CM(2001)79...(761/10.3)...Internationale Conference on "Local Democracy at the dawn of the 21st Century" (Riga, 3-4 May 2001)


Ministers' Deputies
CM Documents

CM(2001)79 6 June 2001
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761 Meeting, 18 July 2001
10
Legal questions

10.3 International Conference on “Local Democracy at the dawn of the 21st Century” (Riga, 3-4 May 2001)

Conclusions and follow-up


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The Conference on “Local Democracy at the dawn of the 21st Century” was convened in Riga by the Latvian Government and the Council of Europe as an event to mark the Latvian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The programme of the Conference appears in Appendix I. 

The Conference was attended by more than 150 participants from all over Europe, representing governments, local and regional authorities, associations of municipalities and territorial entities, and non-governmental organisations. The list of participants appears in Appendix II. 

Mr Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Indulis Berzins, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and Mr Llibert Cuatrecasas, Chairman of the CLRAE gave introductory speeches. The opening session was chaired by Mr Georgs Andrejevs, Chairman of the Ministers' Deputies. 

Two introductory reports were presented respectively by Professor Gérard Marcou and by Mr Vassil Garnizov. The two working sessions were chaired by Mr Llibert Cuatrecasas, Chairman of the CLRAE and by Mr Charles Michel, Minister of the Interior and of Civil Service of the Walloon Government.  The debates were summed up by Mr Paul Rowsell, Chairman of the CDLR and by Professor Judy Batt. 

The report on the progress achieved within the framework of the Committee of Ministers' monitoring procedure on local democracy (monitoring report) and its appendix were also made available to the Conference. 

The final session of the Conference was chaired by the Committee of Ministers' rapporteur on Local Democracy, Mr Athanassios Theodoracopoulos, with a concluding statement by the Latvian Minister for Special Assignments on Public Administration Reform, Mr Janis Krūmiņš. The Conference adopted the Conclusions which appear in Appendix III. 

The programme, the monitoring report, the introductory reports and the list of participants have been published, in both English and French, on the “Local democracy” internet site (www.local.coe.int). The introductory speeches of Mr Schwimmer and Mr Cuatrecasas have been published in the original language version. 

The Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) was involved in the organisation of the conference. Many of its members took part in this conference. Therefore, the CDLR will examine, at its next meeting (13-15 June 2001), the results of the conference and might take a stand on its follow-up. The Committee of Ministers could officially invite the CDLR to take account of the conclusions of the Riga Conference in the definition of its future work. 

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) was also associated to the organisation of the conference. The Committee of Ministers could decide to send the conclusions of the Conference to the CLRAE for information.

 

Appendix I 

Programme 

3 May

 

8.30 – 9.30                                          Registration 

9.30 – 10.15

Opening session

 

Chair:

Mr Georgs AndrejevsAmbassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Latvia to the Council of Europe

 

Speakers:

Mr Indulis Bērziņš - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia

Mr Walter Schwimmer – Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Mr Llibert Cuatrecasas – President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), Council of Europe

 

10.15 – 11.00

Press conference and coffee-break

 

11.00 – 12.30

First working session

Title: "Local democracy in Europe today: how is it working, where is it going?"

 

Chair:

Mr Llibert Cuatrecasas, President of the CLRAE, Council of Europe

 

Introductory report by:

 

Panelists:

 

Professor Gérard Marcou, University Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne (France)

Mr Aigars Krūms, University of Latvia

Mr Jean-Claude Frécon, Vice-President of the Institutional Committee, Chamber of Local Authorities, CLRAE (Council of Europe), Mayor of Pouilly-les-Feurs (France)

Mr Rudolf Kusche, Regierungsdirektor, Federal Ministry of the Interior (Germany), former Chairman of the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (Council of Europe)

Discussions

 

12.30 – 14.00

Lunch

 

 

14.00 – 17.00

 

