Following the information received by the Latvian Association of local and regional governments regarding worrying developments of the current territorial reform, the President of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Xavier Cadoret, expressed concern, on the acceleration of the implementation process, particularly in the light of the continued COVID-19 crisis.
The deterioration of the general situation of local democracy in the Republic of Latvia since the last Congress monitoring report of 2018, against the backdrop of the ongoing territorial reform, was the focus of a fact-finding mission and the corresponding report adopted by the Monitoring Committee on 11 February 2020.
“During our mission to Riga, my co-rapporteur Marc Cools and myself, specifically noted the lack of adequate, timely and appropriate consultation of the local authorities, the national Association and the inhabitants of the municipalities concerned during the preparation and implementation of the territorial reform, contrary to what is stipulated by the European Charter of Local Self-Government,” Mr Cadoret stated. "This is why the draft recommendation we have prepared calls on the Latvian authorities to postpone the adoption of the draft law on local territorial reform until a fair and effective consultation is carried out in an appropriate manner, in order to allow local authorities and the Association to express their opinion and make proposals on the content and timing of the reform," he said.
“I call on the Latvian authorities, and in particular the Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development, to suspend the implementation of this reform pending a review of the process. We have noted in our report a number of breaches of Charter provisions that justify a suspension of this reform," concluded Xavier Cadoret.
The adoption of this draft recommendation by the Congress of the Council of Europe has been deferred due to the COVID-19 crisis and postponed until the next Congress Session (27-29 October 2020).