21st Plenary Session

      CG(21)20

      18 October 2011

      State of the Congress

      Keith WHITMORE (UK, L, ILDG), President

      Activity Report of the President

      INTRODUCTION

      This October session marks one year since the Congress adopted a comprehensive reform package in October 2010 and entered into the implementation stage of its reform process, within a broader reform of the Council of Europe. One year is a good yardstick to make a first assessment of the progress made, and to make the necessary adjustments for the future.

      The Congress has set off to retarget its action on more comprehensive and higher-quality monitoring of local and regional democracy and observation of local and regional elections, and a better follow-up to its recommendations. It has introduced the local and regional dimension of human rights as a new priority for the Congress. It has also decided to refocus its thematic activities on key challenges faced by local and regional authorities, and has stressed the need for stronger and more permanent dialogue with national governments, but also with its institutional partners, in achieving these objectives.

      To succeed in this mission, its has adapted its structures and working methods – strengthening the political role of the Congress Bureau to spearhead its action, setting up three new committees to give it more practical substance, and establishing the Statutory Forum to act on behalf of the Congress, which held its first meeting in June. In other words, its approach has become more operational, more practical, more concrete and result-oriented.

      The monitoring activities to ensure the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government have been strengthened in accordance with the rules of procedure for monitoring, adopted as part of the reform package, and they are expanding. Since the 20th Session in March 2011, the Congress fielded missions to France – to complete the very first monitoring of this country – as well as to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Moldova, and two visits to Germany. Just after the October 2011 session, its delegations will visit Italy, Portugal, the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and again Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over the same period, it observed local elections in Albania in May and in Moldova in June. Under the new rules of procedure for election observation, which are also a result of the reform, all observation missions are now preceded by pre-electoral visits, which allow a broader observation including also the organisation of the elections, the financing, the role of media…

      Monitoring has allowed the Congress to enter into more substantial and more targeted dialogue with authorities in the country concerned, and the first results of these efforts can already be seen. The monitoring report on Austria has triggered debate about federalism in that country, and in June, the Austrian parliament voted decisions that were a direct implementation of three concrete Congress recommendations. Also as a result of monitoring, the Estonian government has renewed its dialogue with local authorities, and Slovenia has ratified the Additional Protocol to the Self-Government Charter, on citizen participation.

      The Congress has also pursued our efforts to convince member states to lift their reservations to the Charter, which is indispensable for a unified European space of common standards for local democracy. As a first result, Malta has lifted its reservations on four paragraphs of this treaty. At the same time, assessment of the way and degree the Charter has been incorporated into domestic law and legal systems of member states has progressed.

      In May, the Congress President had the opportunity to address the Ministerial Session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul, when he stressed the need for better partnership and indeed joint action between national governments and local and regional authorities, in areas of common concern. On the same occasion, the Congress Bureau welcomed the fact that strengthening local and regional democracy was one of the priorities of the Ukrainian Chairmanship, and areas of such possible joint action have been identified and included in the report which will be discussed at the Conference of Ministers responsible for local and regional government in Kyiv in November 2011.

      Another successful result of the Congress dialogue with national authorities was the recent visit of a Congress delegation to meet with Leyla Güven, Mayor of Viransehir and Congress member who remains incarcerated in Turkey for almost two years. The case of Ms Güven was raised during the last session in March and in the Statutory Forum in June. In July, the President made a statement stressing that the continued detention of dozens elected representatives in Turkey, including Ms Güven, remained a cause of grave concern for the Congress. Without interfering with Turkish judicial procedures, the Congress will pursue this dialogue.

      The Congress has also made advances in its approach to promote human rights and raise human rights awareness at the grassroots level. This approach, based on increased responsibilities of local and regional authorities for human rights implementation, has been supported on many occasions by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, and was taken on board by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, with which the Congress has been co-operating closely. The Congress’ position was also positively received in discussions with the Committee of Ministers’ Group of Rapporteurs on Human Rights.

      As for key challenges faced by local and regional authorities, the Congress proposals made to the Group of Eminent Persons have been largely integrated into the Group’s report on Living Together: Combining Diversity and Freedom in the 21st Century Europe, published in May. This report has inspired the special theme of the October 2011 session, and its recommendations on greater citizen participation, better local integration and cohesion, more effective protection of citizens’ rights and stronger intercultural dialogue and interaction are already reflected in many of the Congress reports that are being prepared.

      In this regard, the Congress has taken a specific action this year with regard to the rights and dignity of Roma. It responded to the need to mobilise local and regional action in favour of Roma by organising a Summit of Mayors on Roma, in Strasbourg on 22 September. The Summit brought together almost 400 participants, who pledged their commitment to pursue their activities at the grassroots and took a very concrete decision to establish a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion. To back up this initiative, the Congress’ Thematic Rapporteur on Roma/Travellers has prepared a report on the situation of Roma, with specific recommendations for grassroots action that we will be debating tomorrow.

      The Congress is on the right course towards becoming more operational and more concrete. The momentum of the reform has been kept up and strengthened further, and its reform efforts are beginning to show successful results. As Council of Europe General Secretary stated in March 2011 “the new Congress structures, set up as part of the reform and adapted in line with its new priorities, will enable the Congress to react swiftly to today’s challenges.

      Table of contents

      INTRODUCTION 2
      THE CONGRESS IS RECENTERING ON ITS POLITICAL PRIORITIES 7

      THE CONGRESS ENGAGES AT GRASSROOTS LEVEL 23

      DYNAMIC EXTERNAL PARTNERSHIPS 26

      A RELAY FOR THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE CAMPAIGNS 29

      APPENDICES 30
      1. Adopted Texts 30
      2. Conferences / meetings attended and visits by the President in 2010-2011 32
      3. Final Declaration of the Summit of Mayors on Roma 34
      4. Malaga Declaration 36
      5. Reform Recommendations and Resolutions 39
      6. Replies of the Committee of Ministers to the Congress Recommendations of October 2010 and March 2011 46
      7. Priorities of the Congress for 2011-2012 56
      8. The budget of the Congress in 2012-2013 59
      9. Press releases 60

      THE CONGRESS IS RECENTERING ON ITS POLITICAL PRIORITIES

      A. Implementation of the Reform

      ● 19th Session approves first steps of Congress reform (27 October 2010)

      The Session adopted its priorities for 2011-2012 and the proposed changes to its structures and working methods. It also asked the Committee of Ministers to amend the Congress Charter in line with the changes.

      The aim of the reform is to increase the impact of the Congress’ action and make it more effective and more relevant to European citizens and territorial communities. The objective is to make the Congress better adapted and more capable of pursuing its mission as the main contributor to the Council of Europe’s action in the field of democracy and human rights at local and regional level.

      The new priorities are focused on five areas: monitoring of local and regional democracy, observation of local and regional elections, targeted post-monitoring and post-observation assistance, the local and regional dimension of human rights, and streamlined thematic activities.

      The adopted changes include the creation of three new statutory committees, to replace the existing four: a Monitoring Committee, a Governance Committee and a Current Affairs Committee, which will be set up immediately. Once the amendments to the Charter are approved by the Committee of Ministers, the Congress’ Standing Committee will be replaced by a Statutory Forum, the mandate of Congress members will be extended from two to four years, and the 30-per cent requirement for women’s representation in national delegations will be applied also to substitute members. The role of the Bureau as the executive body of the Congress will be strengthened, and the adopted texts will be subject to a clearer and more concrete follow-up procedure, giving priority to issues inherent to the Congress mission.

      Congress members acted on the proposals put forward in the reports on priorities, by Ian Micallef (Malta, EPP/CD), and on the reform of the Congress, by Halvdan Skard (Norway, SOC) and Günther Krug (Germany, SOC). Their adoption completes the first stages of the process launched in 2008, which included reflection, formulation of proposed changes and consultations with national and European associations of local and regional authorities. In June 2010, the Congress’ Standing Committee had already adopted new rules of procedure for monitoring activities and observation of local and regional elections, as well as a resolution on the Congress’ budget and resources.

      ● The Congress President presents the reform to the Committee of Ministers (17 November 2010)

      Addressing the Committee of Ministers Congress President underlined that the Congress’ reform implies a strengthened dialogue with member states. He underlined in particular two new initiatives: introduction of real assistance to address the problems identified during monitoring and election observation; and inclusion of the human rights dimension, to raise awareness and ensure the local and regional framework for their implementation.

      Keith Whitmore asked the Committee of Ministers to approve the reform proposals adopted by the 19th Session of the Congress as part of the broader reform of the Council of Europe and which partly require amendments to the Congress Charter.

      ● Congress Bureau approves the mandates of new Committees (3 December 2010)

      The Bureau of the Congress approved the terms of reference of three new statutory committees (Monitoring, Governance and Current Affairs), set up during the 19th Session in October. The Bureau also discussed the revision of the Congress’ Rules of Procedure.

      ● Committee of Ministers approves the amendment to the Charter of the Congress (19 January 2011)

      The reform proposals adopted by the 19th session have been transmitted to the Committee of Ministers which adopts the revision of the Congress Charter and Statutory Resolution and undertakes “to enhance and develop the role of local and regional authorities within the institutional structure of the Council of Europe”.

      ● Congress Secretary General presents Congress reform to the Committee of Ministers (2 March 2011)

      Addressing the 1107th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies, Andreas Kiefer presented the continuation of the Congress reform process - notably its engagement to refocus its activities on the core values of the Council of Europe, and stressed that the Congress had already adapted its structures to be more reactive to priorities identified by its members and by the Council of Europe member states

      ● 20th Session approves further steps in the reform process (March 2011)

      The Session held a debate on “the reform of the Congress within the Council of Europe reform” and adopted Recommendation 299 (2011) and Resolution 321 (2011). The report, presented by Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Belgium (R, SOC), and Anders Knape, Sweden (EPP/CD), takes stock of the first two phases of Congress reform already implemented and sets out the third phase to be embarked upon following the adoption of the revised versions of the Congress' statutory texts by the Committee of Ministers on 19 January 2011.

      The first two phases enabled the Congress to improve its effectiveness and response capacity, by creating more streamlined and more political structures, simplifying its functioning and expanding key activities such as monitoring local and regional democracy and observing local and regional elections. One major feature of the third phase will be an in-depth revision of the Rules of Procedure of the Congress.

      The rapporteurs also called for strengthened institutional links and political dialogue with the Committee of Ministers and the other organs of the Council of Europe in order to incorporate the local and regional dimension in any action of the Organisation. They further stressed the importance of developing active cooperation with the Committee of the Regions and the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

      ● Political support to the reform (22 – 23 mars 2011)

      The Council of Europe Secretary General, the French Minister responsible for Local and Regional Authorities and the Turkish Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers expressed their support for the reform during the debate held at the 20th session on “the reform of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe reform”

      Thorbjørn Jagland declared that he supported the Congress’ orientation on refocusing its priorities to centre on monitoring local and regional democracy, promoting human rights, fostering good democratic governance and responding to major challenges for local and regional communities. He said he was confident that the new Congress structures, set up as part of the reform and adapted in line with these priorities, will enable the Congress to react swiftly to today’s challenges.

      Philippe Richert declared that the Congress had been relevant, effective and exemplary in carrying out its monitoring activities, fact-finding missions, observation of elections, and programmes of cooperation and has demonstrated its ability to foster local and regional democracy in Europe. More specifically regarding the ongoing reform of the institution, Mr Richert backed a refocusing of the Congress on its fundamental missions. "The targeting of activities will make it possible to cope with a difficult budgetary situation, by clearing a sufficient margin for manoeuvre ensuring the smooth running of Congress activities. It will also be able to consolidate its positioning within this pan-European organisation and its reputation in European public opinion".

      Yavuz Selim Kösger, Director-General of the Directorate General of Local Authorities of the Interior Ministry of Turkey said the Congress’ determination to foster dialogue, synergies and cooperation with the Committee of Ministers itself, are a clear indication of its commitment to actively contribute to increasing the standing and credibility of the Organisation.

      On 19 January 2011, the Committee of Ministers adopted a revised version of the Statutory Resolution and Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. With this adoption, the Committee was attesting its support for the reform process initiated by the Congress in order to reinforce the effectiveness of its action to promote local and regional democracy in Europe. It reiterated its encouragement to pursue these reforms so as to ensure that the Congress’s activity is fully in line with the Organisation’s strategic priorities. The Committee welcomed the opportunity to co-operate closely with the Congress in addressing issues which affect the interests of local and regional authorities. It declared that it attaches great importance to the work of the Congress, which, by working towards the emergence of solid, efficient local and regional democracy in Europe, is helping to achieve the Organisation’s statutory aim. The Committee took note of the Congress’s wish to further reinforce their mutual dialogue and said it was open to such a reinforcement. It invited its rapporteur groups to bear this in mind whenever their work could benefit from Congress input.

      ● Next steps of the reform process

      The Congress Rapporteurs on Reform, Mr Halvdan Skard and Mr Günther Krug, were mandated by the Bureau to substantially revise the Rules of Procedure not only in light of the Congress' reform but also with a view to updating these Rules and rendering them more user-friendly and streamlined.  Congress members were consulted during the summer of 2011 on the Rapporteurs' first draft with the resulting amended draft Rules being presented to the Congress Bureau in September.  Discussions are ongoing within the Bureau and the definitive draft Rules should be ready for adoption by the Congress session at its March 2012 Session.

      B. Thematic activities

      a) Monitoring of local and regional democracy

      In the framework of the 2010 reform, the activities relating to monitoring the European Charter of Local Self-Government have been stepped up. More frequent and more regular, since each member state will now be visited and evaluated every five years, these activities involve more political dialogue with the states concerned.

      The composition of the delegations, the preparation and conduct of the visits, and the drafting of the reports have been better codified in Resolution 307rev (2011) to ensure greater transparency, more independence and impartiality, and a greater degree of legal expertise. Specific co-operation programmes may also be introduced with the states concerned to provide practical solutions to the problems identified and to improve local governance.

      Adopted Reports

      The Congress adopted 7 reports on local and regional democracy in the following countries:

      ● Russia (27 October 2010)

      In the recommendation adopted at the 19th Session the Congress urged Russia to reintroduce direct elections for regional governors, revoke the recent law concerning the dismissal of mayors, and improve legal safeguards to ensure that local authorities are not subject to excessive supervision by higher levels. The vote followed a debate on the report by Christopher Newbury (United Kingdom, EPP/CD) and Knud Andersen (Denmark, ILDG) on local and regional democracy in the Russian Federation.

      ● Montenegro (26 October 2010)

      The Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress debated at the 19th session a report presented by Nigel Mermagen (United Kingdom, ILDG) and adopted the recommendation on the state of local democracy in Montenegro The report points out that Montenegro has achieved considerable progress in reforming the structure, the functioning and the financing mechanisms of its local administration. The Congress’ mission concluded that the provision on local self-government made in the Constitution as well as other relevant legislation were compatible with the European Charter of Local Self Government. At the same time, the report notes several shortcomings in the practical application of the Charter such as insufficient staffing and financial resources of municipalities.

      ● Estonia (26 October 2010)

      The Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress debated at the 19th session a report presented by Jos Wienen (Netherlands, EPP/CD) on the situation of local democracy in Estonia. According to its findings, while local democracy in Estonia has overall improved since the last monitoring visit of 2000, there are a few issues which should be subject to reform, notably granting special status to the capital city of Tallinn, revising national legislation in order to allocate to local authorities financial resources commensurate with the increasing responsibilities assigned to them, allowing local governments to raise local taxes to increase revenues and, at last, modifying the procedure of consultation of local and national associations in line with the European Charter of Local Self Government.

      ● Romania (22 March 2011)

      The recommendation presented by Jean-Claude Frecon, France (L, SOC), and adopted at the 20th Session, invites the Romanian authorities to pursue their efforts with a view of putting into practice all the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Over the last decade Romania initiated many legislative reforms, which were generally implemented in accordance with the principles and the spirit of the Charter. The new Congress recommendation suggests, in particular, improving mechanisms for consultation with local authorities, to provide local authorities with financial resources commensurate with their powers and responsibilities and to grant special status to the capital, Bucharest. The report and its recommendation follow a monitoring visit carried out from 24 to 26 May 2010

      ● Malta (23 March 2011)

      The Congress adopted during its 20th Session the recommendation on the situation of local democracy in Malta presented by Emil Calota, Romania (L, SOC). It welcomes the local government reform undertaken by Malta in the last three years, in particular, the initiative to lift reservations to the Charter of Local Self-Government. The amended 2009 Local Councils Act met most of Malta’s obligations under the Charter. Malta’s reservations on four paragraphs of the Charter, under Article 7 (financial compensation of local elected representatives) and under Article 9 (financial resources of local authorities), were lifted. This is a positive step in the current campaign of the Congress to promote a “100% Charter” - a Charter without reservations - amongst member countries

      ● Turkey (24 March 2011)

      In the recommendation presented by Anders Knape, Sweden (EPP/CD) and Herwig Van Staa, Austria (EPP/CD on local and regional democracy in Turkey, the Congress recommends that Turkey pursue constitutional reforms with regard to decentralisation. The report and its recommendation followed visits to Turkey carried out in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and a fact-finding mission sent to South-East Anatolia in 2007. Anders Knape, however, regretted the lack of political dialogue with Turkish authorities during the preparation of the report. The ongoing detention of 1,500 politicians in South-East Anatolia, including Congress member Leyla Güven and many other local elected representatives, was also discussed.

