18th SESSION

CG(18)3
10 March 2010

Communication by the President

Ian MICALLEF (Malta, L, EPP/CD), President a.i.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION 2
II. 17TH PLENARY SESSION 3
III. ACTIVITIES OF THE CONGRESS BUREAU 5
IV. ACTIVITIES OF STATUTORY COMMITTEES AND WORKING GROUPS 5
V. MONITORING 7
VI. OBSERVATION OF ELECTIONS 8
VII. OTHER EVENTS 8

I. INTRODUCTION

The activities of the Congress since the 17th Plenary Session in October 2009 were taking place against the background of the reform of the Council of Europe, launched by Secretary General Thorbjørn JAGLAND. In January, his reform proposals were approved by the governments of member states. In this context, the Congress’ own revision of its activities and structures, launched in 2009 with a report by Congress Past-President Halvdan SKARD (Norway, SOC), has become part of a larger framework of the Organisation’s reform process.

The general direction of reform is to make sure that Congress resources are not dispersed among too many activities but focused on a core of clearly defined political priorities. It is our conviction that the Congress’ action should continue to be based on the two pillars of democracy and human rights and pursued accordingly. This means first of all ensuring the effective monitoring of the situation of local and regional democracy in member states, which remains the core mission of the Congress. To be effective, this monitoring must be regular, and it should not be limited to the production of reports and recommendations. It must also be part of an ongoing political dialogue with the different levels of governance in the country.

The Congress has therefore allocated a larger part of its 2010 budget to monitoring. In 2009, it carried out five monitoring missions; for 2010, 15 missions are scheduled. In addition, to follow up its recommendations and make its action more concrete, the Congress has been looking to implement targeted assistance programmes. This would involve working with the governments and territorial authorities concerned to reinforce local democracy and address situations which are highlighted in the country reports and Congress recommendations.

Since the October session, the Congress carried out monitoring missions to Belgium and the Russian Federation as well as a pre-electoral and observation missions to observe municipal elections in Azerbaijan, all in December 2009.

With its first-time monitoring missions to Iceland, Switzerland and Belgium (in progress) in 2009, the Congress has almost completed the first monitoring cycle of the 44 member states which have, to date, ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Four countries remain to be monitored for the first time in 2010: Austria, France, Montenegro and Serbia, with the monitoring of Belgium to be completed. In addition, the Congress is working to encourage the three remaining member states (Andorra, Monaco and San Marino) to sign and ratify the Charter.

Congress delegations took part in the Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government, in Utrecht (Netherlands) in November, and in the UN Conference on climate change, in Copenhagen (Denmark) in December. Also in December, the Congress participated in the preparatory conference in Brussels for the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), in which it will have an observer status; in January 2010, it took part in the launch of ARLEM in Barcelona (Spain).

On 12 November 2009, a revised cooperation agreement between the Congress and the EU Committee of the Regions was signed in Brussels by Congress President a.i. Ian MICALLEF and Committee of the Regions’ President Luc VAN DEN BRANDE, assisted by acting Secretary General of the Congress Wojciech SAWICKI and Gerhard STAHL, Secretary General of the Committee of the Regions. The revised agreement formalises in particular the annual meetings of the Presidents assisted by Secretaries-General, and their role in defining cooperation priorities.

In February 2010, President a.i. Ian MICALLEF paid an official visit to Andorra to discuss the obstacles preventing this country from ratifying the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Also in February, he discussed cooperation prospects with Moroccan authorities, during a seminar on cooperation between Morocco and the Council of Europe in Rabat. Finally, he had an exchange of views with the Committee of Ministers on 24 February in Strasbourg.

Work was pursued to enhance citizen participation at local and regional level. One example of the practical implementation of citizen participation initiatives is the European Local Democracy Week (ELDW), organised every year in October since 2007. As co-founder of ELDW, the Congress fully supported its 2009 edition through co-ordinating and encouraging initiatives within Council of Europe member states. From 2010, the Congress is fully in charge of the organisation of the Week. On 2 March 2010, it convened a meeting of national ELDW coordinators in Strasbourg, who chose as the Week’s leading theme for this year theme “the impact of sustainable communities to fight climate change”.

