In 2008, the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance were adopted in the context of the Strategy on Innovation and Good Governance at local level, endorsed by a decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
They cover issues such as ethical conduct, rule of law, efficiency and effectiveness, transparency, sound financial management and accountability. These 12 Principles serve as a basis for the award of the European Label of Governance’ Excellence (ELoGE) to local authorities which have achieved a high overall level of governance measured against the relevant benchmarks.
Building on these principles and notably the experience gathered through ELoGE, the CDDG was given the task for the years 2022-2023 to draft a recommendation for the Committee of Ministers on the principles of good democratic governance that would be applicable also to the national level.
Such a legal instrument has the potential to become an important reference text for the member States and further Council of Europe activities concerned with the subject of the best and up-to-date methods of management of public affairs, and democratic modalities of public governance. Partner organisations, scholars, civil society and the business sector alike are among the categories of actors likely to be particularly interested in this new European standard.
Accountability is one of the 12 Principles mentioned above. Practical experience has shown the need for further work on this topic, which was subsequently conducted by the CDDG in 2020-2021. This led to Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the democratic accountability of elected representatives and elected bodies at local and regional level, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 9 February 2022, at the 1424th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies. The text aims to create the conditions and culture for decision-makers to take responsibility for their decisions, for those decisions to be reported, explained, reviewed and, where appropriate, challenged or sanctioned, and for effective and proportionate remedies to be available for inappropriate decisions or omissions and any resulting action or inaction. The text includes a set of guidelines in the annex to assist policy makers in defining such mechanisms. A developed culture and system of accountability of elected representatives and bodies at local and regional levels can bring many benefits, especially in terms of promoting good governance, democracy, high standards of public ethics, trust in public institutions and a healthy economic and social environment.