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Association of Ukrainian Cities receives Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award 2022

Co-operation Katowice, Poland 28 June 2022
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Association of Ukrainian Cities receives Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award 2022

The Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award of 2022 was presented to the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) on 25 June in Katowice, Poland, as part of the opening of the annual Global Parliament of Mayors Summit.

The award is given to a mayor or organisation for outstanding contributions to the development of global urban governance and for inspiring mayors around the world.

"This award [is] a recognition from the whole world of the courage of Ukrainian mayors, as a symbol of support for their resistance to the enemy, determination in protecting the residents of their communities, hard work for the restoration of cities, settlements, villages" said Alexander Slobozhan, Executive Director of the AUC.

He also stressed that the AUC is constantly liaising with communities, helping them to find effective solutions for wartime activities, communicating with the central authorities, providing humanitarian aid, as well as promoting the Cities4Cities platform.

Congress President Leendert Verbeek congratulated the AUC on the award and praised its work. "For 30 years, the Association of Ukrainian Cities has been the sole voice of Ukrainian local self-government, both in dialogue with the central government and internationally. Today, during the war, the AUC has proven and confirmed its high authority," Verbeek said.

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Congress President calls for strengthened youth participation at the 10th InterCity Youth Conference in Ljubljana

Current Affairs Committee Ljubljana, Slovenia 28 June 2022
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Congress President calls for strengthened youth participation at the 10th InterCity Youth Conference in Ljubljana

Leendert Verbeek, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, addressed the participants of the 10th InterCity Youth Conference during his keynote speech on “Youthwork and participation – two words, one meaning”.

“Young people deserve a say – a seat at the table – especially on issues that concern them directly, such as youth work.” The President stated, insisting on the importance of youth participation in building modern and democratic communities. “Youth work can have a real impact on our societies as a whole”, the President continued, saying that “it cannot be an afterthought.”

“There isn’t one single recipe to build quality youth work policies, so the Congress gives tools and guidelines that can be adapted, from big cities to rural villages,” the President said, presenting the recent Congress report and flyer on youth work in cities and regions.

Furthermore, President Verbeek insisted that local and regional authorities should give young people opportunities for meaningful participation. “Real participation means having a say in decision-making, not just taking part in an activity” he declared, saying that this means engaging with young people on an equal basis. The President encouraged elected officials to use the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life  which offers concrete tools that can be used to strengthen youth participation.  

The 10th InterCity Youth Conference (IYC) was organized by Intercity Youth and the European network of local departments for youth work in line with the declaration of the 3rd European Youth Work Convention and as an important contribution to the Bonn process. Hosted by the City of Ljubljana, it brought together over 100 municipal stakeholders responsible for the provision of youth work in order to strengthen the role and capacity of local authorities in supporting knowledge-based, participatory youth work.

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Congress President meets H.M. Dutch King

Presidency Strasbourg, France 24 June 2022
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Congress President meets H.M. Dutch King

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, met His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, on the occasion of his official visit to the Council of Europe on 23 June 2022.

President Verbeek presented the work of the Congress and the role of local and regional authorities in the defence of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. 

He mentioned the situation in Ukraine and the concrete support that can be provided directly between cities via the Cities4cities platform sponsored by the Congress. Mr Verbeek also stressed the role of local and regional authorities in implementing Council of Europe values on the ground. 

His Majesty King addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the same day.


Congress President meets Greek President

Presidency Strasbourg, France 23 June 2022
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Congress President meets Greek President

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, met the President of Greece, H.E. Mrs Katerina Sakellaropoulou, on 22 June 2022, during her official visit to the Council of Europe.

The two Presidents stressed the importance of the local dimension of the Council of Europe's work in the field of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, which is essential for achieving concrete results.  

They also referred to the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government on the future of the Council of Europe, the success of which will depend on "solid preparation and the definition of clear objectives". The Congress will actively contribute to the reflection group for the preparation of this Summit.

President Verbeek welcomed the active participation of members of the Greek delegation, including Eirini Dourou, spokesperson for Gender equality, and Konstantinos Koukas, Vice-President of the Chamber of Local Authorities and thematic spokesperson for the South Mediterranean Partnership.


Congress and PACE continue cooperation to protect the rights of LGBTI people at all levels

Current Affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 22 June 2022
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Congress and PACE continue cooperation to protect the rights of LGBTI people at all levels

Andrew Boff (United Kingdom, ECR), Congress rapporteur on LGBTI issues, participated in the first meeting of the PACE Parliamentary Platform for the rights of LGBTI people in Europe on 20 June 2022 in Strasbourg, France.

“As national level representatives, you can vote laws to improve the situation. As mayors, city councillors and regional representatives, we can ensure the safety and respect for LGBTI citizens on the ground” he said, highlighting the important and successful cooperation between PACE and Congress to protect the rights of LGBTI people.

“Local and regional authorities are best placed to understand why there is anti-LGBTI sentiment in our towns and propose solutions.” he continued, underlining the importance of cities and regions in combatting hate against LGBTI persons. “With some national governments backsliding on rights of LGBTI people, cities and regions are the first line of defence for the protection of LGBTI rights, and they often go beyond national standards to do so.”

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has been working on LGBTI issues since 2007, including freedom of assembly and expression. In June 2021, the Congress adopted the report "Protecting LGBTI persons in the context of rising hate speech and anti-LGBTI discrimination: the role of local and regional authorities”. In addition, the Current Affairs Committee carried out an online fact-finding mission on the situation of LGBTI rights at local and regional level in Poland, the findings of which were approved on 10 February 2021. The Congress subsequently adopted the report “The role of local and regional authorities with regard to the situation and rights of LGBTI people in Poland” in June 2021.

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International consultants - Call for tenders

Call for tenders Strasbourg, France 22 June 2022
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International consultants - Call for tenders

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is looking for international consultants to reinforce its capacity development activities, contribute to the development of policies and/or legal frameworks and other tasks, in the framework of its statutory and co-operation activities aimed at enhancing the quality of local and regional democracy in member states and neighboring regions.

In this respect and in accordance with the applicable regulations, the Congress is organising the international public call for tenders, with the aim of constituting a pool of international consultants via an appropriate framework contract, using the consultants selected from the pool on an as needed basis.

This call for tenders is published via the Council of Europe's e-procurement platform, if you wish to have more information and/or take part in the procedure please follow the link  Apply here

To participate in the call and submit your bids, you must register on the e-procurement platform and carefully read the tender file CdE 2022/AO/37 with detailed information on the deliverables, procedure of bidding and selection of suppliers. The limit for submission of bids is set to 1 August 2022.

Thank you !


“The reconstruction will be grounded on the strength that we are witnessing today from Ukrainian cities and villages” says Congress President

Presidency Rotterdam, The Netherlands 21 June 2022
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“The reconstruction will be grounded on the strength that we are witnessing today from Ukrainian cities and villages” says Congress President

The president of the Congress of Local and Regional authorities spoke at a forum for the Reconstruction of Ukraine in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Friday 17 June 2022.

“The mayors and local councillors are a vivid example of the courage and resilience of Ukrainian people and local authorities in defending the country and democratic values” he declared, underlining that their resistance comes from the long-lasting work of embedding fundamental democratic values in the local communities.

The president stressed the role of local and regional authorities in the reconstruction of Ukraine and the important cooperation and mutual support between Ukrainian local communities and other European cities, facilitated by the Cities4cities platform.

The President also referred to the joint declaration he signed with Vitali Klitschko, Chair of the Association of Ukrainian Cities and Mayor of Kyiv, calling for the reconstruction of Ukrainian communities and the restoration of the functioning of local authorities in line with the European Charter of Local Self- Government.

The one-day Business Forum for the Reconstruction of Ukraine in Rotterdam took place on 17 June 2022. The event was organized by the embassy of Ukraine in the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the support of Rotterdam City Hall and Shtichting OpenDoorUkraine.  Over 250 guests from the public and business sectors attended.

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Regional Support for Ukraine

Assembly of European Regions online 21 June 2022
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Regional Support for Ukraine

“Today, Ukraine needs coherent and co-ordinated action at all levels of governance, as well as a dialogue between the different levels for rebuilding and revival of the country and its communities”, stressed Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE) President of the Congress’ Chamber of Local Authorities during an online webinar “Ukraine: Regional and local initiatives for support and exchanges” organised by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) on 17 June 2022.

He emphasised that local and regional authorities are key actors in supporting the war effort and that their partnerships and networking contribute greatly to the resistance and resilience we see in Ukraine today. “Although we see complementarities in the political and humanitarian support, we need to seek closer co-ordination between all stakeholders involved”, he concluded.

In this respect, Mr Vöhringer presented the Cities4Cities platform, launched in March 2022 under the patronage of the Congress, as a place to match the needs of Ukrainian local and regional authorities with the capacity, know-how and supply of cities and regions from other European countries.

For more information:


Congress Bureau met in Tralee, Ireland

Bureau Tralee, Ireland 20 June 2022
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Congress Bureau met in Tralee, Ireland

In the context of Ireland's Presidency of the Committee of Ministers Council of Europe the Bureau of the Congress met on 14 June 2022 in Tralee, Kerry County, Ireland and had an exchange of views with Irish councillors, including members of the Irish delegation to the Congress, on local self-government in Ireland as well as the local dimension of the Irish Committee of Ministers’ priorities.