In their Declaration on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe, adopted in October, Congress members reaffirmed their conviction that today, the Congress stands firm in pursuing its mission as the main contributor to this Organisation’s action in the field of democracy and human rights at territorial level. Our help and advice are being sought by local and regional authorities across Europe and beyond, and we can do much more if our aspirations, which correspond to the expectations of territorial communities, are matched with adequate resources. Through innovation and reform, through targeted action and through renewed partnerships we will achieve this objective.

II. 17th PLENARY SESSION

The 17th Plenary Session took place in Strasbourg from 13 to 15 October 2009. At the beginning of the session, the Congress decided to postpone the election of its Secretary General until the 18th Plenary Session (17-19 March 2010), in the absence of the agreed list of candidates which is to be approved by the Bureau. The term of office of Secretary General Ulrich BOHNER expired on 1 November 2009.

Following the postponement of the election, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn JAGLAND appointed, at the beginning of November, Wojciech SAWICKI, Director-General of the Parliamentary Assembly, to act as Secretary General of the Congress until the election.

The Congress Bureau, the Bureaus of its Chambers as well as the Institutional Committee and the Committee on Social Cohesion met on 12 October, on the eve of the session.

Plenary sittings

At the beginning of the session on Tuesday 13 October, Congress Secretary General Ulrich BOHNER presented a message from Yavuz MILDON, President of the Congress who is temporarily unable to resume his duties for health reasons. Congress President a.i. Ian MICALLEF then presented the activity report of the President.

The session continued with a debate on the state of transfrontier cooperation in Europe, based on the report by Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ. Michel DELEBARRE, 1st Vice-President of the EU Committee of the Regions and President of the Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière (MOT) took part in the debate, which was followed by a statement from Veroljub STEVANOVIC, Mayor of Kragujevac (Serbia).

The afternoon sitting began with a statement by Thorbjǿrn JAGLAND, the newly elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe, which was his first institutional speech in this function. He underlined the importance of the role of local representatives as those politicians who are most directly confronted with the needs, wishes and complaints of their electorate. “Politicians are always under pressure to deliver results, but it is at the local level that this pressure is perhaps most concrete, constant and direct,” he said.

His speech was followed by a sitting devoted to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe. It began with statements by Zlata PLOSTAJNER, Slovenian Minister of Local Self-Government and Regional Development; Peter ALTMAIER, Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Interior Ministry; and Alan MEALE, President of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs.The session adopted the Congress Declaration on the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe, presented by Vice-President Dubravka SUICA (Croatia, L, EPP/CD).

The Congress then proceeded to a debate on the European Local Democracy Week, introduced by Anders KNAPE (Sweden, L, EPP/CD), with the participation of Stepan KIRICHUK, President of the Russian National Congress of Municipalities, and Robert HERRMANN, First Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg in charge of local democracy. During a second debate, on youth participation in democracy, Congress members heard presentations from Raphaël NISAND, Mayor of Schiltigheim (France), Ambrine BAADER, member of Schiltigheim’s children’s council which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and Eloïse JACOB of the youth municipal council of Strasbourg. In addition, Mayor of Stuttgart and Congress member Wolfgang SCHUSTER (Germany, L, EPP/CD) presented activities of the Cities for Children network and proposed drafting a European Charter for the well-being of children in towns.

The commemorative sitting continued with a debate on challenges for local democracy in the world, during which Mayor of Caracas (Venezuela) Antonio LEDEZMA and Mayor of Yonago (Japan) Yasuo NAZAKA shared their experience of local self-government in their parts of the globe. It was concluded by a statement on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, presented by Congress Vice-President Günther KRUG (Germany, R, SOC).

The sitting was followed by an inauguration of the photo exhibition highlighting the Congress action in Europe, in the Lobby of the Hemicycle.