First working session (continued)       (Coffee-break 15.30 – 16.00)

 

Chair:

Mr Andris Jaunsleinis, Chairman of the Union of Local and Regional Governments of Latvia

 

Panelists:

Mr Alain Chénard, Past President of the CLRAE (Council of Europe)

Mr Knud Andersen, Former Chairman of the Baltic Sea States Sub-regional Co-operation Committee  

Professor Jean-Marie Woehrling, Rapporteur of the Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government, CLRAE (Council of Europe)

Mr Vitali Pashentsev, Mayor of Krasnoarmeisk (Russian Federation) 

Discussions

 

Summing-up by:

Mr Paul Rowsell, Chairman of the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (Council of Europe), Head of Local Government Sponsorship Division, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (United Kingdom)

 

19.00

Reception hosted by Mr Jānis Krūmiņš, Minister for Special Assignments on Public Administration Reform

 

4 May 

9.00 – 12.30

Second working session     (Coffee-break 10.30 – 11.00)

 

 

 

Title: "Local democracy at the dawn of the 21st century: expectations, challenges and responses"

 

Chair:

Mr Charles Michel, Minister of Internal Affairs and Public Service of the Walloon Government (Belgium)

 

Introductory remarks by:

M. Vassil Garnizov, Deputy Minister for Regional Development and Public Works (Bulgaria)

 

Panelists:

 

 

 

 

 

   

 Summing-up by:

Mr Andris Jaunsleinis, Chairman of the Union of Local and Regional Governments of Latvia

Ms Kaija Gertnere, Director of the Non Governmental Organisations Centre (Latvia)

Mrs Greta Billing, Deputy Director General, Department of Local Government, The Royal Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (Norway)

Mr Kristof Zoltan Varga, Project Manager of LOGIN (Local Government Information Network)

Mr Graham Shaw, Director, The Centre for Diversity and Business

 

Discussions  

Professor Judy Batt, University of Birmingham (United Kingdom)

 

13.00 – 13.30

Chair:

 

 

 

 

14.00

Final session

Mr Athanassios Theodoracopoulos, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Greece to the Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers' Rapporteur on Local Democracy

Concluding remarks and presentation of a policy statement on behalf of the Conference by Mr Jānis Krūmiņš, Minister for Special Assignments on Public Administration Reform (Latvia)

 

Lunch   

   

 

Appendix II  

International Conference on

local democracy at the dawn of the 21st century”

(Riga, 3-4 May 2001)

 

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS  

I.                   MEMBER STATES / ETATS MEMBRES  

ARMENIA / ARMENIE  

Mr Vache TERTERYAN, Deputy Minister for Coordination of Territorial Administration and Urban Development of the Republic of Armenia, YEREVAN  

Ms Anahit AGHABALIAN, Legal expert of the GTZ Project “Promotion of Local Authorities”, YEREVAN  

AZERBAIJAN / AZERBAÏDJAN  

Mr Radim ABASOV, Parliament, BAKU  

BELGIUM / BELGIQUE  

M. Charles MICHEL, Ministre des Affaires intérieures et de la Fonction publique du Gouvernement Wallon, JAMBES  

Mme Annick NOEL, Chef de Cabinet, Ministère des Affaires intérieures et de la Fonction publique du Gouvernement Wallon, JAMBES  

Mme Marie-Pierre DEGHAYE, Attachée de presse  

M. Evert VAN WALLE, Directeur, Ministerie Vlaamse Gemeenschap, BRUSSEL  

M. Rudy JANSSEN, Directeur adjoint, Administration des Affaires intérieures de la Région flamande de Belgique, Ministère de la Flandre,  Département des Affaires juridiques et des Elections, BRUSSEL  

BULGARIA / BULGARIE  

M. Vassil GARNIZOV, Vice-ministre du développement régional et des travaux publics, SOFIA  

CROATIA / CROATIE  

Mr Teodor ANTIĆ, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Justice, Administration and Local Self-Government, ZAGREB  

