Monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government
Monitoring local and regional democracy is the most emblematic activity of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. The voice of municipalities and regions, the Congress is a unique assembly in Europe responsible for ensuring the proper application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. This international convention lays down standards for protecting the rights of local authorities and requires the 47 member states of the Council of Europe - which have all ratified it - to comply with a number of principles.
Role of the Congress
The Congress is responsible for evaluating the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in each member state.
This monitoring enables to establish a constructive political dialogue with the authorities of the Member States on local and regional democracy issues. Many legislative reforms have been undertaken by member states on the basis of the observations and recommendations made by Congress during the monitoring.
The Congress carries out a regular general country-by-country monitoring visit to the 47 member states approximately every five years.
It may also focus on a particular aspect of the Charter. It can also organise urgent fact-finding missions on situations of concern. The reports, recommendations and resolutions it adopts make it possible to inform governments, parliaments, associations, elected representatives and the media about the situation of local and regional democracy in specific countries and the application of the Charter by these countries.
The Congress pursues a regular "post-monitoring" and "post-electoral" political dialogue with Council of Europe member states.
The aim is to accompany the national authorities in order to ensure the implementation of the recommendations adopted by the Congress and addressed to the national authorities of member states by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In cooperation with the national authorities, the Congress prepares a road map defining the main steps to be taken to implement the recommendations.
Upon invitation by competent authorities, the Congress observes local and regional elections in Council of Europe member states and sometimes beyond.
To date, nearly 100 election observation missions have been conducted by the Congress. The observation of local elections is one of the priorities of the Congress' action. It is complementary to the political monitoring process of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which is the cornerstone of local democracy in Europe.
Several recurring problems were identified by the Congress during its missions to evaluate the implementation of the Charter from 2010 to 2016.
This analysis enables the Congress to identify, in form of a horizontal study, those areas of the
Charter that member States find most challenging and to assist them in fully complying with their
commitments in relation to local and regional democracy.
In addition to monitoring, the Congress takes into consideration the human rights situation at local and regional level in Europe.
The Congress has also produced a Human Rights Handbook, the first volume of which is devoted to the right to non-discrimination against three groups: refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants; Roma and Travellers; and LGBTI persons. It includes a presentation of the legal framework and the role that local and regional authorities can play, as well as 65 good practices implemented in more than 25 countries.
Opened for signature on 15 October 1985 and entered into force on 1 September 1988, the Charter is ratified by all 47 Council of Europe member states.
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.