      ● Austria (24 March 2011)

      The recommendation on local and regional democracy in Austria presented by Irene Loizidou, Cyprus (EEP/CD); and Marc Cools, Belgium (ILDG) has been adopted at the 20th session of the Congress. It generally voiced praise for Austrian local democracy, especially the consultation mechanism between the various tiers of government that is typical of the country. This “co-operative federalism” has proven effective as a transmission belt between the federal government, the Länder and municipalities. The Congress is however less pleased with the progress of the reforms to modernise the federal system, which have been under way in Austria for many years. In this connection, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities points out that the dependence of local self-government on the federal authorities is still very noticeable, especially with regard to administrative and fiscal matters. The Congress report therefore advocates fundamental institutional reform of the federal system in Austria.

      Visits performed

      The Congress has made 10 local and regional monitoring visits to the following countries:

      ● Latvia (3 - 5 November 2010)

      Congress Rapporteurs Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC) and Philippe Leuba (Switzerland, NR) met Minister of Regional Development and Local Government Dagnija Stake, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Public Affairs Ingrida Circene and State Secretary of Finance Martins Bicevskis and Latvian Ombudsman Roman Apsitis. The mission went to Riga and Sigulda.

      ● Slovenia (8 -10 November 2010)

      Congress Rapporteurs Jos Wienen (Netherlands, EPP/CD) and Merita Jegeni Yildiz (Turkey, EPP/CD) met, notably, Minister for Local Self-Government and Regional Policy Henrik Gjerkeš, Finance Minister Franc Križanič, President of the National Assembly Pavel Gantar, President of the Constitutional Court Jože Tratnik, President of the Court of Audit Igor Šoltes and Human Rights Ombudsman Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik, as well as Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković, Mayor of Murska Sobota Anton Štihec and Mayor of Benedikt Milan Gumzar.

      The delegation noted that the financing of local governments has been improved, but matching the increase of municipal responsibilities with commensurate resources remained a critical point. The delegation also noted the existing problems with the Roma minority, while taking note of the landmark decision by the Constitutional Court on the Roma representation in municipal councils. The rapporteur also found it interesting that Slovenian municipalities demand the creation of regional authorities in their country.

      ● Bulgaria (24 to 26 November 2010)

      Congress Rapporteurs Artur Torres Pereira (Portugal, EPP/CD) and Johan Sauwens (Belgium, EPP/CD) met Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Minister of Finance Boryana Pencheva, Minister responsible for EU funds management Tomislav Donchev, Speaker of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva Dangovska, President of the Constitutional Court Evgeni Petrov Tanchev, Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandukova and Mayor of Veliko Tarnovo Rumen Rashev, as well as members of the delegation to the Congress and representatives of national and regional associations of municipalities.

      ● France (29 November - 1 December 2010 and 29 – 31 mars 2011)

      Congress Rapporteurs Onno Van Veldhuizen (Netherlands, ILDG) and Guilherme Pinto (Portugal, SOC) met Alain Delcamp, Secretary General of the Senate, Claude Belot, President of the Senate Delegation on Local and Regional Authorities and Decentralisation, as well as with presidents and members of national associations of regions, departments, municipalities, medium-sized towns and rural mayors. In the second part, the delegation met with Edouard Balladur, President of the Committee on Territorial Reform, Philippe Richert, Minister in charge of territorial entities, Pierre Schapira, Deputy Mayor of Paris and Pierre Dartout, Prefect of Val-de-Marne as well as with interlocutors from the Ministry of the Interior, Overseas and Local Authorities, the Court of Audit and the Mediator of the Republic.

      ● Finland (30 November - 3 December 2010)

      Congress Rapporteurs Pia Bosch I Codola (Spain, SOC) and Jean-Louis Testud (France, EPP/CD) met Minister for Public Administration and Local Authorities Tapani Tölli, President of the Supreme Administrative Court Pekka Hallberg, Governor of Aland Peter Lindbäck and Speaker of Alands Lagting Roger Nordlund, as well as Mayor of Helsinki Jussi Pajunen, Mayor of Kainuu Alpo Jokelainen, Mayor of Uusimaa Ossi Savolainen, and Rakel Hiltunen, President of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities (AFLRA). Meetings were also organised in the Finnish Parliament. The mission was carried out to Helsinki, Mariehamn and Kouvola.

      ● Bosnia and Herzegovina (11 to 14 April 2011)

      Congress rapporteurs Jean-Marie Belliard (France, NR) and Beat Hirs (Switzerland, ILDG) met with Zoran Mikulić, Minister of Justice of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), and Anto Krajina, Minister of Finance of the FBiH, as well as members of the government of the Republika Srpska (RS), in particular Željka Cvijanović, Minister of Regional Development, Zoran Tegeltija, Minister of Finance, and Lejla Rašić, Minister of Administration and Local Authorities.

      The second part of the monitoring visit will take place in December 2011.

      ● Lithuania (6 - 8 June 2011)

      Congress Rapporteurs Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC) and Irène Loïzidou (Cyprus, EPP/CD) examined the follow-up of the commitments Lithuania made in the field of local and regional self-government during this second monitoring visit to the country. The meetings included representatives of the government, notably Mr Raimundas Palaitis, Minister of Interior, as well as Vice-Minister of Finances, Edmundas Žilevičius. The delegation also met Mr Romualdas Kestutis Urbaiti, Acting President of the Constitutional Court, and Ričardas Piličiauskas, President of the Supreme Court, as well as representatives of the Ombudsman. Meetings with mayors and secretaries of the cities of Vilnius, Ignalina and Utena as well as with members of the Parliament and the Association of Local Authorities of Lithuania were also scheduled.

      ● Czech Republic (13 - 15 June 2011)

      Congress Rapporteurs Emil Calota (Romania, SOC) and Philippe Receveur (Switzerland, EPP/CD) examined the follow-up of commitments undertaken in the field of local and regional self-government with regard to the country’s ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in May 1999. Meetings took place with high level representatives of the Czech government, notably Jan Kubice, and Ondřej Veselský, respectively Minister and Vice-minister of Interior, as well as Judr. Pavel Rychetský, President of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, František Dohnal, President of the Supreme Audit Office and Judr. Pavel Varvařovský, Public Defender of Rights.

      The delegation also met mayors of Velký Osek and Brno, as well as representatives of the Prague City Assembly, the Association of Regions and the Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic.

      ● Moldova (12 - 13 September 2011)

      The Congress rapporteurs, Francis Lec (France, SOC) and Ignacio Sanchez-Amor (Spain, SOC), considered Moldova's record of compliance with its local and regional commitments in the light of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which it ratified in October 1997. In particular, they focused on the country's response to the recommendations to the Moldovan authorities following the last Congress monitoring visit in 2005. There were a number of meetings with government and parliamentary representatives, in particular Marian Lupu, parliamentary speaker and interim President of Moldova, and Mihai Moldovanu, Deputy Prime Minister. The delegation discussed the implementation of the national decentralisation strategy, the various local and regional administrative reforms in the country and the abolition of the Ministry of Public Administration in 2009. This first visit will be followed by a second one in the autumn 2011.

      The second part of the visit is foreseen for November 2011 and will take the delegation to Transnistria

      ● Germany (27-29 June 2011 and 27-28 September 2011)

      Congress Rapporteurs Britt-Marie Lövgren (Sweden, ILDG), and Ignacio Sanchez-Amor (Spain, SOC) carried out the first general monitoring visit to Germany. The previous monitoring visit of Germany in 1999 had focused on the situation of local finances only. The visit was organised in two parts. In the first part, the delegation met with interlocutors from the National Associations of cities, counties and regions, the Federal Ministries of the Interior and Finance as well as from the Senate of Berlin, members of the Bundestag, the Regional Parliament of Brandenburg and with the Mayor Frankfurt (Oder). The second part of the visit enabled the delegation to meet, in particular, the Minister of the Interior of North Rhine Westphalia, the Permanent Secretary of State in the Ministry of Interior of Hessen, the Vice-President of the Regional Parliament in Baden Württemberg, the mayors of Langenfeld and Ludwigsburg, and the President of the Constitutional Court of Baden Wurttemberg.

      The reports on local and regional democracy in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Finland and Latvia will be adopted at the session in October 2011, as will the report on Serbia.


      The reports on France, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Moldova and Germany will be on the agenda of the session of March 2012

      b) Observation of local and regional elections

      The adoption of a new strategy and rules in June 2010, in the framework of the reform, has set to develop and expand the election observation process: it is no longer confined to polling day alone but now covers the entire electoral process, including the preparations for the election and examination of the political, legal and media systems, with pre-electoral missions to become standard practice. In addition, election observation is now dealt with in a report and a recommendation, followed by a debate, to be routinely taken into account as part of the monitoring of local and regional democracy process.

      ● Local elections in Ukraine (31 October 2010)

      The delegation was composed of 23 members including members of the EU Committee of the Regions. It was headed by Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC).  Congress teams were deployed to the capital city Kyiv and other regions, in particular to Odessa, Kharkiv, Lviv, Chernivitsi and to the Crimean peninsula.

      In the report adopted on 24 March 2011, the Congress stated that while the local elections in Ukraine were generally conducted in a calm atmosphere, they met neither the standards that the Congress wished to see, nor the standards set by the country herself on the occasion of presidential elections carried out in January / February 2010.  

       

      The report, presented by Nigel Mermagen (United Kingdom, ILDG), pointed, in particular, to shortcomings in respect of the new law on local elections adopted just before this vote.

      ● Training seminar on election observation (Belfast, 29 November 2010)

      The Congress organised a one-day training seminar on election observation in co-operation with the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) and the Local Government Association of England and Wales. The seminar gathered a dozen of elected representatives, including members of the Congress and the EU Committee of the Regions. It aimed at raising awareness on Congress principles, rules and working methods for the monitoring of local and regional votes.  

       

      ● Election of the Governor (Bashkan) of Gagauzia (Moldova, 12 December 2010)

      A five member-delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe carried out a mission to assess the political situation in the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, Republic of Moldova. Important issues raised by Congress interlocutors were: the short electoral campaign in Gagauzia, overshadowed by the early parliamentary elections; the still existing lack of correlation between regional electoral regulations and the Election Code of Moldova; the fact that several regional provisions would need to be amended; as well as problems connected to the three official languages of the Autonomous Unit of Gagauzia (the state language, Russian, and Gagauzian).

       

      ● Local elections in Albania (8 May 2011)

      A delegation headed by Hana Richtermocova (Czech Republic, ILDG), which also included members of the EU Committee of the Regions, observed these local elections. Volkram Gebel (Germany, EPP/CD) was appointed Rapporteur and Uno Aldegren (Sweden, PES) speaker on behalf of the members of the Committee of the Regions. Among others, the delegation met with Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the Mayor of Tirana Edi Rama as well as with Foreign Affairs Minister Edmond Haxhinasto.

       

      Prior to Election Day, on 7 May,  Congress teams were deployed to several municipalities including Durres, Elbasan, Himare, Shkoder, Vlore and Tirana, to meet with elected representatives, candidates and NGOs and to observe the elections on 8 May.

      In line with the observers from OSCE/ODIHR, the Congress concluded that Albania’s local elections were competitive and transparent, but took place in an environment of high polarisation and mistrust between governmental parties and the opposition which may prevent the constructive dialogue necessary to address citizens’ needs and ensure good local governance.

      ● Local elections in Moldova (5 June 2011)

      A delegation headed by Britt-Marie Lövgren (Sweden, ILDG) - including members of the EU Committee of the Regions - observed local elections in Moldova. Hannes Weninger (Austria, SOC) was appointed Rapporteur for this mission. Congress teams were deployed to different regions of the country - in total some 150 polling stations were visited. Overall, Election Day was described as calm, orderly and well organised. From Congress perspective, the local vote in Moldova of 5 June marked a further step in the right direction. There was a vibrant campaign and contestants behaved - mostly - in a responsible manner. However, the observers stated that the country was not at the end of the reform process and that there was room for improvement, in particular in respect of the accuracy of the voter's lists, campaign and party financing and as regards to the clarification of electoral competences between different levels of government. 

       

      ● Electronic voting in Norwegian municipal elections (12 September 2011)

      A delegation from the Congress carried out a political assessment mission in the framework of the local elections held in Norway. Composed of two Congress members, Nigel Mermagen United Kingdom (L, ILDG) and Devrim Cukur, Turkey (R,SOC), the delegation was particularly interested in gathering information about the electronic voting procedure tested in ten Norwegian municipalities (Bodø, Bremanger, Hammerfest, Mandal, Radøy, Re, Sandnes, Tynset, Vefsn and Ålesund).

      c) The local and regional dimension of human rights

      The Congress has committed itself to strengthening its activities of promoting human rights at a local and regional level.

      A report to identify “local human rights indicators”, currently being prepared by the Congress Monitoring Committee, will be presented at the October 2011 session. The aim is to develop tools to improve its assessment of the actual situation with regard to the application of human rights at local and regional level, to identify policies which work and encourage the sharing of good practices between local and regional authorities in Europe.

      The Congress is also pressing for the introduction of machinery such as local human rights ombudsmen’s offices in the Council of Europe member states, and for closer co-operation between the different levels of governance. With a view to all of these activities, it is working closely together with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

      C. Statutory activities

      With the reform, the Bureau, the Congress’s executive body, has been expanded to include the chairs of the three new statutory committees and also the three political groups represented in the Congress. Its role will be both more political and more decisive. It must see to it that the spirit of the reform is maintained, develop activities in keeping with its objectives, take the initiative in the priority fields of action and provide input from the Congress in any areas where its expertise allows it to add extra value.


      a) Congress Bureau meetings

      ● Strasbourg, 3 December 2010

      Mandates of new committees, revision of the Congress’ Rules of Procedure and communication policy

      The Bureau approved the terms of reference of three new statutory committees (Monitoring, Governance and Current Affairs), set up during the 19th Session. It also discussed the revision of the Congress’ Rules of Procedure in the light of the reform, and heard about the new communication roadmap of the Congress.

      ● Strasbourg, 14 January 2011

      Reform and observation election missions

      Members of the Bureau examined, in particular, the results of the observation mission of the local elections in Ukraine, in October 2010, and of the election of the Governor (Bashkan) of Gagauzia (Moldova), in December 2010. Amongst items on the agenda were also the preparation of the 20th Congress Session which took place in March 2011, as well as the general revision of the Rules of Procedure following the Congress reform.

      ● Strasbourg, 18 February 2011

      Reform process and Roma inclusion

      Members examined the report on local elections in Ukraine, held in October 2010, as well as the reform process of the Congress. They also discussed the Council of Europe’s action on the Roma question, with the participation of Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Amongst other items on the agenda was also the preparation of the 20th session of the Congress

      ● Antalya (Turkey), 13 May 2011

      Co-operation with the intergovernmental sector, Council of Europe’s Neighbourhood Policy, and the Congress Budget

      The Bureau was invited to hold this meeting in Antalya in the framework of the Turkish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. It examined in particular co-operation with the intergovernmental sector, as well as local and regional elections in Albania and Moldova. The agenda of the meeting also included discussions on the Council of Europe’s Neighbourhood Policy, the Congress Budget, the report of the Group of Eminent Persons and the preparation of the Congress’1st Statutory Forum (June 2011).

      The Congress Bureau welcomed the priorities presented by the new Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, which underline the importance of local and regional democracy in Europe. President Keith Whitmore stated that the Congress as guarantor of the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government is at the forefront for assisting in the implementation of this priority. He said the Congress must therefore pursue its cooperation and dialogue with the Committee of Ministers to improve the situation of democracy in the communities.

      ● Kyiv (Ukraine), 16 September 2011

      Observation of local and regional elections, Summit of Mayors on Roma, Communication strategy of the Congress and co-operation with the intergovernmental sector

      The Bureau meeting was hosted by the Ukrainian authorities in the framework of the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

      In the margins of the Bureau meeting, President Keith Whitmore exchanged views with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Mr Gryshchenko stressed the commitment of Ukraine to promote local and regional democracy in Europe and welcomed the support of the Congress to the Ukrainian Chairmanship programme. He also stressed the high responsibility of local and regional authorities for the integration of Roma in Europe and welcomed the Summit of Mayors in Strasbourg on 22 September as a concrete example of European co-operation. This same day in Kyiv, Halvdan Skard (Norway, SOC), Vice-President of the Congress, spoke in support of the Council of Europe’s Action Plan for Ukraine 2011-2014 and particularly the specific role for the Congress.

      b) Congress sessions

      ● 19th Session (Strasbourg, 26 - 28 October 2010)

      The session adopted its priorities for 2011-2012 and the proposed changes to its structures and working methods, including the creation of three new committees: a Monitoring Committee, a Governance Committee and a Current Affairs Committee, which were set up immediately. The session also asked the Committee of Ministers to amend the Congress Charter in line with the changes.

