Ministers’ Deputies
      CM Documents

      CM(2005)199 22 December 20051
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      953 Meeting, 18 January 2006
      10 Legal questions


      10.2 Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) –

      Abridged report of the 36th meeting (Strasbourg, 14-16 November 2005)

      Item to be prepared by the GR-J at its meeting of 10 January 2006
      ——————————————

      1. Opening of the meeting

      The meeting was opened by Mrs Greta BILLING (Norway), Chair of the CDLR, who welcomed the participants.2

      2. Adoption of the agenda

      The agenda as adopted appears at Appendix 1.

      3. Bureau of the CDLR

      The Committee took note of the report of the Bureau meeting of 28 September 2005. The Committee was informed that, further to the request the Bureau had made to the Committee of Ministers on its behalf, the Committee of Ministers noted that the CDLR has asked to be associated with any work the Committee of Ministers might decide to undertake in respect of a new recommendation on referendums. The Committee of Ministers will keep this request in mind. In the meantime, it invited the Venice Commission, in the framework of the Council for Democratic Elections, to involve the CDLR with its work as appropriate.

      The CDLR also noted that the next meeting between the Bureau of the Congress and the Bureau of the CDLR is scheduled for 10 February 2006.

      4. Decisions taken by the Committee of Ministers concerning the CDLR

      The Committee took note of the relevant decisions adopted by the Ministers' Deputies at their recent meetings as they are set out in document CDLR (2005) 28. In particular the CDLR took note of the message from the Committee of Ministers to the committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation at the Council of Europe (CM(2005)145 revised) and reiterated its commitment to the implementation of the Budapest Agenda for Delivering Good Local and Regional Governance endorsed by the Third Summit.

Furthermore the CDLR, pursuant to requests from the Committee of Ministers adopted comments on:

      - Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1714 (2005) on the Abolition of restrictions on the right to vote which appear at Appendix 2 and authorised the Secretariat to make these comments available to the GR-J before the examination of the CDLR meeting report by the Committee of Ministers;
      - Congress Recommendation 162 (2005) on the revision of the Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe which appear at Appendix 3;
      - Congress Recommendation 164(2005) on local and regional democracy in Denmark which appear at Appendix 4;
      - Congress Recommendation 167 (2005) on the 5th Forum of cities and Regions of South-East Europe (Budva, Serbia and Montenegro, 11-12 October 2004) which appear at Appendix 5;
      - Congress Recommendation 170(2005) on inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue: initiatives and responsibilities of local authorities which appear at Appendix 6.

      As concerns Congress Recommendation 162 (2005) on the revision of the Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the CDLR adopted its comments following presentations by and in the presence of Ambassador Shpëtim ÇAUSHI, Permanent Representative of Albania, Committee of Ministers Rapporteur on Local and Regional Co-operation (RAP-LARC) and representatives of the Congress, headed by Mr Halvdan SKARD (Norway), Vice-President of the Congress. Their presentations appear as Appendices 7 and 8 respectively.

      Finally, pursuant to a request from the Venice Commission, the CDLR reviewed and endorsed the comments prepared by the Bureau of the CDLR on the proposals by the Venice Commission to amend its Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters dealing with electoral equality and decided to inform the Venice Commission accordingly. The comments appear at Appendix 9.

      5. Information on the work of other Council of Europe bodies

      The Committee took note of the information provided on the work of other Council of Europe bodies set out in document CDLR (2005) 29.

      6. Follow-up to the Warsaw Summit

      The CDLR took note of the information provided on the possible establishment of a Centre of Expertise on Local Government Reform as part of the follow-up to the Warsaw Summit.

      The CDLR, whilst noting that at this stage it had not been requested formally to give an opinion on the matter, expressed its full support for the establishment of the Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform as set out in document CM-SUIV3(2005)14. It considers that this Centre can make a most valuable contribution to ensuring that the relevant results of the inter-governmental work have a real impact on the ground. The CDLR therefore welcomes that, according to the proposal, it will be represented on the Advisory Board. The CDLR further expressed the wish that it will be kept abreast of developments concerning the Centre and its work. In particular, it asks to be provided with the annual reports and to be invited to express its views on them.

      The Chair of the CDLR informed the Committee of the results of the Forum on the Future of Democracy, devoted to civic participation, held in Warsaw on 3-4 November 2005. She had addressed the Forum as Head of the Norwegian delegation but had used that opportunity also to provide information about the ongoing work of the CDLR in the field of democratic participation.

      Following proposals from a number of delegations, the CDLR agreed to inform the Committee of Ministers of its views on the Forum, in particular:

      - that the Warsaw event was to be seen as a valuable kick-off event but not as a precedent for the organisation of future events;
      - that the concept of the Forum is to be centred around the idea of bringing together practitioners and experts and should not involve persons merely on grounds of status;
      - that by its nature the Forum should be considered as a process, not (just) a (series of) meeting(s);
      - that the Forum is about democracy at all levels and that local and regional democracy is an essential part of it.

The CDLR also touched upon the follow-up to the Third Summit that consists of arriving at a memorandum of understanding between the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe. The UK delegation informed the Committee that a first draft had been prepared by the United Kingdom and was currently circulating in EU member States. It expected the Portuguese Chair of the Committee of Ministers would be circulating it to other Council of Europe member States. As a memorandum of understanding between the EU and the Council of Europe would have to include the area of local and regional democracy, the Committee decided to request the Committee Ministers to keep it fully informed of the preparation process and to involve it in the consideration of any aspect that would have a bearing on the matter of local and regional democracy.

      7. Implementation of the programme of activities for 2005-2007

      The Committee took note of the overview of (proposed) activities further to the Budapest Agenda.

      It noted in particular that the LR-CT committee had elected to its chair for a third term Mr Auke VAN DER GOOT (The Netherlands) and that this would constitute an exception to the rule limiting to two years the chairman’s term of office. The CDLR urged the Committee of Ministers to grant a derogation to article 17.f of Appendix II to Resolution (76)3.

      The CDLR reviewed the modalities of implementation of the proposed activities for each area of work when discussing the area concerned (see below).

      7.1 Activities on democratic participation and public ethics

      7.1.1 Implementation of activities on democratic participation

      The Committee took note of the meeting report of the LR-DP (LR-DP(2005)15) and considered some of the activities more in detail on the basis of proposals set out in CDLR (2005)32.

      As concerns the activity of developing and testing an auditing tool for participation at local level, the Committee gratefully accepted the offer by the city of Tampere (Finland) to host the conference at which the results of the tests will be presented (June 2006). This acceptance is subject to agreement being reached between the City of Tampere and the Council of Europe on the practical arrangements of the conference. The Committee entrusted the Bureau and the Secretariat with taking the necessary decisions and making the necessary arrangements for the conference.

      The Committee also agreed that it would be highly desirable for the spring meeting of the LR-DP to take place in Tampere, immediately after the aforementioned conference. This would enable the best possible use of the results of the conference for the further work of the LR-DP and the CDLR. It therefore agreed to request permission from the Committee of Ministers to hold this meeting outside Strasbourg (in Tampere (Finland)) and charged the Bureau and the Secretariat to undertake all work and steps necessary to that end.

      As concerns the activity of examining the desirability and advisability of introducing convention-based standards on the participation of citizens in local public life, the CDLR noted that the LR-DP had concluded that its discussion had shown that there is currently not enough material basis for it to continue working on this question. The LR-DP added that this would not rule out that delegations could themselves continue their reflection on the topic and, should they so wish, develop and put forward concrete proposals for further consideration.

      The Spanish delegation informed the Committee that it would like to see this activity pursued and would be putting forward concrete proposals for further consideration at the next meeting of the LR-DP. The CDLR invited Spain to circulate these proposals in advance of that meeting and agreed that the LR-DP should continue its work on this topic.

      7.1.2 Tour de table on the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners In Public Life at Local
      level (CETS No. 144)

      The Committee agreed the table which appears in Appendix 10.

7.1.3 Activities on public ethics

      The CDLR members expressed their appreciation for the activities concerning public ethics at local level. They revised, adopted and authorised the publication of the Guide to the Handbook of public ethics at local level, which is a shortened and more user-friendly version of the Handbook.

