democracy in Türkiye including the removal of elected representatives, their replacement by State trustees and mayors in prison.

The issues on the consequences of recent legal electoral amendments in Türkiye on forthcoming elections including at the local level in 2024 and the position of the opposition in this respect were also on the agenda of the meeting.

Mayor Imamoğlu stressed the role of city diplomacy and new networks of municipalities in Europe in strengthening democracy and dialogue and presented the latest initiatives of the city of Istanbul in this regard. "We, as local governments, must unite very strongly under the flag of democracy", concluded Mayor Imamoğlu.


Shaping a vision for future decentralised governance in Armenia

Co-operation Yerevan, Armenia 30 June 2022
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Shaping a vision for future decentralised governance in Armenia

“Armenia has an excellent opportunity to embark on the path of decentralisation and building a system of multi-level governance in the post-amalgamation context” stressed Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE), President of the Congress Chamber of Local Authorities, at the opening of the conference on decentralisation in Armenia, in Yerevan on 28 June 2022. 

Congress Rapporteur Bryony Rudkin (United Kingdom, SOC/G/PD), presented the Congress recommendation on local democracy in Armenia, adopted in June 2021 following the monitoring of the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in the country. She particularly highlighted the importance of consultations with local authorities, raised the issue of the limited role of local authorities in delivering public services, and particularly stressed that the powers of the municipalities had not been extended to allow them to regulate and manage a substantial share of public affairs under their own responsibilities. 

The Conference allowed representatives of local and national authorities, including from 26 communities as well as the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister, to discuss the immediate needs of local communities in the post-amalgamation context, as well as the roles of the stakeholders and their actions in the decentralisation process. 

Participants also discussed the risks and opportunities presented by decentralisation for open and ethical local governance. Vladimir Prebilic (Slovenia, SOC/G/PD) Congress Spokesperson on ethics and prevention of corruption, underlined that “while decentralisation carries risks of corruption, this can only happen in the absence of proper safeguard mechanisms and procedures”. He pointed to the need to establish mechanisms of ensuring accountability and integrity that lead to increased trust of citizens in their local elected representatives and in public institutions.

The Conference was organised by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of Armenia and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, under the project “Strengthening the Communities Association of Armenia and Transparent, Participatory Local Governance in Armenia”. The project is implemented by the Congress within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Armenia 2019-2022, with the financial support of the Government of Switzerland in the framework of the Swiss Program for the improvement of the local self-governance system in Armenia 2019-2023.


Association of Ukrainian Cities receives Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award 2022

Co-operation Katowice, Poland 28 June 2022
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Association of Ukrainian Cities receives Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award 2022

The Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award of 2022 was presented to the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) on 25 June in Katowice, Poland, as part of the opening of the annual Global Parliament of Mayors Summit.

The award is given to a mayor or organisation for outstanding contributions to the development of global urban governance and for inspiring mayors around the world.

"This award [is] a recognition from the whole world of the courage of Ukrainian mayors, as a symbol of support for their resistance to the enemy, determination in protecting the residents of their communities, hard work for the restoration of cities, settlements, villages" said Alexander Slobozhan, Executive Director of the AUC.

He also stressed that the AUC is constantly liaising with communities, helping them to find effective solutions for wartime activities, communicating with the central authorities, providing humanitarian aid, as well as promoting the Cities4Cities platform.

Congress President Leendert Verbeek congratulated the AUC on the award and praised its work. "For 30 years, the Association of Ukrainian Cities has been the sole voice of Ukrainian local self-government, both in dialogue with the central government and internationally. Today, during the war, the AUC has proven and confirmed its high authority," Verbeek said.

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Congress President calls for strengthened youth participation at the 10th InterCity Youth Conference in Ljubljana

Current Affairs Committee Ljubljana, Slovenia 28 June 2022
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Congress President calls for strengthened youth participation at the 10th InterCity Youth Conference in Ljubljana

Leendert Verbeek, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, addressed the participants of the 10th InterCity Youth Conference during his keynote speech on “Youthwork and participation – two words, one meaning”.

“Young people deserve a say – a seat at the table – especially on issues that concern them directly, such as youth work.” The President stated, insisting on the importance of youth participation in building modern and democratic communities. “Youth work can have a real impact on our societies as a whole”, the President continued, saying that “it cannot be an afterthought.”

“There isn’t one single recipe to build quality youth work policies, so the Congress gives tools and guidelines that can be adapted, from big cities to rural villages,” the President said, presenting the recent Congress report and flyer on youth work in cities and regions.