The Bureau shared concerns regarding the situation in Ukraine and Ukrainian families currently living in Kerry County. The Bureau took stock of the Cities4cities platform operations and encouraged further support to Ukrainian municipalities.

The Bureau also expressed concern about the situation in Türkiye, where opposition politicians are in long-term detention – including Nurhayat Altun and Leyla Güven, two former Congress members.

The Bureau debated Congress activities, agreed on the candidates for Congress Secretary General and adopted the agenda of the next Congress session to be held October in Strasbourg, France.


World Refugee Day: Congress Rapporteurs call on European cities and regions to protect women and children on the run

World Refugee Day Strasbourg, France 20 June 2022
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World Refugee Day: Congress Rapporteurs call on European cities and regions to protect women and children on the run

Joint statement by Congress rapporteurs on women and children refugees Mr Bernd Vöhringer, President of the Chamber of Local Authorities (Germany, EPP/CCE) and Ms Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG) on the ocassion of the World Refugee Day – 20 June 2022

“Our cities and regions are the first port of entry for people fleeing conflict. We have a responsibility to provide arriving refugees with access to essential public services, especially housing, medical care and education”, highlighted Congress Rapporteurs on women and children refugees Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE) and Annika Vaikla (Estonia, ILDG) on World Refugee Day, underlining the crucial role of local and regional authorities in the reception, protection and integration of refugees.

“However, refugees are not a homogenous group, which means that cities and regions constantly have to develop and adapt reception policies according to changing realities and demographics,” the Rapporteurs reminded, underlining the need for support from central governments to address this issue.

“As a result of the war in Ukraine, almost 90% of refugees arriving in Europe’s towns and regions are women and children, who are especially vulnerable. As mayors, city councillors and regional representatives, we have a duty to protect them and ensure that their human rights are respected”, the Rapporteurs stated.

To support cities and regions across Europe in providing a safe haven for women and children refugees, the Current Affairs Committee of the Congress is currently preparing a report on the issue. “With this report, we want to provide guidance to our members on how to address the specific challenges faced by women and children on the run,” the Rapporteurs explained.

To gather insights into the specific needs of women and children refugees, identify best practices and strengthen the report, the Rapporteurs and the Chair of the Current Affairs Committee will carry out a study visit to Poland on 4 and 5 July.

“We hope that this visit will help us better understand the needs of cities and regions who receive women and children refugees, so that we can deliver the best possible guidance in our report,” the Rapporteurs concluded.

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Monitoring visit by the Congress to the Republic of Moldova

Monitoring Chișinău, Moldova 21 June 2022
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Monitoring visit by the Congress to the Republic of Moldova

A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe carried out a post-monitoring visit to the Republic of Moldova on 21 June 2022. The delegation examined the situation of local and regional democracy in the light of the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, ratified by the country in 1997.

Rapporteurs on local and regional democracy, Gunn Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP/CCE) and Marc Cools (Belgium, ILDG) focused on the developments in the field of local and regional democracy that occurred since the adoption of the last Congress report in April 2019 and the corresponding roadmap signed in April 2021. The last post-monitoring visit was held online in February 2022.

The delegation met Dumitru Urdea, Secretary General of the Government, Dumitru Budianschi, Minister of Finance, Irina Vlah, Bashkan [governor] of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia and Larisa Voloh, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Public Administration.

Bilateral discussions were be also held with Ion Ceban, President of the Moldovan national delegation to the Congress, Tatiana Badan, CALM President and Viorel Furdui, CALM Executive Director.

The Republic of Moldova ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1997. The countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires compliance with a minimum number of rights, which form the European bedrock of local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities makes sure that these principles are observed.  

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 Photo gallery

Contact:
Stéphanie POIREL, Secretary of the Monitoring Committee
 +33 (0) 6 63 55 07 10
  [email protected]


Council of Europe Congress provides grant support to the Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova

Co-operation Strasbourg, France 16 June 2022
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Council of Europe Congress provides grant support to the Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova (CALM) signed a grant agreement to strengthen the institutional capacity of CALM in evidence-based advocacy, coordination, communication, and monitoring. As a result, CALM will be able to better analyse the local democracy developments in the country, support its members and engage in effective dialogue and policy discussions between the central and local levels of government.

The grant is part of the Congress project “Reinforcing the culture of dialogue and ethical open local governance in the Republic of Moldova”. The aim of the project is to strengthen the political dialogue between local and central authorities and support the improvement of the quality of local governance through integrity, corruption prevention, open government, public ethics, and gender equality at local level.

CALM is the association of local and regional authorities in the Republic of Moldova. Its aim is to represent all local authorities in the country. The mission of the association is to promote a democratic, decentralised, transparent, and efficient local public administration, capable of effectively contributing to developing local communities.

The grant will be implemented from 1 June 2022 to 31 December 2023 and amounts to a maximum of 50,000 Euros.

The project “Reinforcing the culture of dialogue and ethical open local governance in the Republic of Moldova” is implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, within the Council of Europe Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova 2021-2024.


Local and regional media, diasporas, rural societies, refugees and human rights in social welfare institutions on the agenda of the Current Affairs Committee

Current Affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 13 June 2022
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Local and regional media, diasporas, rural societies, refugees and human rights in social welfare institutions on the agenda of the Current Affairs Committee

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.


Congress spokesperson on Human Rights Harald Bergmann: "Collecting human rights data will enable Georgian local authorities to develop evidence-based policies"

Co-operation Borjomi, Georgia 10 June 2022
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Congress spokesperson on Human Rights Harald Bergmann:

Speaking at the opening of the Spring School on “Human Rights Data and Evidence-Based Policy Making at the Local Level in Georgia” Congress spokesperson on Human Rights Harald Bergmann (Netherlands, ILDG) underlined that good governance is a guiding concept for improving local democracy and it is impossible to conceive of good governance without respect for human rights.

The spokesperson stressed the role of local authorities and the need to collect “evidence, which means relevant, specific, measurable information that allows effective decision-making”.

The Spring School was held 8 to 10 June in Borjomi, Georgia, to develop local authorities capacity in data management in a human rights compliant manner. Participants agreed on checklists for evidence-based human rights policymaking, a tangible outcome that will help them in their daily work.

The event was organised in collaboration with the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) and brought together representatives of members of the Exchange Forum developed under the project, civil society organizations and representatives of Public Defender regional offices.

This event took place in the framework of the project “Strengthening Participatory Democracy and Human Rights at Local Level in Georgia”, implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Directorate General of Democracy, Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy, within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023 with the financial contribution of the Austrian Development Cooperation. The project aims to strengthen institutional frameworks for citizen participation, support local authorities and their national association in their efforts to protect and promote human rights and ensure that civil society organisations have real impact on local decision making.


Climate change: "Local authorities must be included in the legislative process and given the necessary competences," says Bernd Vöhringer

Presidency Sofia, Bulgaria 9 June 2022
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Climate change:

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.


Georgia: enhancing human rights through dialogue between local authorities and the Public Defender

Co-operation Georgia 6 June 2022
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Georgia: enhancing human rights through dialogue between local authorities and the Public Defender

Georgian local authorities and the Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, held a roundtable discussion on 6 June 2022 on the Public Defender's report on the situation of human rights and freedoms in Georgia for 2021 and on the recommendations addressed to local authorities.

While the Public Defender presents her yearly reports to the Georgian Parliament, this is the first time that such a dialogue has been established directly with local authorities. The aim is to strengthen co-operation between all levels of governance for the protection of human rights by encouraging regular exchanges between the Public Defender and local authorities for better consideration of her recommendations at the territorial level.

The round table was organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in collaboration with the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) within the framework of the Congress' cooperation project in the country. It brought together members of the NALAG Executive Board, representatives of the Public Defender Office, as well as members of the Forum of Exchange developed within the project – a unique platform of dialogue for local authorities to address challenges in improving social inclusion, promoting equal opportunities, and incorporating a gender perspective in the local political action.

See also:

This event is organised in the framework of the project “Strengthening Participatory Democracy and Human Rights at Local Level in Georgia”, implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Directorate General of Democracy, Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy, within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023 with the financial contribution of the Austrian Development Cooperation. The project aims to strengthen institutional frameworks for citizen participation, support local authorities and their national association in their efforts to protect and promote human rights and ensure that civil society organisations have real impact on local decision making.


Council of Europe Congress President in Ukraine

Presidency Ukraine 1 to 4 June 2022
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Council of Europe Congress President in Ukraine

At the invitation of the Association of Ukrainian Municipalities (AUC), the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, paid a visit to Ukraine from 1 to 4 June 2022, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Congress, Andreas Kiefer. This visit follows the adoption of a Declaration condemning the Russian Federation's war against Ukraine and expressing Congress' support.

On this occasion, the Congress President and Vitali Klitchko, Chair of the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) and Mayor of Kyiv, signed a joint declaration calling for the reconstruction of Ukrainian communities and the restoration of the functioning of local authorities in line with the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

“Today, we need to build synergies between all actors in the field to ensure the revival of Ukrainian communities destroyed by the war.” stated the Congress President at the opening of the Forum of Ukrainian Municipalities "reVIVEd Ukraine - reVIVEd communities", organised the same day by the AUC. He called for intensified efforts to preserve the Council of Europe's common European values: human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

Congress President also held bilateral meetings with the Chairperson of the Kyiv City Council, the Minister for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, the Chairperson of the Committee on Organization of state power, local self-government, regional development and urban planning of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Secretary of the Presidium of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities under the President of Ukraine and the Head of the Ukrainian Delegation to the Council of Europe Congress.

