The members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe met in Strasbourg, France, from 6 to 8 November 2018 at their 35th session on the theme of “Integrity and ethical behaviour of local and regional elected representatives”.
The Congress examined, for adoption, several reports on conflicts of interest at local and regional level, transparency and open governments, and the revision of the Code of Conduct for All Persons Involved in Local and Regional Governance. The Congress’s Rules and Procedures were updated in order to incorporate a code of conduct specific to Congress members. These reports are all part of the road map of activities to prevent corruption and promote public ethics at local and regional level adopted by the Congress in 2016.
Against the background of the various crises that Europe is going through, the members of the Congress held several debates on the challenges facing towns, cities and regions. The migration issue was addressed during two debates on “Voting rights at local level as a factor of the successful long-term integration of migrants and displaced persons in European municipalities and regions” and on “Border regions facing the migration phenomenon”. In addition, members will discuss the situation of mayors under pressure, the financial difficulties that local authorities face, and how to reconcile territorial solidarity and regional self-government. They also considered the draft guidelines on the right of local authorities to be consulted by higher levels of government.
As part of the regular monitoring of local and regional democracy in Europe, the Congress examined for adoption the reports on local democracy in Lithuania and Slovenia and on local and regional democracy in Georgia. Information reports on the local elections held in the Republic of Moldova (20 May 2018), the Netherlands (21 March 2018) and Tunisia (6 May 2018) were also presented.
Citizen participation was also at the heart of the 35th session, in particular with the contribution of youth delegates from 42 member states, who will sit alongside the members of the Congress (without voting rights). At the session, the youth delegates presented the field projects which they have prepared in their respective local authorities. In addition, there was a debate on European Local Democracy Week (ELDW) and on the need to give fresh impetus to this annual pan-European event, which is co-ordinated by the Congress.
The Congress also elected its President and the Presidents of the Chambers, their Vice-Presidents and the Chairs of the Committees. At the opening of the session, Ms Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, the outgoing President, took stock of the activities and achievements of the Congress during the two years of her term of office. In addition, members of Congress considered the proposed reform of the functioning of the Congress and revision of its Statutory Charter.
Guest-speakers at the session included Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, and Chair of the Committee of Ministers, who answered questions from Congress members.