On Wednesday 14 October, the Congress debated reports on local responses to the global challenge of climate change, by Jens Jorgen NYGAARD (Denmark, L, NR); on domestic violence against women, by Sandra BARNES (United Kingdom, L, EPP/CD); and on preventing violence against children, by Pia BOSCH I CODOLA (Spain, R, SOC). The resolution and recommendation on climate change represent the Congress position for the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Outgoing Secretary General of the Congress Ulrich BOHNER made a statement in which he took stock of his 37-year career at the Council of Europe, mainly in the Congress, and shared with members his vision of the Congress’ role and mission. The Congress was born out of ''a deep-seated trend of our European societies towards recognition of the principle of subsidiarity and of the need to counterbalance the tendencies towards greater concentration of powers at the European level by stronger development of the grassroots regional and local dimension'', he said.

On Thursday 15 October, the Congress heard a statement by Roland RIES, Mayor of Strasbourg, who emphasised the Congress’ role as a mouthpiece for local and regional authorities. “Without you, it would be possible for our regions, our municipalities, to make their voices heard only through non-institutionalised lobbying, in a European community still largely dominated by diplomacy involving States”, he said. Mayor RIES gave a description of the Strasbourg-Ortenau Eurodistrict and the Upper Rhine Region, where “the concept of transfrontier co-operation is now fully integrated into our local governance”. “Soon the Eurodistrict will move even further along the path of integration, going beyond the simple concept of co-operation and drawing closer to that of joint decision-making’', he added.

The Congress continued with a debate on cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, with the participation of Mikko LOHIKOSKI on behalf of Per BØDKER ANDERSEN, President of the Union of the Baltic Cities; Silvia GUROVA, Head of the International Relations Department of the Kaliningrad Regional Government (Russian Federation); and Ambassador Neris GERMANAS, representing the Lithuanian Chairmanship of the Baltic Sea Council.

The session was concluded by a debate on equal access to local and regional elections, based on the report by Cees BIJL (Netherlands, L, SOC).

Chamber of Local Authorities

Meeting on Wednesday 14 October, the Chamber of Local Authorities debated the situation of local authorities in Southeast Anatolia (Turkey), with the participation of representatives of the Turkish local authorities and civil society. The Chamber also discussed the report by Etienne VAN VAERENBERGH (Belgium, ILDG) and Alison COOK (United Kingdom, EPP/CD) on e-democracy: opportunities and risks for local authorities.

On Thursday 15 October, the Chamber held a debate on creative cities – managing the cultural activity of cities, based on the report by Konstanty DOMBROWICZ (Poland, ILDG), during which Congress members heard a statement by Malcolm WOOD (United Kingdom), Chair of EUROCITIES working group on creative industries. Another report, by Paolo RONDELLI (San Marino, SOC), dealt with improving indoor air quality as a new challenge for local authorities, while Nigel MERMAGEN (United Kingdom, ILDG) presented the report on the observation of the first-ever elections of the Mayor of Yerevan (Armenia) on 31 May 2009, urging Armenia to achieve a higher standard of electoral ethics.

Chamber of Regions

The Chamber of Regions met on Wednesday 14 October to discuss ways for regions to help families with excessive debt, based on the report on over-indebtedness of households: the responsibility of regions, by Carmen Patrizia MURATORE (Italy, ILDG); as well as a report by Bernd PETRISCH (Austria, EPP/CD) on regions with legislative powers: towards multilevel governance.

Meeting again on Thursday 15 October, the Chamber heard a statement by Governor of Fukui Prefecture (Japan) Issei NISHIKAWA on the development of regionalisation in his country, and held a round table on cooperation between European regions: objectives, structures and networks. Among the participants were Jean-Paul HEIDER, First Vice-President of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR); Urs WÜTHRICH-PELLOLI, Vice-President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER); Herwig VAN STAA, President of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE); François SAINT-OUEN, Executive Secretary of the European Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the Regions (FEDRE) and Bernd PETRISCH, Advisory Board Member of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE).