The programme also included visits to the Kyiv Oblast to examine the situation on the ground. The Congress delegation will meet the mayors of Bucha and Zhytomyr - two cities which are part of the Cities4Cities platform launched with the support of the Council of Europe Congress to help Ukrainian cities - as well as Fastiv and Chelm, Poland.

See also:

For further information:


World Environment Day : “Without involving local authorities combatting climate change is impossible,” stresses Congress Spokesperson on Environment and Climate Change

World environment day Strasbourg, France 3 June 2022
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World Environment Day : “Without involving local authorities combatting climate change is impossible,” stresses Congress Spokesperson on Environment and Climate Change

“Almost 70% of the decisions taken at the European level are implemented by local and regional authorities which means without involving local authorities combatting climate change is impossible,” stated Cemal Bas (Turkey, EPP), Congress Spokesperson on Environment and Climate Change, in an interview on the eve of World Environment Day on 5 June. “To resolve this world-wide crisis, we need to act locally with the support, and especially financial means, from the central governments,” he stressed.

The Congress is convinced that environmental protection is part of good governance at all levels and that a clean and healthy environment is essential for the enjoyment of human rights. Environmental issues and climate change are one of the thematic priorities of the Congress for 2021-2026. 

The Congress is currently preparing a Human Rights Handbook with best practices giving local and regional officials the tools they need to protect the environment and prevent climate change and highlighting the human rights dimension of combatting climate change. Furthermore, a report providing guidelines and recommendations for local and regional authorities on the matter is expected to be presented at the 43rd Congress Session in October 2022.

 Interview with Cemal Bas - Youtube

The Congress is responsible for the local and regional dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the Council of Europe. The Congress's approach is based on three key principles: achieving SDGs is the shared responsibility of all levels of government; local and regional authorities must have the necessary competences and financial autonomy to achieve the goals in their respective areas; citizens must always remain at the heart of the action.

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Strengthening citizen participation at local level: Congress President calls on member States to ratify the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government

Presidency Strasbourg, France 1 June 2022
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Strengthening citizen participation at local level: Congress President calls on member States to ratify the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government

President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Leendert Verbeek has marked the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority by urging States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify this key legal instrument.

Since its adoption in 2009 and entry into force in 2012, the Additional Protocol complements the text of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Its purpose is to bring within the scope of the Charter the right of any person to participate in the affairs of a local authority, a principle enshrined in the preamble of the Charter, the President highlighted.

“The Protocol is based on the principles of democracy and guarantees the protection of our citizens’ rights. It is crucial for States to ratify the Additional Protocol to promote citizen participation at the local level.”, said President Verbeek.

“By providing an international legal guarantee of the right of any individual to participate in the affairs of a local authority, elected representatives are better connected to their communities”, he concluded.

See also:

To date, twenty countries have signed and ratified the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government: Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine. Four countries have signed the protocol but have not ratified it, these are Albania, Belgium, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.


Thibaut Guignard: "The success of intermunicipality depends on greater political consensus and genuine intermunicipal cooperation"

ELoGE Strasbourg, France 31 May 2022
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Thibaut Guignard:

"Consultation with the elected representatives of the member municipalities of an intercommunal body and with the citizens is the key to good governance," said Thibaut Guignard, president of the French delegation to the Congress, at the round table on governance in intercommunal bodies organised on 30 May 2022 in Strasbourg.

"Faced with the growing distance between citizens, elected representatives and inter-municipalities, success will require greater political consensus and genuine inter-municipal cooperation," he stressed, stressing that relations between the different levels of territorial authorities are also a challenge in meeting the needs of territories and citizens.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has been working on these issues for a long time, particularly in the light of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority, which will mark the 10th anniversary of its entry into force on 1 June. The Congress recently adopted a report on deliberative methods calling for greater citizen participation beyond elections, as well as a report on the interaction between urban and rural areas. As a follow-up to this work, the Congress Monitoring Committee will hold an exchange of views at its meeting on 30 June on consultation between the national and sub-national levels, and between the local/regional level and citizens.

The round table was organised on the national launch conference of the ELoGE 2022-2023 campaign. The European Label of Excellence in Governance (ELoGE) is awarded to municipalities that have achieved a high level of good governance, based on the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance.


Twenty-three municipalities from Bosnia and Herzegovina set up a Platform of exchange on local governance

Co-operation Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 25 May 2022
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Twenty-three municipalities from Bosnia and Herzegovina set up a Platform of exchange on local governance

A group of 23 local authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, meeting in Sarajevo on 24 May 2022, established a Platform of exchange on issues of local governance between municipalities and cities from across the country.

The Platform aims to support local authorities in improving the quality of local democracy and in promoting open, accountable and inclusive decision making. It will serve as a network in which experiences and good practices will be shared between municipalities and cities within Bosnia and Herzegovina and local governments across Europe.

The participating local authorities* will be engaged in capacity development activities in the fields of democratic innovations, deliberative tools and citizen participation, as well as open government, public ethics, and transparent and accountable local decision making, including through national and international peer exchanges and dialogue. The Platform will also support strategic priorities of the Association of Municipalities and Cities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Association of Municipalities and Cities of Republika Srpska, key partners in the project.

“The current context, characterised by multiple crisis, has brought to the fore the need for advancing accountability and transparency, for tackling systemic inequalities and for enhancing citizen participation in local life, and the Congress is pleased to support local authorities across the country in this endeavour,” stressed Jelena Drenjanin, Chair of the Governance Committee of the Congress, at the opening of the meeting.

“In a year when we mark the 20th anniversary of membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Council of Europe, it is great to see local authorities from all over the country working together to best respond to the needs of people in their communities,” underlined Bojana Urumova, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Sarajevo.

“We are grateful to receive concrete support from the Council of Europe that is recognised by the local authorities across the country, and we all look forward to benefiting from the results of this programme”, Vesna Travljanin, Director of the Association of Municipalities and Cities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina stated, speaking also on behalf of the Association of Municipalities and Cities of the Republic of Srpska. 

This first meeting brought together mayors and presidents of local councils and served as the opportunity for peer-to-peer experience sharing among the country’s municipalities and cities, as well as with their European counterparts from Ireland, Sweden and United Kingdom on the topics of innovative democratic approaches, open government, political integrity and transparency for increased citizens’ trust.

The inputs and conclusions from this meeting will serve as basis for further development of capacities of local authorities within the Platform.

*Municipalities / cities that will take part in these activities are Berkovići, Bijeljina, Bratunac, Brod, Centar Sarajevo, Doboj Brod, Doboj Jug, Gradačac, Ilijaš, Jajce, Jezero, Kostajnica, Lopare, Lukavac, Maglaj, Modriča, Mostar, Orašje, Sokolac, Teslić, Travnik, Vareš and Vukosavlje.

The first meeting of the Platform of Exchange was organised in the framework of the project “Innovating democratic participation at local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina” implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2022-2025. The project aims to enhance the quality of local democracy and create opportunities for citizens to engage in innovative participatory processes in Mostar and elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It promotes new democratic approaches, open government, public ethics, transparent and inclusive local policy making in the country.

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Session of the Committee of Ministers - Congress President stresses the need for reflecting upon our future collectively at all levels of governance

Committee of Ministers Turin, Italy 20 May 2022
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Session of the Committee of Ministers - Congress President stresses the need for reflecting upon our future collectively at all levels of governance

Addressing the 132nd Session of the Committee of Ministers, in Turin, Italy, on 20 May 2020, Leendert Verbeek, President of the Congress of Local and Regional authorities of the Council of Europe, underlined that in light of the multiple crises which the European continent is facing  it is crucial to “maintain unity in defending our common values: democracy, human rights and the rule of law”.

President Verbeek underlined the unique role of the grassroots level of territorial communities in defending, reviving, and reinvigorating democratic processes. “Resilient cities and regions, which are more sustainable, inclusive and participative, are an essential part in building a future of peace, security and cohesion in Europe”, he stated.

The President reiterated the Congress support for the Ukrainian people and communities and referred to the initiative Cities4cities as a concrete example of local and regional authorities’ inter-solidarity. The President called upon the Committee of Ministers to collectively reflect upon the future of the continent and the Council of Europe and to involve all levels of governance in this reflection, noting the unique role of the Congress in the institutional architecture of the Council of Europe. In this respect, he supported the holding a Summit of the Council of Europe Heads of State and Government and expressed the Congress commitment to contribute to its success.

For more information:


Bernd Vöhringer at CEPLI: “Local and regional effort will help build resilient societies in response to today’s crises”

Co-operation Strasbourg, France 17 May 2022
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Bernd Vöhringer at CEPLI: “Local and regional effort will help build resilient societies in response to today’s crises”

War in Ukraine, Covid 19 pandemic, climate change, polarisation of societies – “all these crises strain the democratic foundations of our societies,” stressed Bernd Vöhringer, President of the Congress Chamber of Local Authorities, at the Political Conference of the European Confederation of Local Intermediate authorities (CEPLI) on 17 May 2022. Speaking online in a panel on “Managing fundamental societal transformations - Building resilient local communities”, he underlined that the ability to prevent, resist and adapt to the consequences of crises in territorial communities, and to bounce back quickly, should be at the very core of democratic governance today.