Furthermore, President Verbeek insisted that local and regional authorities should give young people opportunities for meaningful participation. “Real participation means having a say in decision-making, not just taking part in an activity” he declared, saying that this means engaging with young people on an equal basis. The President encouraged elected officials to use the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life  which offers concrete tools that can be used to strengthen youth participation.  

The 10th InterCity Youth Conference (IYC) was organized by Intercity Youth and the European network of local departments for youth work in line with the declaration of the 3rd European Youth Work Convention and as an important contribution to the Bonn process. Hosted by the City of Ljubljana, it brought together over 100 municipal stakeholders responsible for the provision of youth work in order to strengthen the role and capacity of local authorities in supporting knowledge-based, participatory youth work.

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Congress President meets H.M. Dutch King

Presidency Strasbourg, France 24 June 2022
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Congress President meets H.M. Dutch King

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, met His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, on the occasion of his official visit to the Council of Europe on 23 June 2022.

President Verbeek presented the work of the Congress and the role of local and regional authorities in the defence of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. 

He mentioned the situation in Ukraine and the concrete support that can be provided directly between cities via the Cities4cities platform sponsored by the Congress. Mr Verbeek also stressed the role of local and regional authorities in implementing Council of Europe values on the ground. 

His Majesty King addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the same day.


Congress President meets Greek President

Presidency Strasbourg, France 23 June 2022
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Congress President meets Greek President

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, met the President of Greece, H.E. Mrs Katerina Sakellaropoulou, on 22 June 2022, during her official visit to the Council of Europe.

The two Presidents stressed the importance of the local dimension of the Council of Europe's work in the field of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, which is essential for achieving concrete results.  

They also referred to the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government on the future of the Council of Europe, the success of which will depend on "solid preparation and the definition of clear objectives". The Congress will actively contribute to the reflection group for the preparation of this Summit.

President Verbeek welcomed the active participation of members of the Greek delegation, including Eirini Dourou, spokesperson for Gender equality, and Konstantinos Koukas, Vice-President of the Chamber of Local Authorities and thematic spokesperson for the South Mediterranean Partnership.


Congress and PACE continue cooperation to protect the rights of LGBTI people at all levels

Current Affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 22 June 2022
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Congress and PACE continue cooperation to protect the rights of LGBTI people at all levels

Andrew Boff (United Kingdom, ECR), Congress rapporteur on LGBTI issues, participated in the first meeting of the PACE Parliamentary Platform for the rights of LGBTI people in Europe on 20 June 2022 in Strasbourg, France.

“As national level representatives, you can vote laws to improve the situation. As mayors, city councillors and regional representatives, we can ensure the safety and respect for LGBTI citizens on the ground” he said, highlighting the important and successful cooperation between PACE and Congress to protect the rights of LGBTI people.

“Local and regional authorities are best placed to understand why there is anti-LGBTI sentiment in our towns and propose solutions.” he continued, underlining the importance of cities and regions in combatting hate against LGBTI persons. “With some national governments backsliding on rights of LGBTI people, cities and regions are the first line of defence for the protection of LGBTI rights, and they often go beyond national standards to do so.”

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has been working on LGBTI issues since 2007, including freedom of assembly and expression. In June 2021, the Congress adopted the report "Protecting LGBTI persons in the context of rising hate speech and anti-LGBTI discrimination: the role of local and regional authorities”. In addition, the Current Affairs Committee carried out an online fact-finding mission on the situation of LGBTI rights at local and regional level in Poland, the findings of which were approved on 10 February 2021. The Congress subsequently adopted the report “The role of local and regional authorities with regard to the situation and rights of LGBTI people in Poland” in June 2021.

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“The reconstruction will be grounded on the strength that we are witnessing today from Ukrainian cities and villages” says Congress President

Presidency Rotterdam, The Netherlands 21 June 2022
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“The reconstruction will be grounded on the strength that we are witnessing today from Ukrainian cities and villages” says Congress President

The president of the Congress of Local and Regional authorities spoke at a forum for the Reconstruction of Ukraine in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Friday 17 June 2022.

“The mayors and local councillors are a vivid example of the courage and resilience of Ukrainian people and local authorities in defending the country and democratic values” he declared, underlining that their resistance comes from the long-lasting work of embedding fundamental democratic values in the local communities.

The president stressed the role of local and regional authorities in the reconstruction of Ukraine and the important cooperation and mutual support between Ukrainian local communities and other European cities, facilitated by the Cities4cities platform.