      It debated several reports among which the report by Christopher Newbury (United Kingdom, EPP/CD) and Knud Andersen (Denmark, ILDG) on local and regional democracy in the Russian Federation. It called for restoring direct elections of regional governors, revocation of the recent law concerning the dismissal of mayors, and improving of legal safeguards to ensure that local authorities are not subject to excessive supervision by higher levels.

      It adopted, among others, recommendations on the local and regional democracy in Estonia and Montenegro and on the observation of municipal elections in Georgia. It also adopted two resolutions urging local and regional authorities to take concrete measures for the integration of Muslim women and young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods

      Furthermore, the Congress elected its new leadership. Keith Whitmore (United Kingdom, ILDG) was elected President of the Congress; Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC) President of the Chamber of Local Authorities; Herwig Van Staa (Austria, EPP/CD) President of the Chamber of Regions. Each Chamber also elected seven Vice-Presidents who, together with the Presidents, constitute the Congress Bureau. Lars O. Molin (Sweden, EPP/CD) was elected President of the Monitoring Committee, Karl-Heinz Lambertz (Belgium, SOC) President of the Governance Committee and Emin Yeritsyan (Armenia, EPP/CD) President of the Current Affairs Committee. Keith Whitmore remained President of the ILDG Group and Herwig Van Staa President of the EPP/CD Group, while Günther Krug was elected President of the Socialist (SOC) Group.

      A round-table to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the European Charter of Local Self-Government was organised by the Chamber of regions. The round table saw the participation of Mrs Michèle Sabban, President of the assembly of European Regions, Mrs Ligia Krajewska, Vice-president of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, Mr Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Association of European Border Regions, Mr Nazario Pagano, President of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies and Mr Alberto Joao Jardim, Member of the Political Bureau of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe. The Chamber adopted a Resolution on the subject, fixing the guidelines for future cooperation initiatives with these associations.

      In his speech before the Congress members, Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, underlined that local and regional authorities are at the forefront of efforts to integrate Roma for it is at local level that the best practices are found. He said the Council of Europe wished to rely on the experience of authorities and the Congress to boost the prevention of discrimination against these minorities.

      Addressing the session on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Musa Xhaferri Minister of Local Self-Government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), said the Committee of Ministers welcomed the Congress’ commitment to pursuing the reform process. He paid tribute to the extensive work accomplished by the Congress in promoting local self-government. This work is practical, result-oriented and an effective tool in contributing to one of the core objectives of the Council of Europe. The Congress should be encouraged to continue in this direction.

      Referring to the Kiviniemi Report adopted at the Utrecht Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government in November 2009, Manuel Chaves González, third Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Territorial Policy of Spain, urged local and regional authorities to be more proactive in serving their citizens, and proposed holding a biannual conference to further this intergovernmental dialogue

      ● 20th session (Strasbourg, 22 - 24 March 2011)

      Practical initiatives for the improvement of the situation of Roma in Europe were debated at the 20th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in the presence, among others, of Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Roma Issues and John Warmisham, United Kingdom (L, SOC), Thematic Rapporteur on Roma/Travellers Issues . A Summit of Mayors in autumn 2011 will be at the top of the Congress’ political agenda in this respect. It will be attended by cities and municipal networks acting for Roma integration, local and regional representatives from the Council of Europe's 47 member states, and in particular Roma elected members. In addition, the Dosta! Congress Prize for Municipalities implementing innovative Roma policies will be awarded at the October 2011 session.

      A debate was dedicated to the role of the Congress in the context of the current reform process of the Council of Europe. On this occasion, Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Philippe Richert, French Minister responsible for local and regional authorities and Yavuz Selim Kösger, Director-General of the Directorate General of Local Authorities of the Interior Ministry of Turkey, speaking on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, gave speeches to express their support to the reform undertaken by the Congress.

      Congress members also examined several reports on territorial democracy in Turkey, Romania, Austria and Malta as well as the report on the observation of local elections in Ukraine, held in October 2010. Among the guest speakers, were the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Morten Kjaerum and Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg for the debate on “Human Rights – action at local and regional level” and the EU Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, for the debate on “Strengthening co-operation with the European Union”.

      An urgent debate on “the changes happening in Arab countries – a new Council of Europe neighbourhood policy?” took also place during this session with a presentation by Francis Lec, France (L, SOC) and a communication by Gianni Buquicchio, President of the European Commission on Democracy through Law (Venice Commission).


      c) Statutory Forum

      ● 1st Statutory Forum (Strasbourg, 17 June 2011)

      Composed of the heads of national delegations and the members of the Congress Bureau, the Statutory Forum was set up in the context of the recent Congress reform. Participants discussed, in particular, the Summit of Mayors for Roma, with the participation of Nawel Rafik-Elmrini, Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg in charge of International and European relations, as well as town twinnings and decentralised co-operation.

      President Whitmore stated that the 1st Statutory Forum prepared the ground for continued reform in the Congress. He underlined that the Congress activities to respond to the challenges faced by local and regional authorities are notably focusing on the issues of Roma inclusion, integration of migrants, action to prevent violence against children, as well as on the implementation of the Council of Europe neighbourhood policy.

      A resolution on the Congress budget 2012-2013 presented by Jean-Claude FRECON, France (L, SOC) and Svetlana ORLOVA, Russian Federation (R, EPP/CD) was adopted by the Forum, which also held debates on the reform of the Council of Europe, a renewed dialogue with the Committee of Ministers and the next session of the Council of Europe Conference of ministers responsible for local and regional government, to be held on 3-4 November 2011 in Kyiv.

      d) Chamber of Local Authorities

      ● At its meeting during the 19th Session, the Chamber elected Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC) as its President. Vice-Presidents were elected as follows: Halvdan Skard (SOC, Norway), Gaye Doganoglu (EPP, Turkey), Birgit Collin-Langen (EPP, Germany), Anders Knape (EPP, Sweden), Onno Van Veldhuizen (ILDG, Netherlands), Dubravka Suica (EPP, Croatia) and Fabio Pellegrini (SOC, Italy).

      The Chamber adopted recommendations on the state of local democracy in Montenegro and Estonia, following monitoring missions carried out in these countries in spring 2010. A report from the mission to Montenegro noted considerable progress in reforming the structure, functioning and financing mechanisms of local administration since ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 2008. The situation of local democracy in Estonia was scrutinised by a Congress’ delegation led by Jos Wienen (Netherlands, EPP/CD). According to its findings, while local democracy in Estonia has overall improved, there are a few issues which should be subject to reform, notably granting special status to the capital city of Tallinn, revising national legislation in order to allocate to local authorities financial resources commensurate with the increasing responsibilities assigned to them, allowing local governments to raise local taxes to increase revenues and, at last, modifying the procedure of consultation of local and national associations in line with the European Charter of Local Self Government.

      A report entitled “Social time, leisure time: which local time planning policy?” was also adopted by the Chamber during the Session.

      ● During the 20th Session, the Chamber heard presentations from the European Local Democracy Week. Keith Whitmore, the President of Congress stated, “Citizens’ participation is the backbone of democracy, and this participation comes when people are aware that they have the right to take action, and are capable of doing so.”

      A debate was held on “Protecting Cities from Natural Disasters”. Helena Molin-Valdes, Deputy Director of the secretariat of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), invited the Congress to participate in a worldwide campaign for the prevention of catastrophes - ''Making Cities Resilient''.

      Reports were adopted on local democracy in Malta and “Meeting the Challenge of Inter-Faith and Intercultural Tensions at Local Level”. The latter report underlined the threat which intercultural and inter-faith tensions pose to social cohesion. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted, asked local authorities to take into consideration the religious needs of groups of migrants, while safeguarding the fundamental values of the host community. In the recommendation and the resolution adopted on this subject, the Congress called on Council of Europe member states and local and regional elected representatives to implement practical measures such as associating migrant organisations, reducing ethnic stereotypes, promoting intercultural training, employing people from minority backgrounds and setting up local offices to combat discrimination.

      e) Chamber of Regions

      ● The Chamber of Regions had an intensive session in October 2010 with fruitful debates and a good involvement of new members. The session was mainly devoted to a Round Table of the Presidents (or their representatives) of major European associations representing regions: the Assembly of European Regions (AER) ; the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR); the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR); the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR) and the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE).

      During this session, the Chamber adopted Resolution 314 (2010) on the co-operation between the Congress and associations representing regions in Europe (Rapporteurs: Ludmila Sfirloaga and Herwig Van Staa). It also discussed a report on "Sustainable development of mountain regions and the experience of the Carpathian Mountains" presented by the rapporteur, Mykhaylo Kichkovskyy, Ukraine (EPP/CD). The Chamber adopted Resolution 315 (2010) and Recommendation 296 (2010) on this subject.

      ● Concerning the cooperation with the European regional associations, after the participation in CPMR, AEBR and CALRE General Assemblies, the Congress was also represented by the Secretary General of the Congress to the General Assembly of the Assembly of European regions (AER) in Istanbul and to the 11th Conference of the Presidents of Regions with Legislative Power (REGLEG) in Zaragoza.

      ● The Chamber considers the “Reference Framework on Regional Democracy” that was adopted on 16 November 2009 in Utrecht by the Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government as a reference text. The Chamber of Regions was involved in promoting this text and published a booklet with comments on each article. Although not of a binding character, the “Reference framework” represents an encouraging compromise and a new departure in Congress efforts. The Chamber then worked on the protection and improvement of regional democracy, using this text as the basis. The wish of the Chamber is that this text may inspire those who have the task of leading and managing regional authorities in the 21st century.

      ● At the invitation of Mr Jardim, President of the Regional Government of Madeira, the Chamber organised an International Conference on “Regions with special status” in Madeira on 15 November 2010. The conference gathered the contributions of eminent experts and representatives of several regions in Europe (Trento Province, Basque Parliament, Aaland Islands, Azerbaijan, Azores, Tatarstan, Scotland, Adjara) and the participation of an important delegation of elected representatives of Madeira.

      ● During the 20th session, the Chamber held a round table on the challenges for regions in Europe and a round table on the co-operation between the Congress and the associations representing regions in Europe. Jean-Luc Vanraes, President of the Conference of European Regions with Legislative Power (REGLEG) and Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region and Nazario Pagano, President of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE), took part in this debate.

      During this session, the Chamber held a round table on the role of regional ombudsmen in Europe with the participation of Tom Frawley, Northern Ireland Ombudsman, and of Burgi Volgger, President of the European Ombudsman Institute. The Chamber wishes to encourage regional authorities to administer their functions for the benefit of the citizens and believes that the office of the ombudspersons encourages good administration.

      The Chamber finally held a debate on energy supply and energy efficiency at regional level.

      ● Concerning the co-operation with European regional associations, the Chamber took part in the Adriatic Euroregion Assembly, held in Campobasso on 29 June 2011 and on 23 May 2011 in the workshop on “The Dynamics of European Regionalism”, (held in Pescara Italy on 21-23 July 2011) organised by the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE). Finally, concerning trans-border cooperation the Chamber took part in the meeting on “Removing Obstacles on Cross-border cooperation” held in Strasbourg on 12 September 2011, organised by the Committee of Expert on Local and Regional Government Institutions and Cooperation of the Council of Europe.

      f) Statutory Committees

      ● The Monitoring Committee

      The Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by member states of the European Charter of Local Self-Government or the “Monitoring Committee” as it is more commonly known, was set up in October 2010 as part of the reform of the Congress structures. It is responsible for monitoring the application of the Charter as well as institutional developments in Europe’s regions, for preparing reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in Europe and for monitoring specific questions related to local and regional democracy in the member states.

      The Committee held its inaugural meeting on 28 October 2010 in Strasbourg, France at which Lars O. Molin (L, EPP/CD, Sweden) was elected as its Chair. At its meeting in March 2011, three Vice-Chairs were elected as follows: Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM (R, SOC, Austria), Francis LEC (L, SOC, France) and Alexander USS (R, EPP/CD, Russian Federation). The Committee has also met in July 2011 in İzmir, Turkey and will hold its fourth meeting on 18 October 2011 in Strasbourg, during the 21st Session of the Congress.

      Reports, resolutions and recommendations were adopted by the Committee in October 2010 on the monitoring of local and regional democracy in Montenegro, Estonia and the Russian Federation. The reports adopted in March 2011 include Malta, Turkey, Austria and Romania, as well as a report on Developing human rights indicators at local level. Delegations of the Committee went on monitoring visits to France (2 visits) , Bosnia and Herzegovina (1st part), the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Germany (2 visits) and Republic of Moldova (1st part). Other visits planned before the end of the year include Italy, Portugal and “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and 2nd visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Moldova.

      The Chair, Mr Lars Molin, represented the Congress, in particular, at meetings of the Venice Commission as well as the Committee of Regions and the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU.

      ● The Governance Committee

      The Governance Committee was set up in October 2010 as part of the reform of the Congress structures. It is responsible for affairs falling within the scope of the Congress' statutory mandate such as governance, public finance, cross-border and interregional co-operation and e-democracy as well as co-operation with intergovernmental bodies.

      The Committee held its inaugural meeting on 26 October 2011, in which Karl-Heinz Lambertz (R, SOC, Belgium) was elected as its Chair. Three vice-chairs were elected as follows: Britt-Marie Lövgren (L, ILDG, Sweden), Enes Özklarsli (R, EPP, Turkey), Viacheslav Rogov (R, ILDG, Russian Federation).

      Reports, resolutions and recommendations on the following four topics were prepared by the Committee:

      "The Office of Ombudsman and Local and Regional Authorities"

      "The European Charter of Local Self-Government in Domestic Law"

      "Reservations and Declarations to the European Charter of Local Self-Government"

      "Citizen Participation at Local and Regional Level in Europe"

      Following contributions from the Group of Independent Experts and an exchange of views, all of these texts were approved and will be duly adopted during the 21st Session.

      The Committee contributed to the preparation of the Conference of Ministers Responsible for Local and Regional Government, which will take place 3-4 November in Kyiv, Ukraine.

      The Committee contributed to a workshop on participatory budgeting, organised jointly on 10 May, with the intergovernmental sector. This included detailed presentations from a number of countries, including Belgium, Germany and South Eastern Europe, explaining how they had used participatory budgeting to improve citizen participation.

      The 1st Vice-Chair, Mrs Britt-Marie Lövgren represented the Congress at two meetings of the Stakeholders’ Platform on the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at the Local Level in June and October 2011.

      The Governance Committee also piloted an internet forum using the NING software, which will be used as a platform for debate and discussion between members of the Committee between meetings. An electronic voting system was also successfully tested and will be used by the Chamber of Local Authorities in the 21st Session.

      ● The Current Affairs Committee

      The Current Affairs Committee was set up in October 2010 as part of the reform of the Congress structures. At its first meeting on 28 October 2010, the Committee elected Emin Yeritsyan (EPP/CD, L, Armenia) its Chair. Under its terms of reference, the Committee is responsible for studying the role of local and regional authorities with regard to the major challenges of our society; preparing work on thematic issues such as social cohesion, sustainable development, education, culture and intercultural dialogue from the point of view of the Council of Europe's core values; and proposing action to respond to existing or emerging problems as well as to emergencies at local and regional levels.

      In 2011, the Committee met twice before the 21st Session, on 23 March 2011 in Strasbourg (during the 20th Session of the Congress) and on 29 June 2011 in Yerevan, Armenia. It will hold its third meeting on 18 October 2011 in Strasbourg, during the 21st Session of the Congress.

      At its meeting in March, the Committee elected three Vice-Presidents: Barbara Toce (SOC, L, Italy), Farid Mukhametshin (ILDG, R, Russian Federation) and Claudette Abela Baldacchino (SOC, R, Malta).

      The Committee has prepared reports on the situation of Roma in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities (Rapporteur John Warmisham, SOC, L, United Kingdom); on energy supply and energy efficiency at local and regional levels (Rapporteur Svetlana Orlova, EPP/CD, R, Russian Federation); and on education for democratic citizenship: tools for cities (Rapporteur Dario Ghisletta, SOC, L, Switzerland). These were approved by the Committee at its meeting in June, and will be debated during the 21st Session in October.

      Also at the June meeting, the Committee decided on the preparation of new reports, namely on the disengagement of young people and ways to increase their participation in democracy; on promoting ethnic entrepreneurship in European cities as a means of integration of migrants through self-employment; and on making cities more resilient in the face of natural disasters.