      The delegation of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” informed of the preparation of a Handbook concerning anti-corruption measures for local authorities, while the delegation of the Netherlands announced that a “Model approach”, which could be seen as a Dutch national handbook on public ethics at local level, had been agreed upon by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Dutch associations of local and provincial authorities.

      The delegate of Malta informed that the Council of Europe Handbook had served as a model for a recent legal instrument and that a meeting will be held with local councils in order to further clarify to them what the Handbook is and how it can be used.

      Armenia announced that the provisions of the Handbook had almost entirely been included in a recent Law on Municipal Public Service.

      Finland informed the CDLR that the Finnish association of local and regional authorities had adopted a statement of principles concerning the acceptance of hospitality and other benefits by municipal officials.

      7.1.4 Compliance with standards of public ethics at local and regional level

      The Committee took note of the implementation of the activity and approved the LR-DP decision to prepare, with the help of a consultant, a preliminary study examining the mechanisms for assessing compliance with public ethics standards at local and regional level.

      7.1.5 Revision of the Handbook of public ethics at local and regional level

      The Committee took note of the contributions received and invited other delegations to express their willingness to prepare such contributions. Estonia volunteered to prepare a national contribution on public ethics at local level.

      7.2 Activities on legal framework and institutional structure

      The CDLR took note of the meeting report of the LR-FS Committee (10-11 October 2005).

      7.2.1 Regional self-government

      At the proposal of the German Delegation, the Committee held a vote on its proposal to postpone the implementation of this activity from 2005 to 2006. The result of the vote was: 1 vote in favour, 29 against and 7 abstentions.

      The Committee agreed the questionnaire and timetable proposed by the LR-FS (see CDLR (2005) 37) as well as to add four questions proposed by the Netherlands.

      7.2.2 Relationship between central and local authorities

      The Committee noted that the LR-FS had decided not to present a questionnaire to the CDLR at the current meeting, in order to spread the work-load in respect of questionnaires.

      7.2.3 Inter-municipal co-operation

      Taking account of the complexity of the draft questionnaire and of the current workload of the CDLR, the members decided to send this questionnaire to the LR-FS for examination and, if possible, simplification at its spring 2006 meeting, with a view to adopting it in May 2006.

7.2.4 Detailed comparative study of local authorities’ competences

      The CDLR held a first in-depth examination of the detailed comparative study of local authorities’ competences prepared and presented to the meeting by Professor Gérard MARCOU. The Committee congratulated Professor Marcou on the in-depth and innovative work he had carried out. The Committee considered that these results will enable a much more precise and thus more realistic understanding of the extent of local autonomy in Europe.

      Several comments were made which the consultant expert agreed to take into account in a revised version. Delegations that had taken part in the survey were also invited to send to the Secretariat any further and/or more detailed comments they might have, in particular regarding the description of local government in their country. The dead-line for these comments was set at 15 December 2005.

      The CDLR agreed that the revised version will be transmitted to the LR-FS Committee for consideration at its meeting in Spring 2006. The CDLR will thus be able to have a second and final reading at its meeting in May 2006. At this meeting it will further discuss the way in which the results of this report can best be made use of. The LR-FS was also instructed to prepare proposals to that effect.

      7.3 Activities on local and regional finance and public services

      The CDLR took note of the meeting report of the LR-FL Committee (13-14 June 2005).

      7.3.1 Accounting rules and practices at local level

      The CDLR revised, adopted and authorised the publication of the report on “Accounting rules and practice at local level”.

      7.3.2 Performance management of public services at local level

      The Committee examined the draft report and decided to send it to the LR-FL Committee for finalisation during its December meeting.

      The CDLR decided that the adoption of this report would follow a written procedure: after revision by the LR-FL in December, the draft report would be sent to the CDLR members. In the absence of any comments from the CDLR members within a specified time frame, the report would be considered adopted and would be published. In case of opposition from any delegation, the report would be presented for final adoption by the CDLR at its May 2006 meeting.

      7.3.3 Internal audit at local and regional level

      The Committee examined and revised the draft report. Subject to changes concerning the Finnish situation to be sent by the Finnish delegation in writing to the Secretariat, the CDLR decided to adopt it and authorise its publication.

      7.3.4 Preliminary draft consolidated recommendation on local public services

      The Committee examined the preliminary draft recommendation and decided to send it to the LR-FL Committee for further detailed examination at its December 2005 meeting.

      7.4 Activities on transfrontier co-operation

      The CDLR took note of the meeting report of the LR-CT Committee (13-14 September 2005).

7.4.1 European Convention containing a uniform law on transfrontier groupings of territorial co-operation

      The Committee took note of the draft European convention as it stands after the LR-CT September meeting. Two delegations expressed fundamental reservations as to the appropriateness of drafting such a legal instrument which, in their opinion, lacked sufficient support among member states, has grown up differently from what was originally envisaged and would conflict with their domestic legislation or create insurmountable problems with their territorial entities. In their opinion, it was also unclear how this convention would relate with the draft regulation currently under discussion within the EU. Two other delegations expressed their support for the draft convention whose text, in spite of its complexity, reflected their expectations and respected their constitutional set up and from which the latest compromise proposal for the EU regulation draws inspiration. The chair of the LR-CT recalled that the European Commission had attended the meetings of the Committee of experts and of the Open-ended working party and had taken part constructively in the discussions.

      The Committee agreed that the CDLR should have a debate in May 2006 on the continuation of this work, on the basis of the revised text that will result from the LR-CT meeting of March 2006. Delegations could send in both their general observations and specific comments on the draft texts until 30 November 2005.

      7.4.2 Handbook of transfrontier co-operation

      The Committee examined the revised Handbook of transfrontier co-operation and agreed that delegations so wishing could send in their written comments by 15 December 2005. The Secretariat would then circulate the final version to all members for approval by written procedure. If no delegation objected to it within four weeks after distribution, the document would be considered as final and be published. If one or more delegations had objections, the Handbook would be submitted for consideration to the LR-CT meeting in March 2006.

      The CDLR agreed with this procedure.

      7.5 Activities on Budapest Agenda Part III

      Further to its decisions at the last meeting, the CDLR adopted, whilst adding a few points, a questionnaire, prepared by the Bureau, and fixed the deadline for reply at 15 February 2006.

      It will hold an exchange of views, based on the results, at its meeting in May 2006.

      The CDLR further agreed the table of contents of the CDLR Handbook.

      7.6 Frontline issues of change and recent developments

      The Committee took note of the information delegations provided in response to the questionnaire. Several delegations underlined its utility and the great practical use the information has, for example in the context of high-level bi-lateral visits. The CDLR therefore appealed to delegations that had not yet done so to send their replies as soon as possible. The synthesis of this information will be prepared in time for the next meeting.

      It further took note of the state of signatures and ratifications of relevant Council of Europe conventions.

      7.7 Communication strategy

      The CDLR took note of the implementation of its communication strategy. It mainly noted that the new version of the Local Democracy website and of the LOREG database should soon be published online and that, for budgetary reasons, the production of the revised CDROM had to be postponed for January 2006.

      It also noted that a new booklet containing the Council of Europe acquis in the field of local and regional finance (the European Charter of Local Self-Government, Rec(2004)1 on financial and budgetary management at local and regional levels and Rec(2005)1 on the financial resources of local and regional authorities) will be published by the end of the year.

      8. Implementation of the Assistance programmes in the field of local and regional
      democracy

      The Committee took note of the information about the implementation of the Assistance Programmes.

      The CDLR expressed its high appreciation for the work that is being carried out. It further praised the recently produced “Toolkit” which may be seen as an example of the kind of thing that could be developed by the future Centre of Expertise. It was underlined that this Centre should be available to all member States.

