Congress President Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM addressed the Foreign Ministers of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe meeting in Elsinore (Denmark) on 18 May 2018, on the occasion of the 128th Session of the Committee of Ministers. She referred to the close dialogue that the Congress has with the governments through its various activities, in particular during its monitoring missions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, the observation of local and regional elections or the implementation of the Council of Europe Action Plans.
"The European Charter of Local Self-Government is one of the Council of Europe’s major treaties and has been ratified by all of our 47 member States. Central governments recognise the pre-eminent function of democratic local and regional self-government as a political force in our states," said the President of the Congress. "The statutory role granted to the Congress in the Council of Europe is a strong signal that its member States believe that good democratic governance is not possible without local and regional authorities," she said.
In particular, the President welcomed the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states on citizen participation in local public life, adopted on 21 March 2018. "This recommendation contributes to strengthening trust in and the credibility of the democratic institutions and helps to build inclusive societies. In this way local and regional authorities can better counteract populism which seeks to limit debate, de-legitimise dissent and reduce political pluralism, "she added.
Ms MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM highlighted the contribution of the Congress in implementing the decisions of the Committee of Ministers with a local and regional dimension. "With its ability to reach more than 200,000 European communities, Congress is an added value that can and must be used," she stated. “Whether it is to defend democratic institutions, human rights or to promote co-operation with the European Union, the Congress and the cities and regions it represents, are fully engaged.”
The President also referred to the current financial situation of the Council of Europe and the Congress’ determination to seize this opportunity to launch an in-depth reform of its functioning and its structures in order to preserve its institutional role and meet the expectations of citizens and their governments.