III. ACTIVITIES OF THE CONGRESS BUREAU

Meeting on 12, 14 and 15 October 2009 in Strasbourg, on the occasion of the 17th Plenary Session, the Congress Bureau finalised the preparation of the session and discussed budgetary priorities for 2010. It asked the Institutional Committee to examine the consequences of the territorial organisation reform in Latvia on the credentials of the Latvian delegation and, pending the Committee’s decision, suspended the voting rights of the delegation’s members in the Chamber of Regions.

The Bureau also approved an opinion concerning the White Paper on Multilevel Governance of the EU Committee of the Regions, and agreed to the signing, on 12 November 2009 in Brussels, of the revised Cooperation Agreement between the Congress and the Committee of the Regions by the Presidents of the two institutions. The revised Agreement will enter into force in January 2010.

Meeting on 15 January 2010 in Lugano, at the invitation of the Swiss authorities, the Bureau discussed Congress priorities for 2011-2012, the question of the follow-up to Congress resolutions and recommendations, and the preparation of the 18th Plenary Session. Other items included the launching of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and North-South cooperation. The Bureau also approved the shortlist of three candidates for the election of the Congress Secretary General: (in alphabetical order) Antonella CAGNOLATI (Italy), Andreas KIEFER (Austria) and Leo PLATVOET (Netherlands).

The meeting in Paris on 5 February 2010 was devoted to the preparation of the 18th Plenary Session. Bureau members discussed, in particular, draft texts concerning the climate change after the Copenhagen Summit, the final Declaration of Utrecht and the launching of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM). They also examined the draft report following the observation mission of local elections carried out by a Congress Delegation, in Azerbaijan, on 23 December 2009. 

 

IV. ACTIVITIES OF STATUTORY COMMITTEES AND WORKING GROUPS

The meeting of the Committee on Culture and Education on 18 September 2009 in Bydgoszcz, Poland, was covered in the Activity report of the President during the 17th Plenary Session in October 2009. The next meeting of the Committee will take place on 16 March 2010 in Strasbourg.

Institutional Committee

The Institutional Committee met on 12 October 2009 in Strasbourg and on 15 February 2010 in Utrecht, Netherlands.

In October 2009, the Committee approved a report on local democracy in Portugal, by Davor ZMEGAC (Croatia, L, ILDG), and a report on institutional relations between the executive body and the administrative body in local government, by Emil CALOTA (Romania, L, SOC). It also examined complaints with regard to the situation of local democracy in Azerbaijan, Estonia, Malta, Moldova, Romania and the Russian Federation.

Rapporteur Lars O. MOLIN (Sweden, L, EPP/CD) presented the state of preparation of his report on the role of local and regional authorities in the implementation of human rights. This report intends to focus on realistic ways to implement good practices and will make some concrete proposals in this respect.

In February 2010, the Committee examined reports on the role of local and regional authorities in the human rights implementation, on regional democracy in Switzerland and on local democracy in Iceland. A discussion was held on local and regional participation in Europe, with contributions from Auke van der GOOT, of the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations; Herman SIETSMA, Secretary of the Province of Utrecht; and Marjan HAAK-GRIFFIOEN, member of the Executive Board of the Province of Utrecht. The Committee also discussed developments concerning the situation of territorial democracy in Azerbaijan, Estonia, Latvia, Malta and Moldova.

The next meeting will take place in July 2010.

Committee on Social Cohesion

Meeting in Strasbourg on 12 October 2009, the Committee on Social Cohesion focused its discussions on ways of achieving sustainable gender equality in local and regional political life, building and increasing the capacity of local administrations to deliver gender-sensitive policies and services, and reasons for which women remain under-represented. Rapporteur Britt-Marie LÖVGREN (Sweden, L, ILDG) led the debate, with the participation of Diane BUNYAN, Director of GEM Consult, a UK-based partnership of consultants, and presented texts for adoption by the Congress during the 18th Plenary Session in 2010.