      9. Election of the Bureau

      The Committee elected its Chair (Mr J. M. RODRIGUEZ ALVAREZ), its Vice-Chair (Mrs G. BILLING), and three members of the Bureau (Mr P. ROWSELL, Mrs E. CHMELOVA and Mr A. van der GOOT). The composition of the Bureau in 2006 is as follows:

      Chair: Mr Jose Manuel RODRIGUEZ ALVAREZ (Spain)
      Vice-Chair Mrs Greta BILLING (Norway)
      Members Mr Paul ROWSELL (United Kingdom)
      Mrs Eva CHMELOVA (Slovak Republic)
      Mr Auke van der GOOT (The Netherlands)
      Mr Paul-Henri PHILIPS (Belgium)
      Mr Vladimir LEBEDENKO (Russian Federation)

      10. Other business

      The Dutch delegation informed the CDLR of the creation of the European Urban Network of Knowledge, which is currently supported by 15 member states. It also considered that links should be established between this network and the LOREG database and network.

      11. Terms of reference, composition and meeting dates of CDLR and sub-committees in 2006

      The CDLR agreed the specific terms of reference of its subordinate Committees and to send them to the Committee of Ministers for adoption (Appendices 11 to 14).

      The Committee decided to hold its next ordinary plenary meeting on 15-17 May 2006 in Strasbourg.

      It took note of the calendar of the meetings of expert committees and other working parties until the end of the year (Appendix 15).

      12. Adoption of the meeting report

      The Committee adopted the meeting report.

Appendix 1

      AGENDA

      1. Opening of the meeting

      2. Adoption of the agenda

      3. Bureau of the CDLR

      4. Decisions taken by the Committee of Ministers
      concerning the CDLR

      5. Information on the work of other Council of Europe bodies

      6. Follow-up to the Warsaw Summit

      7. Implementation of the programme of activities for 2005-2007

      7.1 Activities on democratic participation and public ethics

      7.1.1 Implementation of activities on democratic participation

      7.1.2 Tour de table on the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners

        In Public Life at Local level (CETS 144)

      7.1.3 Activities on public ethics

      7.1.4 Compliance with standards of public ethics at local and regional level

      7.1.5 Revision of the Handbook of public ethics at local and regional level

      7.2 Activities on legal framework and institutional structure

      7.2.1 Regional self-government

      7.2.2 Relationship between central and local authorities

      7.2.3 Inter-municipal co-operation

      7.2.4 Detailed comparative study of municipal competences

      7.3 Activities on local and regional finance and public services

      7.3.1 Accounting rules at local level

      7.3.2 Performance management at local level

      7.3.3 Internal audit at local and regional level

      7.3.4 Local public services

7.4 Activities on transfrontier co-operation

      7.4.1 European Convention containing a uniform law on transfrontier groupings
      of territorial co-operation

      7.4.2 Handbook of cross-border co-operation

      7.5 Activities on Budapest Agenda Part III

      7.6 Frontline issues of change and recent developments

      7.7 Communication strategy

      8. Implementation of the assistance programmes
      in the field of local and regional democracy

      9. Election of the Bureau

      10. Other business

      11. Terms of reference, composition and meeting dates of CDLR
      and sub-committees in 2006

      12. Adoption of the abridged meeting report

Appendix 2

      Comments of the CDLR on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1714 (2005) on the Abolition of restrictions on the right to vote.

      The CDLR has read with great interest Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1714 (2005) on the Abolition of restrictions on the right to vote. Its comments follow the order in which they appear in the text.

      As for the recommendation that the Committee of Ministers appeal to member States to sign and ratify the European Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level, the CDLR recalls that the 14th Session of the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government in Budapest (February 2005) identified, in the field of democratic citizenship and participation at local and regional level, as one of the challenges to be addressed: “broadening the scope for participation by foreign residents in public life at local level”. On that basis, they agreed “to seek to overcome any obstacles to acceding to the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level and to seek to ratify it as soon as possible”. Consequently the CDLR holds an annual tour de table to take stock of developments, most recently at its meeting in November 2005. The results of this stock-taking appear in Appendix 11 to the meeting report. The Committee of Ministers may wish to communicate them to the Parliamentary Assembly.

      As for the item asking member States to re-consider existing restrictions on electoral rights, the CDLR, with its remit for local and regional democracy, is reluctant to express an opinion, given that this raises several issues outside of its terms of reference. However, as in other such cases, the CDLR is ready and willing to take part in any exercise involving other competent bodies within the Council of Europe.

      Similarly, the CDLR is ready to contribute to any development of activities aimed at improving the conditions for the effective exercise of election rights by groups facing special difficulties. The CDLR particularly recalls that Recommendation R(2001) 19 on the “Participation of citizens in local public life” contains a range of recommendations to encourage categories of citizens who, for various reasons, have greater difficulty in participating (Appendix II, parts B and D).

      As for the third main element of the Recommendation, a possible Council of Europe Convention to improve international co-operation with a view to facilitating the exercise of electoral rights of expatriates, the CDLR refrains from expressing a view as it considers this would concern mainly elections at national level.

Appendix 3

      Comments of the CDLR on Congress Recommendation 162 (2005) on the revision of the Charter of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

      Introduction

      The CDLR has read with interest the proposed revisions to the Charter of the Congress. It notes that the Committee of Ministers has asked the RAP- LARC to take into account the possible comments of the CDLR when preparing a reply to the Recommendation for the Committee of Ministers. In order to facilitate his work and the effectiveness of the process, the CDLR decided to invite both the RAP-LARC and representatives of the Congress to participate in the meeting of the CDLR when discussing the Recommendation. The CDLR was most pleased that both were willing and able to accept the invitation.

      In summary the Congress recommends:

      I amendments, if possible before the end of 2005, to statutory Resolution (2000)1 relating to the Congress of local and regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and to the Charter of the Congress adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 March 2000;

      II. an instruction to the Secretary General to present to the Committee of Ministers the requests for budgetary and human resources necessary for the implementation of the proposed reforms.

      The CDLR addresses both points below, drawing its findings together in the conclusion.

      I. Proposed amendments to the statutory Resolution and the Charter

      1. The CDLR has identified, broadly speaking, three categories of issues that are raised by the Recommendation:

    a. modifications in the context of re-examination of the transitional clauses;

      b. modifications concerning the composition and internal functioning of the Congress and its bodies as well as those resulting from its change in name;

    c. modifications concerning the place and role of the Congress within the Council of Europe as a whole.

      These points are examined below.

      a. Modifications in the context of re-examination of the transitional clauses

      The current Charter contains two transitional provisions, one about non-elected persons who may be Representatives in the Congress, the other about the first election of the Chief Executive.

      The latter provision has by its nature become redundant and need be given no further consideration.

      The first provision reads as follows:

      1. As an exception to Article 2. paragraph 1, non-elected persons responsible to an elected local or regional body may be Representatives in the Congress, provided they can be dismissed individually by, or following a decision of the aforesaid directly elected body and that such a power of dismissal is stipulated by law. This provision shall be re-examined after a six-year period.

      The CDLR notes that the wording of the final phrase makes clear that a re-examination shall be undertaken after six years, i.e. after 15 March 2006. Arguably, the text does not rule out that a re-examination may take place, as is actually the case, at an earlier date, but certainly there is no imperative to do so.

Furthermore, the text makes clear that the provision will not expire but remain in force until such time as it is changed. Thus the Committee of Ministers does not face a strict deadline with legal consequences. However, it may be added that while there is no obligation to abrogate the provision after six years, it is in the nature of transitional provisions that they will one day disappear, so that an indefinite perpetuation of the provision may be considered inappropriate.

      The practical result is that the provision will change as and when there is a political will to do so. The CDLR takes the view that it is desirable to maintain the current provision for a further period of time in order to enable in-depth consideration of changes that could be made to Article 2.1 of the Charter (see further below). The CDLR believes this consideration must be a thorough one and suggests that the transitional provision should not be changed at this stage. Subsequently, it will be for the Committee of Ministers to arrive at a final position on this question, within the time-frame it deems appropriate.

      b. Modifications concerning the composition and internal functioning of the Congress and its bodies as well as those resulting from its change in name

      The proposals for modifications concerning the internal functioning of the Congress and its bodies as well as resulting from its change in name are made both in respect of the statutory Resolution and the Charter.

      As regards the statutory Resolution, this concerns specifically the proposals to:

      - introduce a reference in the preamble to statutory Resolution (2000)1;
      - change the name in Articles 1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2 and 6.2;
      - make changes concerning composition and appointments in Articles 3.1, 3.3, 4.2 and 5.