The President also referred to the joint declaration he signed with Vitali Klitschko, Chair of the Association of Ukrainian Cities and Mayor of Kyiv, calling for the reconstruction of Ukrainian communities and the restoration of the functioning of local authorities in line with the European Charter of Local Self- Government.

The one-day Business Forum for the Reconstruction of Ukraine in Rotterdam took place on 17 June 2022. The event was organized by the embassy of Ukraine in the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the support of Rotterdam City Hall and Shtichting OpenDoorUkraine.  Over 250 guests from the public and business sectors attended.

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Regional Support for Ukraine

Assembly of European Regions online 21 June 2022
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Regional Support for Ukraine

“Today, Ukraine needs coherent and co-ordinated action at all levels of governance, as well as a dialogue between the different levels for rebuilding and revival of the country and its communities”, stressed Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE) President of the Congress’ Chamber of Local Authorities during an online webinar “Ukraine: Regional and local initiatives for support and exchanges” organised by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) on 17 June 2022.

He emphasised that local and regional authorities are key actors in supporting the war effort and that their partnerships and networking contribute greatly to the resistance and resilience we see in Ukraine today. “Although we see complementarities in the political and humanitarian support, we need to seek closer co-ordination between all stakeholders involved”, he concluded.

In this respect, Mr Vöhringer presented the Cities4Cities platform, launched in March 2022 under the patronage of the Congress, as a place to match the needs of Ukrainian local and regional authorities with the capacity, know-how and supply of cities and regions from other European countries.

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Congress Bureau met in Tralee, Ireland

Bureau Tralee, Ireland 20 June 2022
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Congress Bureau met in Tralee, Ireland

In the context of Ireland's Presidency of the Committee of Ministers Council of Europe the Bureau of the Congress met on 14 June 2022 in Tralee, Kerry County, Ireland and had an exchange of views with Irish councillors, including members of the Irish delegation to the Congress, on local self-government in Ireland as well as the local dimension of the Irish Committee of Ministers’ priorities.

The Bureau shared concerns regarding the situation in Ukraine and Ukrainian families currently living in Kerry County. The Bureau took stock of the Cities4cities platform operations and encouraged further support to Ukrainian municipalities.

The Bureau also expressed concern about the situation in Türkiye, where opposition politicians are in long-term detention – including Nurhayat Altun and Leyla Güven, two former Congress members.

The Bureau debated Congress activities, agreed on the candidates for Congress Secretary General and adopted the agenda of the next Congress session to be held October in Strasbourg, France.


World Refugee Day: Congress Rapporteurs call on European cities and regions to protect women and children on the run

World Refugee Day Strasbourg, France 20 June 2022
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World Refugee Day: Congress Rapporteurs call on European cities and regions to protect women and children on the run

Joint statement by Congress rapporteurs on women and children refugees Mr Bernd Vöhringer, President of the Chamber of Local Authorities (Germany, EPP/CCE) and Ms Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG) on the ocassion of the World Refugee Day – 20 June 2022

“Our cities and regions are the first port of entry for people fleeing conflict. We have a responsibility to provide arriving refugees with access to essential public services, especially housing, medical care and education”, highlighted Congress Rapporteurs on women and children refugees Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE) and Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG) on World Refugee Day, underlining the crucial role of local and regional authorities in the reception, protection and integration of refugees.

“However, refugees are not a homogenous group, which means that cities and regions constantly have to develop and adapt reception policies according to changing realities and demographics,” the Rapporteurs reminded, underlining the need for support from central governments to address this issue.

“As a result of the war in Ukraine, almost 90% of refugees arriving in Europe’s towns and regions are women and children, who are especially vulnerable. As mayors, city councillors and regional representatives, we have a duty to protect them and ensure that their human rights are respected”, the Rapporteurs stated.

To support cities and regions across Europe in providing a safe haven for women and children refugees, the Current Affairs Committee of the Congress is currently preparing a report on the issue. “With this report, we want to provide guidance to our members on how to address the specific challenges faced by women and children on the run,” the Rapporteurs explained.

To gather insights into the specific needs of women and children refugees, identify best practices and strengthen the report, the Rapporteurs and the Chair of the Current Affairs Committee will carry out a study visit to Poland on 4 and 5 July.

“We hope that this visit will help us better understand the needs of cities and regions who receive women and children refugees, so that we can deliver the best possible guidance in our report,” the Rapporteurs concluded.

