Public Ethics

Public ethics is at the heart of democracy and good governance, at all levels of government. In 2019-2021, it was one of the priority areas for the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG).

The 2020 Guidelines on Public Ethics

In 2019, the CDDG drafted the Guidelines on public ethics, which were adopted by the Ministers’ Deputies on 11 March 2020. The Guidelines are innovative and ambitious, bringing together in one, single, consolidated text a set of standards previously set out in a wide range of Council of Europe documents.

Based on the awareness that the requirements and expectations of citizens in relation to public ethics are legitimate, more pronounced than in the past and relevant to all officials holding public responsibilities, the Guidelines help Council of Europe member States to establish a comprehensive and effective public ethics framework and to promote a public ethics culture in public organisations.

The Guidelines are far-reaching: they cover all categories of public officials, be they elected, appointed or employed; in addition, they take stock of recent Council of Europe work on emerging issues, such as whistle-blower protection, the prevention of sexism, hate speech and the use of social media by public officials, to mention a few.

Guide ‘Practical Steps to Implementing Public Ethics in Public Organisations’

The Guidelines are complemented by the Guide ‘Practical Steps to Implementing Public Ethics in Public Organisations’. This is a living document intended for practitioners, which provides case studies and examples from Council of Europe member States and which is intended to be updated on a regular basis by the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG).

Tools of the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance

Over the years, the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance (CEGG) has developed practical tools to help public authorities strengthen public ethics. The European Label for Governance Excellence (ELoGE) and the Public Ethics Benchmarks (PEB) are amongst them.

 

Civil Participation in Decision-Making

Participatory democracy is a process in which individuals, NGOs and civil society at large are involved in the conduct of public affairs at local, regional, national and European levels.

The 2018 Recommendation on the participation of citizens in local public life

Recommendation (2018)4, adopted by the Ministers’ Deputies in March 2018, calls upon the authorities at all levels to adopt policy and measures to encourage and reinforce the participation of citizens in local public life. The main recommendations addressed to the governments of Council of Europe member States include: framing a policy; adopting measures to improve the legal framework and ensuring that it enables local and regional authorities to employ a wide range of participation instruments; co-operating with authorities on different levels; reviewing policies related to the participation of citizens. The appendix is divided into two parts: Section A sets out the basic general principles of a local democratic participation policy, while Section B outlines steps and measures that could be taken by the competent public authorities.

The 2017 Guidelines for civil participation in political decision-making

The Guidelines, adopted by the Committee of Ministers in September 2017, outline conditions and key principles for establishing dialogue, consultation and co-operation between civil society and authorities at all levels of government.

Study on Civil participation in decision-making processes - An Overview of Standards and Practices in Council of Europe Member States

In the context of the preparation of the above-mentioned Recommendation and Guidelines, the CDDG commissioned a study providing an overview of standards for meaningful civil participation and best practices in Council of Europe member States.

Tools of the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance in the area of civil participation

Over the years, the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance has developed practical tools to help local authorities strengthen civil participation. Amongst them are CLEAR – a self-assessment tool - and two toolkits on Civil Participation in Decision-Making.

 

Local and Regional Democracy

In its work, the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) places also emphasis on the need for a strong local and regional democracy. This is in line with its history, as the Committee builds on the legacy of the former European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) and the outcomes of specialised Conferences of Ministers.

The European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR)

The Conferences of European Ministers responsible for local and regional government (CML)

The Council of Europe Conferences of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT)

The work of the CDDG in the area of local and regional democracy has led to the adoption by the Ministers’ Deputies of Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)3 on supervision of local authorities’ activities. With a view to complementing this work, in 2020-2021 the CDDG has prepared a Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on the democratic accountability of elected officials and elected bodies at local and regional level.

In addition, the CDDG has worked on the following topics:

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