At its meeting on 10 June 2022, the Congress Current Affairs Committee discussed the role of local and regional media in grassroots democracy, in the light of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers' recommendation on principles of media and communication governance. The Committee decided to prepare a report on this topic for adoption at a forthcoming Congress session.
Following the adoption of the report on the future of rural youth at the previous Congress session, the Committee also discussed "New models for innovative, democratic and sustainable rural societies" with the participation of the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Bjorn Berge. In view of the challenges facing rural areas, such as an ageing population or declining investment, the Deputy Secretary General highlighted the opportunities offered by digitalisation for the economic sector and the provision of services. On this occasion, the Committee also heard a presentation from the Duved Cluster initiative on how it aims to bring democratic innovation to rural areas in Sweden.
In addition, members expressed their concern about the situation of persons placed in social care homes in Bulgaria, following the statement of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). They shared their experience on the role and competences of local and regional authorities in protecting the human rights of persons placed in social welfare institutions.
The agenda also included a debate on the reception of refugee women and children in European cities and regions. As part of the report being prepared on this topic, co-rapporteurs Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE), who is also President of the Chamber of Local Authorities, and Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG), will carry out a field mission to Poland on 4 and 5 July 2022.
The Committee also heard a presentation on the inclusion of diasporas and the responsibilities of local and regional authorities by Paulo Pisco (Portugal), Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly.
Finally, the Committee heard a delegation from the Kyrgyz Republic, observing the meeting as part of a study visit to the Congress, on the state of decentralisation and local self-government in Kyrgyzstan, which is applying for Partner for Local Democracy status with the Congress.
On the occasion of this meeting, the members elected James Moloney (Ireland, ILDG), as 5th Vice-President.