Press release - 179(2009)

Jean-Claude Frécon: "Despite budgetary constraints, local and regional democracy must remain a priority for the Council of Europe"

Strasbourg, 05.03.2009 – "The global economic crisis and the resulting difficulties member states face are also affecting the Council of Europe's budgetary situation, forcing us to make difficult choices. Our fundamental values cannot, however, be sacrificed on financial grounds," said Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC), Vice-President and Rapporteur on the Congress budget, following the adoption of a recommendation on Congress resources at the 16th Plenary Session.

"Unfortunately, it is now clear from the additional budgetary cuts that, despite all the efforts the Congress makes to streamline its work, it is liable to find it impossible to carry out the activities that are essential in order to consolidate the Council of Europe's role in furthering local and regional democracy.

However, it is our firm conviction that local and regional democracy, as a constituent component of every democratic system, represents one of the Council of Europe's fundamental values, which is democracy, and constitutes an integral part of its mission and its priorities, which cannot be sacrificed on budgetary grounds.

The member states themselves, at their last summit in Warsaw in 2005, reaffirmed the importance of the Congress's role in pursuing the Council of Europe’s mission, in particular with regard to democracy, and fully acknowledged its institutional place as guarantor of local and regional democracy and a reference body in this field. In adopting the new Statutory Resolution and new Charter of the Congress in May 2007, the Committee of Ministers also highlighted the role of local and regional authorities in the institutional framework of the Congress, in particular by strengthening monitoring of the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and of regional democracy.

Given the place the Congress occupies among the European institutions and the role of the Council of Europe in this field, the Congress cannot continue to be subjected to a reduction in its budget. It is therefore essential that the Congress should receive sufficient additional financial and human resources to enable it to carry through its activities that have been singled out as taking priority," concluded Vice-President Frécon.


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