To achieve resilient societies, it is essential to strengthen multi-level governance and restore citizens trust in institutions and in politics, continued President Vöhringer. “Every level of governance should be equipped with proper competences, means and resources to respond to the citizens’ concerns, as enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self- Government. Multi-level governance is a better suited way to provide solutions tailored to specific needs”, he stated, adding that multi-level governance has the potential to increase the quality of decisions and allow greater flexibility in coping with emergencies.

According to him, restoring people’s confidence in decisions made by public authorities calls for new ways of involving citizens in decision-making and governing processes, particularly at local and regional levels. In this regard, “the use of deliberative methods as a valuable complement to the representative democracy in the preparatory phase of the decision-making process has been recognised in a Congress report on deliberative democracy, adopted last March”, pointed out President Vöhringer.

“The war in Ukraine shows that, perhaps, we have taken democracy for granted for too long, prompting us to reassess the situation and reflect on the future of democracy in Europe. The efforts of local and regional authorities, their networks, and their partnerships, to protect our democratic heritage and safeguard citizens' rights, will enable us to better manage the exit from the fundamental and multiple crises we are facing today”, he concluded.

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Congress Rapporteur urges cities and regions to be safe havens for LGBTI civil society under pressure

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia Strasbourg, France 17 May 2022
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Congress Rapporteur urges cities and regions to be safe havens for LGBTI civil society under pressure

On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), Congress Rapporteur on LGBTI issues, Andrew Boff (United Kingdom, ECR), warned that LGBTI organisations are increasingly under threat, stressing the role of local and regional authorities in supporting them.

“Even in 2022, we continue to see the rights and identity of LGBTI persons being challenged. This is unacceptable. We must remain vigilant and remember that hate speech and discrimination against any group, including LGBTI persons, undermine the social cohesion and inclusion in our communities”, the Rapporteur warned.

“It is in our cities and regions, our communities, that we first feel the effects of hate speech and violence, but it is also at our level that we can turn the tide,” the Rapporteur said, calling on local and regional elected officials to support LGBTI persons, in particular by working with LGBTI organisations.

He stressed that “Strong civil society organisations keep elected officials accountable and help us understand and address the challenges LGBTI citizens living in our societies face” and warned about the fact that “civil society space is shrinking and LGBTI organisations are especially targeted in several Council of Europe member States, by limiting funding or branding them as a threat to society”.

The Rapporteur recalled the Congress report "Protecting LGBTI persons in the context of rising hate speech and anti-LGBTI discrimination: the role of local and regional authorities", and stressed the need to go beyond declarations and take concrete action to support and involve LGBTI organisations, for example by appointing local experts on diversity and equality to establish structural consultations with LGBTI.

“By involving and recognising LGBTI organisations as valuable allies, cities and regions can be safe havens for civil society under pressure and for LGBTI communities” stated Andrew Boff who called on the Congress, and the Council of Europe as a whole, to continue its work against discrimination and inequality in line with the Council of Europe Secretary General’s Report “Moving Forward 2022”.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has been working on LGBTI issues since 2007, including freedom of assembly and guaranteeing their fundamental rights. In June 2021, the Congress adopted the report "Protecting LGBTI persons in the context of rising hate speech and anti-LGBTI discrimination: the role of local and regional authorities". In addition, the Current Affairs Committee conducted a fact-finding mission to Poland in 2020, the findings of which were approved on 10 February 2021. The Congress subsequently adopted the report “The role of local and regional authorities with regard to the situation and rights of LGBTI people in Poland” in June 2021.


Brandenburg example should be followed: reporting back to local and regional councils and parliaments plays an essential role in highlighting Congress work

Secretary General Brandenbourg, Germany 16 May 2022
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Brandenburg example should be followed: reporting back to local and regional councils and parliaments plays an essential role in highlighting Congress work

On 12 May 2022, Heiner Klemp (Germany, SOC/G/DP), member of the Brandenburg Landtag and member of the German delegation to the Congress, updated the regional parliament about the decisions of the last Congress session, his participation in the local election observation mission to Serbia and the work of the Congress committees.

"Reporting back to the regional parliament, city council or national association of local authorities is the best way to reach out to local and regional decision makers and highlight the work as Congress member. The Brandenburg example is outstanding and a model for many others." said the Secretary General of the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe, Andreas Kiefer.

During his presentation, the Secretary General presented the role and mission of the Congress in the institutional architecture of the Council of Europe and detailed its monitoring work. Furthermore, he thanked Bettina Fortunato, chairperson of the commission for European affairs and development cooperation, for her invitation to this event and Ms Ulrike Liedtke, the President of the Brandenburg Landtag, for the invitation to hold a meeting of the Congress Monitoring Committee in Potsdam mid-2023.

Following the adoption by the Congress of the monitoring report on Germany in March 2022, the Brandenburg Parliament will discuss a supporting message for the ratification of the Additional protocol on the right to participate in the affairs of local authority by Germany.

Andreas Kiefer and Heiner Klemp also discussed the implementation of Human Rights as an often-undervalued dimension of local and regional self-governments with students at the University of Potsdam in Babelsberg. Hosted by Prof. Dr. Normann Weiß, Permanent Senior Fellow at the Human Rights Centre of the University of Potsdam, the presentations focused on the Congress reports and data collections and good practice examples of human rights applications at local and regional levels of government.

“The aim of the Congress’ human rights activities is to promote awareness among elected representatives of their responsibilities in dealing with human rights issues that affect people’s everyday lives at the local level, to encourage the national, as well as local, authorities to be trained in the field of human rights and to disseminate reliable information among citizens about their rights” said the Secretary General.

“Local and regional good governance entails a full compliance with fundamental freedoms and human rights. Local governments, with a political leadership accountable to citizens, are key players in guaranteeing human rights”, Mr. Kiefer concluded.


Council of Europe Congress provides grant support to the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia 

Co-operation Strasbourg, France 16 May 2022
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Council of Europe Congress provides grant support to the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia 

On 16 May 2022, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) signed a grant agreement as part of their joint project on “Strengthening participatory democracy and human rights at local level in Georgia”.

Through the grant, the Congress aims to assist NALAG and its secretariat with the tools and expertise necessary to strengthen its advocacy capacities to promote dialogue and consultations between local and central authorities in the field of human rights.

The grant will also support NALAG in its efforts to mainstream human rights standards in national and local policies and actions, and will assist the Association in establishing peer-to-peer exchanges among member municipalities to improve their understanding of human rights principles and their delivery at local level.

NALAG plays a vital role in strengthening the Georgian institutional frameworks for local governance through capacity development of local authorities in the areas of good governance, transparency, accountability, and combatting corruption. The Associations also fosters an inclusive approach toward citizens’ participation in local decision making processes, and is a central actor in promotong decentralistaion and supporting consultations and dialogue between central and local authorities on all areas of concern for municipalities.

The grant will be implemented from 16 May 2022 to 30 June 2023 and amounts to 49,745 Euros.

The project “Strengthening Participatory Democracy and Human Rights at Local Level in Georgia” is implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Directorate General of Democracy, Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy, within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023 with the financial contribution of the Austrian Development Cooperation. The project aims to strengthen institutional frameworks for citizen participation, support local authorities and their national association in their efforts to protect and promote human rights and ensure that civil society organisations have real impact on local decision making.


Vice-President Maletic at NALAS: “In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to focus on building resilient communities”

Co-operation Belgrade, Serbia 13 May 2022
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Vice-President Maletic at NALAS: “In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to focus on building resilient communities”

“We are living in a specific moment, characterised by multiple crisis which put the exercise of local democracy under growing constraints and pressure,” stated Congress Vice-President Aleksandra Maletic (Serbia, EPP/CCE) at the opening of the XVII General Assembly of the Network of Associations of Local Authorities from South-East Europe (NALAS) in Belgrade (Serbia) on 12 May 2022.

“After overcoming the critical point of pandemic, we found ourselves in great tribulation. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe stands with Ukrainian people,” stressed the Vice-President. “Recent developments have highlighted the importance of safeguarding peace and protecting European fundamental values. The values of the Council of Europe are our common values as Europeans, and they must be preserved more than ever,” she continued

The Vice-President pointed to the crucial need for strengthening the resilience and sustainability of municipalities and cities to respond better to crises, referring in this regard to the work undertaken by the Congress and networks such as NALAS, particularly regarding decentralisation and the strengthening of local democracy, within the system of multi-level governance.

Strong multi-level governance, she continued, entails strong local authorities, with proper competences and level of autonomy of decisions, including the sufficient financial resources to implement these decisions. An inclusive and transparent dialogue of national governments with local authorities and their national associations is key to achieving this, stressed the Vice-President.

“We must pursue and persevere with our work of building democracy and delivering good governance, for the benefit of our citizens and their trust in regional and local authorities. However, local authorities cannot act alone, but in co-operation and with shared responsibility with other levels of government. United we shall overcome the hardships of today and build a peaceful future”, concluded Vice-President Maletic.

See also:

Read more about Congress work:


"Strengthening local democracy and citizen engagement serve to increase the resilience of our cities and regions" says Martine Dieschburg at the ALDA General Assembly

Co-operation Strasbourg, France 9 May 2022
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The Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Martine Dieschburg (Luxembourg, GILD) spoke on the topic of supporting local democracy, peace and community resilience. "We are currently living in a very special moment, characterised by multiple crises on the European continent and worldwide," she stressed at the opening of the General Assembly of the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA) on 6 May 2022.

Referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia's war against Ukraine, but also to climate change threatening the planet and the increasing polarisation of societies, she stressed that these crises we are facing today bring to the forefront the resilience of our communities, both to prevent the consequences of the crisis, to resist or adapt to them, but also to bounce back quickly after their impact.

The Vice-President recalled that, in the face of these many crises, the work of the Congress, like that of ALDA, in strengthening local democracy and citizen engagement, serves to increase the resilience of cities and regions. She also highlighted the crucial importance of promoting and defending the Council of Europe's democratic values at every level of governance. "The work of our institutions contributes to strengthening the foundations of our democratic societies. This is fundamental because a society built on solid foundations will withstand any crisis," concluded Vice-President Dieschburg.

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Congress assesses the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Belgium

Monitoring Committee Belgium 6 May 2022
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Congress assesses the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Belgium

A delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, composed of the rapporteurs Matthias Gysin (Switzerland, ILDG) and Magnus Berntsson (Sweden, EPP/CCE) carried out a monitoring visit to Brussels, Eupen, Genk and Liège from 10 to 12 May 2022 to assess the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government since the previous monitoring report adopted by the Congress in 2014.

The rapporteurs held exchanges of views on the latest developments in the field of local and regional self-government in Belgium with Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, Bart Somers, Vice-Minister-President of the Government of Flanders, as well as with Christophe Collignon, Walloon Minister for Housing, Local Authorities and the City and Oliver Paasch, Minister-President of the German-speaking Community, Minister for Local Authorities and Finance.

Meetings were also planned with Rachid Madrane, President of the Brussels Parliament, Jean-Claude Marcourt, President of the Walloon Parliament and Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community.

The Congress delegation further met Claudia Niessen, Mayor of Eupen, Willy Demeyer, Mayor of Liège and Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk.

Belgium ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 2004. Countries that have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires the implementation of a minimum set of rights which form the essential basis of local self-government in Europe. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ensures that these principles are respected in the 46 Council of Europe member states.

Contact:
Stéphanie POIREL, Secretary of the Monitoring Committee
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
+33 (0) 3 90 21 51 84
[email protected]

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Europe Day: Congress Vice-President stresses the importance of human rights protection at local level

Presidency Kristiansand, Norway 5 May 2022
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Europe Day: Congress Vice-President stresses the importance of human rights protection at local level

At the 3rd European Conference on Democracy and Human Rights, organised in Kristiansand, Norway, on 5 May 2022, which is the day to mark the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the Council of Europe, Congress Vice-President Gunn Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP/CCE) underlined the importance of defending human rights, in particular against the backdrop of Russia’s war against Ukraine shaking Europe’s order. Ms Helgesen, who is also President of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), pointed to the specific role of local authorities in this respect.

“In their different functions, mayors and councillors are responsible for a variety of public services related to education, health, housing, infrastructure, among other things. This entails their obligations to comply with a variety of human rights. They must ensure the respect of principles of non-discrimination, equality, and democratic participation” she said.

The specific contribution of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is to equip local governments and their administrations with tools to adopt a human rights-based approach to local policies, the Vice-President explained, highlighting the series of "Human Rights Handbooks for local and regional authorities" published by the Congress. “This is a concrete tool to encourage municipalities and regions to take advantage of their proximity to citizens through best practice examples and practical recommendations”.

So far, two volumes of the Congress Human Rights Handbooks have been published, focusing on non-discrimination and social rights. A third volume, set to be published in October 2022, will address the role of local authorities in tackling climate change. The impact of new technologies and artificial intelligence on human rights at local level will be at the centre of a fourth volume planned for 2023.

Lastly, she underlined the importance of defending Human Rights in Europe and standing firmly in solidarity with Ukraine and its people. “Our European order - based on peace, unity, human rights and democracy - has never been challenged more profoundly than through the Russian war waged against Ukraine” she stressed. “The major crises we are going through, in particular the current pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine, have emphasised the prominent role of mayors, city councillors and regional governors in Europe”, the Congress Vice-President concluded.

The third European Conference on Democracy and Human Rights is hosted by the City of Kristiansand on 5 May 2022. The conference is organized jointly with the Council of Europe, the University of Agder, Kilden Performing Arts Centre, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum (SKMU), Arkivet Peace and Human Rights Centre, Cultiva Foundation, and Agder County Council. The conference venue is Kilden Performing Arts Centre.

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Statement by the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Leen Verbeek on Europe Day 2022

Presidency Strasbourg, France 5 May 2022
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Statement by the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Leen Verbeek on Europe Day 2022

On this Europe day, it is even more crucial to defend the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe.

Europe was built on the ruins of the Second World War, a war that caused millions of deaths and terrible suffering for tens of millions of civilians. The European construction has enabled us to reconcile and make peace with the past.

Since its creation in 1949, the Council of Europe has been the major architect of post-war democratic developments in Europe and the herald of fundamental rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the continent and beyond.

In recent years, these common values are under strain and challenged too often.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the social, economic and political challenges thus amplifying the divide within our societies. Recent developments have further threatened the unity and peace of the European continent and highlighted the importance of safeguarding peace and protecting European fundamental values.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe stands with Ukraine and its people, as we stand united against any attacks on peace and on the values of the Council of Europe.

We will continue to help and support communities now and in the aftermath of the crises, to make societies stronger, more inclusive and more resilient.

The values of the Council of Europe are our common values as Europeans, and they must be preserved more than ever. United we shall overcome the hardships of today and build a peaceful future.

The Council of Europe counts 46 member States and celebrates Europe Day on the 5 May, date of the adoption of the Statute of the Council of Europe creating the Organisation. The European Union counts 27 member States and celebrates Europe Day on 9 May, date of the Schumann Declaration.


Official visit to Switzerland: Council of Europe Congress President holds exchanges on challenges faced by local democracy

Presidency Strasbourg, France 3 May 2022
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Official visit to Switzerland: Council of Europe Congress President holds exchanges on challenges faced by local democracy

During an official visit to Switzerland from 30 April to 3 May 2022, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, discussed with State Secretary at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Livia Leu the work of the Congress, the situation in Ukrainian cities, the budget and the co-operation programmes implemented by the Council of Europe and the Congress. "Our co-operation programmes have helped to develop a new generation of politicians, who take ownership of their responsibilities and new ways of exercising them. This is particularly visible in Ukraine at present," the President stressed.

With the mayor of Bern, Alec von Graffenried, the discussion focused on the specific problems of running a large city and the particular status of capital cities. The President recalled that in its particularly positive report on the monitoring of the situation of local and regional democracy in Switzerland in 2017, the Congress noted however "the importance of determining, through legislation, a framework, and arrangements regarding financing for the city of Bern, taking due account of its specific situation". The mayor stressed the importance of citizen participation in the projects and development of his city, underlining that his aim was to "change simple citizens into concerned citizens". The President confirmed that participatory democracy is a cross-cutting priority of the Congress, which has been implementing the additional protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in public affairs for the past ten years. "This year we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of this Protocol, which responds to the growing aspiration of citizens to be consulted on issues that concern them directly," the President stressed.

“I am convinced that it is at the grassroots level, the level of our communities, that we can contribute to reviving and reinvigorating democratic processes," stated Congress President Leendert Verbeek at a meeting with the Union of Swiss Cities (UVS) and the Association of Swiss Municipalities (ACS) in Bern on 2 May. "For the Congress, national associations of local and regional authorities are our main interlocutors in the national setting of the member states," he added, praising Switzerland's exemplary democratic governance system. President Verbeek stressed, in particular, the role of national associations in implementing Congress resolutions, promoting the principles of the Charter and maintaining dialogue with national governments to defend the interests of local and regional authorities.

At the Institute of Federalism of the University of Fribourg, the President discussed with Didier Castella, State Councillor of Fribourg and member of the Swiss delegation to the Congress, the development of Fribourg and the other municipalities of the Canton. M. Verbeek underlined that in the current challenges faced by local and regional democracy federalism is a system that particularly suits to meet the demands of modern democracy such as citizen participation, inclusion and multi-level decision-making and accountability.

See also :


Supporting Ukraine: Council of Europe Congress President meets representatives of Kyiv City Council

Presidency Strasbourg, France 29 April 2022
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Supporting Ukraine: Council of Europe Congress President meets representatives of Kyiv City Council

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Congress, Andreas Kiefer, met a delegation of representatives of the Kyiv City Council on 28 April 2022 in Strasbourg. They held an exchange of views on the situation of Ukrainian cities and local authorities.

The members of the Kyiv City Council stressed the importance of the Congress' contribution to the post-war period and to the reconstruction of the functioning of democratic institutions, in particular at the territorial level. They also welcomed the initiative of the Cities4cities platform launched, with the support of the Congress, to help Ukrainian cities.

President Verbeek recalled the position of the Congress expressed in several statements since the beginning of the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and strongly condemning the crimes against citizens and the kidnapping of Ukrainian mayors. He stressed the crucial role played by mayors during the war, as elected representatives closest to the citizens and on the front line to meet their needs. "You have the support of the whole of Europe and, in particular, of the Congress," President Verbeek reaffirmed, praising the courage of the Ukrainian people.