The Committee then explored three major topics which will be covered in future reports:

    - Intergroup relations in European cities – Congress Thematic Rapporteur on Migration Esther MAURER (Switzerland, L, SOC) presented this continuation of the Committee’s work with the CLIP (Cities for Local Integration Policies) network,

    - Temporal policies – a discussion on how public services, social and economic activities and the general organisation of urban life and use of collective areas needs to be re-thought so that everyone is able to manage their time in the way they wish. Clotilde TASCON-MENNETRIER (France, L, SOC) led the debate, with the participation of Ulrich MÜCKENBERGER, Director of the Time-Lab, University of Hamburg, Germany which conducts time-policy research.

In addition, an urgent debate was held on the situation of Roma and travellers in Europe today, led by John WARMISHAM (United Kingdom, L, SOC), Thematic Rapporteur on Roma and Congress representative to the Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers, in order to discuss what the Committee can propose in light of the escalating violence against Roma across Europe

The Committee decided to postpone the election of its President until its next meeting on 16 March 2010.

Committee on Sustainable Development

The Committee on Sustainable Development met in Strasbourg on 1 December 2009.

The Committee approved the report on intra-regional transport as a factor for regional cohesion, and held an exchange of views on local and regional authorities’ role in implementing human rights, in particular the right to sustainable development.

Another exchange of views focused on the way in which coastal towns are adapting to the effects of climate change, in the preparation of the report by Iñigo DE LA SERNA HERNAIZ (Spain, L, EPP/CD). Iñigo LOSADA, Director of the Environmental Hydraulics Institute at Cantabria University (Spain) and Olaf MÜLLER, Head of the Water and Protection against Highwater Division of the Agency of Roads, Bridges and Water (Hamburg, Germany) took part in the discussion.

To prepare the Congress’ participation in the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, a debate was organised on recognising local and regional authorities’ role in combating climate change. Among the participants were Henning JENSEN, Vice-Chair of the Commission for Sustainable Development of the EU Committee of the Regions, Gino VAN BEGIN, Regional Director for Europe of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and Claude HAEGI, President of the European Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the Regions (FEDRE).

The Committee also began discussions on the reports on the sustainable development of mountain regions and the experience of the Carpathian Mountains, and on landscape as a new dimension of public territorial action.

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on 16 March 2010 in Strasbourg.

Working Group “Regions with Legislative Powers” (REGLEG)

The Congress Working Group “Regions with Legislative Powers” (REGLEG) met in Turin (Italy) on 6 November 2009, on the occasion of the 10th Conference of Presidents of Regions with Legislative Powers (5-6 November). The Group discussed further steps to be taken in the light of the reference framework on regional democracy, which was subsequently included in the Final Declaration of the Ministerial Conference in Utrecht (Netherlands) on 16-17 November. It also discussed the REGLEG programme and ways of improving cooperation between the Congress and this network, and examined recent developments in regionalisation in member and observer states. Finally, the Group continued its work on the representation of regions in second chambers in Europe and discussed preparations for a conference on this subject, to be organised in 2010.

Working Group on Interregional Cooperation

The Working Group on Interregional Co-operation (GT/CIR) met in Strasbourg on 17 February 2010. Its discussions focused on the situation of minorities in border areas, as social and economic participants in the regional development. The members also decided that the Working Group should undertake an analysis and assessment of transfrontier co-operation in Europe, as a follow-up of the report on the subject debated by the Congress in October 2009. In this regard, it will participate in a colloquy on 18 and 19 October 2010, organised by the University of Strasbourg to compare the political and academic approaches to transfrontier co-operation.

V. MONITORING

As part of the reform process launched in 2009, the Congress is seeking to put monitoring on a regular basis, which means establishing a pace of some 12 monitoring reports per year. The Congress has therefore allocated a larger part of its 2010 budget to monitoring. In 2009, it carried out five monitoring missions; for 2010, 15 missions are scheduled. In addition, to follow up its recommendations and make its action more concrete, the Congress is looking to implement targeted assistance programmes. This would involve working with the governments and territorial authorities concerned to reinforce local democracy and address situations which are highlighted in the country reports and Congress recommendations.

Belgium

From 16 to 18 December 2009, the Congress carried out a monitoring mission to assess the state of local and regional democracy in Belgium. This was the first general monitoring visit to this country since it ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 2004.