      At its October meeting, the Committee is expected to decide on the preparation of further reports: on the consequences of the Arab Spring as an opportunity for local and regional democracy; and on the role of regions with legislative powers in implementing the provisions of the Council of Europe convention to prevent sexual abuse of children (Lanzarote Convention).

      In addition, the Committee organised, on 30 June 2011 in Yerevan, a colloquy on challenges of migration for local and regional authorities, in the light of the expected influx of migrants from North Africa as a consequence of the Arab Spring.

      THE CONGRESS ENGAGES AT GRASSROOTS LEVEL

      a) Action to promote Roma inclusion

      ● Adoption of the report on the situation of Roma in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities (June 2011)

      The report of John Warmisham (SOC, L, United Kingdom) and a Recommendation to the Committee of Ministers were adopted by the Committee on current affairs and will be debated by the 21st session in October 2011.

      ● Summit of Mayors on Roma (Strasbourg, 22 September 2011)

      The Congress organised this Summit in co-operation with the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General for Roma issues, to address the situation in the field of the Roma and Travellers. It brought together representatives of municipalities and regions as well as networks, European institutions and Roma organisations in order to share information, experiences and practices, and to identify concrete solutions.

      Debates focused on relations between local and regional authorities and Roma communities. They underlined that to fight exclusion and discrimination; the local representatives must be proactive in implementing policies at the local level. Solutions discussed included ending barriers to education that are created through lack of documentation, bringing communities together in order to overcome prejudice, and creating inclusive and flexible services so that the Roma can have equal access to housing, healthcare and employment.

      Local and Regional Authorities must lead by example and protect the rights of all their citizens. Hatred speeches in particular must be denounced without ambiguity.

      In the final declaration, the participants reaffirmed their determination to take further action for improving the inclusion of the Roma population. To this end, they supported the creation of a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma inclusion. Six European cities and regions (Aubervilliers/France, Kavarna/Bulgaria, Malaga/Spain, Region of Madrid/Spain, Heraklion/Greece and the 5th district of Bucharest/Romania) proposed themselves as a kick-off group to build on this Summit and to prepare the establishment of this new European interactive co-operation network.

      b) Support to democracy in the Arab countries

      ● 2nd Euro-Arab Cities Forum (Malaga, Spain, February 2011)

      The Euro-Arab Cities Forum co-organised by the Congress focused on four main themes: strengthening of local self-government through dialogue between central and territorial authorities; sustainable development of cities; protection of cultural heritage and tourism development; as well as urban economy during the global downturn.

      It adopted a final declaration that demands the immediate cessation of all crimes against humanity perpetrated against the civilian population in the Southern Mediterranean. The Congress informed that it stands ready to accompany the changes that are being brought about by the current events with its expertise and assistance in building a democratic, citizen-oriented local self-government in these countries, focused on people’s needs.

      ● Urgent debate on the changes in southern Mediterranean countries (23 March 2011)

      On the occasion of the urgent debate held during the 20th Congress Session, focusing on the changes currently underway in southern Mediterranean countries, Jean-Claude Frécon, the President of the Chamber of Local Self-Government, highlighted the need to support the Arab peoples. He said the European Charter may be European by birth but it belongs to everyone. It is designed to inspire emerging democracies who want to strengthen the skills of their territorial authorities. Congress members were invited to sign a declaration to support Arab peoples.

      ● The Congress gives the floor to local elected representatives from Arab countries (Strasbourg, 17 June 2011)

      Kamel Besbes, former Deputy Mayor of Monastir, Tunisia, addressing the Statutory Forum of the Congress stated that the Tunisian revolution is above all a revolution of the regions. At present in Tunisia there are 88 recognised political parties which are all advocating regional development. He announced that elections for a constituent assembly are to be held in October 2011 and in that context, the setting up of local governments is one of the most important issues that will need to be discussed and included in the new Tunisian constitution.

      c) Targeted assistance in the field

      One of the Congress’ priorities 2011 – 2012 is a targeted post-monitoring and observation assistance. To achieve real results with respect to the recommendations of its monitoring and election observation missions, the Congress may organise specific cooperation programmes with the member States concerned to address the major issues that it has highlighted as requiring attention and to increase their knowhow and capacity for local governance and election organisation. Such programmes should involve local and regional representatives, not just those of the countries concerned, but also those from other European countries who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise on a peer-to-peer basis.

      The Congress thus intends to engage in a new action of support of European locally and regionally elected representatives and improve their capacities and their leadership.

      ● Action Plan for Ukraine

      With this in mind, the Congress partnered with the action plan of the Council of Europe for Ukraine. This action plan is intended to support the European reform agenda of Ukraine in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy. The Congress supports this three year action plan which contributes to its local democracy component. In this context, it was represented at the inaugural conference in Kiev on 16 September 2011.


      It is also in this context that the Congress has proposed holding the first seminar for mayors and presidents of municipal councils newly elected in Albania.

      ● Political dialogue at local level in Albania (Tirana; 28 September 2011)

      The establishment of dialogue in a context of political pluralism was the focus of this seminar, jointly organised by the Congress and the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South East Europe (NALAS), with support from the Tirana Office of the Swiss Agency for development and co-operation and the OSCE Presence in the country. The seminar also brought together mayors and presidents of municipal councils of Albania, other European mayors and presidents of national associations of local authorities, NALAS members and members of the Congress, including its president, Keith Whitmore. Elected officials present argued for a unified voice of local Albania. The Congress proposed to continue its support for concrete actions to improve the dialogue between local authorities and the central authorities. “After the local elections of 8 May, the political situation in Albania remained tense. This seminar – which, while constituting the starting point of an initiative for the Congress - aims at developing a climate of confidence between political groups in the interest of good governance and enhancement of local self-government in Albania. Through this new initiative, the Congress seeks to strengthen leadership by local and regional elected representatives, making them aware of their role and responsibilities at grassroots level,” Congress President Keith Whitmore said.

      The programme of the seminar included a presentation on the challenges of decentralisation in Albania as well as working groups on the dialogue between majority and opposition and with central government and parliament.

      d) European Local Democracy Week

      ● "Human rights at local level”, leading theme of 2011 edition (10 -16 October 2011)

      Cities and towns of the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe are invited to join European Local Democracy Week (ELDW) with the slogan “Human rights? What about your backyard?” The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities wishes to highlight human rights as a fundamental component of local democracy and to nurture a culture of respect for human rights throughout local communities in Europe. 'Every year the ELDW provides a great opportunity for local councillors, mayors and citizens of all ages to raise their awareness of democratic participation at the local level and to enhance dialogue' – says John Warmisham, political coordinator of the ELDW and member of Salford City Council (UK). The leading theme of the 2011 ELDW reminds us all of our responsibility to combat intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion. Some 20 municipalities from 9 countries have already elaborated a programme of activities.

      DYNAMIC EXTERNAL PARTNERSHIPS

      a) Relations with the EU

      During a debate on co-operation between the European Union and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, held on 24 March at the 20th session of the Congress, Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, called for a strengthening of co-operation activities with the Congress based around three key points: to build on the strengths and the assets of both organisations, and in particular on their complementarity; to determine a strategic direction for regional and local authorities in Europe, in particular at the EU macroregion level, for example the Danube region, and the Euroregions created by the Congress, notably the Black Sea Euroregion; and finally, to build bridges and to help other countries through decentralised approaches and partnerships, particularly with regard to the challenges facing the Mediterranean basin.

      In order to reinforce Europe’s stability through strong local and regional structures the Commissioner called for a genuine implementation of multi-level governance.

      The election observation exercises conducted by the Congress, which regularly include the participation of delegations from the EU Committee of Regions, constitute a concrete example of this co-operation.

      a.i The Committee of the Regions

      During 2010-2011, the Congress increased the cooperation with the Committee of the Regions of the European Union (CoR).

      The Congress took part in the CoR Open Days by setting up an information stand and was represented in the meeting of the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs of the Committee of the Regions, of 12 October 2010. Similarly, in October 2010, a stand promoting the Congress’ European Local Democracy Week (ELDW) was organised at the Committee of the Regions Headquarters during the Covenant of Mayors.

      The CoR was associated to the Congress in the observation missions of municipal elections in Ukraine, on 31 October 2010. The mission allowed the two bodies to work in synergy to assess the situation of local and regional democracy in the field.

      On 27 October 2010, the President of the Committee of the Regions, Mrs Mercedes Bresso, addressed a statement to the Congress on the co-operation between the two institutions during the 19th Plenary session. She stressed the complementarity between the two institutions and the need to deepen this complementarity between the activities in the framework of the co-operation agreement signed in 2005 and revised in 2009. She emphasised the variety of forms this partnership takes, in particular the election observation missions in Georgia and Ukraine, the Messina conference on fighting corruption and the opinions on the Eastern Partnership.

      The annual Bipartite meeting between the Presidents of the Congress and of the CoR took place in Brussels on 12 January 2011. During the meeting the wish to act in partnership was confirmed. Congress President Keith Whitmore and Mercedes Bresso, President of the EU Committee of the Regions, discussed progress in the implementation of the co-operation agreement between the two institutions and their possible co-operation activities for 2011 based on their common political priorities. This was the 3rd annual bilateral meeting of the Presidents of the two organisations, since the signature of the co-operation agreement between the two institutions.

      On 7 February 2011 the “Contact Group Congress/Committee of the Regions” held its meeting in Paris. The Group discussed of election monitoring missions, Eastern Partnership and Multilevel Governance and decided to bring forward the activity on rights and duties of local and regional elected representatives and the risks of corruption. It is also envisaged to organise jointly, in 2012, a Conference on the role of regions in 2nd chambers in bicameral parliamentary systems.

      On 8 February 2011 the Congress and the CoR organised a coordination meeting in Brussels on the European Local Democracy Week (ELDW)

      On 8 May 2011 four members of the Committee of the Regions took part in the election observation mission led by the Congress in Albania.

      ● On 5 June, members of the CoR took part in the observation of elections in Moldova.

      On 1 July 2011, the Secretary Generals of the Congress and the CoR, Andreas Kiefer and Gerhard Stahl, met in Brussels.

      ● On 8 September 2011 the Committee of the Regions launched in Poznan (Poland) the set up of the “Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership” (CORLEAP). The Congress obtained the appointment of 9 of its members from Eastern European countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine). The Congress, as such, obtained the observer status. At the inaugural session, it was represented by Mr Van Staa and Mrs Romanova.

      a.ii The Fundamental Rights Agency

      The Congress and the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union have pursued their co-operation on the implementation of human rights at local and regional level and the definition of useful indicators that would allow data collection and better targeting of actions to be implemented at this level of governance.

      In this context, the Congress has taken part in a symposium organised by the Agency in Vienna in May 2011 on the use of indicators to “measure” fundamental rights in the European Union.

      Furthermore, the Agency has participated in the Summit of Mayors on Roma which took place in Strasbourg on 22 September 2011. Its representatives made presentations in the workshops on overcoming prejudice and equal access to housing, health care and employment. The Agency also held an exhibition stand presenting its work to the participants.

      b) Relations with Networks
      b.i The Association of Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA)


      The Congress continued to monitor very closely the evolution of ALDA and is regularly represented at its major meetings and in its decision-making bodies.

       
      ● Conference on Cooperation for the development of local governance in the South Caucasus, (Kutaisi (Georgia, 30 November 2010)

       
      The Congress has supported the organisation by the Association of Local Democracy Agencies of the second conference of local officials and representatives of civil society in the three countries of South Caucasus. The conference aimed to continue the dialogue between the associations of local authorities of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and to strengthen relationships between all parties involved. National seminars were held with elected representatives of each country in April in Georgia, in May and July in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

      ● Creation of an Agency for local democracy in Armenia.


       The Congress has supported the process of creating a Local Democracy Agency (LDA) in Armenia with the aim of stabilising the democratic process at work in the region. The opening of the new ADL Armenia is scheduled in October 2011, in Gyumri, with a satellite office in Ijevan. The ADL counts among her Armenian and other European countries local authorities as well as NGOs working together to strengthen local democracy and citizen participation.

      b.ii The Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South East Europe (NALAS)


      This network, created at the initiative of the Congress in 2001, continues to be the privilege partner of the Congress in its field activities in Southeast Europe.

      ● International Municipal Fair (Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 10 March 2011)

      At the opening ceremony of 'NEXPO 2011 organised by NALAS, Congress President stated that networking at local and regional level is of the utmost importance for building the future of South East Europe. Keith Whitmore called for a more dynamic dialogue between local, regional and national levels of government. The event gathered some 1000 participants including representatives from more than 100 municipalities from South East Europe to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

      b.iii The network of Cities for Local Integration Policy (CLIP)

      The network was co-founded in September 2006 by the Congress, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions and the City of Stuttgart

      ● 10th Meeting of the Network (Frankfurt (Germany), 23-24 May 2011)

      This 10th meeting of the network brought together representatives of over 30 European cities and researchers to discuss strategies to promote entrepreneurship among ethnic minorities in the context of policy development and integration migrants at the local level. Congress President Keith Whitmore delivered a keynote speech in which he urged inter-municipal networks to find solutions to integration problems in local communities. He stated that the future action for local and regional democracy in Europe should rest on four pillars of increasing citizen participation, improving local integration, fostering better dialogue and relations between different community groups, and building truly pan-European local and regional cooperation across borders.

      c) Relations with European Associations of Local and Regional Authorities

      The Congress continued its working relationship with the main associations of local and regional authorities, including the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), which have observer status to the Bureau of the Congress.


      The President of the Congress or his representative attended the general meetings of the AER, the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) as well as the Conference of European Regions with Legislative Power (REGLEG) and the Conference of the regional Assemblies of Europe (CLRAE).


      The Congress has participated in several conferences and seminars organised by these associations and the presidents of several of these associations have addressed the Congress in recent sessions.

      A RELAY FOR THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE CAMPAIGNS

      a) Protection of children

      ● Participation in the Council of Europe campaign to stop sexual violence against children

      At the High-Level Launching Event for this Council of Europe campaign in Rome on 29 November 2010, Congress Vice-President Dubravka Suica emphasised the need for awareness-raising, in particular among children and young people, as well as for coordination mechanisms among child services, child-friendly judicial procedures and mediators to accompany children through the process. She stressed that territorial authorities have the necessary competences and institutional capacities in this matter.

      b) Combating domestic violence

      ● Participation in the work to draw up an international convention (Strasbourg (France), 18-21 January 2011)

      Congress member Sandra Barnes participated in the meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CAHVIO) The aim of this meeting is to finalise the draft of a new Council of Europe convention in this field. In 2009 the Congress adopted a recommendation calling on governments to prepare a binding international legal instrument to strengthen the prevention of violence against women, the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators.

      Appendices

      1. Adopted Texts

      Adopted Texts 19th SESSION

      26-28 October 2010

      Recommendations

      Recommendation 290 The reform of the Congress: structure and working methods

      Recommendation 291 Municipal Elections in Georgia (30 May 2010)

      Recommendation 292 Landscape: a new dimension of public territorial action

      Recommendation 293 Local Democracy in Montenegro

      Recommendation 294 Local Democracy in Estonia

      Recommendation 295 Social time, leisure time: which local time planning policy?

      Recommendation 296 Sustainable development of mountain regions and the experience of the Carpathian Mountains

      Recommendation 297 Local and regional democracy in the Russian Federation

      Recommendation 298 Coastal towns and cities tackling threats from the sea

      Resolutions

      Resolution 308 Verification of new members’ credentials and new appointment procedures

      Resolution 309 The reform of the Congress: structure and working methods

      Resolution 310 Priorities of the Congress for 2011-2012

      Resolution 311 Municipal Elections in Georgia (30 May 2010)

      Resolution 312 Landscape: a new dimension of public territorial action

      Resolution 313 Social time, leisure time: which local time planning policy?