CYPRUS / CHYPRE  

Mr Christodoulos CHRISTODOULOU, Minister of the Interior, NICOSIA  

Mr Kyriacos TRIANTAPHYLLIDES, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, NICOSIA

CZECH REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE  

Mr Jiří MAREK, Director of the Department for Public Administration Reform, PRAGUE  

Mrs Marie WIDEMANNOVÁ, Ministry of Regional Development, Section of Regional Policy and European Integration, PRAGUE  

DENMARK / DANEMARK  

Mr Thorkil JUUL, Deputy Permanent Under-Secretary, Ministry of the Interior, COPENHAGEN  

Mr Paul SCHÜDER, Head of Division, Ministry of the Interior, COPENHAGEN  

Mr Jann LARSEN, Legal Counsellor, Ministry of the Interior, COPENHAGEN  

Mr Knud ANDERSEN, Former Chairman of the Baltic Sea Sub-regional Co-operation Committee  

Mr Holger PYNDT, Head of International Consultancy Department of National Association of Local Authorities  

ESTONIA / ESTONIE  

Mr Toivo ASSMER, Minister of Regional Affairs, TALLINN

 

Mr Deiw RAHUMÄGI, Deputy Secretary General for Regional Development and Local Government, Ministry of Internal Affairs, TALLINN

 

Mrs Krista KAMPUS, Adviser, Local Government Department, Ministry of Internal Affairs, TALLINN

 

Mr Tony ASU, Assistant Minister, TALLINN  

FINLAND / FINLANDE  

Mr Pekka KILPI, Director General, Ministry of the Interior, HELSINKI  

Mrs Cay SEVÓN, Director General, Ministry of the Interior, HELSINKI  

FRANCE  

M. Marc-René BAYLE, Chargé de mission pour les questions européennes, Direction Générale des collectivités locales, Ministère de l'Intérieur, PARIS  

Professeur Gérard MARCOU, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, PARIS  

GEORGIA / GEORGIE  

M. Badri KHATIDZE, Chef du Service de Politique et de Gestion Régionale du Président de la Géorgie, TBILISSI  

GERMANY / ALLEMAGNE  

Mr Rudolf KUSCHE, Regierungsdirektor, Federal Ministry of the Interior, BERLIN  

HUNGARY / HONGRIE  

M. Pal KARA, Deputy Secretary of State in charge of the Municipalities, Ministry of the Interior, BUDAPEST  

Mrs Valeria FORGACH-OROSZ, Chief Adviser, Ministry of the Interior, BUDAPEST  

Mr Kristof Zoltan VARGA, Project Manager, Local Government Information Network (LOGIN), BUDAPEST  

IRELAND / IRLANDE  

Mr Robert MOLLOY, Minister of State, Department of the Environment and Local Government, DUBLIN  

 

Mr John CULLEN, Senior Official, Department of the Environment and Local Government, DUBLIN

 

Ms Mary LANE, Private Secretary to Mr Molloy, Department of the Environment and Local Government, DUBLIN  

LATVIA / LETTONIE  

Mr Indulis BĒRZIŅŠ, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, RIGA  

Mr Janis KRŪMIŅŠ, Minister for Special Assignments on Public Administration Reform, RIGA  

Mr Aigars KRUMS, University of Latvia, RIGA  

Mr Andris JAUNSLEINIS, Chairman of the Union of Local and Regional Governments of Latvia, RIGA  

Ms Kaija GERTNERE, Director of the Non-Governmental Organisations Centre, RIGA  

*  

Mr Ruško Jānis, Head of Secretariat of Minister for Special Assignment on Public Administration Reform  

Mr Kalviņš Jānis, Advisor of the Minister for Special Assignment on Public Administration Reform  

Mr Bariss Voldemārs, Assistant of the Minister for Special Assignment on Public Administration Reform  