See also :

Delegation of the Kyiv City Council :

  • Bondarenko Volodymyr Volodymyrovych - Deputy Kyiv Mayor - Secretary of the Kyiv City Council, Deputy of the Kyiv City Council, NR;
  • Vitrenko Andriy Oleksandrovych - Member  of the Kyiv City Council, chairman of the Servant of the People faction;
  • Yemets Leonid Oleksandrovych - Member of the Kyiv City Council, European Solidarity Faction;
  • Bilоtserkovets Dmytro Oleksandrovych - Member of the Kyiv City Council, co-chairman of the UDAR faction;
  • Moskal Denys Denysovych - Member of the Kyiv City Council, Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Batkivshchyna faction;
  • Malenko Hryhoriy Serhiiovych - Member of the Kyiv City Council, Faction Holos

Council of Europe Congress assesses the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Denmark

Monitoring Committee Denmark 29 April 2022
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Council of Europe Congress assesses the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Denmark

A delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, composed of rapporteurs Xavier Cadoret (France, SOC/G/PD) and Carla Dejonghe (Belgium, ILDG) conducted a monitoring visit to Copenhagen, Vejle and Nyborg from 3 to 5 May 2022 to assess the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Denmark since the previous monitoring report adopted by the Congress in 2013.

The rapporteurs exchanged views on the latest developments in the field of local and regional self-government in Denmark with the Minister of the Interior and Housing, Christian Rabjerg Madsen, the President of the Supreme Court, Thomas Rørdam, members of Parliament, representatives of the Ministry of Finance and representatives of the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Meetings were also held with local authorities in Nyborg and Vejle, and with representatives of the region of Southern Denmark and from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, as well as with representatives of the national associations Local Government Denmark (LGDK) and Danish Regions, and with members of the Danish national delegation to the Congress.

Denmark ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1988. Countries that have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires the implementation of a minimum set of rights that form the essential basis for local self-government in Europe. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ensures that these principles are respected in the 46 Council of Europe member states.

Contact:
Svitlana Pereverten, Co-Secretary to the Monitoring Committee
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
 +33 (0)3 90 21 64 27
  [email protected]

 Photos gallery


Congress work contributes to good democratic governance in Council of Europe Member States

Governance Committee Strasbourg, France 22 March 2022
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Congress work contributes to good democratic governance in Council of Europe Member States

“The current Congress priorities for 2021-2026 put an emphasis on environmental and social sustainability, digital revolution, as well as citizen engagement,” stressed Jelena Drenjanin (EPP/CCE), Chair of the Congress Governance Committee, at the 15th plenary meeting of the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) on 22 April 2022. She mentioned, in particular, the report on the use of deliberative methods in European municipalities and regions, adopted by the Congress in March 2022, which provides practical guidance and concrete examples to municipalities and regions and could serve as a useful contribution to the CDDG's current reflection on deliberative democracy. “Deliberative methods complement local representative democracy making it more resilient by enhancing citizens’ impact on policy-making. They contribute to increase transparency in policy decisions and trust in democracy at the local and regional level,” she said.

Ms Drenjanin highlighted other potential areas for cooperation between the Congress and the CDDG such as good democratic governance, multi-level governance, green public administration, cross-border cooperation, and Covid-19 crisis. She also mentioned three thematic reports being prepared by the Governance Committee in view of their adoption by the Congress in October 2022, which could be of interest to the CDDG: “Regional identities: improving dialogue to reduce regional tensions”, “The impact of hate speech and fake news on the working conditions of local and regional elected representatives”, and “Smart cities and smart regions”.

See also :

The European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) is the Council of Europe intergovernmental structure where high-level officials from the 46 member States meet to share information about policy and best practice, as well as to develop or update standards, in the fields of modernisation of democratic institutions, public administration reform, citizens’ participation and democratic governance at all levels.


Official visit of the President of the Congress of the Council of Europe to Switzerland

Presidency Bern, Switzerland 25 April 2022
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Official visit of the President of the Congress of the Council of Europe to Switzerland

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, made an official visit to Switzerland from 30 April to 3 May 2022, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Congress, Andreas Kiefer.

In Bern, the Congress President held talks with Livia Leu, Secretary of State at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), in the presence of David Eray, Minister of Environment of the Canton of Jura and President of the Swiss delegation to the Congress. He also met the Mayor of Bern, Alec von Graffenried.

Furthermore, President Verbeek took part in the meeting of the Landsgemeinde of the Canton of Glaris, in Glaris, during which he met federal parliamentarians, state councillors and former presidents of cantonal parliaments.

He also addressed the Institute of Federalism in Fribourg, in the presence of Didier Castella, State Councillor of the Canton of Fribourg in charge of Institutions and member of the Swiss delegation to the Congress. Discussions focused on the LoGov project with a panel of elected officials on the Grand Fribourg project aimed at merging several Swiss municipalities.


Promoting gender equality for effective human rights-based local governance in Georgia

Current Affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 13 April 2022
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Promoting gender equality for effective human rights-based local governance in Georgia

“Gender equality is a prerequisite condition for modern democracies, because ultimately, women’s rights are human rights,” stressed Congress Spokesperson on Gender Equality Eirini Dourou (Greece, SOC/G/PD) during the workshop on “Gender equality for effective human rights-based local governance”, held on 4-5 April 2022 in Imereti Region of Georgia, and which was followed by a similar workshop on 11-12 April 2022 in Kakheti Region.

These workshops, organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in collaboration with the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG), brought together thirteen selected municipalities to address challenges for mainstreaming gender equality in local policies and actions.  Together with representatives of municipalities from the United Kingdom and Spain, participants discussed good practices in implementing the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in local life and shared experiences.

The workshops provided a practical overview of how addressing gender equality at local level is essential for human rights and good governance.  As a result, a network of peer support was established to assist local municipalities in delivering actions on gender equality, discuss challenges and achievements, and develop inclusive Gender Equality Action Plans.

“We know that effective, inclusive, human-rights based governance necessarily mainstreams gender equality at all levels, as it fights discrimination and gender-based violence, and strives to eliminate sexism,“ concluded Ms Dourou, encouraging the participants to take further steps in developing relevant legislation and practice for gender equality.

This event was organised in the framework of the project “Strengthening Participatory Democracy and Human Rights at Local Level in Georgia”, implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Directorate General of Democracy, Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy, within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023 with the financial contribution of the Austrian Development Cooperation. The project aims to strengthen institutional frameworks for citizen participation, support local authorities and their national association in their efforts to protect and promote human rights and ensure that civil society organisations have real impact on local decision making.


Young people as defenders of human rights and democracy in times of war

Youth Delegates Online, Fastiv, Ukraine 14 April 2022
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Young people as defenders of human rights and democracy in times of war

“Even in times of crisis and war, not only that youth can play a role in upholding the democratic values of the Council of Europe and defending human rights, but their role is vital and unquestionable.”, said Thomas Anderson (Sweden, ILDG), Chair of the Current Affairs Committee of the Congress when addressing youth from the City of Fastiv and more than 20 Congress youth delegates, during the International youth online conference “Save Ukraine – save Europe” organised by the City of Fastiv, Ukraine on 8 April 2022.

“Youth can play a very important role within in fragile and conflict settings, especially when their engagement is co-ordinated by their local elected representatives, who at this moment find themselves literally at the frontline to protect citizens and ensure their basic needs,” said Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer when opening the conference.

Participants have concluded that youth participation is crucial in defending and rebuilding democracy, especially in times of war when they are witnessing unspeakable atrocities that can indeed shake their faith in humanity. They have all strongly condemned the brutal war waged by Russia against Ukraine in which youth represent the population disproportionately affected by war.

Exchanges between young people from Fastiv and Congress youth delegates continued throughout the conference, focusing on psychosocial impact of conflict on youth, as well as on possible support which will meet the immediate, practical needs of Ukrainian youth while laying groundwork for post-war reconstruction and peace.

See also :

The Congress initiative “Rejuvenating Politics” aims to promote the participation of young people in public life and in the decision-making process at local and regional levels. Since 2014, this “Youth Delegates” project has allowed young people from the 46 Council of Europe member States to take part in the Congress sessions and in the meetings of its committees, contributing to the discussions on the topics on the agenda.


ELoGE conference: “We must guarantee the highest possible level of local democracy in our Member States,” says Gunn-Marit Helgesen

ELoGE label Venice, Italy 13 April 2022
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ELoGE conference: “We must guarantee the highest possible level of local democracy in our Member States,” says Gunn-Marit Helgesen

“Regular monitoring, by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, of the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and its additional protocol, as well as the observation of local and regional elections, help to ensure that the 12 principles of Good Democratic Governance are respected at local level”, said Gunn-Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP/CCE), Congress vice-president, at a conference on the “Importance of Governance for Local Authorities” held on 11 April 2022, in Venice, Italy, to promote the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE).

“The recommendations addressed to the member states contribute to improving the principles further through an essential political dialogue”, stated Mrs Helgesen.  She also underlined the importance of the principles of human rights and rule of law as pillars of the Council of Europe’s activity to achieve greater unity between our states. “The successive crises we have experienced in recent years show that we must never take for granted what we consider to be good democratic governance. Effective adherence to these principles is of paramount importance to guarantee security and peace in Europe, and this means monitoring compliance with them, including the monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government which has been ratified by all Member States”, she concluded

The conference, “Importance of Governance for Local Authorities”, was organised in the framework of the National Conference for the promotion of the ELoGE Italy Project and co-hosted by the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Italian Association for the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (AICCRE).