      The CDLR has no particular observations to make in respect of these proposals and, noting that these proposals are made by the Congress itself, recommends that the Committee of Ministers accept them. It notes that these changes can also be adopted in case it were to be decided to maintain the transitional provision discussed above.

      As regards the Charter this concerns specifically the proposals to:

      Change the name in Articles 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 2.6, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1, 8.1, 8.2, 9.1, 9.2, 10.1, 10.4, 11.1, 11.2, 12, 13.1, 13.2, 14.2, 16.2, 16.4;

      The CDLR recommends that these proposals be agreed to.

      - to introduce a description or definition of an “electoral mandate” in Article 2.1;

      The proposed changes raise a number of issues that require careful consideration.

      Firstly, the CDLR wonders whether the objective sought is fully achieved with the proposed text or whether the description is not in fact too wide, potentially covering officials directly appointed by and responsible to an elected assembly such as the Chief Executive of a local authority in the United Kingdom.

      Secondly, the CDLR would propose the alignment of requirements for membership between the Committee of the Regions and the Congress, without suggesting any kind of hierarchy between the two.

      Thirdly, the CDLR would wish to avoid the exclusion of high-profile political office-holders such as the Mayor of Helsinki.

      As mentioned above (in relation to the transitional provisions), the CDLR proposes an in-depth consideration of the possible changes to this Article and is at the disposal of the Committee of Ministers to contribute to this work.

      - to add a provision setting minimum levels for representation of both genders in Article 2.d;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

introduce a procedure for establishing the list of countries from which members may be in the Chamber of Regions and its organs in an advisory capacity;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - specify the consequences of a member losing his/her electoral mandate in Article 2.6;

      The CDLR notes that there may be a wish to reconsider this provision if it is decided to maintain the transitional provision mentioned above, even if there is no legal incompatibility between the two.

      - to regulate the distribution of members from a member State over the two Chambers in Article 3 paragraph 2;

      The CDLR has some difficulty understanding the relation between the first sentence of the proposals which provides that the members from each state shall be spread equally over the two chambers, whereas the next part seems to provide this only for states which have regions in the sense of Article 2 paragraph 4 (perhaps the word “authorities” would be better, given the wording of the relevant paragraph). However, as a matter of principle the CDLR sees no difficulty with an equal division of members over the two Chambers.

      - to regulate more tightly the consequences of the credentials of the Representatives not being found in order;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to stipulate expressly that sessions of the Congress and its Chambers shall be public in Article 6 paragraph 1;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to provide that the political groups of the Congress shall meet when ordinary sessions and meetings of the Standing Committee of the congress are held;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to, although it considers that the wording might be improved as it is probably not the intention that the meetings of the political groups take place at the same time as the sessions, but on the same days.

      - to change the provision on the organisation of work in the Congress in Article 7 paragraph 1;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to. In passing it does note that it has difficulty understanding how each Chamber can have the same number of seats as the Congress itself.

      - to change the titles of the members of the Bureaux of the chambers to Vice-Presidents;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to specify the powers of the Standing Committee to act on behalf of the Congress between Sessions in Article 8 paragraph 1;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to change the composition of the Bureau of the Congress in Article 9 paragraph 1;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to mention specifically ad-hoc working groups in Article 9 paragraph 2;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to suppress the limit to the number of members that can sit on an ad-hoc working group in Article 10 paragraph 1 :

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to amend the procedure of adoption of recommendations and resolutions in respect of matters that are considered as falling exclusively within the competence of one of the Chambers in Article 11, paragraphs 2a and b;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to provide that all rules of procedure, including those of the Chambers, shall be adopted by the Congress as a whole and will cover the assessment of compliance with rules on the composition of delegations in Article 13.1.a;

      The CDLR recommends this proposal be agreed to.

      - to remove from the rules of procedure the procedure for the election of members of the Bureau in Article 13.1.d and to provide in Article 14 for the election of the President of the Congress and the Presidents of the Chambers;

      The CDLR has some difficulty in understanding the composition of the Bureau of the Congress and the procedure for arriving at its full composition resulting from the Charter, as to be amended. Article 7.1 provides that that each chamber appoints its Bureau which shall be composed of the President of the Chamber and seven Vice-Presidents. However, in apparent contradiction Article 14.2 provides that each chamber shall elect its president. Furthermore, the procedure for these elections is apparently not to be provided for in the rules of procedure of the Congress (see proposed changes to Article 13.1.d.). A further, possibly merely terminological, question arises as to the Vice-Presidents of the Congress. Article 13.1.d. provides for the procedure of their election, but there is no indication as to their number or their provenance. However, it may be assumed that they are to be part of the Bureau but are not mentioned in Article 9.1. Or is the idea that all vice-presidents of chambers are ex officio also Vice-Presidents of the Congress? In that case, should Presidents of the Chamber also be considered Vice-Presidents of the Congress? Whatever, the answers to these questions, it is thought that the rules should clearly address them and that the Charter should further provide that the rules of procedure of the Congress include all the necessary procedures.

      c. Modifications concerning the place and role of the Congress within the Council of Europe as a whole

      The CDLR welcomes the opportunity the Recommendation provides for the Committee of Ministers, and thus the governments of member States, to reflect with the Congress on its role within, and its contribution to the successful functioning of, the Council of Europe as a whole.

      This reflection is all the more timely because it takes place in the immediate aftermath of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government, of which the resulting Action Plan notably provides:

      “We will strive for our common goal of promoting democracy and good governance of the highest quality, nationally, regionally and locally for all our citizens and pursue our ongoing fight against all forms of totalitarianism”

      and

      “We decide, within the existing structures of the organisation as a whole to:
      [...]

      - pursue in partnership with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, intergovernmental co-operation on democracy and good governance at all levels;

      - develop further transfrontier co-operation as necessary and standards of democracy and good governance, including proper functioning of our civil services;

      - take the necessary steps, including through the establishment within the Secretariat of a centre of expertise on local government reform, to implement the Agenda for delivering good local and regional governance, adopted at the 14th session of the Conference of European Ministers responsible for local and regional government (Budapest, 24-25 February 2005), by promoting standards and good practices and by assisting member states with capacity-building at the local and regional level, in close cooperation with the Congress”;

The Action Plan further provides:

      “The Council of Europe should continue to foster a fruitful dialogue in its Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities 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. The political dialogue should exploit the potential of the Organisation in promoting mutual understanding among member states, thus strengthening the unity in Europe and contributing to the commitment of building Europe without dividing lines.”

      It follows that the articulation of the role and place of the Congress in the framework of the Council of Europe as a whole must be consistent with these important results of the Summit. The Action Plan also provides :

      “We instruct the Committee of Ministers to take steps to ensure that this Action Plan is rapidly implemented by the various Council of Europe bodies, in conjunction where applicable with other European or international organisations.

      As an urgent priority, we task the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General, assisted by independent expertise, to give fresh impetus to the reform process of the Council of Europe’s organisational structures and working methods. Building on efforts already in hand, the process shall aim at an efficient functioning of the Organisation according to its objectives and keeping fully in mind the need for budgetary restraints. Special attention should be paid to initiatives that will further secure transparency, cost-efficiency as well as internal co-operation and knowledge sharing.”

      The following proposals concern or are linked to the role and place of the Congress:

      a. in the Statutory Resolution the proposals

      - to include, under certain conditions, reference to the Summit in the Preamble;
      - no longer to describe the Congress as a consultative body in Article 2.1;
      - to highlight co-operation with the Committee of the Regions in Article 2.1 under e;
      - to include, in the context of country-by-country reports, in Article 2.3, a reference to the general principles on regional democracy which the Council of Europe has adopted in the matter, in addition to the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government that are already mentioned there;
      - to add a reference to the preparation of reports and recommendations following observation of local and/or regional elections in Article 2.5;
      - to include European and international Organisations and Institutions in the circle of bodies to which Congress Recommendations and opinions may be addressed in Article 2.6;
      - to open the possibility of the Congress holding more than one session a year in Article 4.1;

      b. in the Charter of the Congress the proposals:

      - to describe the Congress as the body representing the local and regional authorities of the member States of the Council of Europe in Article 1;
      - to provide in Article 10.4 that the Congress may not only consult but also work with representatives of international associations of local and regional authorities as well as national associations of local and regional authorities, allowing for the possibility in some cases to cover their expenses of participation ;
      - to provide in Article 13.1.c that recommendations addressed to a country following observation of local or regional elections shall be adopted by a two-thirds majority of votes cast;
      - to introduce new titles in the Secretariat of the Congress in Article 15.

