22nd Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
Lord Mayor of Stuttgart: “Bureaucratic centralism will not be able to solve the financial crises in Europe”
Strasbourg, 22 March 2012. – Wolfgang Schuster, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart (Germany) and President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), opened the most topical of current affairs debates at the 22nd Congress Session by underlining the important role Europe’s cities and regions have to play in order to overcome the current crisis. Challenges which result from ongoing austerity programmes cannot be solved by a centralistic top-down approach in politics, Schuster said.
Youth unemployment, climate change, energy transition, immigration and demographic changes are fields where co-ordinated action and partnership is needed between all tiers of government as well as citizens, scientific experts and economists. The new European Centre for Local and Regional Governance which was presented by Schuster and is supported by the Congress could be used as a platform for the exchanges of know how in good local governance.
“We do not need more of bureaucratic centralism, we need more local responsibility and more local self-government in order to solve this crisis”, he concluded. Alan Meale, the Parliamentary Assembly’s Rapporteur, and Congress Vice-President Svetlana Orlova of the Russian Federation also delivered keynote speeches on ways to deal with dangers to institutional structures and to stability in Europe caused by the current recession.
Each called for more co-operation and coordination at regional and local level. They stressed the importance of finding European rather than national solutions in the face of the crisis, and called for more involvement of citizens. A keen debate ensued, with Congress members from Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom, France and Iceland amongst others contributing to the discussion.