Local and regional authorities and communities are at the frontline in reacting to crises in Europe and will be essential to implementing decisions taken at the highest political level at the 4th Summit of Heads of States and Government of the Council of Europe that is taking place in Reykjavik on 16-17 May. This is a key message of the first of its kind ‘Call for Action’ to national governments that was signed on 15 May by representatives of seven European institutions and associations. The signature took place at the high-level conference “Embedding democratic values at grassroots level” in Reykjavik City Hall.
“The 4th Summit will be an opportunity to reaffirm support for the crucial role of local and regional authorities in building a secure, democratic, and cohesive Europe,” said Leen Verbeek, President of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, in his opening speech. “We are confident that the Heads of State and Government will seize the opportunity to express a strong, renewed commitment to grassroots democracy within a system of strong multi-level governance”.
Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Bjørn Berge stressed: “Local and regional authorities are not only closer to the people they represent, they are also responsible for delivering so many rights and services on which citizens depend”. “I believe local and regional authorities will be essential to meeting almost every pledge and promise made at the Summit in Reykjavik,” he added. Speaking about Ukraine, Berge praised “the extraordinary way in which local mayors, leaders and administrators in Ukraine have stood up against Russian intimidation, often at real risk to their own safety”. This is a “testament to their resolve”, he concluded.
The Minister of Infrastructure of Iceland Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson welcomed the participants and said: “What characterises Europe most is democracy and diversity”. “In a time like this, nothing is more valuable than the solidarity of democratic nations”, the Minister stressed.
Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson stated: "It fills me with pride to know that we will have democratic principles with Reykjavík's name attached."
Conference participants stressed the need for support to local authorities in their efforts to increase education, employment and housing opportunities for young people, to address the climate crisis, as well as technological and migratory challenges. They reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Ukrainian local and regional authorities and associations, and their engagement with counterparts in other European countries in support of Ukrainian refugees. The event was organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, together with the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities and the City of Reykjavík.
 Assembly of European Regions, Association of European Border Regions, Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions, Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies, Council of European Municipalities and Regions, European Committee of the Regions and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
Speech by Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Bjørn Berge
Opening speech by President of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Leendert Verbeek
Concluding speech by President of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Leendert Verbeek