      The CDLR considers that in order to fully assess the impact of these changes and the intentions underlying them, it would have been most helpful if an explanatory report had accompanied the proposal. Indeed, given the importance of the topic this might even be considered imperative.

      In particular clarification is needed about how the Congress itself, through these changes, envisages its role and place in the Council of Europe. The Congress representatives explained during the meeting with the CDLR that these changes aim to do no more than to align the relevant texts (Statutory Resolution and Charter) with current practice as it has evolved since their adoption. The CDLR suggests that this view raises questions which merit further clarification, both as regards current practice as well as concerns possible future developments on the basis of revised texts. Further questions include whether the deletion of the description as a consultative body implies that the Congress sees for itself a more executive role? If so, in what respects and how does this executive role relate to the executive role of the Committee of Ministers? On the other hand, what is the expected added value of additional sessions? What are resource implications? All such questions need to be examined carefully, obviously in dialogue with the Congress, before any conclusions can be drawn on the relevant proposals.

      This leads to the second main point of the Congress Recommendation.

      II. An instruction to the Secretary General to present to the Committee of Ministers the requests for budgetary and human resources necessary for the implementation of the proposed reforms

      The wording of this recommendation suggests that the Congress itself does not envisage the proposed amendments to be budget neutral. Indeed, in as far as the proposed changes would lead to new activities it would only be logical for them to require new and additional resources.

      It follows from what was said above that the first main objective in this exercise would be to establish clearly the role and place of the Congress within the wider framework of the Council of Europe. However, member States will no doubt also wish to take into consideration the budgetary consequences and will therefore wish to have some insight into them. It is therefore suggested that the Committee of Ministers could well ask the Secretary General to submit estimates for budgetary and human resources necessary for the implementation of the proposed reforms. Alternatively, it might ask the Congress to put forward its estimations of the budgetary implications.

      III. Conclusion

      In conclusion, the CDLR submits to the Committee of Ministers that:

      1. there is no legal imperative to change any provision of the Statutory Resolution or the Charter of the Congress, including transitional ones, at this stage; the decision to do so, or not, depends on the political will of the Committee of Ministers;

      2. the transitional provisions may be maintained, but not indefinitely; the transitional provisions should not be changed at this stage;

      3. an in-depth examination of possible changes to Article 2.1. of the Charter should be carried out in order to address the issues raised by the CDLR;

      4. all proposed changes to the Statutory Resolution and the Charter of the Congress relating to the change of its name can be accepted;

      5. the proposed modifications concerning the composition and internal functioning of the Congress and its bodies can be accepted, following clarification of the technical queries raised by the CDLR and, where necessary, re-drafting;

      6. the proposed modifications of the Statutory Resolution and the Charter of the Congress concerning the role and place of the Congress within the Council of Europe need clarification in writing in order to facilitate an in-depth consideration of them;

      7. this in-depth consideration should take into account (in particular) Chapter V of the Action Plan adopted at the Warsaw Summit and be based on budgetary estimates that are to be prepared by the Secretary General or by the Congress;

      8. the Committee of Ministers may wish to proceed with consideration of all proposed amendments at the same time, or could decide to conduct this exercise in phases, allowing for a relatively speedy introduction of a number of changes along the lines set out above;

      9. the CDLR stands ready to assist the Committee of Ministers in carrying out the in-depth examinations it recommends.

Appendix 4

      CDLR comments on Recommendation 164 (2005) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on Local and Regional Democracy in Denmark

      1. Pursuant to the decision adopted by the Committee of Ministers at the 936th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies, the CDLR discussed Congress Recommendation 164 with a view to giving its opinion on the consequences of the reform of Danish public administration for the fulfilment of Denmark’s international obligations under the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities. (the Madrid Convention).

      2. The CDLR invited the representative of Denmark to give details of the reform which would come into force on 1 January 2007, and was thus able to gain an idea of the scope and extent of the major reforms that Denmark had decided to undertake. It particularly noted that the new regions would have the right to associate with other territorial authorities, within the limits of the law and of their competences. This right of association would also apply, within the framework of the law, to territorial authorities situated outside the Danish borders.

      3. The CDLR also noted that in Denmark there would be no legal obstacle to clarifying that the Madrid Outline Convention should apply to the regions established by the structural reform, and that the Danish government in this perspective would consider the need for such a clarification. The Danish government would also consider whether such clarification should be made in a letter to the Secretary General or in the form of a fresh declaration to be lodged with the Secretary General, in accordance with Article 12.d of the Madrid Convention.

      4. The CDLR is of the opinion that such a clarification would be appropriate and that a declaration would provide the opportunity to specify the exact scope of the Convention in the light of the situation created by the reform of local and regional authorities which will come into force on 1 January 2007.

      5. The CDLR also wishes to point out that member states are free to decide how their territory and institutions should be structured, provided they fulfil the obligations resulting from the European Charter of Local Self-Government and other relevant conventions to which they are party.

Appendix 5

      Response of the CDLR to the invitation from the Committee of Ministers to take Congress Recommendation 167 into account in its future work programme

      The CDLR has read Congress Recommendation 167 with great interest and given careful consideration to the invitation the Committee of Ministers to take this Recommendation into account in its future work programme.

      The CDLR recalls that pursuant to the results of the 14th Session of the Conference of European ministers responsible for local and regional government in Budapest (February 2005) and the endorsement of the Budapest Declaration and Agenda by the Third Summit and the Committee of Ministers, the CDLR’s activities are based on those documents and aim to implement them. The CDLR therefore considers that possible new items of work must be examined in particular for their compatibility with the implementation of the Budapest Agenda.

      The CDLR notes that the Recommendation addresses a broad range of recommendations to the countries of South-East Europe and to the Committee of Ministers, addresses requests to those in charge of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, governments and donor organisations, addresses invitations to NGO’s and the European Commission.

      Having examined them all, the CDLR concludes that there are no proposals for new specific action that could be undertaken by the CDLR and that the best way to give effect to the invitation of the Committee of Ministers is for it simply to carry out its current programme of work. The CDLR remains open of course to any specific proposals or mandate that the Committee of Ministers may wish to address to it.

Appendix 6

      Comments of the CDLR to the Committee of Ministers on Congress Recommendation 170 on inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue: initiatives and responsibilities of local authorities

      The CDLR has noted with great interest Congress Recommendation on intercultural and inter-faith dialogue: initiatives and responsibilities of local authorities and the broad range of recommendations it contains.

      The CDLR’s comments will address the items in the order in which they appear in paragraph 6 of the Recommendation.

      Items 6.a(i-v) concern the recommendation to support the work of the various relevant sectors of the Organisation that contribute to intercultural and inter-faith dialogue.

      The CDLR considers that this recommendation can be and indeed already is being followed up through the Action Plan adopted by the Third Summit in Warsaw and that the Action Plan covers many other relevant items of work not highlighted in the recommendation. It therefore does not see any need for new decision-making.

      The second set of recommendations pertains to what the Committee of Ministers could ask of the relevant sectors of the Organisation (paragraph 6.b.i-iii).

      The first of these is to hold in the coming years a major European conference with representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress, the Court of Human Rights, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and all the other Council of Europe sectors concerned in order to:
      - make European policy-makers and citizens aware of all that the mingling of cultures and civilisations and their mutual enrichment have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the building of Europe, its cultural heritage and its values;
      - promote recognition for the equal dignity of the various cultural, religious, ethnic and national components of Europe, while condemning radical religious fanaticism and the corrupt use of cultural and regional identities for terrorist/subversive ends;

      The CDLR considers that it would be difficult for the Committee of Ministers to take any firm view on this suggestion because it is worded in very broad and somewhat imprecise terms. Without prejudice to the Committee of Ministers’ own assessment of this proposal, it needs, in the opinion of the CDLR, to be much further developed first, in particular by setting out how such a conference would achieve or contribute to the identified goals.

