The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRA) is the pan-European political assembly representing the local and regional authorities of the forty-seven member states of the Council of Europe . Its role is to promote local and regional democracy, improve local and regional governance and strengthen self-government, according to the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It is made up of two chambers, the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions and holds its plenary sessions twice a year at the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg , where its permanent Secretariat is located.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the United States of America and the United States of America. It encourages the development and regionalization processes, and the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, observes the functioning of local and regional elections in its members states and creates international treaties that lay down common European standards to protect local authorities‘ rights.
The present Congress of Local and Regional Authorities was established on 14 January 1994 with the Statutory Resolution 94 (3) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. However, the history of the Congress is already in the history of the European Union.
The Congress‘ predecessor, the Conference of Local Authorities of Europe was first established at the Council of Europe in 1957. It held its first session on 12 January 1957 in Strasbourg presided by the prominent French statesman Jacques Chaban-Delmas, who was President of the Conference of January 1957 to January 1960. In 1975, the Committee of Ministers established the Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, which represents representatives of European regions, not only local authorities, but replacing and enhancing the Conference of Local Authorities. In 1979 it became the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. Six years later, in 1985, the Standing Conference adopted the European Charter of Local Self-Government, recognizing the increasing role of local development, which has become one of the most important achievements of the organization. The Charter was opened for signature in October 1985 and has since been signed by the Council of Europe member states. In 1994 the Standing Conference asked the Committee of Ministers to further enhance its statute, and the Standing Conference was transformed into the present Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. In 2005, during the Warsaw Summit, the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Council of Europe reassured the importance of local and regional democracy for Europe and underlined the major role of the Congress in its mission, again supporting its mandate. In October 2010, The Congress adopted a comprehensive reform of their structures and actions to increase the impact of their action and make it more effective. In particular, the structure changes the creation of three new committees, to replace the previous one: a Monitoring Committee, a Governance Committee and a Current Affairs Committee. Moreover, a Statutory Forum has been set up, mandated by the Congress, and the 30-per cent requirement for women’s representation in national delegations also applied to substitute members. The role of the Bureau as the executive body of the Congress has been strengthened, and the adopted texts have a clearer and more concrete follow-up procedure. In the light of this reform, The Committee of Ministers adopted a revised version of the Statute of the Resolution of the Congress of the Congress in January 2011. The Congress adopted its new Rules of Procedure in March 2012. In October 2012 it adopted its priorities 2013-2016. These priorities are focused on 5 areas: monitoring of local and regional democracy, monitoring of local and regional elections, targeted post-monitoring and post-observation assistance, the local and regional dimension of human rights and streamlined thematic activities.
As political Assembly of local and regional elected representatives, the Congress is the voice of Europe’s 200,000 regions and municipalities. It promotes the strengthening of local and regional democracy in the Council of Europe member states. The Congress carries out monitoring missions of the local and regional authorities in the States concerned. These reports and the draft resolutions and recommendations are presented to the plenary sessions in which the representatives of high representatives of the governments before adopting them. The recommendations are then forwarded to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It also observes local and regional elections.
Furthermore, it is the thematic reports which, together with a recommendation and / or a resolution, are debated during its sessions.
To fulfill its objectives the Congress cooperates with various partners: national associations, international associations, observers, civil society and other institutional partners such as the Committee of Regions of the European Union.
Priorities of the Congress 2013-2016
- Improve the quality of local and regional democracy and human rights
- Help cities and regions fight the economic and financial crisis, as well as foster democracy
- Develop partnerships and cooperation
The Priorities can be found here .
Dialogue with governments
As part of its monitoring of regional democracy in Europe, the Congress maintains a regular dialogue with member states of the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers, which includes the 47 Foreign Ministers of these states, the Conference of Ministers responsible for local and regional authorities, and its Steering Committees – are the main partners in this regard. Several times a year the President and the Secretary General of the Congress of Representatives of the Member States in the Committee of Ministers with a record of its activities and exchange of views. The Congress also has direct contacts and exchanges with national governments, in particular, on the occasion of the official visits in the member states, during the plenary sessions, or during follow-up or post-monitoring visits in the country itself.here .
The Bureau of the Congress, which consists of the members of the Chamber of Regions and Local Authorities of the Chamber of Regions under the leadership of the Congress President ( Gudrun Mosler-Törnström since October 2016), is responsible for organizing the plenary sessions, the coordination of The work of the two chambers and the committees, and the organization of the monitoring and election observation missions, the budget and all the questions that need to be treated in between two plenary sessions.