Ms Začesta Ligita, Union of Local and Regional Government

Mr Pūķis Māris, Union of Local and Regional Government  

Mr Teikmanis Jānis, Union of Cities  

Ms Purgale Cilda, Union of Parishes  

Mrs Eglīte Vita, Press  

Mrs Zeikate Signe, Ministry of Finance  

Mr Kalniņš Ivars, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mrs Fridenberga Fatma, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mr Pīlēģis Arvīds, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mr Kaļass Ervīns, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mrs Čakša Arta, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mr Krūms Andris, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Ms Krūkle Ilze, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mr Zass Reinis, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Ms  Koteļņikova Irēna, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Ms Plūme Sarmīte, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mrs Smirnova  Jolanta, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs

Ms Vilnīte Astra, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Ms Muzikante Dzintra, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Ms Smirnova Valda, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mr Stucka Artis, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mrs Benga Iveta, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Mrs Peka Zanda, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Ms Jurča Veronika, Administration of Local Self-Government Affairs  

Ms Sproģe Sniedze, Union of Local and Regional Government  

Ms Damkevica Dace, Union of Local and Regional Government  

Mr Laicāns Gunārs, Union of Local and Regional Government  

Mr Lielmežs Aleksandrs, Union of Local and Regional Government  

Ms Peipiņa Ivita, Union of Local and Regional Government  

Mr Baļcūns Andrejs, Union of Local and Regional Government  

Mr Klišāns Māris, Ministry of Foreign Affairs  

Mr Rāviņš Andris, Chairman of Jelgava City Council  

Mr Urbanovičs Dainis, Chairman of Jūrmala City Council  

Ms Augustovska Olita, Advisor to the Chairman of Liepāja City Council  

Mr Okmans Aivars, Chairman of Bauska Region Council  

Ms Merca Rita, Executive Director of Cēsu Region Council  

Mr Bergmanis Tālvaldis, Chairman of Kuldīga Region Council  

Mr Ekšteins Modris, Chairman of Liepāja Region Council  

Mr Rubezis Ziedonis, Deputy Chairman of Limbaži Region Council  

Mr Spīla Voldemārs, Deputy Chairman of Ludza Region Council  

Mr Rozenbergs Aivars, Deputy Chairman of Madona Region Council  

Ms Staķe Dagnija, Chairman of Tukuma Region Council  

Mr Krastiņš Māris, Ministry of Education  

Mr Krūmiņs Agris, State treassury  

Mr Gercāns Visvaldis, Chairman of Livāni County Council  

Mr Bojārs Mārtinš, Deputy Chairman of Riga Region Council  

Mr Krūmiņs Gatis  

Mr Bērziņs Roberts  

Mr Valters Mārtinš  

LITHUANIA / LITUANIE  

Mr Eugenijus CHLEVICKAS, Vice-Minister of the Interior, VILNIUS  

Mr Paulius SKARDZIUS, Director of the Local Self Government Development Department, Ministry of the Interior, VILNIUS  

Mr Mindaugas STANKEVICIUS, VILNIUS  

MALTA / MALTE  

Mr Victor J. RIZZO, Director, Local Councils Department, Ministry for Justice and Local Government, VALLETTA  

Mr Emanuel DELIA, Policy Co-ordinator, Ministry for Justice and Local Government, VALLETTA  

NORWAY / NORVEGE  

Mr Steinar PEDERSEN, State Secretary, The Royal Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, OSLO  

Mr Ulf SAND, Secretary General, The Royal Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, OSLO  

Mrs Greta BILLING, Deputy Director General, Department of Local Government, The Royal Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, OSLO  

RUSSIAN FEDERATION / FEDERATION DE RUSSIE  

Mr Vitali CHIPOV, Secretary of the Congress of Municipalities of the Russian Federation, MOSCOW  

