Policy Brief on Possible Directions of Cooperation

Policy Brief on Possible Directions of Cooperation between the Council for Cooperation of Local Self-Government Bodies under the Council of the Republic of the Belarusian National Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe was prepared by the experts of NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation” in 2009.

Download the paper here.

Local Self-Government in Belarus

The publication is an overview of the materials of a number of studies in the field of public administration and local self-government in the Republic of Belarus, carried out by the expert group of NGO «Lev Sapieha Foundation» (Minsk, Belarus) during 2015−2016.

These studies of Belarusian specialists are part of the international programme «Strengthening Institutional Frameworks for Local Governance in the Eastern Partnership Countries», in the framework of the Programmatic Cooperation of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

The publication is addressed to a wide range of readers — deputies of local Councils and specialists of government bodies, activists of public associations and citizen initiatives, teachers of social sciences and students, as well as to all who are interested in local self-government and citizen’s participation at the local level.

NGO «Lev Sapieha Foundation» thanks to the European Union for helping to publish this brochure.

The content of this publication is the responsibility of its authors. The content of this publication does not reflect the position of the European Union.

Download the publication by the link.

NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation” presented its proposals at the seminar on actual issues of local self-government

Miraslau Kobasa, Chairman of the Board, took part at the seminar on September 12, 2018, and presented proposals on local-self-government development in the Republic of Belarus and possible directions of cooperation with the Council of Europe.

Proposals on local self-government development

  1. To analyze Belarusian legislation on local self-government on the issue of its relevance to the principles and norms of the European Charter together with the experts of the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe.
  2. To design and adopt the Concept of local self-government development in the Republic of Belarus based on the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government as a strategy document. The key points are decentralization, the principle of subsidiarity, competency, community property, administrative-territorial devision, associations of local self-governments, the staff training scheme for local self-governmental bodies, local communities of citizens, the forms of citizen participation in decision making on local level, etc.
  3. To define the steps and mechanisms of implementation of the Concept and to assign responsibility for its implementation.
  4. To develop the legislation on local self-government with the aim to adopt it to the European Charter taking into account the level of community development, local traditions and financial and human capacity.
  5. Preparation to the assignment and ratification of the European Charter;
  6. Conduction of educational and informational activities for the experts and civil servants, deputies, representatives of the civil society organizations and mass media.

Possible directions of cooperation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

  • Analysis of Belarusian legislation,
  • Educational activities (skills development of Belarusian experts and civil servants, seminars, conferences, internships, consultations),
  • Establishment of associations of local self-governments (including National Association),
  • Participation of Belarusian specialists and youth in the events and projects of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

The presentation is available by the link.

Round table in Minsk: “The Congress is ready to contribute to the Council of Europe Action Plan for Belarus”

At the opening of the Round table held in Minsk, Belarus, on 12 September 2018, Congress President Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM welcomed this initiative as “a good opportunity to establish the groundwork for a better decentralization in Belarus and to strengthen our cooperation in the field of local democracy”.

The Congress President presented the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which functions as a kind of “constitution for local authorities”, one of the characteristics of which is its adaptability to European national systems.

“Belarus has already anchored local self-government in its constitution, which demonstrates a political will to establish local self-government in the country. The Congress is ready to contribute to Council of Europe Action Plan for Belarus and to support your country in its next steps towards greater decentralization,” she stated as she addressed the participants.

“Even though the 47 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified the Charter, let us be honest, much remains to be done to improve local self-government in all our countries”, said the Congress President, stressing that through its experience in monitoring the implementation of the Charter, the Congress has identified several recurring issues that need to be improved in this field. “This shows that even if we have reached a certain political maturity, we still need to strengthen our democracies and, to this end, we must develop synergies and learn from each other,” she concluded.

Source: the Council of Europe

Photo: the Council of Europe

High level meetings and round table on local self-government in Belarus

At the invitation of the Belarusian authorities, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe held a round table and several high-level meetings with the Belarusian authorities in Minsk on 11 and 12 September 2018.

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM met the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander LUKASHENKO, as well as the President of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Mikhail MIASNIKOVICH on 11 September 2018. She also participated in a seminar organised with students and professors from the Minsk Academy of Public Administration.

On the same day, a seminar brought together Congress members and experts to discuss the situation of local self-government in Belarus, in the light of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It was opened by the Vice-President of the Congress, Michalis ANGELOPOULOS (Greece, SOC) and the Dean of the Academy of Public Administration, Gennady PALCHIK.

On 12 September, a round table will be devoted to these issues with a view to examining how the principles of the Charter are taken into account in Belarus’ local government system, as well as their practical implementation and future prospects. The role of national associations of local authorities will be presented, in particular, by Leendert VERBEEK (Netherlands, SOC), Chairman of the Congress Monitoring Committee, and cross-border co-operation by Robert Csongor GRUMAN, Vice-President of the Congress. Participants will also discuss several local self-government issues such as the training of local government staff and twinning as a development tool.

Source: Council of Europe
Photo: Council of Europe

Local Finance Benchmarking in the Eastern Partnership Countries

Local finance benchmarking (LFB) is a tool designed by the Council of Europe to contribute to improving local financial management and fiscal arrangements for local authorities in all European countries. It is based on two Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, prepared after consultation with OECD, IMF and the World Bank. This tool has already produced good results in various other countries, such as Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. Its implementation started in Eastern Partnership countries under the Council of Europe/European Union Eastern Partnership Programmatic Co-operation Framework for 2015-2017.

This Study was prepared by a team of international and local experts. National chapters of this study come up with concrete recommendations to overcome the existing drawbacks of LFB implementation. The preparation of this study is the first step of the project. It should lead to the preparation of national Benchmarks and their implementation on a pilot basis in 2016. It is expected that, like in most other countries where this tool was implemented, it will produce real-life reforms of local financial management not only in the pilot municipalities but also in other local authorities in the participating countries.

A national policy on promoting LFB and incentives to encourage local governments to reform their financial management practice, when appropriate in the light of the results of the implementation of this
tool are important elements for the success of the reform of financial regulations and practice. Financial management benchmarking, which is not yet widespread in the region, needs to be encouraged by disseminating
success stories from the region and beyond, thus exposing decision-making representatives from both the central and local level to these good practices and creating positive incentives for reforms.

Download the study here.

Source: Council of Europe