      Resolution 314 Co-operation between the Congress and associations representing regions in Europe

      Resolution 315 Sustainable development of mountain regions and the experience of the Carpathian Mountains

      Resolution 316 Rights and duties of local and regional elected representatives:

            the risks of corruption

      Resolution 317 Coastal towns and cities tackling threats from the sea

      Resolution 318 Cultural Integration of Muslim Women in European Cities

      Resolution 319 Integration of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods

      Adopted texts 20th SESSION

      22-24 March 2011

      Recommendations

      Recommendation 299 The reform of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe reform

      Recommendation 300 Local and regional democracy in Romania

      Recommendation 301 Local and regional democracy in Turkey

      Recommendation 302 Local and regional democracy in Austria

      Recommendation 303 Local elections in Ukraine (31 October 2010)

      Recommendation 304 Meeting the challenge of inter-faith and intercultural tensions at local level

      Recommendation 305 Local democracy in Malta

      Resolutions

      Resolution 320 Verification of new members’ credentials and new appointment procedures

      Resolution 321 The reform of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe reform

      Resolution 322 Local elections in Ukraine (31 October 2010)

      Resolution 323 Meeting the challenge of inter-faith and intercultural tensions at local level

      Adopted texts 1st STATUTORY FORUM

      17 June 2011

      Recommendation

      Recommendation 306 The budget and resources of the Congress in 2012-2013

      Opinions

      Opinion 33 on the draft recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on principles of good democratic governance at local level

      Opinion 34 on the draft recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on funding by higher level authorities of new competences for local authorities

      2. Conferences / meetings attended and visits by the President in 2010-2011

      Date

      Place

      Title

      2010

         

      1 October

      Kayseri (Turkey)

      Committee on Culture and Education

      15-16 October

      Strasbourg

      Conference on Foreign Participation

      19-20 October

      Yerevan (Armenia)

      Forum for the Future of Democracy

      15 November

      Madeira/Portugal

      International Conference on European regions with special status

      17 November

      Strasbourg/France

      Statement and exchange of views with the Committee of Ministers

      3 December

      Strasbourg

      Congress Bureau

      2011

         

      12 January

      Brussels

      Meeting with President of CoR

      13 January

      Strasbourg

      GR-DEM meeting

      14 January

      Strasbourg

      Joint Bureau meeting with CDLR

      28 January

      Geneva

      Anniversary of CEMR

      7 February

      Paris

      Contact group CoR

      8 February

      Brussels

      Local democracy week meeting

      9 February

      Brussels

      CEMR Governance committee

      18 February

      Strasbourg

      Congress Bureau

      19 February

      Paris

      Conference on Western Balkans

      23 February

      Innsbruck

      Jury Maximilian Prize

      10-11 March

      Sarajevo (B&H)

      NALAS International Municipal Fair

      16 March

      Stuttgart (Germany)

      Jury “City for Children” award

      17 March

      Brussels

      Group of eminent persons

      21-24 March

      Strasbourg

      Congress Bureau and Session

      27 April

      Madrid

      Meeting of the Chaves group

      11 May

      Istanbul

      121st Session of the Committee of Minsiters

      13 May

      Antalya

      Bureau meeting of the Congress

      23-24 May

      Frankfurt

      CLIP meeting

      27 May

      Brussels

      European Day of Sport

      6 June

      Stuttgart (Germany)

      “City for Children”award ceremony

      10 June

      Strasbourg

      Preparatory Conference World Water Forum

      16-17 June

      Strasbourg

      Bureau meeting and Statutory Forum of the Congress

      21-22 June

      Clacton-on-Sea (UK)

      Conference on “Opportunities and challenges to the coast”

      27 June

      Pristina

      Opening of AKM Week of Municipalities

      30 June–1 July

      Strasbourg

      International Colloquy “Transparency and public ethics”

      4 July

      Izmir (Turkey)

      Monitoring committee

      8-9 July

      Bydgozscz (Poland)

      ALDA conference and General Assembly

      6 September

      Paris

      Press conference on Summit of Mayors on Roma

      8-10 September

      Trim (Ireland)

      Annual conference, association of municipal authorities of Ireland

      16 September

      Kiev (Ukraine)

      Bureau meeting of the Congress

      22 September

      Strasbourg

      Summit of Mayors on Roma

      23 September

      Paris

      Social Charter Ceremony “50 Years and after”

      28 September

      Tirana (Albania)

      Congress Seminar on empowering local elected representatives in Albania

      29 September–1

      October

      Rybnik (Poland)

      European Congress on citizenship and twinning

      10 October

      Utrecht (Netherlands)

      European Local Democracy week

      11 October

      Brussels

      ALDE-COR Group

      13 October

      Limassol (Cyprus)

      Forum for the future of democracy

      Conferences where the President was represented by a Congress member:

      Date

      Place

      Title

      Representative

      10 December

      Tallinn (Estonia)

      Monitoring Committee

      Lars O. Molin

      31 January

      Strasbourg

      General Assembly of RECEP

      Gaye Doganoglu

      28-30 March

      Strasbourg

      CDLR meeting

      Karl-Heinz Lambertz

      5-6 April

      Batumi (Georgia)

      AER – Conference – interregional co-operation around the Black Sea

      Emin Eritsyian

      23–25 May

      Sibenik (Croatia)

      Days of Regional Development

      Dubravka Suica

      30 June–1 July

      Moshkovo (Russia)

      Local Government and Territory Development

      Knud Andersen

      8-9 September

      Poznan (Poland)

      CORLEAP

      Herwig Van Staa and Romanova

      22-24 September

      Koursk (Russian Federation)

      Annual conference of AEBR

      Nataliya Romanova

      28-30 September

      Aarhus (Denmark)

      CPMR – General assembly

      Knud Andersen

      3. Final Declaration of the Summit of Mayors on Roma

      Summit of Mayors on Roma:

      BUILDING MUTUAL TRUST AT THE GRASSROOTS

      (Strasbourg, France, 22 September 2011)

      FINAL DECLARATION

      We, elected representatives of municipalities and regions of Europe, meeting in Strasbourg, France, on 22 September 2011 for the Summit of Mayors on Roma, together with representatives of local and regional administrations, Roma organisations and other civil society actors, European institutional partners, experts and academics, solemnly declare that:

      1. We are fully aware and deeply concerned about the persistent exclusion and discrimination of Roma in local and regional communities across Europe, made evident by their continued marginalisation and lack of access to education, housing, healthcare and employment, and fuelled by prejudice, mistrust and even hate speech. This situation is worsening and needs to be urgently addressed;

      2. We share the conviction that in order to move past this situation that can and must be changed for the better, all actors and stakeholders in Roma inclusion must join forces;

      3. We reaffirm that as local and regional elected representatives we are responsible for ensuring the well-being and upholding the basic rights of all who live in our communities irrespective of their origin or background; we stress our determination to lead by example in condemning anti-Roma discourse and our commitment to ensuring the respect of the rights of Roma that are guaranteed to everyone in Europe under the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter;

      4. We are convinced that the active participation and inclusion of Roma is of major benefit for each community as a whole, and that the way forward is by building mutual trust at the grassroots level and combining the mainstreaming of Roma issues into general local and regional action and policy making with complementary, targeted measures designed to compensate disadvantages and foster equality;

      5. We are aware of the manifold challenges that local and regional authorities are confronted with on a daily basis in situations that are very different from one community to another, and we welcome in this regard the numerous initiatives for Roma inclusion that are being carried out by municipalities and regions, their national and European networks as well as civil society organisations, and that set examples for others to follow; we also acknowledge and appreciate the important work in support of Roma inclusion undertaken by European institutions – the Council of Europe and its Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the European Union, its Committee of the Regions and its Fundamental Rights Agency;

      6. We call on local and regional authorities to set up networks at national level for action on Roma in countries where they do not yet exist;

      7. Convinced of the usefulness of mediation between local and regional authorities and Roma communities, we also call on municipalities and regions to employ mediators on a sustained basis, support their work and make full use of the Council of Europe ROMED training programme for Roma mediators in the fields of education, health care and employment, carried out by the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General for Roma issues;

      8. We thank the organisers of the Summit of Mayors on Roma for this opportunity to share our difficulties, concerns and our vision for future action. We thank, in particular, the City of Strasbourg for its hospitality and its determination to work in favour of Roma, as evidenced by the work it has already done in the framework of its Strasbourg Club. We are inspired by the initiatives and policies presented during the Summit, in particular with reference to political participation, fighting prejudice, promoting employment opportunities and providing equal access to education, healthcare, housing and other public services;

      9. We recognise the need to pursue cooperation between municipalities and regions in Europe and we are determined to take sustained further action to build on this Summit. To this end, we support the proposal to establish a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion, to be set up as a framework for co-operation, sharing of good practices, strengthening local and regional capacities for action, identifying specific problems and proposing solutions, and helping to ensure funding for Roma activities at the grassroots level. We welcome in this regard the statements by several municipalities and regions declaring their commitment to form a core group to build this Alliance, and call on the municipalities and regions of Europe to join in this co-operation framework;

      10. We are convinced that the Council of Europe, covering its 47 member states, represents an excellent platform for pan-European co-operation towards Roma inclusion, and ask the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General for Roma Issues to work with this core group in taking steps for setting up such an Alliance;

      11. We invite the European Union to join and support this initiative, in line with the priority given to Roma inclusion by the EU, as we are convinced that it will help achieve the EU’s objectives in this field;

      12. We call on members of the future Alliance to work with other municipalities and regions on ways of implementing the recommendations of the Strasbourg Declaration of 20 October 2010, adopted by the High-Level Meeting of Council of Europe member states; the resolution and recommendation on the situation of Roma: a challenge for local and regional authorities, to be adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in October 2011; as well as the relevant recommendations of various other institutions and bodies of the Council of Europe, including its Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, Commissioner for Human Rights and European Commission against Racism and Intolerance;

      13. We reiterate our firm belief that the future of European democratic society requires the inclusion and participation of all Europeans, including Roma, in democracy-building and the full life of their communities with all the rights and responsibilities this entails.

      The Summit of Mayors on Roma has been organised by the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in co-operation with the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General for Roma issues, in partnership with the City of Strasbourg and the Strasbourg Club, and with contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, the European Commission and Open Society Foundations.

      4. Malaga Declaration

      II Forum of Euro-Arab Cities
      “Cooperation experiences and prospects for facing common challenges”

      Malaga 25-26 February 2011

      Declaration

      The II Forum of Euro-Arab Cities1 is held at a particularly historic moment, as people from many countries are seeking democracy, progress, recognition and participation.
      1. The Forum pays tribute to the courage of the women and men, the cities and communities who are embarking on the path of democracy and the securing of basic freedoms, including the right to protest and freedom of expression. The Forum demands the immediate cessation of all crimes against humanity perpetrated against the civilian population. In this context we commit ourselves to pursuing our action in order to guarantee peace in our countries.
      2. This call for democracy is an opportunity. As the representatives of authorities that are closest to the people, we are ready to build a new model of participation of the citizens for the best development of our region. It is time to invent the future in the best interests of our people. We have met in Malaga on 25-26 February 2011 to express our common will to conduct new projects together and with our respective citizens to build the new model of development which the citizens are expecting. We are ready to drive forward the dialogue with our national governments and international organisations to better represent our citizens and support the movements for change in our cities.
      3. Today we are seeing a period of profound social and political changes, where citizens demand a world respectful of the fundamental principles of democracy, participation, justice and peaceful coexistence, according to the UN Human Rights Council resolution of 25 February 2011, as well as all UN declarations concerning conflicts in the region. Our links and relations of friendship across our communities allow us to exchange on these extraordinary events and processes in the Arab world which must be consolidated by institutional changes.
      4. In the same spirit, we welcome the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ Regional Strategy for the Mediterranean, adopted in Malta in November 2010, which aims to improve understanding and relations of cooperation among nations and peoples across cultures and religions and, in the process, helps to combat the forces that fuel polarization and extremism. We acknowledge that the Regional Strategy opens up new means for cooperation as it considers city-to-city cooperation or city diplomacy in the Mediterranean region as one its ten interdependent priority domains of action and synergies for 2011-2013.
      5. We reaffirm our commitment to promote and develop Euro-Arab municipal cooperation for better local governance around the issues addressed in the four sessions of the II Forum, namely:

        - Local governance and new challenges;
        - Urban management for sustainable development and municipal services;
        - Culture, heritage and tourism;
        - Financial instruments.

      6. We, representatives of European and Arab cities, and of relevant Institutions and associations, have discussed these topics and have underlined that:
      a) As a platform for improving partnership relations among European and Arab cities, at this particular time, the Forum is of the utmost importance for advancing the democratic development of our communities, exchanging and applying best practices and expertise, as well as providing assistance and support for improving standards of good local governance, living conditions in our communities and services to our citizens. We hope that the current situations affecting our counterparts in several Arab countries will lead to a higher level of public participation and strengthen local government and democracy, responding to the aspirations of the people.
      b) We underline the importance of promoting the effective participation of citizens, in particular of young people and women, in their cities’ governance.
      c) We recognize the necessity to make further efforts to preserve the environment and achieve a good balance between the economic, social and environmental dimension, taking into account key issues for sustainable development of our cities. We will seek to work for integrated solutions for urban and municipal service development.
      d) We therefore emphasize the importance of prioritizing cooperation among our cities in order to find financial resources for project development, for strengthening infrastructure, public transportation services, housing, clean water resources, waste treatment, environmental protection, cultural heritage, tourism, etc.
      e) We express our full support for establishing a competitive framework and the financial capacity corresponding to the new challenges, work and responsibilities of our local institutions, so that – in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity and the UCLG Gold report2 – they can organise and manage a significant proportion of public affairs closer to the citizens, and strengthen the role of our cities in the economic and social development of the European and Arab nations, in accordance with the ten appended recommendations on the financing of cities.
      f) We underline that cultural heritage, with its diverse elements and scope, is a unique asset not only for each city or country but for all humanity. We stress the need to build and implement strategies to preserve and give an added value to our cultural heritage for the sustainable development of our cities.
      6. Convinced of the mutual interest of cooperation in these areas, the Organisers of the Forum (ATO, Council of Europe Congress, CEMR, Coppem and the City of Malaga) will work closely together to identify a possible action plan to meet the expectations of our populations seeking a better life.
      7. The Forum welcomes the decision of the European Union to allocate funds to support the transition in the Mediterranean Region and asks the EU to dedicate part of these funds to supporting the emergence of local self-government. To this end, the Forum welcomes any initiative that provides opportunities for exchanges and cooperation, such as the proposal to hold an international conference on support for political and economic reforms. We ask that local governments are fully associated in this process. We urge the members of the Forum to maintain their close cooperation, in the spirit of solidarity.
      8. In accordance with the decisions of the Dubai Forum, the next Forum will be convened in an Arab city in 2014.
      9. We express our gratitude to the Mayor and the Municipality of Malaga for hosting and supporting this II Euro-Arab Cities Forum.

      Appendix
      Ten recommendations on the financing of cities

      1. Financial autonomy is a sine qua non condition for achieving real local autonomy. Central and regional governments must ensure the introduction of relevant measures to reach this goal.
      2. Any transfers of competences from central and regional governments towards cities must be accompanied by specific funding.
      3. Cities must be compensated for any reduction of local taxes that may be imposed by the central and regional level. In this way, the principle of loyalty between different institutional levels is to be respected.
      4. Cities must seek to ensure the possibility of creating taxes and resources for the provision of services targeted at specific groups of citizens.
      5. Cities must promote the development of economic activities through the creation of public companies. Where these are profitable and successful, they can constitute important local financing tools.
      6. All state and regional legislation must take into account, as a determining element, population size.
      7. Cities must promote public-private collaboration in the construction of new infrastructure.
      8. Cities must commit themselves to the efficient management of their resources in the public interest.
      9. Cities must be guaranteed that, as an essential criterion for providing sustainable public services, all transfers received from the central and regional governments are on an unconditional basis.
      10. Central and regional governments must provide cities with flexible taxing methods, and not only based on real estate taxes.

      5. Reform Recommendations and Resolutions

      The reform of the Congress: structure and working methods

      Recommendation 290 (2010)3 (adopted October 2010)

      1. In 2009, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland launched a wide-ranging reform of the Council of Europe with the support of the Committee of Ministers. The Congress has taken care to shape its own reform process in such a way as to develop the best synergy possible within the Organisation while respecting its own specific role and identity.

      2. The Congress has therefore sought, through a thorough review of its working procedures and structures, not only to enhance the effectiveness of its action, its relevance, impact and visibility but to refocus its activities on its primary mission – promotion and protection of local and regional democracy in Europe – and on the Council of Europe’s core values.

      3. The first stage of the Congress’ reform is already complete and a certain number of its stated goals have been achieved, including a substantial clarification and codification of two keystones of its work: monitoring missions (Resolution 307 (2010)) and observation of elections (Resolution 306 (2010)).

      4. The Congress has devised a further two stages which will enable it to set in motion, in the aftermath of its 19th Session, as many practical improvements as it can in the immediate to short term, while planning for further important and wide-ranging modifications over the next two-year mandate.

      5. The second stage of the reform entails certain provisions which may be implemented by the Congress independently and promptly. These are reflected in a revised Rules of Procedure adopted by the Congress at its 19th Session in Resolution 309 (2010) which is complementary to the current recommendation. The Congress hopes to implement these changes directly after adoption of the relevant resolution and Revised Rules of Procedure.

      6. The third stage involves changes requiring revision of the Statutory Resolution and Charter, as appended to this document, which are therefore subject to approval by the Committee of Ministers and consultation of the Parliamentary Assembly.