Mrs Emilia SIDOROVA, Chief Specialist of the Department of International relations, Congress of Municipalities of the Russian Federation, MOSCOW  

Mr Vitali PASHENTSEV, Mayor of Krasnoarmeisk, KRASNOARMEISK  

SLOVAK REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE SLOVAQUE  

Mr Ivan BUDIAK, State Secretary, Ministry of the Interior, BRATISLAVA  

Mr František PAULINY, Governmental Adviser, Organisational and International Co-operation Department, Public Administration Section, Ministry of the Interior, BRATISLAVA  

SLOVENIA / SLOVENIE  

Mrs Astrid PRASNIKAR, State Secretary, LJUBLJANA  

Dr Stane VLAJ, Adviser to the Government, Government Office for Local Self-Government, LJUBLJANA  

SPAIN / ESPAGNE  

M. José Manuel RODRIGUEZ ALVAREZ, Sous-Directeur Général adjoint de la coopération et du régime juridique local, Direction Générale pour l'Administration locale, Ministère des Administrations Publiques, MADRID  

SWEDEN / SUEDE  

Mrs Barbro ROSENSVÄRD, Director, Division for Local Government Affairs, Ministry of Justice, STOCKHOLM  

Ms Eva BJURMAN, Legal Adviser, Division for Local Government Affairs, Ministry of Justice, STOCKHOLM  

Mr Per Olov BLOM, Swedish Federation of County Councils (SFCC), STOCKHOLM  

SWITZERLAND / SUISSE  

Dr Paul HUBER, Conseiller d'Etat du Canton de Lucerne, Département de la Justice, Représentant de la Conférence des gouvernements cantonaux (CdC), LUCERNE  

M. Fabrizio TASCHETTA, Chef de section adjoint, Section des frontières et droit de voisinage, Direction du droit international public, Département fédéral des affaires étrangères, BERNE  

Mme Danièle MALAGUERRA, Section Fédéralisme, Division principale du droit public, Office fédéral de la justice, Département fédéral de justice et police, BERNE  

“THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA” / “L'EX-REPUBLIQUE YOUGOSLAVE DE MACEDOINE”  

Mr Betim BAKALI, Head of Department, Ministry for Local Self-Government, SKOPJE  

Ms Mihaela STOJKOSKA, Adviser to the Minister for Local Self-Government, SKOPJE  

TURKEY / TURQUIE  

Mr Kadir Akin GOZEL, Head of Local Administration Department, Ministry of the Interior, ANKARA  

UNITED KINGDOM / ROYAUME-UNI  

Mr Paul ROWSELL, Head of Local Government Sponsorship Division, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, LONDON  

Mr John HAWARD, Local Government Modernisation Division, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, LONDON  

Mr Clive KINGMAN, Policy Adviser, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, LONDON  

Mr Stephen NASH, Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Latvia, RIGA  

Professor Judy BATT, University of Birmingham, BIRMINGHAM  

Mr Graham SHAW, Director, Centre for Diversity and Business  

II.            OBSERVERS AND OTHER PARTICIPANTS / OBSERVATEURS ET AUTRES PARTICIPANTS  

HOLY SEE / SAINT-SIEGE  

Maître Marc LEYENBERGER, Avocat au Barreau de Strasbourg, STRASBOURG  

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA / REPUBLIQUE FEDERALE DE YOUGOSLAVIE  

Mr Dragan MARKOVIC, Minister Assistant, Ministry of Justice, Republic of Serbia, BELGRADE  

Mr Slobodan KAITOVICH, Member of the Standing Conference of towns and municipalities of Yugoslavia, Mayor of Loznica, LOZNICA  

Mr Zoran ALIMPIC, Member of the Standing Conference of towns and municipalities of Yugoslavia, Mayor of Cukarica, BELGRADE  

