The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe recognizes the importance of the role of local intermediate authorities and reaffirms the necessity of maintaining the direct election of their councilors.
During the Political Conference of the European Confederation of Local Intermediate Authorities (CEPLI), held in Rome in June 2011, the members of CEPLI proposed to open a debate on the role of Intermediate local authorities in Europe at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. With the support of several members of the Congress, among which the contribution of the Italian delegation was significant, this process was completed on October 18, 2012, at the 23rd Plenary Session of the CLRAE, when a resolution and a recommendation on intermediate governance in Europe were approved.
The report on the situation of local intermediate powers in Europe proposed by Mr. Emilio Verrengia, member of the Italian delegation at CLRAE, was carried out with the assistance of CEPLI and has been the subject of debate at the Governance Committee of the Congress. The draft report was presented at the 22nd session of the CLRAE in March 2012.
During its Political Conference held in Brussels in July 2012, CEPLI has mentioned this document as an element of the highest importance in the context of proposed administrative reforms in Europe.
The final version of the report "The second level of local community-intermediate governance in Europe", as well as the draft resolution and the recommendation approved by the Governance Committee on May 31, 2012, were debated and approved at great majority at CLRAE plenary on October 18, 2012.
Being concerned by the fact that the current economic crisis has led some governments to reorganize their territorial architecture by hastily engaging reforms that could cause lasting harm to the local and regional democracy, the Congress decided to intensify its efforts to ensure that territorial reforms will be implemented for the benefit of citizens and in full consultation with all levels of government. "It is important to reaffirm the need for citizens to express themselves and directly elect their political representatives," said Rapporteur Emilio Verrengia (Italy), stressing that local intermediate communities or second level communities have a well-established role in many Member States of the Council of Europe and they ensure a high level of responsibility. "
The document adopted by the Congress also emphasized that the action of intermediate local authorities is an opportunity to combat the effects of the crisis because of the services they provide to citizens.
Mr. Verrengia stated that saving money at any cost, ignoring the needs of citizens, constitutes a violation of their rights, leading to a weakening of the principles of autonomy and local democracy. In any case, if a territorial reorganization is necessary, it must occur in respect of the citizens’ rights.
The Congress, through the voice of its members who spoke during the debate, is deeply concerned and attaches great importance to the principles contained in the European Charter of Local Self-Government. These principles are designed to ensure local democracy, direct election of the representatives in local and regional assemblies and territorial financial autonomy. The fact that the intermediate level is the subject of budget savings that governments want to achieve, proves that these governments neglect the importance of this level in the delivery of services closer to the citizen, which will certainly have adverse effects afterwards.
Despite the British demand to refer the report to the Governance Committee in order to clarify some aspects concerning the British situation, the text was adopted and the rapporteur stressed the important role played by CEPLI, the Association of European Regions (AER) and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) in its development and adoption.
The resolution - adopted with an amendment tabled by Ms Ludmila Sfirloaga, member of the Romanian delegation and six amendments proposed by the rapporteur - as well as the recommendation - adopted with four amendments tabled by Ms Ludmila Sfirloaga and three amendments proposed by the rapporteur – are available in the attached files and will be sent by CEPLI to the European institutions and to the member countries of the Council of Europe.