Address by Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, on behalf of the President of the Congress, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, at the funeral of Jean-Claude Frécon in the church in Pouilly-Les-Feurs

13 December 2016

Tribute to Jean-Claude Frécon (1944-2016)

Speaking on behalf of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at the funeral of Jean-Claude Frécon, former President of the Congress, who passed away on 10 December 2016, Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress, said:

I last saw Jean-Claude Frécon in Strasbourg on 2 December. He was just leaving the meeting of the Congress Bureau and was running to get to the meeting of the Municipal Council in Pouilly-les-Feurs.

Jean-Claude’s engagement in both local and European affairs is summed up in this departure from one of the capitals of Europe to the village of Pouilly where he had his roots. This active European, who remained firmly anchored in rural France, always had two balls in the air, and spent his whole life juggling between his European, national and local commitments. I believe I can claim that Jean-Claude drew his energy for his work at national and European level from his involvement at local level.

Jean-Claude arrived at the Congress of the Council of Europe during the Summit of Heads of State and Government in Vienna in 1993. The year after, he became an active member of the French delegation, which he later headed. He soon became Vice-President of the Congress, then President of the Chamber of Local Authorities, before being elected President of the Congress in October 2014.

Over the course of these 20 years, he focused in particular on the monitoring of the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, on local government finances in Europe, and on the monitoring of local democracy in Azerbaijan and Romania. He observed local elections throughout Europe: in Albania, in Azerbaijan, in the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” — I cannot name them all. He even observed elections in Israel and Palestine.

Jean-Claude particularly liked these field missions and he sometimes regretted, in his role as President, that he could no longer accompany the observation delegations.

Since 2008, as a Senator, Jean-Claude was also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. There he was the Chair of the Sub-Committee of the Europe Prize, which is presented each year to communities that are strongly committed to Europe in their work. He was particularly proud of them.

Jean-Claude tirelessly devoted himself to local democracy and more generally to the values of democracy and human rights.

In his summary speech in October of this year, Jean-Claude passed the baton to the new President, underlining the importance of collective continuity. Quoting President François Hollande, he said: “we are always replaced, sometimes missed, but what matters is continuity”. Today these words resonate as a form of political legacy.

I know that Jean-Claude is already missed by those who knew him. However, I can say that his work and commitments at the Council of Europe will be taken on and continued with determination by others.

His passing is a great loss for all of us who knew him not only as a kind and warm-hearted colleague, but also as a faithful and enthusiastic friend.