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  • The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

The Council of Europe has always recognised the crucial importance of democracy at local and regional level. That is the reason for its commitment to promoting a style of local self-government that meets the needs of the citizens wherever they may be.

The Conference of Local Authorities of Europe was created within the Council in 1957. It becomes then, the Conference of local and regional authorities, bringing together the elected representatives of the local and regional communities. The European Charter of Local Self-Government is its magnum opus. Opened for signature by Council of Europe member states on 15 October 1985, it came into force on 9 September 1988. This is the instrument in which the signatory States undertake to recognise the principle of local self-government in domestic legislation.

In 1994 the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities succeeded the Conference as a Council of Europe consultative body. Being intended to genuinely represent both local and regional authorities, it comprises two chambers: the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions.

To reinforce regional participation in the Congress, as well as the stipulated electoral character of the mandate held by the Congress members, a Statutory Resolution (2000) 1 brought greater clarity to the functioning of the Congress.

The Congress is therefore a political assembly composed of representatives holding an electoral mandate as members of a local or regional authority appointed each by a specific procedure. Its 318 full members and 318 substitute members, representing over 200 000 European municipalities and regions, are grouped by national delegation and by political group. Thus the Congress offers an ideal forum for dialogue where representatives of local and regional authorities discuss common problems, compare notes about their experiences and then put their points of view to the national governments.

As promoter of local and regional democracy, since its inception it has produced a body of international treaties such as the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which has become the authoritative international treaty in this sphere. Likewise, a draft European Charter of Regional Democracy is expected to supplement this machinery in order to establish the fundamental principles of regional democracy more firmly while taking account of the specific circumstances of the member states.

Further information on the functioning of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and its structures is available here:

http://www.coe.int/t/congress/presentation/default_en.asp