The Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe passed on 15 November 2017 from the Czech Republic to Denmark, at a meeting at the Organisation's Strasbourg headquarters, attended by representatives of its 47 member States. Before handing over the chairmanship to his successor, the outgoing Chair, Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister of for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, gave an overview of his country’s achievements during its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.

The new Chair of the Committee of Ministers, Anders Samuelsen, Minister of Foreign affairs of Denmark, presented the priorities of the Danish Chairmanship which will run for six months.

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128th Session of the Committee of Ministers: "Good democratic governance is not possible without local and regional authorities", says the President of the Congress

Helsingør, Denmark 18 May 2018
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128th Session of the Committee of Ministers:

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.

 


Simon Emil AMMITZBØLL-BILLE: “Well-functioning local authorities are crucial for a well-functioning democracy”

34th Session Strasbourg, France 28 March 2018
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Simon Emil AMMITZBØLL-BILLE: “Well-functioning local authorities are crucial for a well-functioning democracy”

“Our continent is facing complex challenges, such as extremism, terrorism and organised crime.  Each of these are threatening the values that we defend in this Organisation.  They also impact on our citizens, our societies, our towns, villages and cities,” stated Simon Emil AMMITZBØLL-BILLE, Minister for Economic Affairs and the Interior, in his address to the 34th Congress Session, on behalf of the Danish Chair of the Committee of Ministers, on 28 March 2018.

The Minister presented the situation of governance at the local level in Denmark, which enjoys a high degree of decentralization. “In fact, two thirds of public expenditure is done at the local and regional level and a great proportion of the citizen-related tasks are performed by the municipalities,” he explained.

He highlighted the necessity of efficient local self-government and the promotion of direct citizen participation, as the main pillars of well-functioning local authorities. “These elements are very important in order to create an honest and trusting relation between the citizens and the local authorities,” he added.

Simon Emil AMMITZBØLL-BILLE also drew up an overview of the Danish Chairmanship priorities and the role local and regional authorities could play in this regard. “We focus on the importance of involving children and young people in democracy, with the long-term objective of shaping future, democratic citizens” he said, welcoming the Congress initiative to invite young delegates from forty-two different member states of the Council of Europe to sit alongside Congress members at the session.

He also welcomed the session theme - “rights-based governance at local and regional level” - which coincides with the priorities of the Danish Chairmanship: the European human rights system in a future Europe, the integration of persons with disabilities and the promotion of equal opportunities.

The Danish Minister expressed his concern about the difficult situation – political and budgetary – that the Council of Europe is facing. “This Organisation has long proven its worth and I am convinced that it will continue to do so.  The Council of Europe and you –members of the Congress – play an important role in protecting and improving regional and local democracy in all the member states of the Council of Europe,” he concluded.

** 34th Session of the Congress **
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Congress President addressing the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers: “The Congress is determined to contribute to the defense of the common values of the Council of Europe”

COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS Strasbourg, France 15 November 2017
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Congress President addressing the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers: “The Congress is determined to contribute to the defense of the common values of the Council of Europe”

During the ceremony of transfer of the Chairmanship from the Czech Republic to Denmark in the Committee of Ministers, which took place on 15 November 2017, the President of the Congress Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM thanked the Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir ZAORALEK - for the openness, the cooperation and the priority given to local and regional democracy during the Czech chairmanship .She wished the incoming Danish Chairmanship all the best for the next six months. “The Congress will support the Danish priorities, namely human rights, gender equality, involvement of children and young people in democracy and the fight against discrimination of persons with disabilities and we would be happy to welcome you to our March 2018 session” she said to Anders SAMUELSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Ms MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM recalled the Congress's will to actively participate in a concerted manner within the Council of Europe for jointly achieving the objectives of the Organisation's activities. “The pooling of experience, responsibilities and efforts at all levels of governance, which we promote at the institutional level, is a reflection of what we defend on the ground, in our member States.” she said calling for a strong, ongoing dialogue between the local and regional authorities and the national governments “to find together the answers that will ensure the security and stability of our societies”.

Speech

File: Danish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and grassroots democracy


Priorities Priorities
Danish delegation to the Congress Danish delegation to the Congress

The Danish delegation to the Congress comprises 5 representatives and 5 substitutes. The head of the delegation is Mrs Randi MONDORF.

Congress adopted texts Congress adopted texts

Local and regional democracy in Denmark

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