      The second recommendation pertains to the Committee of Ministers envisaging a “special programme for the various parts of Europe that have recently suffered, or are still suffering from, conflicts between representatives of different cultural and religious communities in order to foster, among the citizens of those countries a culture of dialogue, tolerance, negotiation and reconciliation”. Here too the CDLR believes that the suggested “special programme” is too vaguely spelled out for it to be able to comment on it. The Committee of Ministers may wish to ask further and better particulars form the Congress before reaching any conclusion.

      The third of this set of recommendations urges the Committee of Ministers to “ask the relevant sectors of the Organisation to consider to actively co-operate with the European Union in the context of the EU's plans to declare 2008 the Year of Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention, and widely publicise, on that occasion, all the Council of Europe's work designed to help promote such dialogue;”

      The CDLR wholeheartedly agrees that it is of the greatest importance to avoid unnecessary duplication between the Council of Europe and the European Union and that the work of the EU on this topic must take full account of the acquis and work of Council of Europe.

      Recommendations 6.c.i-ii pertain to work that may be undertaken by the CDLR.

      The CDLR recalls that pursuant to the results of the 14th Session of the Conference of European ministers responsible for local and regional government in Budapest (February 2005) and the endorsement of the Budapest Declaration and Agenda by the Third Summit and the Committee of Ministers, the CDLR’s activities are based on those documents and aim to implement them. The CDLR therefore considers that possible new items of work must be examined in particular for their compatibility with the implementation of the Budapest Agenda.

      The proposal by the Congress is to “conduct a survey of practices in member States in respect of the consultation of foreign residents lawfully settled in those states on the occasion of referenda or other consultation process at local level”.

      The Budapest Agenda contains no action covering such work, but does recognise as one of the challenges in the field of democratic participation and public ethics “broadening the scope for participation by foreign residents in public life at local level”. The question for the CDLR therefore is whether a new action in relation to this challenge should be undertaken, in addition to the action already agreed to, namely “to seek to overcome any obstacles to acceding to the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS 144) and to seek to ratify it as soon as possible”.

      In light of existing priorities of the CDLR to implement the Budapest Agenda, it is currently not in a position to envisage taking on such new tasks.

      As for the recommendation to disseminate widely the handbook on local consultative bodies for foreign residents published by the Congress, the CDLR is pleased to report that it has, at its own initiative, already from the time of its publication encouraged members to obtain and disseminate it.

      The fourth and final set of recommendations pertains to action the Committee of Ministers could invite the governments of member States to undertake. As all items call for the endorsement in one form or another of existing Council of Europe standards and activities, the CDLR recommends that the Committee of Ministers accepts and follows-up this recommendation.

      As a final point the CDLR suggests that the Committee of Ministers may wish to invite the Congress to continue to develop its thinking and action on the initiatives and responsibilities of local authorities on inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue, both through the actions of Congress members and local authorities themselves.

Appendix 7

      RAP-LARC’s speaking notes/welcoming words
      for the CDLR meeting of 14-15 November 2005

      Dear colleagues,
      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      It is the first time I am participating in your meeting in my function of Rapporteur for Local and Regional Democracy of the Committee of Ministers. It is a particular pleasure for me to establish this direct contact with you, as with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, as not once I had to word my judgements basing myself on your opinions.

      That’s why I have come personally to be present at your debate on the opinion to be given on the Congress Recommendation 162 on the revised Congress Charter. I have had an opportunity to consider your draft comments on this Recommendation and I find them very interesting. I am particularly interested to follow your debate on the transitional clauses (that is whether, in your opinion, political considerations should prevail over the formal date of expiry of transitional clauses end of 2006). Another crucial point is indeed the place and role of the Congress in the Council of Europe. It entails the rather sensitive question of possible supplementary human and financial resources.

      I have also noticed that your preliminary comments mention the results of the Third Warsaw Summit and it is on this subject I would like to dwell for a moment.

      I would like to say just a few words about the importance the Committee of Ministers attaches to the local and regional democracy and its good functioning. As you know, the Third Summit of the Heads of State and Government from our 46 member states is an important milestone for the Council of Europe. In Warsaw, Heads of State and Government called for a Europe without dividing lines, based on common values. They wanted to see a strong Council of Europe, focused on its areas of expertise and working in synergy with its European partners. They adopted a declaration giving the Council of Europe an enhanced political mandate and asked the Committee of Ministers to implement an action plan mapping out the Organisation’s activities for the coming years.

      At the instigation of the Portuguese Chair – which has made follow-up to the Summit its top priority – the Committee of Ministers has undertaken to implement rapidly the declaration and the action plan. They have decided to monitor directly the conduct of the different activities initiated in Warsaw through a specific structure of the Committee of Ministers, the CM-SUIVI3. The Follow-up Committee, chaired by the Chairman of the Deputies and comprising the Permanent Representatives of all member states, with the participation of representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, as well as the European Commission, began work in June.

      The Deputies began by ensuring that all the decisions taken at the Summit were incorporated as quickly as possible into the normal institutional apparatus of the Council of Europe, and that they were integrated into the Council’s programme of activities and budget from 2006. Such was the purpose of the message adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 28 September for all the committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation at the Council of Europe.

      They then set about giving practical effect to the four political priorities on which the Heads of State and Government had said they were expecting substantial results, aiming to make concrete progress for the ministerial session in November 2005.

      The priorities in question involve:

      – consolidating the Council of Europe’s system of human rights protection
      – stepping up Council of Europe action to promote democracy
      – building a more humane Europe
      – fostering co-operation between the Council of Europe, the European Union and the OSCE.

I will say a few words on the “STEPPING UP COUNCIL OF EUROPE ACTION TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY”.

      Aware that the promotion of democracy and good governance is one of the key messages which emerged from the Warsaw summit, the Deputies have devoted their efforts to launching the Forum for the Future of Democracy and setting up the Centre of Expertise on Local Government Reform. Thanks to the invitation from the Polish authorities and the proposals made jointly by Poland, Spain, Sweden and Armenia, the meeting to launch the Forum for the Future of Democracy took place in Warsaw on 3-4 November 2005, on “civic participation”. It attracted around 120 participants, representing the four types of democratic players, namely, governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities and civil society.

      With regard to the Centre of Expertise on Local Government Reform, over the summer the Committee of Ministers received proposals from a group of six countries: Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In the light of the discussions held on this subject within the CM–SUIVI3, the Secretary General has prepared a consolidated document setting out guidelines for establishing the Centre, as from 1 January 2006, for a 3-year trial period.

      These are, Ladies and Gentlemen, a few remarks of the Committee of Ministers’ work on the current priorities in the field of local and regional democracy and I am looking forward to listening to your debate. I wish you good work.

Appendix 8

      Presentation by Halvdan SKARD,
      Congress Rapporteur on Recommendation 162 (2005)
      and President of the Chamber of Local Authorities

      Mr Skard thanked the CDLR for this further opportunity for dialogue, following his participation in the CDLR Bureau meeting on 28 September 2005.

      At its latest session the Congress had unanimously adopted Recommendation 162 (2005), which proposed that the Committee of Ministers revise the Charter and Statutory Resolution of the Congress. The intention was not to propose a reform but to clarify and reword parts of the two texts.

      The main point was a review of the 1st transitional provision, which still allowed non-elected persons to sit in the Congress. The purpose of the transitional provision was to give some countries time to prepare for stricter requirements, so that ideally only local and regional elected representatives were able to sit in the Congress.

      The review of this transitional provision should take account of the fact that national delegations were renewed every two years, the next renewal being in 2006 and the one after that in 2008.

      The new wording proposed for Article 2.1 of the Charter attempted to take account of the different situations in the member countries. It was a compromise, but the Congress remained open to an even stronger wording if this was accepted by all the countries represented on the Committee of Ministers.

