Press release - 683(2007)

The Council of Europe launches the European Local Democracy Week in Valencia

Valencia (Spain), 15.10.2007 – The Council of Europe is today launching the “European Local Democracy Week”, which will be held every year and aims to promote citizen participation at local level throughout Europe and increase the awareness of the importance of local democracy for European citizens. The launch takes place during the 15th session of the Conference of European ministers responsible for local and regional government of the Council of Europe, which started today in Valencia.

The “Week” will be organised this year simultaneously in nine Council of Europe member states having joined the project. In order to inform citizens, compile their opinions and expectations, and encourage them to take part actively in local affairs, participating local institutions are organising a variety of activities, such as open doors, debates and information campaigns.

The conference of ministers was opened by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, in the presence of the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Halvdan Skard, the Vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Walter Schmied, the Minister of public administration and local self-government of Serbia, representing the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Milan Markovic, the President of the Autonomous Community of Valencia, Francisco Camps, and the mayor of Valencia, Rita Barberá. Elena Salgado, the Minister of Public Administration of Spain, was elected to chair the conference.

Under the theme “Good Local and Regional Governance – The European Challenge”, ministers will debate the role of citizens in local and regional democracy and the most recent developments in the field of regional self-government. They are also reviewing the progress made on the “Budapest Agenda for delivering Good Local and Regional Governance (2005-2010)”, which identifies current challenges facing local and regional democracy in Europe and the actions that are to be taken in response to them.

The ministers will discuss the Council of Europe Strategy on Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level, which aims to mobilise national and local authorities so citizens can benefit from good democratic governance practices, by improving the quality of local public services, the engagement of the population and policies.

The European Local Democracy Week is an initiative aimed at bringing local self-government closer and to citizens and promoting openness and participation in public local affairs. The week includes October 15 every year because it was on that date that the European Charter of Local Self-Government was opened for signature in 1985. The Week” is a joint initiative of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (Congress) of the Council of Europe and the European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR).

“Pilot projects” in 2007 will take place in 26 municipalities from 9 countries (Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Georgia, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Russian Federation, United Kingdom). This year’s local events include activities such as meetings of elected representatives with their citizens, media campaigns, surveys on the public satisfaction with local authorities or schools visits to local authorities. After the “kick-off” in Valencia, the “European Local Democracy Week” will continue to be promoted as a pan-European event, with the aim of encouraging more local authorities to join in.

Contacts for the press:

Jaime Rodríguez, Council of Europe Press Division: Tel. + 33 (0)3 90 21 47 04; Mob. +33 (0)6 899 95 042,

Dmitri Marchenkov, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe Communication Unit: Tel. + 33 (0)3 88 41 38 44; Mob. +33 (0)6 75 65 03 49 ;