Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
    Rapporteur on Local and Regional Cooperation

    RAP-LARC(2004)CB1 7 December 2004

    Meeting of 19 November 2004


    The Rapporteur for Local and Regional Co-operation (RAP-LARC), Ambassador Shpëtim Caushi, Permanent Representative of Albania, convened a meeting to hold an exchange of views with Delegations on the advisability of drawing up a Committee of Ministers recommendation on mountain regions on the basis of the reference documents for the meeting, notably Notes on the agenda (RAP-LARC(2004)4.). In his introduction, he drew the Delegations' attention to the fact that the Congress and the Parliamentary Assembly, the two elected bodies of the Council of Europe, considered this initiative valuable and necessary.

    The Secretariat stressed that the CDLR's opinion was neutral, giving technical recommendations and stating the views expressed at its meeting, in compliance with the Committee of Ministers' terms of reference. The CDLR recalled that the Recommendation was technically feasible but had left the political decision on the advisability of the recommendation to the Committee of Ministers to take. As for the financial implications, it depended on the Committee of Ministers'choice of method. Though the financial implications were not high, it would be unfortunate to use the time and effort of any steering committee, if in the end the recommendation were not to be adopted. The Secretariat also pointed out that a draft Recommendation already existed, having been prepared by the Congress and that the draft text could be amended in order to overcome the difficulties mentioned by some delegations.

    The discussion showed two opposite positions: a firm reservation based on arguments expressed in paragraph 4 of the CDLR opinion1 (CM(2004)118, Appendix 2) and a firm conviction concerning the need for such a recommendation, given:

    a. states with no mountains were not obliged to implement the Recommendation;
    b. it was a non-binding instrument;
    c. not all mountains in Europe were Alps;
    d. mountain regions in many member states continued to be disadvantaged areas;
    e. lack of equal opportunities for people living in mountain regions made this problematic part of the core issues of the Council of Europe.

    No consensus could be reached. The Rapporteur accordingly suggested stating that fact in the reply to the Congress and to the Assembly. Delegations agreed.

    1 - some member states do not have mountain regions;
    - there are problems with the legal definition of mountain regions;
    - mountain regions are not necessarily disadvantaged areas;
    - there is not a good match with the Council of Europe's priorities concerning democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
    - certain states have nothing to gain from developing a legal instrument on mountain regions, as the specific features of such regions are already fully taken into account in national regional/spatial planning and development policies and financial equalisation systems; a specific policy on mountain regions might therefore involve duplication of existing arrangements;
    - most alpine regions are already governed by the 1991 Salzburg Convention on the Protection of the Alps;
    - the implementation of the recommendation may induce financial difficulties for governments.



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