      7. The Congress is convinced that the proposed reform will, by improving its efficiency, transparency and reactivity, ensure a closer adaptation of the Congress to the mission given by the Charter.

      8. Given the above, the Congress recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

      a. amend certain provisions of Statutory Resolution CM/Res (2007) 6 relating to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in the light of proposals contained in Appendix I to this recommendation;

      b. amend the Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 May 2007, in the light of the proposals contained in Appendix II to this recommendation;

      9. The Congress decides to incorporate the amended provisions of the Charter, and any other changes deemed necessary for its improvement, into the Rules of Procedure following the adoption of the revised Statutory Resolution and Charter by the Committee of Ministers.

      The reform of the Congress: structure and working methods

      Resolution 309 (2010)4 (adopted October 2010)

      1. Local and regional democracy and the principle of subsidiarity are the basic conditions for the construction of a Europe close to citizens, based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

      2. The Congress reiterates the vital role of local and regional authorities, both at national and European level in implementing these values and for monitoring, promoting and developing local and regional democracy. It reaffirms its willingness to contribute to the work of the Council of Europe in its capacity as a political assembly of locally and regionally elected representatives.

      3. The Congress will continue to ensure that its mission is in line with policy developments and trends in European societies.

      4. In this regard, the Congress has reflected at length upon its mission, its political role, its place within the Council of Europe and on the European scene, and also upon its structures and working methods in light of a reform process which will enable it to improve its efficiency, transparency and the quality of its contribution to the work of the Council.

      5. It welcomes the progress already achieved by adopting guidelines for the observation of elections and for the preparation of missions and progress reports as major steps of the reform process.

      6. Moreover, the Congress wishes to make its reform part of that of the Council of Europe, which has been undertaken by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland with the support of the Committee of Ministers, while respecting the specific role and identity of the Congress.

      7. The Congress supports the approach taken to involve all its members, national delegations and national associations of local and regional authorities at different stages of the reform. These transparent and democratic procedures have allowed it to benefit from the experience of all these entities.

      8. While the Congress will now have the structures and working methods needed to fulfil its mission in a more targeted, more effective and more visible way, it will commit to an ongoing process of adaptation and improvement with a view to further strengthening its implementation of the core values of the Council of Europe: democracy, rule of law and human rights.

      9. Given the above, the Congress resolves the following:

      9.1 as regards the structures:

      a. the term of office of members of the Congress is extended to 4 years;

      b. in addition to the head of delegation, delegations shall elect a deputy;

      c. the renewal of the Bureau and of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the committees is on a two-yearly basis;

      d. at least 30% of Representatives and 30% of Substitutes in a delegation must be of the under-represented sex. This provision shall enter into force with the next general renewal of delegations;

      e. the Bureau is the executive body of the Congress and the political steering organ responsible for ensuring continuity of activities between sessions of the Congress. It is responsible for the external relations and political affairs of the Congress. The presidents of political groups and chairs of committees shall be ex-officio members without voting rights;

      f. the Standing Committee shall become the Statutory Forum:

      i. the Forum is convened by the President of the Congress on the Bureau's decision and acts on behalf of the Congress;

      ii. the Forum is composed of the heads of all national delegations and members of the Bureau of the Congress. Heads of delegation may be represented ad personam by their deputy heads;

      g. three committees shall be created:

      i. a Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by member states of the European Charter of Local Self-Government (ECLSG) (to be known as the Monitoring Committee) responsible, in particular, for monitoring the European Charter of Local Self-Government (ECLSG) as well as institutional developments in Europe’s regions, for preparing reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in Europe and for monitoring specific questions related to local and regional democracy in the member states;

      ii. a Governance Committee responsible for affairs falling within the scope of the Congress’ statutory mandate such as governance, public finance, cross-border and interregional co-operation and e-democracy as well as co-operation with intergovernmental bodies;

      iii. a Current Affairs Committee responsible for ensuring a swift response to the major challenges of our society and preparing work on thematic issues such as social cohesion, education, culture and sustainable development from the point of view of the Council of Europe’s core values;

      h. though composed of members from the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions, the committees will meet in plenary only;

      9.2 as regards the activities and documents of Congress:

      a. the texts adopted by the Congress shall be more succinct and more political, and will be subject to a clearer and more concrete follow-up procedure;

      b. priority will be given to issues inherent to the mission of Congress, such as the situation of local and regional democracy and election observation;

      9.3 as regards the Rules of Procedure of the Congress, which are appended, they have been revised to take into account the foregoing;

      9.4 as regards the Charter of the Congress and the Statutory Resolution of the Committee of Ministers:

      a. changes to the Charter and to the Statutory Resolution resulting from the reform will be submitted to the Congress for adoption as Recommendation 290 (2010) to the Committee of Ministers;

      b. amendments to the Charter shall come into force after adoption by the Committee of Ministers, and shall subsequently be transposed into the Rules of Procedure.

      10. The Congress decides to proceed with a general revision of the Rules of Procedure with a view to further simplifying, clarifying and streamlining the procedures and working methods of the Congress in line with the proposals of the Rapporteurs. The Congress therefore mandates the Bureau to appoint two co-Rapporteurs for this general revision and the secretariat to submit proposals to the Bureau following the adoption, by the Committee of Ministers, of a revised Statutory Resolution and Charter.

      11. The Congress instructs the secretariat to implement all elements of the reform as outlined in Resolution 305 (2010) and its explanatory memorandum CG(18)16 adopted by the Standing Committee on 18 June 2010 which may be applied without amendments to the Rules of Procedure and to inform the Bureau about the measures taken.

      12. The Congress adopts the Rules of Procedure of the Congress and its Chambers, as appended, which replace the Rules of Procedure of the Congress and its Chambers adopted in 2008.

      The reform of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe reform

      Recommendation 299 (2011)5 (adopted March 2011)

      1. In agreement with the other bodies of the Organisation, the Congress regards the existence of solid, effective local and regional democracy as one of the foundations of a true democratic society.

      2. It emphasises the essential role of local and regional authorities in European integration, and recalls that the Council of Europe has always fully endorsed the principle of subsidiarity.

      3. As the political assembly of the local and regional elected representatives of the 47 member states, it considers itself vested with a special responsibility in the development and the proper functioning of local and regional government in Europe.

      4. It also recalls that the Warsaw Summit in 2005 instructed “the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities [to] continue to promote local democracy and decentralisation, taking into account the internal organisation of the countries concerned, so as to reach all levels of European society”.

      5. It welcomes the decision of the Committee of Ministers to adopt the revised Charter and Statutory Resolution of the Congress, and notes the undertaking of the Ministers’ Deputies “to enhance and develop the role of local and regional authorities within the institutional structure of the Council of Europe”.

      6. In that respect, beginning in 2008, then in depth in 2009 and 2010, the Congress made an examination of its working structures and methods, in order to improve the effectiveness of its action, its impact and its transparency, and to refocus its activities on the promotion and protection of local and regional democracy in Europe.

      7. It placed this reflection in the more general context of the Council of Europe reform process undertaken in 2010 by the Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, with the backing of the Committee of Ministers.

      8. It thereby signified its resolve to found its action on the essential values championed by the Council of Europe and the priority fields of activity identified in the context of the reform, so as to build up the best possible synergy within the Organisation.

      9. It is convinced that by improving its transparency, responsiveness and effectiveness and the targeting of its activities, the Congress will be able to guarantee real consistency of its action with that of the Organisation and will represent an asset in the Council of Europe reform apparatus.

      10. The Congress recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

      a. continue giving the Congress support in its current reform process and encouragement in its new political and institutional orientations;

      b. reaffirm the specific role of the Congress and its place in the work programme and priority actions of the Organisation;

      c. consult the Congress on all questions with a local or regional dimension and avail itself more extensively and systematically of the resources, information, expertise and networks available to the Congress;

      d. carry on the dialogue established when preparing its monitoring visits and its recommendations on the situation of local and regional democracy in the member states, by means which might include holding exchanges of views on the outcomes of these visits when circumstances require; this type of exchange of views could also be held on the reports on the observation missions of local and regional elections led by the Congress;

      e. invite the member states to consider the validity of their reservations to the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the expediency of lifting them;

      f. invite states which have not yet done so to ratify the European Charter of Local Self-Government;

      g. invite states to sign the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority;

      h. invite states to sign and ratify the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities and the protocols thereto;

      i. continue assuring the Congress of appropriate means to perform its tasks and its specific role in accordance with Budgetary Recommendation 289 (2010) adopted by the Congress, under the present budgetary policy of the Council of Europe.

      The reform of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe reform

      Resolution 321 (2011)6 (adopted March 2011)

      1. Local and regional democracy is one of the fundamental pillars of the democracy whose defence and development are the mission of the Council of Europe.

      2. The Congress, as a political assembly of local and regional elected representatives, emphasises the important role of local and regional authorities in the construction and advancement of a stable Europe honouring human rights, rule of law and democracy.

      3. Considering the essential mission of the Council of Europe in this process, the Congress asserts:

      a. its resolve to contribute efficiently to the action of the Council of Europe in all fields relating to local and regional democracy;

      b. its attachment to the values of the Council of Europe of which it is an integral part;

      c. its support for the process of reform to the Organisation of the 47 undertaken by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland with the backing of the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.

      4. The Congress wishes to make an active contribution to this reform process in keeping with its fields of competence, specific functions and expertise. In 2008 it commenced, and continued in depth in 2009 and 2010, the transformation of its structures, working methods and fields of activity in order to make them more focused and further increase their efficiency and relevance.

      5. In that regard, it stresses the priority assigned since 2010 to the monitoring of local and regional democracy in the Council of Europe member states and to the observation of local and regional elections within the framework of its mission of promoting, protecting and developing local and regional democracy.

      6. It recalls that the way to European integration is also through territorial cohesion, and considers it indispensable to continue strengthening inter-regional and transfrontier co-operation and to give the neighbourhood policy its full support.

      7. It welcomes the support given by the Committee of Ministers to the reforms which it has set in motion, and the adoption by the Committee of Ministers on 19 January 2011 of the revision of its Charter and Statutory Resolution [CM/Res(2011)2], which will enable it to take its reforms forward.

        8. Accordingly, the Congress undertakes:

      a. to finalise the reforms which it commenced in 2008 and continued in 2009 and 2010;

      b. to enter into a process of constant adaptation and improvement that will enable it to enhance its fulfilment of the fundamental Council of Europe values;

      c. to embed its activities in the priority fields of action defined by the Organisation and, for that purpose, to develop selection criteria for the issues which it will address;

      d. to perform its function in accordance with the priorities of the Council of Europe, by aiding better co-ordination both in-house and with its European partners, particularly the Committee of the Regions of the European Union;

      e. to centre its activities on the pursuit of constructive dialogue between central and government and local and regional authorities so that the latter are better able to meet their citizens’ expectations and needs and to efficiently pursue multi level governance;

      f. to sustain and support local and regional authorities so that they may fully perform their specific role in European integration;

      g. to work in subjects that enable it to anticipate the future challenges with which local and regional authorities and European societies will be confronted;

      h. to contribute more to the policy action of the Council of Europe by providing the Committee of Ministers and the other bodies of the Organisation with its information and recommendations on the status and the future of local and regional democracy and by placing at their disposal its expertise, its networks and its examples of best practice in all fields of action with a local or regional dimension;

      i. to inform the Council of Europe bodies of its priorities adopted on a two-yearly basis;

      j. to develop methods of cogent evaluation of the political work of an Assembly within the political dialogue with other assemblies;

      k. to align its Rules of Procedure with the new structures and methods arising from the reform of the Congress and from the revision of its statutory texts, and make them a genuine, accessible, precise and transparent tool for the action of the Congress.

      6. Replies of the Committee of Ministers to the Congress Recommendations of October 2010 and March 2011

      Ministers’ Deputies

      CM Documents

      CM/Cong(2011)Rec290 final 21 January 20117

      __________________________

      “Reform of the Congress structure and working methods” –

      Recommendation 290 (2010) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

      (Reply adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 January 2011
      at the 1103rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)

      __________________________

      1. The Committee of Ministers has carefully considered Recommendation 290 (2010) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on “The reform of the Congress structure and working methods”. It welcomed the fact that the Congress has started its own reform process and encouraged it to continue in this direction within its mandate and budget, in particular by specifying its thematic activities in accordance with the core values of the Council of Europe and taking account of the ongoing review conducted under the leadership of the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Chaves, following the Utrecht Ministerial Conference on Local and Regional Democracy, with a view to contributing to the global reform process of the Council of Europe initiated by the Secretary General, and endorsed by the Committee itself, while striving for coherence and excluding duplication of activities within the Organisation.

      2. With this in mind, the Committee of Ministers considered favourably the recommendations laid down in paragraph 8 of Recommendation 290 (2010) and adopted a revised version of the Congress’ Statutory Resolution and of its Charter, appended to this reply (see Appendix 7 to the present volume of Decisions).

      Appendix to the reply

      Statutory Resolution CM/Res(2011)2
      relating to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
      and the revised charter appended thereto

      (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 January 2011
      at the 1103rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies
      8)

      The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 15.a and 16 of the Statute of the Council of Europe,

      Having regard to Statutory Resolution Res(94)3 relating to the setting up of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe;

      Having regard to the Statutory Resolution Res(2000)1 relating to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe;

      Having regard to Congress Recommendation 162 (2005) on the revision of the Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe;

      Considering that one of the bases of a democratic society is the existence of a solid and effective local and regional democracy in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity included in the European Charter of Local Self-Government whereby public responsibilities shall be exercised, in preference, by those authorities which are closest to the citizens, having regard to the extent and nature of the public tasks and the requirements of efficiency and economy;

      Bearing in mind that the creation of a consultative organ genuinely representing both local and regional authorities in Europe was approved in principle by the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe at the Vienna Summit;

      Having regard to the conclusions of the Warsaw Summit deciding to “pursue, in partnership with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, intergovernmental co-operation on democracy and good governance at all levels” and stating that “the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe must continue to promote local democracy and decentralisation, taking into account the internal organisation of the countries concerned, so as to reach all levels of European society”;

      Wishing to enhance and develop the role of local and regional authorities within the institutional structure of the Council of Europe;

      Considering that the provisions hereinafter set out are not inconsistent with the Statute of the Council of Europe,

      Resolves as follows:

      Article 1

      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (hereinafter referred to as the Congress) is a consultative organ composed of representatives of local and regional authorities. Its membership and functions are regulated by the present articles, by the Charter adopted by the Committee of Ministers and by the Rules of Procedure adopted by the Congress.

      Article 2

      1. The Congress, in addition to its consultative functions, furthermore undertakes activities the aims of which shall be:

      a. to ensure the participation of local and regional authorities in the implementation of the ideal of European unity, as defined in Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, as well as their representation and active involvement in the Council of Europe’s work;

      b. to submit proposals to the Committee of Ministers in order to promote local and regional democracy;

      c. to promote co-operation between local and regional authorities;

      d. to maintain, within the sphere of its responsibilities, contact with international organisations as part of the general external relations policy of the Council of Europe;

      e. to work in close co-operation, on the one hand with the national, democratic associations of local and regional authorities, and, on the other hand, with the European organisations representing local and regional authorities of the member states of the Council of Europe, and notably with the Committee of the Regions of the European Union.

      2. The Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly shall consult the Congress on issues which are likely to affect the responsibilities and essential interests of the local and/or regional authorities which the Congress represents.

      3. The Congress shall prepare on a regular basis country-by-country reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in all member states and in states which have applied to join the Council of Europe, and shall ensure, in particular, that the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government are implemented.

      4. The Congress shall also prepare reports and recommendations following the observation of local and/or regional elections.

      5. Recommendations and opinions of the Congress shall be sent as appropriate to the Parliamentary Assembly and/or the Committee of Ministers as well as to European and international organisations and institutions. Resolutions and other adopted texts which do not entail possible action by the Assembly and/or the Committee of Ministers shall be transmitted to them for their information.

      Article 3

      1. The Congress shall be composed of representatives of local or regional authorities, in conformity with Article 2.1 of the Congress Charter. Delegates shall be appointed according to the criteria and procedure established in the Charter, which will be adopted by the Committee of Ministers, each state ensuring in particular an equitable representation of its various types of local and regional authorities.

      2. Each member state shall have the right to the same number of seats in the Congress as it has in the Parliamentary Assembly. Each member state may send a number of Substitutes equal to the number of representatives appointed according to the same criteria and procedure.

      3. Representatives and substitutes shall be appointed for a period of four years and shall maintain their functions until the opening of the session following the expiration of that period, referred to as renewal session, except in cases referred to in Article 2.6 of the Charter.

      Article 4

      1. The Congress shall meet in session at least once a year. Sessions shall be held at the seat of the Council of Europe unless the Congress or its Bureau and the Committee of Ministers decide by common consent that the session should be held elsewhere.

