The Council of Europe Congress participated in the event "Local and regional authorities in post-crisis Europe: prospects for a sustainable and resilient future", organised by the Central European Initiative (CEI), in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 7-8 June. The president of the Council of Europe Congress Chamber of Local Authorities and mayor of the city of Sindelfingen, Bernd Vöhringer, shared his city's experience on "How to achieve resilient societies in the context of multi-level governance, deliberative democracy and ecological transition".
M. Vörhinger highlighted the threats that tend to overshadow the urgency of action against climate change and for biodiversity: war in Ukraine, consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, polarisation of societies or spread of infoxes. "Environmental protection is a central issue at all levels of governance. However, it is the local and regional authorities which are key actors in implementing measures and applying laws," he said calling for local authorities to be given the necessary competences and to be included in the legislative process through a structured and regular consultation with the government.
In this respect, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Congress, Andreas Kiefer, who also participated in the event, stressed the importance of creating networks to strengthen multi-level governance and proposed holding coordination meetings of the CEI countries Congress members in the framework of Congress sessions. He underlined the importance of integrating the local dimension in the institutional setup of the CEI to complement the governmental and parliamentary structures. “This is a clear commitment to strengthening multilevel governance in the region”, Andreas Kiefer underlined.
The Congress is currently preparing a draft report to propose a "green reading" of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and to strengthen the position of local and regional authorities vis-à-vis state authorities in environmental decision-making. The report, together with a Human Rights Handbook containing good practices, is expected to be presented to the 43rd Congress in October 2022.