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Congresso dei Poteri Locali e Regionali


Congresso dei Poteri Locali e Regionali


The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the guarantor of local and regional democracy in Europe. It is a pan-European political assembly, whose 648 members may be regional or municipal councillors, mayors, presidents, representing more than 200.000 local authorities in 47 European countries. The Italian delegation includes 18 members, with a same number of alternates.  Its role is to promote democracy at local and regional level, to improve local governance, and to strengthen the autonomy of local authorities. It encourages the process of decentralization and regionalization, as well as cross-border cooperation between cities and regions.

The Congress makes regular monitoring visits in all Member States, to assess effective implementation of the European Charter of Local Autonomy. During such visits, Congress prepares monitoring reports, recommendations or resolutions to improve the governance at local and regional level. This monitoring provides a solid basement for a constructive political dialogue with the governments of the Member States. Through its initiatives, the Congress encourages Member States to take account of local and regional dimension of its territories, to involve local and regional authorities in the formulation of policy decisions, and to ensure that the principle of subsidiary is fully respected, a principle which states that some responsibilities and financial resources shall be transferred from central government to local and regional authorities. Numerous legislative reforms have been undertaken by Member States on the basis of the findings set out in the monitoring reports of the Congress.

The Congress permanently monitors the local and regional elections held in 47 Member States, and his observation duties extend to the entire duration of the electoral process. The role of members of Congress is to observe local and regional elections, but also to promote the legitimacy and credibility of the electoral process. The reports drawn up after the observation activities provide an opportunity to assess not only the accounting operations, taking into account the specific political and social context, but also the legal conditions and the organization of the vote, describing the facts observed on election day and on subsequent days.

Since its creation, Congress has developed a series of international treaties, including the already mentioned European Charter of Local Authorities; this has become the international reference point in setting up common rules at European level to protect the rights of local and regional communities. The European countries that have ratified the Charter are required to comply with a number of conditions, principles and practices in this area. It has been opened for signature in 1985 and came into force in 1988; it has been ratified by all the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. Italy ratified the Charter 11 May 1990; it came into force in the Country on 1st September 1990.
Other examples of legal instruments drawn by Congress are the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation between Territorial Communities or Authorities (1980), the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (1992), the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992), the European Code of Conduct for the political integrity of local and regional elected (1999), the European Convention on Landscape (2000), the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (2003), the European Urban Charter II: Manifesto for a new urbanity (2008), Council of Europe Reference Framework for Regional Democracy (2009).

The Congress also encourages the creation of democratic local and regional associations; the role of these associations is to defend, at the national level, the interests of all local authorities, and to encourage the development of a culture of collaboration between local and central authorities. It also supports the development of the network of associations of local authorities in South-East Europe (NALAS), introducing training courses through the network known as ENTO, the European Network of Training Organisations for Local and Regional Authorities, the European Associations of Local Authorities, the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA). ALDA was established in 1999 at the initiative of the Congress to coordinate and support the network of Local Democracy Agencies (LDA), established in the early 1990s to promote human rights and democracy, cross-border cooperation, intercultural dialogue and local development in South-Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Finally, it should be stressed that the Congress will support cross-border cooperation among the 47 Member States, through the creation of Euroregions, which provide for the involvement of institutions from EU member states and non-members. These Euroregions help establish political and economic links between national, regional and local authorities of EU Member States, candidate countries and other European countries that are members of the Council of Europe. So far the Adriatic and the Black Sea Euroregions have been created, respectively in 2006 and 2008.