Congress Rapporteurs Michel GUEGAN (France, L, NR) and Dobrica MILOVANOVIC (Serbia, R, NR) met Rudy DEMOTTE, Minister-President of Wallonia, and representatives of Walloon Local Authorities Minister Paul FURLAN; Charles PICQUÉ, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region; Geert BOURGEOIS, Vice Minister-President and Interior Minister of Flanders; as well as Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ, Minister-President of the German-Speaking Community. They also met the Presidents and the Secretaries General of national associations of local and regional authorities representing the Brussels-Capital Region, Flanders and Wallonia.

Previously, the Congress adopted two recommendations on the situation of local and regional democracy in Belgium, in May 2003 and in December 2008.

A second monitoring visit is scheduled to take place in spring 2010, following which a report will be submitted to the Congress’ Institutional Committee in autumn 2010.

Russian Federation

A general monitoring mission to assess the state of local and regional democracy in the Russian Federation was carried out on 16 and 17 December 2009. This visit opened the second cycle of monitoring for this country since it ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1998.

Congress Rapporteurs Christopher NEWBURY (United Kingdom, L, EPP/CD) and Knud ANDERSEN (Denmark, R, ILDG) examined the situation of local and regional self-government, in particular in the light of the new law on the dismissal of mayors by municipal councils, enacted in May 2009.

They met Yuri OSINTSEV, Deputy Minister of Regional Development; Stepan KIRICHUK, President of the Committee on Local Self-Government of the Federation Council (upper Chamber of the Parliament) and President of the Russian National Congress of Municipalities (RNCM); Valery KADOKHOV, First Vice-President of the Federation Council’s Committee on Federation Affairs and Regional Policy and Congress member, as well as other members of the Russian delegation to the Congress.

Meetings were also held with Viktor USACHEV, President of the State Duma’s Committee on Federation Affairs and Regional Policy; Vyacheslav TIMCHENKO, President of the State Duma’s Committee on Local Self-Government; Viktor PANKRASCHENKO, RNCM Executive Director and member of the Civic Chamber’s Committee on Local Self-Government and Housing Policy; and Svetlana RAZVOROTNEVA, Chair of the Executive Committee of the All-Russia Council on Local Self-Government.

The Congress’ latest recommendation on the situation of local and regional democracy in Russia was adopted in May 2004. In November 2007, the Congress held an exchange of view with Russian Vice-Minister of Regional Development Vitaly SHIPOV on the recommendation’s implementation.

A second monitoring visit is scheduled to take place in the first half of 2010, following which a report will be submitted to the Congress’ Institutional Committee.

VI. OBSERVATION OF ELECTIONS

As part of its observation of municipal elections in Azerbaijan on 23 December 2009, the Congress carried out a pre-electoral mission on 7 and 8 December and an observation mission from 20 to 24 December.

During the pre-electoral mission, the Congress delegation met Head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz MEHDIYEV, Head of the Central Election Commission Mozahir PANAHOV, Justice Minister Fikret MAMEDOV, Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Policies Arif RAHIMZADE, as well as representatives of the diplomatic community of Baku, associations of local authorities, NGOs and media. The mission also discussed the electoral process and the situation of local democracy with representatives of municipalities of Novghani and Sumgait outside Baku.

On 23 December, an 11-strong Congress delegation monitored the vote in about 100 polling stations. Head of the delegation Gaye DOGANOGLU (Turkey, EPP/CD) stressed that the elections took place in a calm atmosphere and were well prepared as far as practical arrangements were concerned, though concrete improvement was still necessary. Francis LEC (France, SOC), Rapporteur on these elections, pointed to the importance of independent media and freedom of expression for a genuine democratic climate. Jean-Claude FRÉCON (France, SOC), Rapporteur on Azerbaijan, underlined that competition between parties was missing in the run-up to the elections due to the lack of a truly pluralistic party landscape. The delegation considered the elections as being symptomatic of the still unsatisfactory situation of local democracy as well as of the weakness of local governments in Azerbaijan, and called for reactivation of pluralistic democracy in the country.

The report of the observation mission will be debated during the 18th Plenary Session.

