“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.
- Statement by Simon Emil AMMITZBØLL-BILLE, Minister for Economic Affairs and the Interior, on behalf of the Danish Chair of the Committee of Ministers