      2. The Congress is composed of two Chambers: the Chamber of Local Authorities which represents local authorities and the Chamber of Regions which represents regional authorities. Within the limits of available resources allocated to it and considering the priorities of the Council of Europe, the Congress shall undertake its activities and may set up the following bodies: a Bureau, a Statutory Forum, committees and ad hoc working groups, which are necessary to perform its tasks. The Congress will inform the Committee of Ministers on the setting up of its committees.

      Article 5

      The number of seats in the committees will be set by the Congress in its Rules of Procedure.

      Article 6

      1. The present text replaces Statutory Resolution CM/Res(2007)6 relating to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the revised Charter appended thereto, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 May 2007 at the 994th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.

      2. The text of the Charter of the Congress appended to the current statutory resolution replaces the text of the Charter adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 May 2007 at the 994th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.

      Appendix to Statutory Resolution CM/Res(2011)2

      Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

      (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 January 2011
      at the 1103rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)

      Article 1

      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is a consultative organ composed of representatives of local and regional authorities of the member states of the Council of Europe. Its objectives are set out in Article 2 of Statutory Resolution CM/Res(2011)2 relating to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

      Article 2

      1. The Congress shall be composed of representatives of local and regional bodies who either hold a general local or regional authority mandate resulting from direct elections or are politically accountable to a directly elected assembly, on the condition that they can be individually dismissed by, or following the decision of the aforementioned assembly and that dismissal is provided for by law.

      2. The membership of each member state’s delegation to the Congress shall be such as to ensure:

      a. a balanced geographical distribution of members from the member state’s territory;

      b. equitable representation of the various types of local and regional authorities in the member state;

      c. equitable representation of the various political forces in the statutory bodies of local and regional authorities in the member state;

      d. equitable representation of women and men on the statutory bodies of local and regional authorities in the member state, meaning that all delegations must include members of both sexes with a minimum participation of at least 30% of the under-represented sex among the representatives and among the substitutes.

      3. Each member state shall have the right to the same number of seats in the Congress as it has in the Parliamentary Assembly. Each member state sends a number of substitutes equal to the number of representatives it sends. Substitutes shall be members of the Chambers in the same capacity as representatives.

      4. With regard to the Chamber of Regions, members must be from authorities placed between central government and local authorities and enjoying prerogatives either of self-organisation or of a type normally associated with the central authority and having a genuine competence to manage, on their own responsibility and in the interests of their populations, a substantial share of public affairs, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. If a country has authorities which cover a large area and exercise both local and regional responsibilities, representatives of such authorities shall also be entitled to sit in the Chamber of Regions. A list of these authorities shall be provided in the context of the national appointment procedure. Member states which do not have regional authorities within the meaning of this paragraph shall be able to send members to the Chamber of Regions and its organs in an advisory capacity. The list of these countries shall be determined by the Bureau of the Congress on the proposal of the Governance Committee of the Congress, following consultation of the national delegations.

      5. The rules and procedures governing the choice of representatives to the Congress shall also apply to substitutes.

      6. Representatives and substitutes shall be appointed for a period of four years. In the event of the death or resignation of a representative or substitute, or of loss of the mandate referred to in paragraph 1 above, a replacement shall be chosen, in accordance with the same rules and procedure, for the remainder of his or her predecessor’s mandate. A representative or substitute who has lost his or her mandate, referred to in paragraph 1 may not remain a member of the Congress for more than six months after the loss of his or her mandate. In case of local and/or regional elections taking place up to four months prior to a renewal session, the four year mandate foreseen in Article 3.3 of the Statutory Resolution may be extended for a maximum of six months after the election.

      Article 3

      1. Representatives and substitutes to the Congress shall be appointed by an official procedure specific to each member state. In particular, it shall provide for consultation in each member state of the relevant associations and/or institutional bodies and shall specify the principles to be adhered to in apportioning members in the two Chambers. Each government shall inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of this procedure. Such a procedure shall be approved by the Congress in conformity with the principles contained in its Rules of Procedure.

      2. Each member state, when notifying the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of the composition of its delegation, shall indicate those representatives and substitutes who will be members of the Chamber of Local Authorities and those who will be members of the Chamber of Regions. Each state shall appoint the same number of members to each Chamber. Countries having regions within the meaning of paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the Charter must appoint as far as possible the same number of representatives to the Chamber of Regions as to the Chamber of Local Authorities, or as close as possible a number in case of national delegations with an odd number of representatives.

      Article 4

      1. Whenever representatives and substitutes have been appointed, the Bureau shall check their credentials. Its conclusions shall be put to the vote in the Congress during sessions and in the Statutory Forum between sessions.

      2. In case a national delegation does not comply with Article 2.2 of the Charter, its members will only be able to sit in the Congress without any right to vote or reimbursement of expenses.

      3. A representative or substitute whose credentials are not ratified shall not be considered a member of the Congress and may not therefore receive allowances for attending Congress meetings.

      Article 5

      1. International associations of local and regional authorities which have participatory status with the Council of Europe shall have observer status with the Congress. Other organisations may, on request, obtain observer status with the Congress, and/or with one of its Chambers, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure.

      2. The Congress may, on request, grant special guest status to delegations from local and regional authorities in European non-member states which have such status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Bureau of the Congress shall assign to each special guest state the same number of seats as it has in the Parliamentary Assembly. The appointment of special guest delegations shall be based on the same criteria set out in Articles 2 and 3.

      3. Observers and members of the delegations mentioned in paragraph 2 shall take part in the proceedings of the Congress and of its Chambers, with the right to speak, subject to the president’s consent, but not to vote. The other conditions of their participation in the, Statutory Forum, committees and in working groups shall be laid down in the Rules of Procedure of the Congress.

      Article 6

      1. The Congress shall meet in session at least once a year. Sessions shall be held at the Council of Europe’s headquarters, unless otherwise decided, by common consent, by the Congress or its Bureau and the Committee of Ministers. Sessions of the Congress and its Chambers shall be public.

      2. The sessions of each of the two Chambers shall be held either immediately before and/or after the session of the Congress. On the proposal of the Bureau of the Congress, either Chamber may hold other sessions.

      3. The political groups of the Congress shall meet principally on the occasion of sessions and Statutory Forum meetings.

      Article 7

      1. Within the framework of the Congress, work is also organised in the two Chambers: the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. Each Chamber has at its disposal a number of seats equal to that of the Congress itself.

      2. Each Chamber shall elect its Bureau from among its representatives for a period of two years. It shall be composed of the president of the Chamber and seven vice-presidents, respecting as far as possible a fair geographical distribution among member states. No member state shall have more than one representative on the Bureau of either Chamber. The Bureaux of the Chambers may only meet on the occasion of a meeting of the Bureau of the Congress.

      Article 8

      1. The Statutory Forum shall act on behalf of the Congress between sessions. In particular, it shall adopt reports, and organise debates and hearings in accordance with the objectives of the Congress.

      2. The Statutory Forum shall be composed of the heads of all national delegations together with the members of the Congress Bureau. The Statutory Forum shall be convened, as necessary, by the president upon decision of the Bureau.

      Article 9

      1. The Bureau of the Congress is composed of the Bureaux of the Chambers plus the President of the Congress, and shall be responsible, in the period between the sessions of the Statutory Forum and the Congress, for ensuring the continuity of the Congress’s work. Presidents of the political groups and chairs of the committees will be ex officio members of the Bureau without voting rights.

      2. The Bureau shall also be responsible for the preparation of the session of the Congress, the
      co-ordination of the work of the two Chambers, in particular the distribution of questions between the two Chambers, the co-ordination of the work of the committees and of the ad hoc working groups, preparation of the budget and the balanced allocation of budgetary resources between the Congress and the two Chambers. As regards the distribution of questions, no question may be considered in both Chambers. Any matter in which both Chambers would have an interest shall be considered in the Congress. The mandate of the Bureau and its role shall be detailed in the Rules of Procedure.

      3. The Bureau of the Congress shall be presided over by the President of the Congress.

      Article 10

      1. When a question falls within the competence of the two Chambers, the Bureau of the Congress may, in exceptional cases, set up an ad hoc working group common to both Chambers.

      2. After the distribution of questions between the two Chambers and the committees in accordance with Article 9, the Bureau of the Chamber competent to deal with a question may, in exceptional cases, set up an ad hoc working group with a limited number of members empowered with specific terms of reference (preparation of reports, organisation of conferences, follow-up to co-operation projects or to specific intergovernmental activities of the Council of Europe).

      3. Organisation of the work of ad hoc working groups shall be governed by the Rules of Procedure.

      4. The Congress and its two Chambers may, in accordance with the provisions to be set out in their Rules of Procedure, consult and work with representatives of international associations of local and regional authorities mentioned in Article 5 as well as national associations of local and regional authorities involved in the process of appointing national delegations. As a general rule, the cost of participation shall be borne by such organisations or associations.

      Article 11

      1. All the recommendations and opinions to be addressed to the Committee of Ministers and/or the Parliamentary Assembly as well as the resolutions addressed to the local and regional authorities as a whole shall be adopted by the Congress in plenary sitting or by the Statutory Forum.

      2. However, when a question is considered by the Bureau of the Congress as falling exclusively within the competence of a Chamber:

      a. the recommendations and opinions relating to such questions which are addressed to the Committee of Ministers and/or to the Parliamentary Assembly shall be adopted either by the Congress or by the Statutory Forum between sessions, but without any consideration of the substance of the matter. In exceptional cases, the Bureau of the Congress may authorise the other Chamber to formulate an opinion on these draft texts;

      b. the resolutions relating to the question and which are addressed to the authorities that the Chamber represents shall be adopted either by the Congress or by the Statutory Forum between sessions, without consideration of the substance of the matter.

      Article 12

      The conditions under which the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly may be collectively represented in the debates of the Congress or of the Chambers and those under which their representatives may, in an individual capacity, speak therein shall be drawn up by the Committee of Ministers after consultation with the Congress and inserted in the Rules of Procedure of the latter.

      Article 13

      1. The Congress adopts its own Rules of Procedure which also concerns the Chambers. In particular, each set of rules shall provide for:

      a. the modalities for assessing compliance with the criteria of Article 2.2 of the Charter;

      b. a quorum;

      c. questions concerning the right to vote and the majorities required, it being understood that the recommendations and opinions addressed to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, and also recommendations addressed to a country following observation of local or regional elections, shall be adopted by a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast;

      d. the procedure for the election of the President of the Congress and the president and vice-presidents of each Chamber;

      e. the procedure for the establishment of the agenda and its transmission to members;

      f. the organisation of the work of the committees and of the ad hoc working groups.

      2. Moreover, the rules of the Congress shall provide for the time-limit and method of notification of the names of representatives and substitutes and the procedure for the examination of their credentials, by taking into account in particular Articles 2, 3 and 7 of the present Charter.

      Article 14

      1. The Congress shall elect its president from the members, who are representatives, of each Chamber on an alternating basis. The president shall remain in office for two years.

      2. Each Chamber of the Congress shall elect from among its representatives a president who shall remain in office for two years.

      Article 15

      1. The Secretariat of the Congress shall be provided by the Secretary General of the Congress, elected by the Congress. The Secretary General of the Congress shall be answerable to the Congress and its organs and act under the authority of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Candidates shall be free to submit their applications directly to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who will transmit them to the President of the Congress, together with his or her opinion. Following examination of these candidatures, the Bureau shall submit a list of candidates to the vote of the Congress. The Statutory Forum, on behalf of the Congress, shall establish the procedure for the election of the Secretary General of the Congress, in order to clarify points which are not dealt with in the current Charter.

      2. The Congress shall elect its Secretary General for a renewable term of five years, although he or she may not exceed the age limit applicable to all Council of Europe staff.

      3. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall appoint a Director, following consultation with the Bureau of the Congress.

      4. The Secretariat of each Chamber shall be provided by the Executive Secretary of the Chamber who is appointed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe after an informal exchange of views with the president of the Chamber concerned, during which he or she shall communicate his or her intentions and the reasons for his or her choice.

      Article 16

      1. The Committee of Ministers shall adopt the budget of the Congress, as part of the Ordinary Budget of the Council of Europe.

      2. This budget shall be designed, in particular, to cover the expenditure occasioned by the Congress sessions, by the meetings of the two Chambers and Congress organs, and by all other clearly identifiable expenditure linked to the activities of the Congress. For plenary sessions, only the participation costs of representatives shall be defrayed by this budget.

      3. The budget of the Congress shall constitute a specific vote of the Council of Europe budget.

      4. The Congress shall inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Committee of Ministers of its budgetary needs. Its requests shall be examined in the general context of the draft budget presented by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

      5. The rates and methods of calculating Congress members’ per diem allowances shall be subject to a specific decision by the Committee of Ministers.

      6. The budget of the Congress (apart from the remuneration of permanent staff and the amounts allocated to political groups) shall constitute a package which the Bureau of the Congress will be responsible for managing. However, the Bureau shall abide by the financial regulations of the Council of Europe and see to it that the necessary funds are earmarked for the functioning of the statutory bodies of the Congress and of the two Chambers. It may not exceed the limit of the overall budgetary provision allocated to the Congress.

      Ministers’ Deputies

      CM Documents

      CM/Cong(2011)Rec299 final        14 October 2011



      “The reform of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the Council of Europe reform”
      Recommendation 299 (2011) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

      (Reply adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 12 October 2011 at the 1123rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)



      1. On 19 January 2011, the Committee of Ministers adopted a revised version of the Statutory Resolution and Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. In so doing, the Committee was attesting its support for the reform process initiated by the Congress in order to reinforce the effectiveness of its action to promote local and regional democracy in Europe. The Committee reiterates its encouragement to pursue these reforms so as to ensure that the Congress’s activity is fully in line with the Organisation’s strategic priorities.

      2. The Committee welcomes the opportunity to co-operate closely with the Congress in addressing issues which affect the interests of local and regional authorities. It attaches great importance to the work of the Congress, which, by working towards the emergence of solid, efficient local and regional democracy in Europe, is helping to achieve the Organisation’s statutory aim.

      3. The Committee recalls that it holds regular exchanges of views with the President of the Congress, as well as with its Secretary General. These exchanges of views keep it informed of the state of preparation and results of the Congress’s sessions and help it monitor the progress of its work. Furthermore, members and representatives of the Congress directly contribute to the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental activities by participating in conferences of specialised ministers as members of or observers in various bodies or committees for which the Committee of Ministers is responsible, such as its Rapporteur Groups and steering committees, like the CDLR, the CDMC, the CDMG, the CDMS and the CDEG. Moreover, they are occasionally invited to take part in Ministers' Deputies’ meetings at rapporteur group level. For example, the President of the Congress himself attended the meeting of the Rapporteur Group on Democracy on 13 January 2011, and the Chair of the Congress Monitoring Committee took part in the meeting of the Rapporteur Group on Human Rights on 17 March 2011. Conversely, the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers participates in Congress Sessions.

      4. The Committee takes note of the Congress’s wish to further reinforce their mutual dialogue. It is open to such a reinforcement, and invites its rapporteur groups to bear this in mind whenever their work could benefit from Congress input.

      5. The Committee of Ministers encourages the member states concerned to sign and ratify the instruments mentioned in paragraphs e to h, and, where appropriate, to reconsider their reservations to these instruments.

      6. Lastly, the Committee recalls that on the occasion of its 1090th meeting (7 July 2010), it took note of Budgetary Recommendation 289 adopted by the Congress, and brought it to the attention of the governments of member states.

      7. Priorities of the Congress for 2011-2012

      19th SESSION

      Strasbourg, 26-28 October 2010

      Priorities of the Congress for 2011-2012

      Resolution 310 (2010)9

      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities,

      1. Welcoming the reform of the inter-governmental sector of the Council of Europe, initiated by Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, with the backing of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, with a view to re-focusing the Council of Europe’s activities on its fundamental values and at revitalising it as a political body and innovative organisation.

      2. Having considered Congress Resolution 304 (2010) on the Priorities of the Congress for 2011-2012.

      3. Having regard for the replies received from its members, national associations and observers, following the consultation that it carried out in July and August 2010.

      4. Adopts the priorities which are set out in the appendix to this resolution and instructs the Congress Bureau to implement them.

      APPENDIX

      Priorities of the Congress 2011-2012

      1. The Congress is the Council of Europe's assembly of local and regional representatives, a political body of territorial representatives who hold an elected mandate in their own country.

      2. Its mission is to be a watchdog for local and regional democracy in Europe, a partner of governments and a reference point for territorial democracy, notably through monitoring the European Charter of Local Self-Government, through political dialogue with the Committee of Ministers and with local, regional and national authorities of member States. It also develops special thematic work through its recommendations and resolutions.

      3. In 2011-2012 the Congress will further align its activities and strategy with the priorities of the Council of Europe, focusing its work to develop local and regional democracy in five areas, at the same time taking account of the reforms initiated by Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and supported by the Committee of Ministers. It will adapt its structures accordingly.