      Mr Skard explained the distinction between representatives and substitutes in the plenary Congress, which did not exist in the Chambers. The Congress had a different system from that of the Parliamentary Assembly.
      He added that no changes were proposed to the current situation of the Bureau members, who were all elected: 7 vice-presidents per Chamber, plus the presidents of the two Chambers, plus the President of the Congress.

      The proposed rewording of the Charter and Statutory Resolution was designed to give a more accurate picture of the Congress’s current role, which was proactive rather than merely consultative. This was exemplified by the texts adopted at the Congress’s latest plenary session or at its autumn institutional session.

      So the Charter should not be interpreted as limiting the Congress’s role. This was in fact consonant with the decisions of the 3rd Summit, which emphasised the Congress’s present and future role in various priorities for action identified in Warsaw.

      Lastly, with regard to the budget, the Congress was fully aware of the Organisation’s budgetary limitations. It simply wished the Charter no longer to restrict the Congress to a single session per year. Its proposals threw open the possibility of more than one session per year, within the limits of budgetary feasibility, which the Committee of Ministers would discuss each year.

Appendix 9

      Comments of the CDLR on the proposals by the Venice Commission to amend its Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters

      Preliminary remarks

      1. The CDLR welcomes the opportunity it has been given, further to the decision by the Ministers’ Deputies, to contribute in the framework of the Council for Democratic elections to the consideration of the strengthening of the provisions on electoral equality in the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters (hereinafter: the Code).

      2. The CDLR endorses the comments made earlier by its Bureau, with one modification that appears in bold below.

      Comments on the proposals

      3. Basing itself on the comments the Venice Commission submitted when first invited by the Ministers’ Deputies to comment on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1676, the Ministers’ Deputies (hereinafter: the CM) identified three main topics to be addressed, namely family voting, proxy voting and making the text gender neutral. The CDLR has examined with interest the proposals put forward by the Venice Commission in response.

      4. The proposal by the Venice Commission to add to the Code wording that states that “implementation of the parity principle leads to admit, for elections by a list system, a composition of the candidates’ lists alternating men and women” appears to the CDLR to be superfluous to the extent that it is not aware of any system where lists alternating men and women are considered inadmissible. Rather it should be made clear that it is admissible to introduce a requirement to that effect.

      5. As a point of information, the CDLR would like to be assured of its understanding that item I.2.5 of the current text of the Code, where it refers to the need for there to be a constitutional basis does not mean that such practices at local and regional level would only be possible where the written constitution expressly provides for it. It is also suggested that the link between the current text of the Code and the new text be clarified.

      6. It follows from its position expressed in paragraph 5 above that the CDLR considers appropriate that a breach of the requirement may lead to a legal and, as the case may be, financial sanction. The proposals made between square brackets, concerning the further question of a sanction that may be provided for in case of non-compliance with a requirement to submit a “zipper – list” would be acceptable to the CDLR. Though by no means the only possible reaction to such cases, the CDLR would not wish to rule out the possibility of a refusal to register the list as an ultimate sanction.

      7. As regards the proposals for elections in single member constituencies, the CDLR has some difficulty in understanding how an obligation as proposed would work in practice, assuming that individuals are free to put themselves forward for election. Possibly the intention is not to apply this rule at the level of individual constituencies but rather to create an obligation on parties or groups that are putting forward candidates in more than one constituency to ensure a certain overall gender balance. If that is so, it is inappropriate as it would risk penalising such parties or groups for decisions taken at constituency level. In order to achieve the desired effect it is suggested that the law should allow constituencies parties to establish all-women short-lists from which to pick their candidate.

      8. As for the proposals concerning family-voting, the CDLR agrees that the phenomenon described in the first phrase is highly undesirable. However, it has great difficulty with the proposed sanction. First of all, it is not convinced of the practicability of the measure proposed, namely to consider all votes in a polling station invalid where “family” voting is a “mass phenomenon”. Who would have to determine what is a mass phenomenon? And on the basis of what criteria? How would uniform application be ensured without far more precise rules? How would abuse be avoided (invalidating the entire vote of a polling station may after all be in the interest of some more than others). Secondly, and more fundamentally, it considers it inappropriate to penalise a whole area for the behaviour of some electors in it. Furthermore it is concerned that the proposals as suggested might be interpreted as an attempt to disenfranchise whole communities.

      9. The issue of family voting in fact raises a whole number of questions which are not entirely distinct from questions about remote voting, a topic on which no proposals are put forward, although it is one of the three topics mentioned by the CM. The CDLR, whilst fully recognising the value of the recent report of the Venice Commission on the topic of remote voting3, believes this to be an important topic that merits further consideration as voting methods develop.

      Conclusion

      10. The CDLR hopes that the comments it has made above can be taken into account and of course is ready to provide any clarification that might be required. However, the CDLR regrets to inform the Venice Commission that it does not consider it would be justified in terms of time and expenditure to be represented by the chair or another member at the meeting in Venice.

      Appendix 10

Status of the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (CETS 144) and national legislation enabling foreigners to vote4

Note Update 17 October 2005

Country

Status of convention

National legislation enabling foreigners to vote

S & R5

Note Outlook for S & R

Ratified

Signed

Reservation

May be

Envisaged

Not
envisaged

No legislation

Some Foreigners

Only for EU citizens

All Foreigners

Azerbaijan

     

*

   

*

   

*

Belgium

         

*

     

*

Bosnia and
Herzegovina

     

*

   

*

     

Cyprus

 

*

 

*

   

*

 

*

 

Czech Republic

 

*

 

*

       

*

 

Denmark

*

*

             

*

Estonia

                 

*6

Finland

*

*

             

*

Greece

               

*

 

Hungary

     

*

         

*

Iceland

*

*

             

*

Ireland

     

*

         

*

Italy

*4

*

           

*

 

Latvia

     

*

   

*

 

*

 

Lithuania

       

*

       

*

Status of the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (CETS 144) and national legislation enabling foreigners to vote1
Update 17 October 2005

Country

Status of convention

National legislation enabling foreigners to vote

S & R2

Outlook for S & R

Ratified

Signed

Reservation

May be

Envisaged

Not
envisaged

No legislation

Some Foreigners

Only for EU citizens

All Foreigners

Luxembourg

                 

*7

Malta

       

*

   

*

*

 

Moldova

     

*

           

Netherlands

*

*

             

*

Norway

*

*

             

*

Portugal

     

*

     

*

   

Romania

           

*8

     

Russian Federation

     

*

     

*

   

Slovak Republic

       

*9

       

*

Slovenia

       

*

       

*

Spain

       

*

     

*10

 

Sweden

*

*

             

*

Status of the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (CETS 144) and national legislation enabling foreigners to vote1
Update 17 October 2005

Country

Status of convention

National legislation enabling foreigners to vote

S & R2

Outlook for S & R

Ratified

Signed

Reservation

May be

Envisaged

Not
envisaged

No legislation

Some Foreigners

Only for EU citizens

 

Switzerland

 

 

 

*11

 

 

 

*

 

 

United Kingdom

 

*

 

 

*12

 

 

*

 

 

TOTAL 29

7

1013

         0

11

6

1

5

5

7

14

      Appendix 11

      Specific Terms of Reference (LR-CT)

      1. Name of Committee:

      Committee of Experts on Transfrontier Co-operation (LR-CT)

      2. Type of Committee:

      Committee of Experts

      3. Source of terms of reference:

      Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR)

      4. Terms of reference:

      Having regard to the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on transfrontier co-operation in Europe on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Council of Europe as well as to the Vienna Declaration of the Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe of 9 October 1993 and the Strasbourg Declaration of 11 October 1997;

      Having regard to the Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of Council of Europe member states at their Third Summit and to the Plan of Action which agrees to “develop further transfrontier co-operation as necessary”;

      Having regard to the Agenda for delivering good local and regional governance adopted by the Ministerial Conference in Budapest and endorsed by the Third Summit,

      the Committee of Experts on Transfrontier Co-Operation is entrusted with the implementation of specific objectives of Project 2004/DG1/173 of the Programme of Activities and in particular, in the framework thereof, to :

      i. monitor the implementation of the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities and its Protocols;

      ii. make proposals for the elimination of obstacles, in particular of a legal nature, to transfrontier and interterritorial co-operation;

      iii. facilitate the exchange of information and views on the experience gained, in particular good practice examples in the field of transfrontier and interterritorial co-operation;

      iv. make proposals, at intergovernmental level, in order to encourage and facilitate transfrontier and interterritorial co-operation.