- Gudrun Mosler-Törnström , Austria, President of the Congress, SOC 
- Anders Knape , Sweden, President of the Local Chamber, EPP / CCE 
- Gunn Marit Helgesen , Norway, President of the Regional Chamber, EPP / CCE 
Complete list of Congress Bureau members
Chamber of Local Authorities
The main task of the Chamber of Local AuthoritiesThe local elections are based on local self-government. The Chamber also handles social issues and supports the cooperation of European cities, such as intercultural dialogues, e-democracy, or multiculturalism. It promotes the principles of local democracy outside Europe, inter alia through Euro-Arab dialogue between cities and Euro-Mediterranean co-operation. At its meetings, which takes place during the Plenary Sessions, the Chamber of Local Authorities holds the issue of such issues as the fight against radicalization, cities against terrorism, migration, the protection of cultural heritage, and adopts recommendations and resolutions. If necessary, the Chamber of Local Authorities may also require a member to write a report. The Chamber of Local Authorities is looking at issues that are relevant to its jurisdiction, namely substantive and current issues relating to the local dimension in Europe, and the need for a debate during the Congress. A list of the members of this Chamber can be foundhere .
Chamber of Regions
The Chamber of Regions is composed of representatives of the local and central levels of government. The authority must have self-governing or state-like powers. It must be able to take full responsibility for a substantial share of matters of public interest, in the interest of its community, and it has to take into account the principle of subsidiarity. The Chamber of Regions meets twice a year during the plenary sessions of the Congress, holds the debates on issues such as regionalization in Europe, and adopts resolutions and recommendations. It deals with the role of regions of the member states of the Congress, regional democracy, inter-regional cooperation and regional economy, among others. The members of this Chamber can be found here.
With the adoption of the revised Charter of the Congress on January 19, 2011, the former Standing Committee was replaced by the Statutory Forum. This Forum is composed of heads of national delegations and the members of the Bureau of Congress. The Forum acts on behalf of the Congress between the President and the President, as he deems necessary.
In October 2010, the Congress set up three committees: the Monitoring Committee, the Governance Committee and the Current Affairs Committee. These Committees prepare for the plenary sessions.
The Monitoring Committee has been established to oversee the implementation of the commitment and obligations of the member states to the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It organizes monitoring visits and drafts reports and recommendations on the situation of the local and regional democracy in the member states concerned. It encourages members states to evaluate the situation of local democracy, in relation to the Charter, and identifies the obstacles that prevent them from implementing it fully. The members of this Committee can be found here .
The Governance Committee is responsible for the affairs of the Congress‘ statutory mandate. These include public finance, cross-border and inter-regional co-operation and e-democracy and co-operation with intergovernmental bodies. The site of the Congress contains a list of the members of this Committee.
Current Affairs Committee
The Current Affairs Committee deals with the role of regional and local governments in the light of the challenges of modern society. It works on thematic issues, such as inclusive societies and citizen participation, education, interreligious and intercultural dialogue, protection of children from sexual abuse, youth participation, integration of migrants, from the point of view of the core values of the Council of Europe . The members of this Committee can be found on the site of the Congress.
The Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government
The Group of Independent Experts helps them in their local and regional responsibilities, in regards to the European Charter. The experts are recruited from universities and other research centers based on their expertise in law, economics, or political science and have a renewable term of four years. The Group of Independent Experts is mandated to assist the Congress in:
1. Monitoring reports and monitoring reports
2. Specific reporting of the Charter of the Member States
3. Preparing reports on a specific point in the Charter, which poses problems concerning compliance with the Charter (research reports)
4. Preparing reports on issues of concern for local and regional authorities
5. Preparing reports on the promotion of local and regional democracy
The Congress Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General, who is elected by the plenary meeting of Congress. Currently the Secretary General is Andreas Kiefer (re-elected in March 2015) and is supported by the Congress Director, Jean-Philippe Bozouls. The Secretariat of the two chambers of Congress will be occupied by two executive secretaries, who are appointed by the Secretary General after consultation with the Congress. The Chamber of Local Authorities is currently Executive Secretary Renate Zikmund (since 2016), and the Chamber of Regions is led by Executive Secretary Maria Ochoa-LLido (since 2016).
The United States of America is a member of the Council of Europe, which is directly elected by the United States. The membership of each member states of a balanced representation of territories, equitable representation of the various types of local and regional authorities and political forces, and equitable representation of women and men. Each member state has the right to the same number of seats in the Congress as in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Apart from full members, the delegations are also made of substitutes (who work in the same capacity). A list of the national delegations and their members can be found on theCongress site .