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Monitoring visit by the Congress to the Republic of Moldova

Monitoring Chișinău, Moldova 21 June 2022
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Monitoring visit by the Congress to the Republic of Moldova

A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe carried out a post-monitoring visit to the Republic of Moldova on 21 June 2022. The delegation examined the situation of local and regional democracy in the light of the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, ratified by the country in 1997.

Rapporteurs on local and regional democracy, Gunn Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP/CCE) and Marc Cools (Belgium, ILDG) focused on the developments in the field of local and regional democracy that occurred since the adoption of the last Congress report in April 2019 and the corresponding roadmap signed in April 2021. The last post-monitoring visit was held online in February 2022.

The delegation met Dumitru Urdea, Secretary General of the Government, Dumitru Budianschi, Minister of Finance, Irina Vlah, Bashkan [governor] of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia and Larisa Voloh, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Public Administration.

Bilateral discussions were be also held with Ion Ceban, President of the Moldovan national delegation to the Congress, Tatiana Badan, CALM President and Viorel Furdui, CALM Executive Director.

The Republic of Moldova ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1997. The countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires compliance with a minimum number of rights, which form the European bedrock of local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities makes sure that these principles are observed.  

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Contact:
Stéphanie POIREL, Secretary of the Monitoring Committee
 +33 (0) 6 63 55 07 10
  [email protected]


Council of Europe Congress provides grant support to the Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova

Co-operation Strasbourg, France 16 June 2022
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Council of Europe Congress provides grant support to the Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova (CALM) signed a grant agreement to strengthen the institutional capacity of CALM in evidence-based advocacy, coordination, communication, and monitoring. As a result, CALM will be able to better analyse the local democracy developments in the country, support its members and engage in effective dialogue and policy discussions between the central and local levels of government.

The grant is part of the Congress project “Reinforcing the culture of dialogue and ethical open local governance in the Republic of Moldova”. The aim of the project is to strengthen the political dialogue between local and central authorities and support the improvement of the quality of local governance through integrity, corruption prevention, open government, public ethics, and gender equality at local level.

CALM is the association of local and regional authorities in the Republic of Moldova. Its aim is to represent all local authorities in the country. The mission of the association is to promote a democratic, decentralised, transparent, and efficient local public administration, capable of effectively contributing to developing local communities.

The grant will be implemented from 1 June 2022 to 31 December 2023 and amounts to a maximum of 50,000 Euros.

The project “Reinforcing the culture of dialogue and ethical open local governance in the Republic of Moldova” is implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, within the Council of Europe Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova 2021-2024.


Local and regional media, diasporas, rural societies, refugees and human rights in social welfare institutions on the agenda of the Current Affairs Committee

Current Affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 13 June 2022
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Local and regional media, diasporas, rural societies, refugees and human rights in social welfare institutions on the agenda of the Current Affairs Committee

At its meeting on 10 June 2022, the Congress Current Affairs Committee discussed the role of local and regional media in grassroots democracy, in the light of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers' recommendation on principles of media and communication governance. The Committee decided to prepare a report on this topic for adoption at a forthcoming Congress session.

Following the adoption of the report on the future of rural youth at the previous Congress session, the Committee also discussed "New models for innovative, democratic and sustainable rural societies" with the participation of the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Bjorn Berge. In view of the challenges facing rural areas, such as an ageing population or declining investment, the Deputy Secretary General highlighted the opportunities offered by digitalisation for the economic sector and the provision of services. On this occasion, the Committee also heard a presentation from the Duved Cluster initiative on how it aims to bring democratic innovation to rural areas in Sweden.

In addition, members expressed their concern about the situation of persons placed in social care homes in Bulgaria, following the statement of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). They shared their experience on the role and competences of local and regional authorities in protecting the human rights of persons placed in social welfare institutions.

The agenda also included a debate on the reception of refugee women and children in European cities and regions. As part of the report being prepared on this topic, co-rapporteurs Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE), who is also President of the Chamber of Local Authorities, and Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG), will carry out a field mission to Poland on 4 and 5 July 2022.

The Committee also heard a presentation on the inclusion of diasporas and the responsibilities of local and regional authorities by Paulo Pisco (Portugal), Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly.

Finally, the Committee heard a delegation from the Kyrgyz Republic, observing the meeting as part of a study visit to the Congress, on the state of decentralisation and local self-government in Kyrgyzstan, which is applying for Partner for Local Democracy status with the Congress.

On the occasion of this meeting, the members elected James Moloney (Ireland, ILDG), as 5th Vice-President.