      4. In accordance with its revised cooperation agreement with the European Union Committee of the Regions (12 November 2009), the Congress will endeavour to translate these priorities through the Contact Group in a joint work programme with the committees of the Committee of the Regions, primarily the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX).

      I. Monitoring: a new dynamic

      5. The Congress will bring a new dynamic to its monitoring activities, making them more frequent, more regular, more systematic and more open to political dialogue, enabling the Congress to fulfil its mission as a monitoring body of the Council of Europe. These activities have to be coordinated with the other Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms, to ensure greater impact and tangible developments in member States.

      6. The cornerstone of the monitoring activities of the Congress remains the benchmark Council of Europe treaty, the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which sets standards for both local and regional democracy in the Council of Europe member States. At the same time the Congress will be widening and deepening the scope of its monitoring activities to take into account the Council of Europe Reference Framework for Regional Democracy, approved by the Ministers responsible for local and regional government in Utrecht in 2009, and Congress Resolution 296 (2010) on the role of local and regional authorities in the implementation of human rights, adopted as part of the follow-up to the Forum for the Future of Democracy's Sigtuna conference.

      II. Election observation: widening the scope

      7. The citizens' right to exercise their democratic choice in free and fair local elections is the sine qua non of democracy. It is a prerequisite to the health of local communities within a genuinely democratic society. Above all it is the first step in the political participation that is enshrined in the preamble to the European Charter of Local Self-government and its Additional Protocol on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority.

      8. An election is not just one day: it is far more than the act of voting, it includes the campaign and the complex process of enabling citizens to make an informed choice in a pluralistic political landscape. To make an accurate assessment of the conduct of the election, the whole process needs to be examined, including the political, legal and media systems. The Congress will therefore systematize its practice of conducting pre-electoral missions, to ensure a proper understanding of the context and process of elections. Cooperation will be developed with the relevant Council of Europe bodies in this respect. In carrying out its election observation mission, the Congress will continue to involve the Committee of the Regions of the European Union in developing its observation capacity. It will also continue to cooperate, when appropriate, with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR). To ensure the effectiveness of election observation, the Congress will continue to implement political follow-up to its recommendations and resolutions.

      III. Targeted post-monitoring and observation assistance

      9. To achieve real results with respect to the recommendations of its monitoring and election observation missions, the Congress will organise specific cooperation programmes with the member States concerned to address the major issues that it has highlighted as requiring attention and to increase their knowhow and capacity for local governance and election organisation.

      10. Such programmes should involve local and regional representatives, not just those of the countries concerned, but also those from other European countries who are willing to share their acquis and expertise on a peer-to-peer basis.

      11. The Congress will seek to co-finance such activities through voluntary contributions and support from the European Union and other international partners.

      IV. The new local dimension of human rights

      12. Human rights are not exclusively the concern of national authorities. The respect of human rights has to be addressed at the local level. It is a key responsibility of territorial authorities, interdependent with good local and regional governance.

      13. In accordance with its 2008 joint declaration with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Congress will work to make local and regional authorities aware of their responsibilities for the implementation of human rights. It is the role of local and regional authorities to ensure that their activities are fully compliant with Council of Europe human rights standards, such as, for instance, ensuring equal access to public services. We need to ensure that our communities are providing the same protection to all persons living in their territories.

      14. In this respect, the Congress will promote the implementation of good practices and mechanisms of mediation, such as independent local and regional ombudsmen.

      V. Streamlining thematic activities

      15. The Congress will specify its thematic activities within its statutory committees in accordance with the core values of the Council of Europe and the competence of these committees, focusing on local and regional aspects of the Council of Europe’s priorities, reflected also in the priorities of the Utrecht Agenda (17 November 2009), including promoting good governance, interregional and cross-border cooperation, social cohesion, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue.

      16. These activities will treat issues that are addressed during the monitoring activities of the Congress, notably the application of the European Charter of Local Self-government and the Reference Framework for Regional Democracy and related human rights issues, such as the full participation of all citizens in local political life and the related questions of equality of opportunity in local life and freedom of assembly and expression.

      17. In implementing these objectives, the Congress will bear in mind the need to avoid overlap and duplication of work and instead to develop synergies with other relevant Council of Europe bodies, such the European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) and the Council of Europe Centre of Expertise for Local Self-Government Reform.

      8. The budget of the Congress in 2012-2013

      STATUTORY FORUM

      Strasbourg, 17 June 2011

      The budget and resources of the Congress in 2012-2013

      Recommendation 306 (2011)10

      1. The Congress considering:

      a. the review it has carried out since 2008, of its mission, priorities, activities and working methods and the subsequent changes to its structures, carried out in the framework of the reform of the Council of Europe, focussing on the core values of the Organisation;

      b. the resulting amendments to the Congress Charter and Statutory Resolution, approved by the Committee of Ministers on 19 January 2011;

      2. Bearing in mind the request of the Secretary General that Council of Europe bodies draw-up a 2012-2013 budget lower than the current year and that the Congress has been asked to prepare a budget with an overall reduction of 0.75%;

      3. Convinced that the budget proposal presented by the Secretary General constitutes an indispensible tool to implement the objectives of the reform and priorities of the Council of Europe and the Congress, as the basis for implementing the policy choices and for achieving these objectives at local and regional level;

      4. Therefore asks the Committee of Ministers to:

      a. acknowledge the savings achieved in the past years;

      b. adopt the 2012-2013 budget of the Congress as proposed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe;

      c. encourage Member States to consider funding, by means of voluntary contributions, post-monitoring activities with regard to the monitoring by the Congress of the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, and of local and regional elections;

      d. ensure, through its dialogue with the Congress, consistency between the priorities adopted by the Congress and its budgetary allocations in order to achieve critical mass and impact;

      e. take note of the reaffirmed willingness of the Congress to co-operate in ensuring the successful reform of the Council of Europe and of the Congress itself;

      f. continue to involve the Congress fully in the discussions concerning the future of the Organisation and grant it its rightful place in this context.

      9. Press releases

      Congress Press Releases between 20 October 2010 and 12 October 2011

      Press release - CG027(2011) / 12 October 2011
      Living together in dignity, citizen participation and human rights at grassroots level as key issues of the 21st Congress Session

      Press release - CG026(2011) / 07 October 2011
      Congress delegation concludes visit to Leyla Güven

      Press release – Seminar in Albania / 28 September 2011

      Strengthening the capacities and cooperation of local elected representatives in Albania: joint seminar Congress/NALAS

      Press release - CG025(2011) / 27 September 2011
      Congress delegation to complete its first general monitoring in Germany

      Press release - CG024(2011) / 27 September 2011
      Congress starts European co-operation initiative on local and regional democracy with Tirana seminar

      Press release - CG023(2011) / 22 September 2011
      Summit of Mayors launches kick-off group for European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma inclusion

      Press release - CG022(2011) / 20 September 2011
      Summit of Mayors on Roma: over 300 participants from 34 countries

      Press release - CG021(2011) / 15 September 2011
      Congress President to meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister in Kyiv

      Press release - CG020(2011) / 09 September 2011
      Congress to monitor local and regional democracy in Moldova

      Press release - CG019(2011) / 08 September 2011
      Congress to look at test on e-voting in Norwegian municipal elections

      Press release - CG018(2011) / 01 September 2011
      Summit of Mayors on Roma: press conference in Paris on 6 September 2011

      Press release - CG017(2011) / 11 August 2011
      Keith Whitmore strongly condemns the urban violence in the United Kingdom

      Press release - CG016(2011) / 02 August 2011
      Keith Whitmore: “Remembrance of the massacre of Roma in 1944 charges us with the duty to eradicate entrenched discrimination against them”

      Press release - CG015(2011) / 21 July 2011
      Summit of Mayors on Roma to consolidate local and regional action for Roma inclusion

      Press release - CG014(2011) / 04 July 2011
      Keith Whitmore: “The detention of local elected representatives in Turkey remains a cause of grave concern”

      Press release - CG013(2011) / 04 July 2011
      Congress President Keith Whitmore meets the press in Izmir (Turkey)

      Press release - CG012(2011) / 01 July 2011
      Members of the Monitoring Committee of the Congress meet in Izmir (Turkey)

      Press release - CG011(2011) / 28 June 2011
      Yerevan, colloquy on migration, challenges for local and regional authorities in Europe

      Press release - CG010(2011) / 24 June 2011
      Congress delegation to carry out its first general monitoring visit to Germany

      Press release - CG009(2011) / 15 June 2011
      1st Statutory Forum of the Congress to discuss Mayors' Summit for Roma in Strasbourg

      Press release - CG008(2011) / 10 June 2011
      The Congress conducts a monitoring visit in Czech Republic to assess the state of local and regional democracy

      Press release - CG007(2011) / 09 June 2011
      Congress monitoring visit in Lithuania : Local self government, a subject of controversy

      Press release - CG006(2011) / 06 June 2011
      The Congress conducts a monitoring visit in Lithuania to assess the state of local and regional democracy

      Press release - CG005(2011) / 06 June 2011
      Moldova's local elections largely met international standards, but remaining legal and regulatory issues need to be considered, observers say

      Press release - CG004(2011) / 01 June 2011
      Council of Europe Congress to observe local elections in Moldova

      Press release - CG003(2011) / 16 May 2011
      Local and regional democracy at the heart of the priorities of the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers

      Press release - CG002(2011) / 16 May 2011
      Local elections in Moldova: Council of Europe Congress carries out a pre-electoral visit in Chisinau

      Press release - 424(2011) / 13 May 2011
      Monitoring report by Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities triggers debate about federalism in Austria

      Press release - 415(2011) / 10 May 2011
      Albania's local elections were competitive and transparent, but political parties acted irresponsibly, observers say

      Press release - CG001(2011) / 09 May 2011
      International election observers to present findings at press conference in Tirana on Tuesday

      Press release - 395(2011) / 03 May 2011
      Council of Europe Congress to observe local elections in Albania

      Press release - 319(2011) / 11 April 2011
      Local elections in Albania: Congress carries out a pre-electoral visit in Tirana

      Press release - 315(2011) / 08 April 2011
      The Congress to monitor local and regional democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina

      Press release - 311(2011) / 07 April 2011
      International Day of Roma - Statement by the Congress President: Keith Whitmore: “On a continent which promotes inclusion, we should be ashamed of the situation of Roma”

      Press release - 279(2011) / 30 March 2011
      The Congress conducts a monitoring visit in France to assess the state of local and regional democracy

      Press release - 266(2011) / 25 March 2011
      EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn : “Decentralisation is vital to prosperity at national and European level”

      Press release - 265(2011) / 25 March 2011
      Council of Europe Congress recommends financial strengthening of Austria's federal system

      Press release - 263(2011) / 25 March 2011
      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities adopts a report on local and regional democracy in Turkey

      Press release - 260(2011) / 24 March 2011
      Congress adopts a report on the local elections in Ukraine

      Press release - 258(2011) / 24 March 2011
      Malta launches initiative to lift reservations to the Congress Charter of Local Self-Government

      Press release - 255(2011) / 23 March 2011
      The Congress proposes measures to meet the challenge of intercultural and inter-faith conflicts at local level

      Press release - 254(2011) / 23 March 2011
      The Congress adopts a monitoring report on local and regional democracy in Romania

      Press release - 253(2011) / 23 March 2011
      Council of Europe Congress announces Summit of Mayors to address Roma issues

      Press release - 252(2011) / 23 March 2011
      20th session of the Congress: "Greater Europe needs the Congress" says Philippe Richert, French Minister responsible for local and regional authorities

      Press release - 251(2011) / 23 March 2011
      Congress President Keith Whitmore: Strong local and regional structures in the Arab world increase security in Europe

      Press release - 247(2011) / 22 March 2011
      The Congress of the Council of Europe wants to strengthen local mechanisms for promoting human rights

      Press release - 243(2011) / 22 March 2011
      Congress to hold an urgent debate on the situation in Arab countries

      Press release - 238(2011) / 21 March 2011
      20th Congress Session: Debate on Council of Europe and Congress Reform with the participation of Philippe Richert, French Minister responsible for Local and Regional Authorities

      Press release - 228(2011) / 18 March 2011
      The Council of Europe Congress to debate human rights at local level and the situation of Roma in Europe

      Press release - 202(2011) / 11 March 2011
      On the agenda of the 20th session: reform of the Council of Europe, the local dimension of human rights and the situation of Roma in Europe

      Press release - 186(2011) / 04 March 2011
      Congress President Keith Whitmore alarmed about the declaration on “socially inadaptable”

      Press release - 170(2011) / 02 March 2011
      2nd Euro-Arab Cities Forum calls for immediate cessation of crimes against humanity

      Press release - 160(2011) / 23 February 2011
      2nd Euro-Arab Cities Forum: The Council of Europe Congress addresses the role of local autonomy for the future of the Arab region

      Press release - 126(2011) / 11 February 2011
      Human rights at local level: main theme of European Local Democracy Week 2011

      Media advisory - 143(2010) / 13 December 2010
      Preparation of the 2nd Euro-Arab Cities Forum

      Media advisory - 138(2010) / 09 December 2010
      09.12.2010 Congress delegation heading for electoral assessment mission in Moldova's autonomous Gagauz region

      Press release - 901(2010) / 29 November 2010
      Congress Rapporteurs: "Bulgaria is pursuing its policy of decentralisation"

      Media advisory - 136(2010) / 26 November 2010
      Monitoring of local and regional democracy in Finland

      Media advisory - 135(2010) / 26 November 2010
      Monitoring of local and regional democracy in France

      Media advisory - 128(2010) / 23 November 2010
      Monitoring of local and regional democracy in Bulgaria

      Press release - 856(2010) / 15 November 2010
      Congress monitoring mission: Municipalities of Slovenia demand the creation of regions

      Media advisory - 121(2010) / 05 November 2010
      Monitoring of local and regional democracy in Slovenia

      Media advisory - 120(2010) / 03 November 2010
      Congress delegation on a monitoring visit to Latvia

      Press release - 816(2010) / 02 November 2010
      Congress calls on Ukraine for urgent improvement of electoral legislation

      Press release - 809(2010) / 28 October 2010
      Congress adopts two resolutions on integration of Muslim women and young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods

      Press release - 808(2010) / 28 October 2010
      Territorial democracy in Russia: Congress calls for restoring direct elections of regional governors

      Press release - 798(2010) / 28 October 2010
      Congress adopts Report on municipal elections in Georgia

      Press release - 795(2010) / 27 October 2010
      Andorra signs the European Charter of Local Self-Government

      Press release - 794(2010) / 27 October 2010
      19th Session approves Congress reform, with new priorities and changes to its structures and working methods

      Press release - 792(2010) / 27 October 2010
      Congress debates the situation of local democracy in Montenero and Estonia

      Press release - 791(2010) / 26 October 2010
      Keith Whitmore elected President of the Council of Europe Congress

      Media advisory - 118(2010) / 26 October 2010

      Council of Europe Congress to observe local elections in Ukraine

1 This II Forum is organized in the context of an initiative which began with the Euro-Arab Towns Conference ( Marrakech, October 1988) and continued with the Conference in Valencia (September 1994) and the 1st Forum (Dubai,2008).

2 2nd Global Report of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) on Decentralization and Local Democracy, which analyzes fiscal decentralization in 110 countries: http://www.cities-localgovernments.org/gold/gold_report_2.asp.

3 Debated and adopted by the Congress on 27 October 2010, 2nd sitting (see document CG(19)4, Rapporteurs : H. Skard, Norway (L, SOC) and G. Krug, Germany (R, SOC)).

4 Debated and adopted by the Congress on 27 October 2010, 2nd Sitting (see Document CG(19)5, explanatory memorandum) Rapporteurs : H. Skard, Norway (L, SOC) and G. Krug, Germany (R, SOC).

5 Debated and adopted by the Congress on 22 March 2011, 1st sitting (see document CG(20)12 explanatory memorandum), rapporteurs: K.-H. Lambertz, Belgium (R, SOC) and Anders Knape, Sweden (L, EPP/CD)).

6 Debated and adopted by the Congress on 22 March 2011, 1st sitting (see document CG(20)12 explanatory memorandum), rapporteurs: K.-H. Lambertz, Belgium (R, SOC) and A. Knape, Sweden (L, EPP/CD)).

7 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.

8 The same day, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe set out in the appendix to this resolution.

9 Debated and adopted by the Congress on 27 October 2010, 2nd Sitting (Rapporteur: I. Micallef, Malta (L, EPP/CD)).

10 Adopted by the Statutory Forum for the Congress on 17 June 2011 (see document CG(20)16, explanatory memorandum presented by:

      J.-C. Frécon, France (L, SOC) and S. Orlova, Russian Federation (R, PPE/DC) Rapporteurs).



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