In 2010, the Congress will observe local elections in Georgia on 30 May.

VII. OTHER EVENTS

5-6 November 2009, Turin (Italy): Conference of Presidents of Regions with Legislative Powers

Ludmila SFIRLOAGA, President of the Congress’ Chamber of Regions, addressed the Conference, which focused on regions and multilevel governance, future economic challenges for European regions, and a policy for the euro after the crisis.

16-17 November 2009, Utrecht (Netherlands): 16th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government

President a.i. Ian MICALLEF headed a Congress delegation at this Conference, for which the Congress contributed its positions on the Kiviniemi report and on the reference framework on regional democracy, as well as its opinions on the 3rd Additional Protocol to the Madrid Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation and on the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on democratic participation at local level, which were opened for signature.

7-18 December 2009, Copenhagen (Denmark): 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change

A Congress delegation led by Vice-President Dubravka SUICA attended the meetings of the United Nations, met with representatives of the Local Government Climate Roadmap action group and participated in the Climate Summit for Mayors, to speak with one voice and deliver a strong message to governments at the High-Level segment of the Conference.

21 January 2010, Barcelona (Spain): Launch of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM)

President a.i. Ian MICALLEF addressed the ARLEM Inaugural Meeting, stressing that this Assembly reflects the need to involve all levels of governance in the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation process. ''With its pan-European dimension, the Congress has much to contribute to the work of ARLEM,” he said. On 1 December 2009, the Congress took part in the ARLEM preparatory conference in Brussels.

9 February 2010, Andorra: Official visit of the President a.i.

Ian MICALLEF paid the first in a series of visits to the three Council of Europe member states that have not yet ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Andorra, Monaco and San Marino). The acting President met Foreign Minister Xavier ESPOT MIRÓ to discuss possible solutions to the obstacles preventing Andorra from ratifying the Charter.

15-16 February 2010, Paris: Conference on regions of the Black Sea

Ludmila SFIRLOAGA, President of the Congress’ Chamber of Regions, presented the Black Sea Euroregion, stressing that ''the high economic, environmental and geo-strategic stakes represented by the Black Sea basin make it an imperative to build much closer co operation between cities and regions in this area''.

22-23 February 2010, Rabat (Morocco): Seminar on the prospects of cooperation between Morocco and the Council of Europe

President a.i. Ian MICALLEF called for greater involvement of Moroccan local authorities in the activities initiated or supported by the Congress. “We encourage an active participation of Moroccan municipalities in the process of fostering Euro-Arab cities’ dialogue,'' he said.

22-24 February 2010, Barcelona (Spain): European Summit of Local Governments

Congress Vice-President Günther KRUG intervened during the session focusing on innovation and local governance. He stressed that innovation was key to to better local governance and that a sound democratic legal framework, citizen participation, and cooperation with national and regional governments as well as with other local communities were crucial for fostering innovation. 

24 February 2010, Strasbourg: Exchange of views with the Ministers’ Deputies

President a.i. Ian MICALLEF presented the current situation of the Congress, in the light of the Council of Europe’s reform proposed by Secretary General Thorbjørn JAGLAND. He stressed that the Congress embarked on its own review of activities and structures, aimed in particular at increasing the rhythm, pace and extent of its monitoring missions. ''Monitoring has to be regular if it is to be effective, and should be more concrete, involving on-the-spot activities and deeper cooperation with governments in addressing the situations highlighted in country reports,'' he said. 

2 March 2010, Strasbourg: Meeting of coordinators for the European Local Democracy Week (ELDW)

This meeting, organised by the Congress to prepare the 2010 edition of ELDW, chose as this year’s leading theme “the impact of sustainable communities to fight climate change”. Welcoming this choice, Keith WHITMORE (United Kingdom, ILDG), Political Co-ordinator of the ELDW and President of the Congress Institutional Committee, stressed that climate change involved many other aspects of local policies. “The Week will be an opportunity to demonstrate how towns and cities can succeed in solving environmental problems and gradually transform into sustainable communities,” he said.



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