On 18 June, the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) held a thematic videoconference meeting on “A democratic governance response to Covid-19”, under the auspices of the Greek chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.

The Deputy Minister for Civil Protection of Greece, Mr Chardalias, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms Pejčinović Burić, and the Minister of Public Administration of Croatia, Mr Malenica opened the meeting, recalling the challenge posed by Covid-19 to our democracies and the recent publication of the Toolkit for member States on “Respecting democracy, rule of law and human rights in the framework of the COVID-19 sanitary crisis”, but also highlighting innovative responses by member States.

Over 100 participants discussed the lessons learned so far with regards to multilevel governance, the frontline role of local authorities and cross border cooperation. Participants stressed the importance of cooperation, coordination and communication between governing bodies and with civil society and other actors. Many administrations have developed new working methods and administrative procedures have been revisited and simplified in many cases, with new IT tools facilitating remote meetings of public decision-makers and access of citizens to information and public services. It was stressed that the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the 12 Principles of Democracy apply also in times of crises.

Concluding the meeting, Director General Snežana Samardžić-Marković said that the pandemic is a stress test for our democracies that is still on going. Those democracies which uphold the principles of good governance are best placed to manage a health crisis in a durable and trustworthy manner with the support of citizens and all stakeholders.

The results of the meeting will feed into the political declaration that is planned for the Athens Ministerial Session in November. They will also be used to publish a CDDG report on Democratic governance and Covid-19, to be released in autumn.

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