      5. Membership of the committee:

      A. Members

        The governments of all member states are entitled to appoint members with the following desirable qualifications: officials or other experts with particular experience of questions relating to transfrontier co-operation. Each member state shall have one vote.

        The Council of Europe’s budget bears the travel and subsistence expenses of one expert for each of the following 17 member states: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Finland, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey.

      B. Participants

      The Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (Congress) may send representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the charge of their respective administrative budgets..

      C. Other participants

      i. The European Commission may send representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

      ii. The following intergovernmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

      - Union Economique Benelux.

      D. Observers

      The following non governmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

      - Association of European Border Regions (AEBR)
      - Assembly of European Regions (AER)
      - International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP)
      - West European Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry for the Rhine, Rhône and Danube Regions.14

Note 6. Working structures and methods:

    The Committee may have recourse, where appropriate, to the services of an expert consultant.

7. Duration:

These terms of reference will expire on 31 December 2006.

Appendix 12

      Specific terms of reference (LR-FL)

      1. Name of Committee:

      Committee of experts on finance and public services at local and regional level (LR-FL)

      2. Type of Committee:

      Committee of Experts

      3. Source of terms of reference:

      Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR)

      4. Terms of reference:

      Having regard to the Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of Council of Europe member states at their Third Summit and the Plan of Action which resolves to “pursue in partnership with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, intergovernmental co-operation on democracy and good governance at all levels”;

      Having regard to the Agenda for delivering good local and regional governance adopted at Budapest Ministerial Conference and endorsed by the Third Summit ;

        the Committee of experts on finance and public services is entrusted with assisting the CDLR in the implementation of specific objectives of Project 2004/DG1/122 related to local and regional finance and public services at local and regional level approved in the framework of the Programme of Activities.

      5. Membership of the Committee:

      A. Members

      The governments of all member states are entitled to appoint members with the following desirable qualifications: officials or other experts with particular experience of local finances and financial management of local public services. Each member state shall have one vote.

      The Council of Europe's budget bears the travel and subsistence expenses of one expert for each of the following 13 member states: Albania, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Moldova, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro.

      B. Participants

      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (Congress) may appoint representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the charge of its administrative budget.

      C. Other participants

      i. The European Commission may send representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

      ii. The following intergovernmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

        OECD;
        United Nations specialised Agencies.

      D. Observers

      The following non governmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

        Assembly of European Regions (ARE)

      6. Working structures and methods:

      The Committee may have recourse, where appropriate, to the services of an expert consultant.

      7. Duration:

      These terms of reference will expire on 31 December 2006.

Appendix 13

      Specific Terms of Reference (LR-DP)

      1. Name of Committee:

      Committee of experts on democratic participation and public ethics at
      local and regional level (LR-DP)

      2. Type of Committee:

      Committee of Experts

      3. Source of terms of reference:

      Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR)

      4. Terms of reference:

      Having regard to the Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of Council of Europe member states at their Third Summit and the Plan of Action which resolves to “pursue in partnership with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, intergovernmental co-operation on democracy and good governance at all levels”;

      Having regard to the Agenda for delivering good local and regional governance adopted at Budapest Ministerial Conference and endorsed by the Third Summit ;

        the Committee of experts on democratic participation and public ethics is entrusted with assisting the CDLR in the implementation of specific objectives of Project 2004/DG1/122 related to democratic participation and/or public ethics approved in the framework of the Programme of Activities.

5. Membership of the Committee:

      A. Members

      The governments of all member states are entitled to appoint members with the following desirable qualifications: officials or other experts with particular experience in the structure and operation of local and regional democracy, and particularly in the specific issues for which the Committee is responsible. Each member state shall have one vote.

      The Council of Europe's budget bears the travel and subsistence expenses of one expert for each of the following 14 member states: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom.

      B. Participants

      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (Congress) may appoint representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the charge of its administrative budget.

      C. Other participants

      i. The European Commission may send representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

      ii. The following intergovernmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

      OECD;
      United Nations specialised Agencies.

      D. Observers

      The following non governmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

        Assembly of European Regions (ARE)

      6. Working structures and methods:

      The Committee may have recourse, where appropriate, to the services of (an) expert consultant(s).

      7. Duration:

      These terms of reference will expire on 31 December 2006.

Appendix 14

      Specific Terms of Reference (LR-FS)

      1. Name of Committee:

      Committee of experts on the legal framework and institutional structure of local and regional
      government (LR-FS)

      2. Type of Committee:

      Committee of Experts

      3. Source of terms of reference:

      Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR)

      4. Terms of reference:

      Having regard to the Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of Council of Europe member states at their Third Summit and the Plan of Action which resolves to “pursue in partnership with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, intergovernmental co-operation on democracy and good governance at all levels”;

      Having regard to the Agenda for delivering good local and regional governance adopted at Budapest Ministerial Conference and endorsed by the Third Summit ;

        the Committee of experts on the legal framework and institutional structure is entrusted with assisting the CDLR in the implementation of specific objectives of Project 2004/DG1/121 related to the institutional framework of local and regional democracy approved in the framework of the Programme of Activities.

      5. Membership of the Committee:

      A. Members

      The governments of all member states are entitled to appoint members with the following desirable qualifications: officials or other experts with particular experience in the structure and operation of local and regional democracy, and particularly in the specific issues for which the Committee is responsible. Each member state shall have one vote.

      The Council of Europe's budget bears the travel and subsistence expenses of one expert for each of the following 15 member states: Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

      B. Participants

      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (Congress) may appoint representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote and at the charge of its administrative budget.

      C. Other participants

      i. The European Commission and the Committee of the Regions may appoint representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

      ii. The following intergovernmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

      OECD;

        United Nations specialised Agencies.

      D. Observers

      The following non governmental organisations may send representatives to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

        Assembly of European Regions (ARE)

      6. Working structures and methods:

      The Committee may have recourse, where appropriate, to the services of (an) expert consultant(s).

      7. Duration:

      These terms of reference will expire on 31 December 2006.

Appendix 15

      CALENDAR OF MEETINGS OF THE CDLR
      AND ITS SUBORDINATE COMMITTEES IN 2006

 

First half of the year

Bureau of the CDLR

10 February

Joint meeting with the Congress Bureau

10 February

LR-CT

7 – 8 March

LR-FS

10 - 11 April

CDLR

15 – 17 May

LOREG Network

18 May

LR-DP

2nd half of June*

LR-FL

12 – 13 June

 

Second half of the year (provisional)

LR-CT

To be fixed – 1st half of September

LR-DP

25 – 26 September

Bureau du CDLR

27 September

LR-FS

9 – 10 October

CDLR

20 – 22 November

LR-FL

11 – 12 December

      * To be fixed: see meeting report under item 7.1.1.

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
Note 2 The complete list of participants appears in the meeting report prepared by the Department [doc. CDLR (2005) 55 final].
Note 3 CDL-AD(2004)012 Report on the compatibility of remote voting and electronic voting with the standards of the Council of Europe adopted by the Venice Commission at its 58th Plenary Session (Venice, 12-13 March 2004)  (Ch. Grabenwarter)
Note 4 Based on Council of Europe Treaty Database and information provided by members of the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR).
Note 5 Signature and ratification.
Note 6 Who have legally resided in the local government for at least the last five years; right to stand for elections only for EU citizens.
Note 7 Parts A and B.
Note 8 EU citizens are expected to be given the right to vote in and stand for local elections in 2007.
Note 9 Parliament has approved.
Note 10 and Norwegians.
Note 11 ratification will concern Chapters A and B of the Convention.
Note 12 Government has announced its intention to ratify and to declare that is exercising the right not to apply the provision of Chapter C.
Note 13 Total number of signatures: 11 (also Albania).
Note 14 For specific items on the agenda of the LR-CT's meetings as decided by the Committee.


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