ASSEMBLY OF EUROPEAN REGIONS / ASSEMBLEE DES REGIONS D'EUROPE  

Dr Paul HUBER, Conseiller d'Etat du Canton de Lucerne, Département de la Justice, Représentant de la Conférence des gouvernements cantonaux (CdC), LUZERNE  

III.            COUNCIL OF EUROPE / CONSEIL DE L'EUROPE  

Mr Walter SCHWIMMER -  Secretary General / Secrétaire Général  

Committee of Ministers / Comité des Ministres  

Mr Georgs ANDREJEVS, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the Council of Europe, Chairman of the Ministers' Deputies  

Mr Athanassios THEODORACOPOULOS, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Greece to the Council of Europe, STRASBOURG  

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) / Congrès des Pouvoirs Locaux et Regionaux de l'Europe (CPLRE)  

M. Llibert CUATRECASAS, Président du Congrès des Pouvoirs Locaux et Régionaux de l'Europe, Secrétaire Général aux Affaires européennes du Gouvernement de la Catalogne, Generalitat de Catalunya, BARCELONA  

M. Claude CASAGRANDE, Vice-Président du CPLRE, Conseiller Municipal, ETRECHY  

M. Alain CHENARD, Past Président du CPLRE, NANTES  

M. Jean-Claude FRECON, Vice-Président de la Commission Institutionnelle de la Chambre de pouvoirs locaux du CPLRE, Maire de Pouilly-les-Feurs, POUILLY-LES-FEURS  

M. Gianfranco MARTINI, Membre de la Chambre des pouvoirs locaux, CPLRE,  Responsabile per le relazione con l'UE e il Consiglio d'Europa, AICCRE, ROME  

Dr Ian MICALLEF, President, Local Councils Association of Malta, GZIRA  

M. Yavuz MILDON, Vice-Président du CPLRE, Conseil départemental de Canakkale Centre, GELIBOLU  

Baron Berend Jan VAN VOORST TOT VOORST, Vice-President of the CLRAE, Governor of the Province of Limburg, MAASTRICHT  

M. Jean-Marie WOEHRLING, Rapporteur du  Groupe d'experts indépendants sur la Charte européenne de l'autonomie locale, CPLRE, STRASBOURG  

SECRETARIAT  

Private Office of the Secretary General / Cabinet du Secrétaire Général  

Mrs Renate ZIKMUND, Press Secretary / Conseillère de Presse  

Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers / Secrétariat du Comité des Ministres  

M. Denis HUBER, Administrative officer / Administrateur  

Directorate of Political advice and co-operation, Directorate General of Political Affairs / Direction du Conseil politique et de coopération, Direction Générale des Affaires politiques  

Ms Inkeri AARNIO-LWOFF, Programme Adviser / Conseiller de Programme  

Directorate of Co-operation for Local and Regional Democracy, Directorate General I – Legal Affairs / Direction de la coopération pour la démocratie locale et régionale, Direction Générale I– Affaires juridiques  

Mr Philip BLAIR – Director / Directeur  

Mr Alfonso ZARDI – Head of the Department of Local Government and Transfrontier Co-operation / Chef du Service de la démocratie locale et de la coopération transfrontalière  

Mr Daniel POPESCU – Administrative officer / Administrateur  

Mrs Karen CAFFREY – Administrative Assistant / Assistante administrative  

Mme Isabelle ETTER – Administrative Assistant / Assistante administrative  

Secretariat of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe / Secrétariat du Congrès des pouvoirs locaux et régionaux de l'Europe 

M. Rinaldo LOCATELLI, Chef du Secrétariat du Congrès / Head of the Congress Secretariat  

M. Riccardo PRIORE, Secrétaire de la Commission Institutionnelle / Secretary of the Institutional Committee  

*

* * *

 

