A Charter for local democracy
The European Charter of Local Self-Government affirms the role of communities as the first level for the exercise of democracy. It has become the benchmark international treaty in this area. The Charter was opened for signature on 15 October 1985 and came into force on 1 September 1988; it is ratified by 46 Council of Europe member states. It is complemented for the regions by the Council of Europe Reference Framework for Regional Democracy.
The European Charter of Local Self-Government (ECLSG) lays down standards for protecting the rights of local authorities and requires states which have ratified it to comply with a number of conditions, principles and practices. States undertake to respect a core of basic principles to which no reservation is possible – such as the right of citizens to participate in managing public affairs, the key rights of communities to enjoy autonomy and self-government, elect their local bodies and to have their own structures and financial resources.
An Additional Protocol on the right to participate at public life was adopted in 2009 to supplement the text of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Its purpose is to bring within the scope of the Charter the right of any person to participate in the affairs of a local authority, a principle enshrined in the Preamble to the Charter.
The Congress makes sure that the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government are observed through systematic monitoring and regular dialogue with the governments of the Council of Europe member states. It undertakes general country-by-country monitoring visits which provide information about the situation of local and regional democracy. It also regularly observes local and regional elections. A post-monitoring or a post-observation procedure can be implemented at the joint request of the Congress and the authorities of a member State.
The Council of Europe Reference Framework for Regional Democracy – acknowledged by the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers for local and regional authorities at its session in Utrecht on 16 November 2009 - is a veritable code of rights and duties of regional entities, aimed at intermediate authorities between central government and the basic (local authority) tier.
A6 - 56 pages - Pdf
The European Charter of Local Self-Government
A5 - 8 pages - Pdf
A5 - 60 pages - Pdf
Through its core principles to which no reservation is possible, the European Charter of Local Self-Government (ECLSG) seeks to ensure the compatibility of the diverse structures of local communities in the Council of Europe member states. However, the final aim remains the respect of all of the Charter’s provisions.
The Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by member states of the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Monitoring Committee) is responsible for assessing the application of the Charter.
Reports by country
- Adopted texts by country on the Monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the observation of local and regional elections