Observation of elections - Call for secondments to the Congress

CALL FOR SECONDMENTS Strasbourg, France 12 April 2022
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Observation of elections - Call for secondments to the Congress

The Secretariat of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is looking for secondee from Council of Europe member States to work as Election Observation Officer

Deadline for application: 20 May 2022

Applications, must be submitted in English or French via the Council of Europe's online application system:

Further information is available here


Congress President addresses Council of Europe Committee of Ministers: "We must stand united to defend the values on which our Organisation is built"

Presidency Strasbourg, France 8 April 2022
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Congress President addresses Council of Europe Committee of Ministers:

During his exchange of views with the Deputies on 6 April 2022, the President of the Congress Leendert Verbeek recalled the crucial importance of the values on which the Council of Europe is built : human rights, democracy and the rule of law and underlined that the Congress will continue to promote and defend these values at each level of governance, to make communities resilient and make the European model of society stronger.

He highlighted the work done by Congress members who engage in concrete action, working directly with each other, with central governments, with citizens and civil society and address crucial challenges for democratic societies.

He mentioned in particular the debates held during the 42nd session in March 2022 on fake news, disinformation, threats and violence on elected representatives, the implication of children in the development of sustainable cities and the monitoring the situation of local democracy in Member States as well as the launching of the online “Cities4Cities” platform aimed at helping local and regional authorities throughout Europe match the material and logistical needs of Ukrainian local authorities during the war and prepare to the post-war reconstruction. Many Ambassadors expressed their support for this platform and said they would encourage their own local communities to use it.

The Congress President also underlined the Council of Europe and Congress cooperation activities in Member States which contribute to promote and strengthen democracy, good governance, citizen participation, transparency and gender equality in the field. He said he was convinced that the cooperation activities implemented in Ukraine since 2011 to strengthen local democracy and self-government have “contributed to the admirable resistance we can see today and have helped to cement the bonds between citizens and public authorities, who stand together today in the defence of their country.”

He stressed that the Council of Europe had taken the only possible and right decision by excluding the Russian Federation but warned that the Council of Europe family must not be weakened by this decision. “The Organisation’s budget must be preserved in order to be relevant and achieve our objectives”, he said, insisting that “The women, men and children living in European countries need the Council of Europe more than ever.”


“If we create the right tools, children can positively contribute to building their future”, says Congress rapporteur Brigitte van den Berg

SDGs - Agenda 2030 Rome, Italy 8 april 2022
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“If we create the right tools, children can positively contribute to building their future”, says Congress rapporteur Brigitte van den Berg

“I am convinced that young children have a lot to say, and that they can shape our public policy. If we create the right tools, children can have a valuable contribution to their future,” stated Brigitte van den Berg (Netherlands, ILDG), Congress rapporteur on Children and Sustainable Cities, in a video message on the occasion of the High-level Launching Conference for the new Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027), held in Rome, on 7-8 April 2022.

This is the aim of the Congress booklet “How to make your town a better place”, aimed at children aged 6 to 11 and developed by the Congress, together with children. The booklet is a tool to help children understand the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  “With this booklet, we want to encourage local and regional authorities to involve children – to give them a say on how to defend their future, the environment, and their human rights. Children already think about these issues. It is up to us, mayors, city councillors, ‘adults’, to give them the chance to express these ideas, and most importantly, it is up to us to actually listen and take their proposals into account,” she stressed addressing the participants of the “Deep dive conversation” on “Understanding the challenges faced by children as defenders of human rights”.

The Congress rapporteur also highlighted the importance of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority. “In June, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of this key text which also concerns children and not only adults, because children should also have a say, in particular on public local affairs,” she concluded.

The High-Level Conference, “Beyond the horizon: a new era for the rights of the child”, was organised in the framework of and hosted by the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, to launch the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) as a European instrument guiding the Council of Europe and its member states in protecting and promoting the rights of the child

 Brigitte van den Berg (Netherlands, ILDG), Congress rapporteur on Children and Sustainable Cities 


2022 World Forum for Democracy: call for initiatives

World Forum for Democracy Strasbourg, France 8 April 2022
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2022 World Forum for Democracy: call for initiatives

The 10th World Forum for Democracy, “Democracy: A new hope?” will take place from 7-9 November 2022 in Strasbourg. Participants will debate the main factors contributing to the decline of democracy, examine how to remedy it, and consider what kind of democratic future is desirable - and possible - for the benefit of people around the world. The World Forum for Democracy launches a call for initiatives and invites NGOs, think tanks, educational and civil society organisations to present innovative proposals aimed at strengthening democracy and providing solutions to reverse democratic decline. Presentations of initiatives should be sent to [email protected] before 15 June 2022.

Each year, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities contributes to the World Forum for Democracy and participates in plenary sessions, Forum Talks and Forum Labs, with a focus on local and regional democracy.


Eirini Dourou : “Gender equality must be mainstreamed into all Sustainable Development Goals as a cross-cutting issue”

SDGs - Agenda 2030 Geneva, Switzerland 7 April 2022
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Eirini Dourou : “Gender equality must be mainstreamed into all Sustainable Development Goals as a cross-cutting issue”

“The Congress recommendation of 2016 placed emphasis on several key factors to accelerate women’s political participation and representation at local and regional levels”, said Eirini Dourou (Greece, SOC/G/PD), Congress Spokesperson on Gender Equality during the round table on SDG 5: “Accelerators of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic”, held on 7 April 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. The participants of the round table, organised as part of the UN ECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, exchanged on how governments can promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of the COVID-19 recovery process, considering gender-differentiated impacts of the pandemic.

The Congress Spokesperson presented Congress recommendations in promoting gender equality: adoption of electoral laws requiring the parity of women and men on candidate lists, introduction of the system of “pairing” women and men appointed to elected seats from party lists following the elections, and implementation of quotas for candidates in elections, to guarantee the minimum representation. “In the Congress itself, for example, we introduced since 2007 a 30% minimum requirement of women in national delegations, which has led in practice to the actual representation of 42% today – from 12% back in 1994 when the Congress was established,” she stated.

Ms Dourou underlined that the local level was a springboard for women’s participation at all levels of decision-making, serving as a school for building capacities, experience and self-confidence. “Women’s empowerment should not be limited to one Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 5, however crucial it is. We strongly believe that all SDGs must benefit from the input of women – the more diverse perspectives are taken into account, the better our policies will benefit all of our citizens,” she concluded.  

The Congress actively supports efforts to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls at the local and regional level through both the adoption of texts and participation by its members in events/conferences. To strengthen gender equality, the Congress has developed activities and encourages local authorities to provide political efforts to: increase the decision-making power of women, guarantee women’s rights, and ensure the integration of women from religious and cultural minorities.

See also:


Council of Europe Congress President condemns the crimes against Ukrainian citizens and elected local leaders

Presidency Strasbourg, France 6 April 2022
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Council of Europe Congress President condemns the crimes against Ukrainian citizens and elected local leaders

On the occasion of his exchange of views with the Deputies in the Committee of Ministers on 6 April, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek made the following statement:

“The war in Ukraine has entered a new phase of atrocities. While Russian troops are retreating from villages and towns around the capital city of Kyiv, in Boucha, Irpyn, Vorzel or Motyzhyn, they are leaving behind evidence of what appears to be deliberate killings of civilians.

On 2 April, the bodies of the mayor of the small village of Motyzhyn, Olga Sukhenko, her husband Igor and their son Alexander, reportedly kidnapped on 23 March, were found in a grave. Similar atrocities have been reported in Hostomel and other towns in the Kyiv oblast: mayors being killed for having refused to cooperate with the Russian troops and to provide full support to the war.

In Mariupol, Kherson, Zaporizhya, Mykolaiv and Luhansk oblasts, so-called “mayors” were appointed in replacement of the elected mayors; these appointments cannot be seen as legitimate. I demand the release of the mayors democratically elected by the Ukrainian citizens and the restauration of the conditions for them to fully resume their functions.

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal murders, as I condemn the abduction or intimidation of mayors and local councillors who stand by their fellow citizens and refuse to submit to the invader.

These crimes must not go unpunished. They are an affront to our humanity, and flagrant violations of all the rules of democracy, of international law, rules governing armed conflict and simply of the fundamental human rights we stand for.

I am confident that international justice will be carried out and those responsible for the crimes committed in Ukraine will be held accountable.

I once again wish to pay tribute to democratically elected local leaders in Ukraine who play a key role in addressing the daily challenges of citizens in their martyr cities, towns, and villages.  And this is exactly why they are being targeted by the aggressor.

I deplore the loss of lives and the terrible consequences of this unjustified aggression and wish to reiterate our full solidarity with Ukraine and its people. “


Serbia: Council of Europe Congress delegation recommends to conduct local elections separately from elections at the national level

Elections Strasbourg, France 4 April 2022
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Serbia: Council of Europe Congress delegation recommends to conduct local elections separately from elections at the national level

A 15-member delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, led by Carla Dejonghe (Belgium, ILDG), carried out a mission to observe the partial local elections held on 3 April 2022, in Belgrade and several other municipalities.