Interpreters / Interprètes 

Mlle Angela M. BREWER, F - STRASBOURG  

Ms Vallija BROKA, LV - RIGA  

Mlle Rebecca EDGINGTON, F - STRASBOURG  

Mlle Birgit ERICHSEN, DK - VANLOESE  

M. Rino (Guerrino) GELMI, SF - VANTAA  

M. Georg KIENINGER, SF  - HELSINKI  

Ms Biruta LASMANE, LV - RIGA  

Mme Galina LINDQUIST, S - TÄBY  

M. Alexei REPIN, SF - HELSINKI  

Mme Elisabeth SCHEIBLER, DK - RUNGSTEN KYST


Appendix III  

4 May 2001

CIR (2001) 4

Conclusions of the

International conference on “Local democracy at the dawn of the 21st Century”

Riga, 3-4 May 2001 

 

 

Introduction  

1.         The Conference on “Local Democracy at the dawn of the 21st Century” was convened in Riga by the Latvian Government and the Council of Europe as an event to mark the Latvian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It was attended by more than 150 participants from all over Europe, representing governments, local and regional authorities, associations of municipalities and territorial entities, and non-governmental organisations. 

2.         The participants expressed their appreciation to the Latvian government and the Council of Europe for organising this event that provided a welcome opportunity to take stock of the state of local democracy in Europe today and to examine how it could develop in the decades to come. 

3.         The reports presented by Professor Gérard Marcou (France) and Deputy-Minister Vassil Garnizov (Bulgaria) provided the background for a thorough examination of current strengths and weaknesses of local democracy in Europe and the perspectives for promoting and strengthening democracy at local level.  The participants also noted with interest the progress achieved within the framework of the monitoring procedure on local democracy as set out in the documents prepared for the Committee of Ministers, which had been made available to the conference.  An important contribution was also made by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.  

4.         After two days of intense and lively discussions, the conference adopted the following conclusions. 

Local Democracy in Europe Today  

5.         At the dawn of the 21st century, local democracy – be it at the municipal, intermediate or regional level – is one of the constituent elements of the democratic states of Europe. It is one feature that, alongside the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and pluralist democracy, characterises the nations of Europe united under the Council of Europe's “single roof”. Its basic tenets are enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which belongs to the “hard core” of the basic values the Council of Europe stands for and which a significant (and increasing) number of states have also accepted as legally binding.   

6.            Effective democratic government at all levels is the key to peace and security, to sustainable economic growth and to quality of life for the citizens. 

7.         In the last ten years of the 20th century, local democracy has made great progress in Europe, blossoming again in those Central and Eastern European countries that had to endure decades of totalitarian regimes characterised by instrumentalised and non-autonomous local government. 

8.         Yet the pursuit of local democracy has no final destination, but is a continuing dynamic process responding to the ever changing circumstances of today's world.  In many European countries, reforms have been or are being introduced both to tackle current weaknesses and to meet the challenges of change: institutions are being adapted or new ones set up; new powers are being given to local authorities and their links with citizens are being strengthened. 

9.         These changes point to the vitality of democracy and are welcome. Yet they should not hide the fact that the implementation of the basic principles of local self-government is still incomplete in many European countries.  A number of anomalies need to be corrected: 

- States should not delegate tasks to municipalities and local authorities without providing them with the means necessary 

for their fulfilment, otherwise the ordinary budget and resources of the municipalities and territorial entities would be 

absorbed by these tasks and their autonomous functions would be neglected;   

 

- States should provide a legal framework designed to deliver efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities, and limit 

their controls over local authorities' decisions to the lawfulness of the acts adopted and not their appropriateness, 

otherwise local autonomy would be violated; sanctions against the mayors and municipal councils should be exceptional 

and restricted to cases of serious breach of law; they should not be used as a substitute for proper administrative or legal 

proceedings against the councils' deliberations;   

 

- States should allow for an adequate part of local authorities' resources to derive from local taxes, without unduly 

“capping” them. 

10.            Furthermore, some countries are experiencing a disturbing decline in citizens' interest in local affairs and participation in local elections.

