The Presidents of the European Committee of the Regions and of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe have warned that local and regional governments are struggling to cope with the series of crises that have rocked the continent since 2020. The statements came at a meeting in Brussels of the political leadership of the European Committee of the Regions, the voice of subnational governments in the 27-member European Union, and of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, with its mandate to strengthen local and regional democracy and to assess the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
"Our cities and regions are under increasing pressure from multiple crises which are having a significant and lasting impact on local and regional governance. Cooperation is essential to increase the resilience of our communities," said Leendert Verbeek, President of the Congress, referring to the challenges faced by local and regional authorities including health, environmental, migratory, economic and financial crises and armed conflicts – the war in Ukraine in particular.
Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions, added: "Advancing cooperation and unity between our two institutions is even more important in the context of growing threats to European democracy, human rights, or the rule of law. Russia's war against Ukraine but also long existing dangers like disinformation, populism and hate speech call on all local and regional authorities to come forward and defend democracy and solidarity."
The two institutions discussed the efforts to support cities and regions in Ukraine through the Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, building on, for example, the Cities4Cities initiative by the Congress, which is an institutional partner of the Alliance.