794cmnotes12_1






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    Ministers’ Deputies
    Notes on the Agenda

    CM/Notes/794/12.1 19 April 2002
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    794 Meeting, 30 April 2002
    12 Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE)


    12.1 Mini-Session of the CLRAE
    (Strasbourg, 20-22 mars 2002)

    Texts adopted

    Reference documents
    Compendium of texts adopted (Adopted texts 8 Addendum 2)

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      Action

      The Deputies are invited to consider, with a view to their adoption, a number of decisions appearing here below, including draft replies to Recommendations 106 (2002) and 107 (2002).


    Background

    The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities held its Mini-Session in Strasbourg on 20-22 March 2002. It adopted 3 Recommendations (106 to 108), an Opinion (No. 16) and 4 Resolutions (126 to 129).

    The Deputies are invited to consider these texts and adopt the decisions proposed here below.

    About the texts adopted:

    Concerning Recommendation 106 (2002) on sustainable development and the liberalisation of the energy market

    The recommendation considers the implications of the energy market’s deregulation for local and regional authorities. Whilst the Congress is in favour of liberalisation, it also expresses caution towards the privatisation of public energy suppliers. Market players need to be given rules to ensure that possible negative effects of deregulation are avoided, the quality of public services maintained and the benefits of competition enjoyed.

    The recommendation also calls for a stronger integration of environment policy targets into the process of liberalisation, stressing that the main focus of European energy policy should now be directed at environmental aspects. The major effects of liberalisation, namely lower electricity prices and higher uncertainties for investors in generation capacities, have a negative impact on environmentally sound technologies such as renewable energy sources and combined heat and power production.

    An integrated energy strategy should involve all levels of government to meet the challenge of the rapid growth of energy demand and the growing threat of climate change.

    Paragraphs 20-34 contain a number of recommendations addressed to the governments of member states, asking them to support environmentally sound technologies for energy generation, to promote energy efficiency and to create fair market conditions for all sources of electricity.

    Paragraphs 35-42 are addressed to the European Union, inviting it to adopt a policy that fosters environmental regulation of the electricity sector, covering such issues as energy product taxes, disclosure and certification of electricity sources and guidelines on state aid for environmental protection.

    Concerning Recommendation 107 (2002) on the problems of Europe’s countryside

    The recommendation considers the major forces of change threatening rural areas, such as social and technological changes, modern agriculture, urban growth and neglect. The Congress calls for concentrated effort to reverse these trends, including local and regional programmes of rural development to support traditional farming practices, craft and service industries and the use of modern telecommunications to halt the decline in rural services.

    Paragraphs 9-25 of the recommendation address the governments of member states, putting forward a broad range of policy measures to support the diversification of economic and social activity, including investment, technical assistance, business services, education and training. It also covers the policies for transport provision, which is an essential element in sustaining rural communities.

    The promotion of sustainable rural tourism, as well as awareness raising and information exchange programmes are recommended by the Congress.

    In paragraphs 26-30 a number of proposals are addressed to the European Union, suggesting to put rural development at the top of its agenda and to reform the Common Agricultural Policy, giving clear indications to the rural population for the immediate future and after enlargement.

    Concerning Recommendation 108 (2002) on local authorities confronting natural disasters and emergencies

    The recommendation refers to a number of measures which the CLRAE asks national governments, the Committee of Ministers and the Commission of the European Union to take, as a response to its own concerns and policy proposals in respect of local authorities dealing with natural emergencies and disasters.

    The CLRAE's considerations and proposals concerning local authorities are contained in Resolution No. 129 (2002) to which the attention of the Committee of Ministers is drawn in both para. 4 and the Appendix of the recommendation.

    The CLRAE is concerned at the frequency and scope of natural disasters and emergencies, which cause damage and loss of life to local communities. It feels that improvements could be made by national governments, specialised agencies and local governments in anticipating disasters, defining responsibilities and improving co-ordination before, during and after disasters, whether natural or "man-made". To be noted, however, that neither in the resolution nor in the recommendation does the CLRAE include in its definition of disasters the question of the impact of terrorism, mainly because the CLRAE intends dealing with this question as a separate issue, for example the Conference on Mayors Combating Terrorism, to be held in Luxembourg 20 and 21 September 2002.

    In addition to drawing the attention of national governments to the proposals contained in its resolution, it asks, in para. 5, for a more structured coordination of emergency and relevant services and a national multi-agency approach. Too often, responses are unco-ordinated, there is frequently a confusion of responsibilities; excessive diversity in sources of information for the public; inadequate contingency planning or risk analysis. A single or multi agency approach would help alleviate such shortcomings.

    Equally, in para. 6, the CLRAE asks national governments for financial, statutory and legislative reinforcement of the responses to disasters.

    It specifically asks the Committee of Ministers (para. 9 of the recommendation), to encourage signature and ratification of relevant Conventions; to promote (para. 10) the establishment of a European Observatory for the prevention and management of natural disasters and emergencies and, (para. 11) to improve and harmonise the warning systems.

    Finally, in paras 13 and 14, it calls upon the European Union to take note of the recommendation and Resolution 129 appearing in Appendix and promote legislation relevant to its contents, particularly in relation to coastal pollution in Europe arising from oil spills.