11.       This points to the need for a local democracy that is based on the principles of accountability, transparency and effectiveness, to recognise that institutions exist not for themselves but for the citizens they serve.  To achieve this, it is important: 

- that participation is encouraged through better information and involvement of citizens and lawfully resident foreigners, through consultation procedures, associations, political action, etc. 

- that local elected representatives and authorities' employees conform to the highest ethical standards and that the fight against corruption is carried out effectively; 

- that the resources available to local authorities to perform their tasks are commensurate with their needs; 

- that an appropriate balance is struck between the need for local government units to be of a size capable of delivering services effectively and respect for the citizens' sense of belonging to the local community; 

- that, when the reshaping of boundaries, merging of territorial authorities or creation of new ones is deemed necessary, appropriate consultations should be conducted with the local authorities and the populations concerned;  

- that the appropriate dialogue is instituted and maintained between all tiers of government – national, regional, local – including with local authorities' associations, whose existence and freedom of action in the interest of their members should be ensured.   

Local Democracy in Europe Tomorrow  

12.            Nobody can predict what form the future will take.  However, some trends are already recognizable: the globalisation of the economy, new dynamic trends in employment patterns, new technologies and e-government, including the development of the “internet” as a means of obtaining instant access to information. These trends can also have repercussions on local democracy, affecting the ways in which people take part in the public debate and in the political decision-making process, making local administration more open and transparent.  At the same time, local democracy will need to adjust to the challenge of managing highly mobile, individualistic societies and culturally diverse communities. 

13.       The conference considers that e-government constitutes both a major opportunity and a challenge.  The opportunity is of greater access for all to public service and to the governance of their local communities.  The challenge is that of the digital divide.   

14.       It is important, however, that municipalities should continue to be places where citizen participation, physical access to the political bodies and various forms of cultural and linguistic diversity can be exercised directly; citizens should have the feeling of belonging to a genuine local community.

15.       The conference recognises the continuing trend of regionalisation.  It welcomes the new dynamism and the sense of community that this can foster, while emphasising that the purpose of regionalisation is not to give regions a right of veto or a right to separate from the State. 

Recommendations and Conclusions  

16.       The conference invites the Council of Europe and its Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe to pay attention to the above-mentioned conclusions and in particular: 

- to the problem of local financial autonomy given the requirements of macro-economic management and the need to 

ensure comparable spending capacity as between local authorities;

 

- to the issues of supervision of decisions and acts adopted by local authorities, controls over elected representatives, the 

fight against corruption at local level, and the status of local elected representatives and local officials;

 

- to balancing the tension between local autonomy and expectation of citizens for an equality of service standard across 

the state;

 

- to the relevance of e-government for local democracy and its implications for citizen participation, for transparency and 

effectiveness in managing local budgets, for the accountability of local elected representatives, and for service delivery;

 

- to the balance between the size of the territorial authorities and the effectiveness of their action, including the question of

the introduction of new forms of inter-territorial co-operation or the creation of new territorial entities, such as the regions,

and their impact on the quality of local democracy; 

and to provide legislative assistance to the countries that are engaged in local government reform and which so request. 

17.       The conference considers that among the factors that will affect the evolution of local democracy in Europe in the forthcoming years and decades will be the enlargement of the European Union. It therefore recommends the Council of Europe to study the implications of that enlargement for sub-state levels of democracy and decentralised co-operation across national borders. 

18.       Finally, the conference, having heard testimonies of the current situation of local democracy in the states of south-eastern Europe, and in particular the countries included in the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, urges the Council of Europe to step up its action in the field of local democracy and transfrontier co-operation, under Working Table I, and invites the governments of member states, as well as other international governmental and non-governmental organisations concerned, to support this action.  

19.       The conference congratulates the Government of Latvia on the excellent organisation of this event and invites the Latvian presidency to convey these conclusions to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, trusting that they will be duly taken into consideration and will prompt appropriate action.



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