On Election Day, seven Congress teams were deployed to Belgrade, Arandelovac, Smederevska Palanka, Kula and Secanj to monitor the procedures, from opening to closing, in about hundred polling stations. Except some inconsistencies and irregularities, overall, voting was calm and conducted by the boards in the polling stations based on a legal framework considered as generally in line with international standards.

However, at a press conference held in Belgrade on 4 April, Ms. Dejonghe raised several recurring issues, already highlighted in the 2016 Congress report. Polling stations were often overcrowded due to the permanent and extended composition of the polling boards, while the minimum presence of permanent members was not always ensured. The Serbian authorities should optimise the management of polling stations, ensuring, at the same time, transparent monitoring of the elections by party observers, she said.

The Head of delegation also called to further develop the training of poll workers with the aim of professionalising them. In order to strengthen the secrecy of the vote, proper polling booths should be introduced instead of cardboard separations. It is also urgent to improve the accessibility of the polling stations for people with disabilities, Ms Dejonghe stressed.

Furthermore, the Congress delegation witnessed, on several occasions, situations where voters came to the polling stations with invitations addressed to deceased people. "The existence of so-called phantom voters on the voters’ lists continues to undermine public trust and confidence in elections and in democracy," warned Ms Dejonghe, calling for an independent audit of the voters’ lists and better coordination between the authorities responsible for updating civil status.

Due to the simultaneous holding of three elections in Belgrade and 12 other municipalities on the same day, voter turnout was high in some places and led to long queues, especially before the polls closed. “The conduct of concurrent elections for different levels of government should be avoided in the future, and a separate Election Day should be dedicated for local and regional self-government to avoid that Presidential or Parliamentary elections overshadow local issues,” Ms Dejonghe stressed.

"The fact that - following cross-party dialogue facilitated by the European Parliament last year - the opposition, at all levels of government, took part in yesterday's elections, is a positive sign and gives us confidence that Serbia can achieve greater democracy – the local government level is the ideal starting point to do so,” concluded the Head of the Congress delegation.

The deployment on polling day was preceded by preparatory meetings on 1 and 2 April with representatives of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, the Republic Electoral Commission, members of the Serbian delegation to the Congress, the Secretary General of the Standing Conference of Cities and Municipalities, the diplomatic corps, NGOs, the media and the IEOM as well as with candidates and representatives of parties/lists running in the Belgrade election.

Upon request of the competent authorities, the Congress observes local and regional elections in Council of Europe member States and sometimes beyond. The observation of local elections is complementary to the political monitoring process of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which is the cornerstone of local democracy in Europe.

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Barbara Toce: "Cultural heritage can contribute to post-crisis and post-conflict reconstruction”

Current Affairs Committee Strasbourg, France 1 April 2022
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Barbara Toce:

"Sustainable management of cultural heritage can bring Europeans together, while celebrating their diversity," said Barbara Toce (Italy, SOC/G/PD), Rapporteur of the Congress on Cultural Heritage Management, at the opening of the Conference of Ministers of Culture in Strasbourg, France, on 1 April 2022.

Ms Toce mentioned the recent Congress report, entitled "Culture without borders", which highlights the role of cultural heritage as a bridge between peoples and communities. This report highlights that municipalities and regions can use cultural heritage as a means to promote the values that are essential for democracy: solidarity, dialogue, mutual acceptance and respect for human rights and the rule of law.  It also gives them tools for developing sustainable cultural heritage management, for example by protecting intangible cultural heritage and combating over-tourism.

However, the Congress rapporteur stressed the fragility of cultural heritage, especially in times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic or more recently in the context of the war in Ukraine: destruction of cultural sites, drop in the number of visitors and lack of resources are all challenges that require measures to preserve cultural heritage. "As a large part of the population has to flee and is separated from their communities, war is also a threat to intangible heritage such as local customs and minority languages," she warned.

According to the Congress rapporteur, cultural heritage can contribute to post-crisis and post-conflict reconstruction, through sustainable and inclusive management at all levels and from the bottom up, with the support of central governments.

The Conference was organised in the framework of the Italian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe under the theme "Creating our future: creativity and cultural heritage as strategic resources for a diverse and democratic Europe".

 Speech


The Congress assesses the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Sweden

Monitoring committee Sweden 1 April 2022
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The Congress assesses the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Sweden

A delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, composed of rapporteurs Harald Bergmann (Netherlands, ILDG) and Matija Kovac (Serbia, EPP/CCE) conducted a monitoring visit to Stockholm, Uppsala and Östhammar from 5 to 7 April 2022 to assess the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Sweden since the previous monitoring report adopted by the Congress in 2014.

The rapporteurs exchanged views on the latest developments in the field of local and regional self-government in Sweden with Ms Ida Karkiainen, Minister for Public Administration, Mr Per Lennerbrant, Parliamentary Ombudsman, as well as with Henrik Jermsten, Deputy President of the Supreme Court. In Parliament, the delegation met with Mr Andreas Norlén, President of the Riksdag.

Meetings were also held with the Mayor of Stockholm and representatives of the municipalities of Uppsala and Östhammar. Furthermore, the Congress delegation met the members of the Swedish national delegation to the Congress as well as Anders Knape, President of the national delegation and President of the Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), and Dr Anders Lidström, independent expert.

Sweden ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1988. Countries that have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires the implementation of a minimum set of rights that form the essential basis for local self-government in Europe. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ensures that these principles are respected in the 46 Council of Europe member states.

Contact: Stéphanie POIREL, Head of the Statutory Committee Division and Secretary of the Monitoring Committee
 +33 (0) 3 90 21 51 84
 [email protected]

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Congress President in the Committee of the Regions: European cities can help Ukrainian counterparts through a new online platform

Committee of regions Strasbourg, France 31 March 2022
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Congress President in the Committee of the Regions: European cities can help Ukrainian counterparts through a new online platform

“In the face of the brutal war waged by Russia against Ukraine, cities and regions of Europe stand united in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and authorities, and we salute their courage and fortitude in the battle against the invasion,” Congress President Leendert Verbeek stressed at the meeting of the European Committee of the Regions’ Working Group on Ukraine, in Brussels on 30 March 2022.

“We in the Congress are also proud of the immediate response by numerous local and regional authorities and their associations in other European countries providing aid to their Ukrainian counterparts and hosting refugees from Ukraine,” he continued. To coordinate these efforts, the Congress supported the launch of a Cities4Cities platform to match the demands and needs of Ukrainian cities with the capacity, know-how and supply from other European cities. Through this platform, local and regional leaders in Ukraine will be supported in addressing the daily challenges of citizens in their cities, towns and villages. By its design, the platform will also be able to integrate other support initiatives in Europe.

The President also referred to the Declaration adopted unanimously by the Congress during its session on 22 March 2022. “In one voice, Congress members condemned in the strongest terms the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine as a blatant breach of international law and called on Russia to cease the war immediately and unconditionally,” he said. “Recognising the key role of local and regional authorities in addressing the disastrous humanitarian consequences faced by citizens, the Congress also condemns the intimidation, abduction and killing of local and regional elected representatives in Ukraine”, pointed out the President, underlining that the firm commitment by the Ukrainian people to the values of freedom and democracy is the source of their strength today.

Deputy Minister of Communities and Territorial Development of Ukraine Viacheslav Nehoda, Mayor of Kyiv Vitaly Klitshcko and Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi took part in this meeting, which brought together representatives of local and regional authorities and their national associations, members of the Committee of the Regions and international stakeholders.

See also :


Congress of the Council of Europe to observe local elections in Belgrade

Elections observation Belgrade, Serbia 31 March 2022
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Congress of the Council of Europe to observe local elections in Belgrade

At the invitation of the Serbian authorities, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe deployed a mission, led by Congress member Carla Dejonghe (Belgium, ILDG), to observe the local elections on 3 April 2022 in Belgrade and several other municipalities.

The deployment on Election Day was preceded by preparatory meetings on 1 and 2 April with representatives of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, the Republic Electoral Commission, members of the Serbian Delegation to the Congress and the Secretary General of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities.

Meetings were also scheduled with the diplomatic corps based in Belgrade, candidates for the Mayor of Belgrade, representatives of NGOs and media as well as the IEOM observing the polls to elect both the President and members of the National Assembly to be held in Serbia on the same day.

A press conference was organised on Monday, 4 April at 12:00 (Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mediterranean & Adriatic room, Vladimira Popovica 10, Belgrade).

Delegation of the Congress:

  • Ms Carla DEJONGHE, Head of Delegation, Belgium (ILDG, R)
  • Ms Aikatherini ADAMOPOULOU, Greece (EPP/CCE, R)
  • Mr Zdenek BROZ, Czech Republic (ILDG, L)
  • Mr Xavier CADORET, France (SOC/G/PD, L)
  • Ms Belinda GOTTARDI, Italy (SOC/G/PD, L)
  • Ms Tanja JOONA, Finland (ILDG, L)
  • Mr Heiner KLEMP, Germany (SOC/G/PD, R)
  • Mr Shabir PANDOR, United Kingdom (SOC/G/PD, R)
  • Ms Sevdia UGREKHELIDZE, Georgia (EPP/CCE, L)
  • Mr Emin YERITSYAN, Armenia (EPP/CCE, L)
  • Ms Brid QUINN, Member of the Congress Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government

Contact:

See also:

 Observation of local and regional elections