    Concerning Opinion No. 16 on the White Paper of the European Commission on European Governance

    The Congress was invited through the Committee of Regions of the European Union to express its opinion on the White Paper on European Governance adopted on 25 July 2001 by the European Commission.

    In its opinion, the Congress expresses, in general, its congratulations to the European Commission on this initiative of preparing such a white paper which expressly recognises the fundamental role of territorial authorities in a Europe-based on multi-level governments. The Congress also strongly encourages the Commission to persevere in its endeavour to “organise a systematic dialogue with European and national associations of regional and local government” and agreed that the application of the principles of openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence should be regarded as fundamental to good governance at national and European levels.

    Therefore, the Congress, in its opinion, invites member states of the Council of Europe, particularly those that are members or applicants for membership of the European Union or affected by its policies and regulations through the European Economic Area Agreement, to take account of the proposals in the White Paper concerning their relations with their local and regional authorities.

    The Congress suggests to the European Commission that it adds to the principles already contemplated in the White Paper the principle of partnership - another fundamental element of good governance. The Congress is convinced that these principles could be enforced by an effective application of the principle of subsidiarity in compliance with Article 3 para. 1 of the European Charter for Local Self-Government. In this context, the Congress deemed it necessary for the European Union, which has issued several directives affecting regional and local responsibilities, to apply the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and consequently for the European Union to adhere to the principles of the Charter at least by means of a solemn declaration.

    As the wide consultation organised by the European Commission on the White Paper came to an end on 31 March, the President of the Congress had already communicated this opinion to the European Commission through the Committee of Regions, immediately after its adoption on 22 March.

      Financing assured: YES

    DRAFT DECISIONS

    794th meeting – 30 April 2002

    Item 12.1

    Mini-Session of the CLRAE (Strasbourg, 20-22 mars 2002) – Texts adopted
    (Compendium of texts adopted (Adopted texts 8 Addendum 2))

    Decisions

    The Deputies

    Concerning Recommendation 106 (2002) on sustainable development and the liberalisation of the energy market

    1. agreed to forward Recommendation 106 (2002) to the governments of member states;

    2. agreed to forward it to the European Commission;

    3. agreed to forward it to the Committee for the activities of the Council of Europe in the field of biological and landscape diversity (CO-DBP) and to the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for regional planning (CEMAT), for information;

    4. adopted the following reply to this recommendation:

    “The Committee of Ministers has considered the Congress’s Recommendation 106 (2002) on sustainable development and the liberalisation of the energy market and supports its call for a stronger integration of environmental policy targets into the process of liberalisation of the energy market in member states. The Committee of Ministers has forwarded this recommendation to the governments of its member states, to the European Commission, as well as to the Committee for the activities of the Council of Europe in the field of biological and landscape diversity (CO-DBP) and to the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for regional planning (CEMAT), for information.”

    Concerning Recommendation 107 (2002) on the problems of Europe’s countryside

    5. agreed to forward Recommendation 107 (2002) to the governments of member states,

    6. agreed to forward it to the European Commission;

    7. agreed to forward it for information to the Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage (CD-PAT), to the Committee for the activities of the Council of Europe in the field of biological and landscape diversity (CO-DBP) and to the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for regional planning (CEMAT);

    8. adopted the following reply to this recommendation:

    “The Committee of Ministers has considered Recommendation 107 (2002) on the problems of Europe’s countryside. It has forwarded it to the governments of its member states, to the European Commission, to the Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage (CD-PAT), to the Committee for the activities of the Council of Europe in the field of biological and landscape diversity (CO-DBP) and to the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for regional planning (CEMAT), for information.”

    Concerning Recommendation 108 (2002) on local authorities confronting natural disasters and emergencies

    9. took note of Recommendation 108 (2002) on local authorities confronting natural disasters and emergencies;

    10. agreed to forward Recommendation 108 (2002), including its Appendix, to the governments of member states;

    11. agreed to forward it to the European Commission;

    12. agreed to forward it, for consideration, to the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement, drawing its attention to paragraphs 10 and 11 and inviting it to report back on these two items;

    13. agreed to forward it for information to the Steering Committee for Local Democracy (CDLR);

    14. agreed to encourage governments, which have not already done so, to sign and ratify the Convention on civil liability for damage resulting from activities dangerous to the environment (Lugano, 1993) and the Convention on the protection of the environment through criminal law (Strasbourg, 1998);

    15. instructed the Secretariat to prepare a draft reply to this recommendation;

    Concerning Opinion No. 16 on the White Paper of the European Commission on European Governance

    16. took note of the CLRAE opinion No. 16 as well as of its communication by the President of the Congress to the European Commission through the Committee of Regions before the Commission’s final deadline of 31 March 2002;

    17. agreed to transmit opinion No. 16 to the governments of member states, in particular paragraph 11 of the opinion;

    18. took note of the following resolutions adopted at the Mini-Session of the Congress:

    - Resolution 126: Rio + 10: Towards the next World Summit on Sustainable Development
    - Resolution 127: Sustainable development and the liberalisation of the energy market
    - Resolution 128: The problems of Europe’s countryside
    - Resolution 129: Local authorities confronting natural disasters and emergencies.



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