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 monitoring the application of the Charter, for preparing reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in Europe and for monitoring specific questions related to local and regional democracy in the member states.
The monitoring procedure shall be carried out approximately every five years in the 47 Council of Europe member State which have signed and ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It shall comprise five phases:
- the monitoring visit;
- the consultation procedure with the authorities encountered on the preliminary draft report;
- examination of the draft report by the Monitoring Committee and the Congress and adoption of a recommendation by the Congress during the sessions; if the rapporteurs think it necessary, they may propose a draft resolution for adoption by the Congress;
- transmission of the recommendation for debate to the Committee of Ministers;
- an invitation issued to the authorities of the country concerned to address the session of the Congress or the session of one of its chambers.
A monitoring delegation shall comprise two rapporteurs, one on local democracy and one on regional democracy (for countries with regional entities), one expert, and members of the Congress secretariat.
The whole procedure shall be governed by the principles of independence, impartiality and equity, starting with the appointment of the rapporteurs and the expert, which shall be based on geographical and political criteria geared to preserving the objectivity of the delegation which will conduct the monitoring visit.
The visit programme systematically includes meetings with the authorities responsible for questions of local and regional democracy or for dealing with these questions, and also with the officials of the administrations concerned, notably:
- the minister(s) responsible for local and regional authorities;
- members of parliament (national and/or regional) – particularly those responsible for local or regional issues;
- local and regional elected representatives, including the Congress delegation, the mayor of the capital city and mayors of small and medium-sized municipalities;
- the president of the Constitutional Court;
- associations representing local and regional authorities;
- the national, regional and/or local ombudsperson;
- a specialist on questions linked to the application of the Charter in the country concerned.
Monitoring of the application of the Charter is based primarily on political dialogue which is consolidated as part of the post-monitoring activities and lays the groundwork for future co-operation activities.
A post-monitoring procedure can be implemented at the joint request of the Congress and the authorities of a member State which has been the subject of a recommendation on local and/or regional democracy.
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The observation of elections complements the political monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which constitutes the cornerstone of local democracy in Europe.