Members of Congress
According to its statute, the Congress consists of 324 representatives (and 324 substitutes) from each member state, as follows:
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||5/5||bulgaria||6/6||croatia||5/5|
|switzerland||6/6||Republic of Macedonia||3/3||turkey||18/18|
The political groups within the Congress ensure the equitable representation, in terms of political, geographical and gender balance in each delegation. The Congress Charter sets a minimum of representation of 30% for the under-represented sex for each delegation. There are four political groups within the Congress: • SOC – Socialist Party • EPP / CCE – European People ’s Party / Christian Democrats • ILDG – Independent and Liberal Democratic Group • ECR – European Conservatives and Reformists
The Congress meets twice a year for the plenary sessions, which are held in Strasbourg during May and October. The sessions for each Chamber are held during the plenary sessions. Every two years, the Congress joins President from among the representatives, or full members.
See the Congress site for the latest information on the political groups.
Monitoring of local and regional democracy
The core mission of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the effective monitoring of the situation of local and regional democracy in member states by the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Through this process of monitoring, the Congress contributes, to the territorial level, to the main objectives of the Council of Europe, which is to advance democracy and human rights on the continent. Monitoring is also part of an ongoing political dialogue with the different levels of governance in the State concerned.
The Congress undertakes: • regular general country-by-country monitoring missions; • the examination of a particular aspect of the Charter; • fact-finding missions to look into specific cases of concern; Following monitoring visits, the Monitoring Committee draws up reports and recommendations to member states on how to improve the management of municipalities and regions. These recommendations are debated and adopted during the sessions of the Congress. More information and examples of recently adopted texts in this area can be found here .
Observation of elections
The observation of the local and regional elections is an important aspect of the tasks of the Congress, which complements the monitoring activities. The observation missions are conducted at the official request of the national authorities concerned; the Congress sets up a delegation of Congress members and members of the Committee of the Regions (some 10-15 people). At the close of the observation mission a preliminary statement by the Congress delegation is made. A report that includes an analysis of the election campaign, a voting day, and recommendations / improvements to be made and submitted to the Congress. The Congress collaborates with institutions of the Council of Europe such as the Parliamentary Assembly and the Venice Commission.Congress site ,
Post-monitoring and post-observation dialogue
In March 2013 the Congress adopted Resolution 353 (2013) on post-monitoring and post-observation of elections. The aim is to develop the political dialogue with Member States and to monitor the situation and to monitor the situation and to monitor the situation. As follow up to their recommendations the Congress discusses with the authorities of the member State a roadmap to improve local and regional democracy in line with these recommendations. The first roadmap prepared in the framework of this post-monitoring dialogue concerned the decentralization reform undertaken by the Ukrainian authorities and was signed in May 2015.
Cooperation programs and projects
In its Priorities 2013-2016, the Congress decided to further develop co-operation and partnerships with the overall objective to consolidate and advance territorial democracy in the Council of Europe and in its immediate neighborhood and achieve concrete results in the field. These cooperation activities help to further ensure the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the Congress recommendations. The Congress offers its expertise in the field of local and regional democracy, based on needs, its members being a pool of practical and political experience. Its activities include:
- Assessment of the legal and institutional framework
- Drafting of new legislation and policies
- Exchange of good practices – peer-to-peer exchanges and interactive seminars
- Training sessions on local and regional leadership
The Action Plan for Member States. These projects are co-financed through voluntary contributions by member states and international partners.
The Congress is also active in the neighborhood policy of the Council of Europe. This policy is aimed at helping neighboring regions to improve democracy, the rule of law and human rights protection. As an example, priorities for co-operation in Morocco and Tunisia include local governance. In the past, the local co-operation in Europe. It has encouraged the creation of associations of local authorities and the creation of independent networks. Examples of these associations are the Association of Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA), the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS) and the European Network of Local and Regional Training Establishments (ENTO).
The European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion The Secretary General for Roma Issues. More than 120 cities and regions from over 27 countries are participating in the Alliance. The Alliance aims to achieve these objectives:
- To promote the exchange of know-how and good practices.
- Providing opportunities for advocacy on issues related to Roma inclusion at local and regional level.
The Alliance organizes national and international seminars for its participating cities and regions in order to facilitate the exchange of know-how and good practices.
One of the key priorities of the Alliance is the promotion of the Roma culture and genocide during World War II and the international commemoration day on the 2nd of August.
Another important initiative of the Council of Europe, aimed at fighting antigypsyism, is the Dosta! Campaign, run on a national level in the member states. As of 2013, the Alliance is in charge of administering the Dosta! Congress Prize, awarded biannually to three municipalities for their successful and innovative projects in the field of Roma inclusion.
In 2013-2014 the Alliance implemented the first stage of the project named ROMACT. Around 30 cities and regions are involved in activities, understanding of data collection and analysis, thematic workshops, study visits, exchange of information, opportunities for networking and developing partnerships, consultative work. Other activities of the ROMACT The project ended in late 2014 with a major evaluation conference of cities and regions as well as local, national and international stakeholders.
The Alliance has its own website with more information on its activities.
ONE in FIVE
The ONE in FIVE Campaignof the Council of Europe on Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as the Lanzarote Convention. The Campaign’s aims to make children aware of the gravity and different types of sexual violence and abuse, and to prevent them. The Congress is responsible for the local and regional dimensions of the Campaign and has launched a Pact of Towns and Regions to Stop Sexual Violence against Children. The Pact offers the ‚four Ps‘ approach: to prevent abuse, protect victims, prosecute perpetrators while ensuring the full participation of children in the entire process. All services and actions must be respectful of children’s rights, put the child’s best interests first, and enable children’s voices to be heard, in order to deliver locally, what to do and what to do in the world of sexual violence and sexual abuse. The Congress promotes this Pact with cities and regions and encourages it in the field.
Partners of the Congress
Committee of the Regions of the European Union
The Congress has developed an institutional partnership with the Committee of the Regions (CoR) of the European Union, with regular meetings and coordination between the respective members and secretariats. The Co-operation between the Congress and the Committee of the Regions is in place since the creation of the CoR in 1994. A Contact Group Congress / Committee of the Regions, which meets in 1995, was established in 1995. The Contact Group the two institutions‘ efforts and provides feedback on their activities. The Congress and CoR members exchange views and implement common strategies. Since 2006 it is possible for members of the CoR to be part of an election observation mission of the Congress. Nowadays, this happens systematically and members of the CoR are involved in the whole observation process. The Congress also pursues an active cooperation with the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) and the Conference of Regional Organizations and Local Authorities for Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), both established by the CoR in order to enhance relations between the EU and its neighboring countries in the area of local and regional self-governance. The neighboring countries are often members of the United States of America and the United States of America. More information on the cooperation between the Congress and the COR can be found on both Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) and the Conference of Regional Organizations and Local Authorities for Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), both established by the CoR in order to enhance relations between the EU and its neighboring countries in the area of local and regional self -governance. The neighboring countries are often members of the United States of America and the United States of America. More information on the cooperation between the Congress and the COR can be found on both Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) and the Conference of Regional Organizations and Local Authorities for Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), both established by the CoR in order to enhance relations between the EU and its neighbors in the area of local and regional self -governance. The neighboring countries are often members of the United States of America and the United States of America. More information on the cooperation between the Congress and the COR can be found on both The neighboring countries are often members of the United States of America and the United States of America. More information on the cooperation between the Congress and the COR can be found on both The neighboring countries are often members of the United States of America and the United States of America. More information on the cooperation between the Congress and the COR can be found on bothCongress and the COR site .
European organizations and associations of European municipalities and regions
The Congress is also involved with several organizations and associations of European municipalities and regions enhancing local and regional democracy by developing joint activities. Examples of these organizations are the Assembly of European Regions (AER), the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE). The Congress can be represented at meetings or events of these organizations and makes them known and known, in particular when they fall within the scope of these organizations‘ fields of activities.
National (and European) associations of local and regional authorities play a role in promoting local democracy which is vital to the work of the Congress of the Council of Europe. They deliver information about their activities to their countries, particularly by lobbying in their governments. They also, in some cases, play a part in the procedure of their country ’s national delegation to the Congress is designated. National associations play an active part in the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, denouncing abuses and possible violations and thus acting as an „early warning system“ and a peaceful counterweight. The site of the Congress contains more information on national associations.
International associations of local and regional authorities which have a consultative status with the Council of Europe also have status with the Congress. Observer status may also be granted to other associations on the Bureau of the Congress .. This statute gives them the right to take part in the work of the Congress, submit memoranda and commentaries . One or more representatives of organizations may be invited to attend meetings of the Statutory Forum, the Bureau, the Committees or ad hoc working groups.