I would like to work for valorising its Assembly and its members and giving them the opportunity to develop policies and programmes within the Council of Europe and the national level, focusing on monitoring and follow up activities.
Stronger by empowering its ways of functioning and liaising with other institutions at the Council of Europe, national and other European institutions. The well-known question of difficulties in budget and funding, affecting the possibilities of the Congress, should be addressed with innovative proposals by matching strategic partnership and by valorizing and making essential the role of the Congress and its deliverables. A dedicated plan looking at internal CoE resources and external funding or strategic partnerships could be elaborated and followed up. Resources will be secured if we are able to demonstrate that we are essential to local democracy in Europe.
The Congress should embark in a process further modernization in its way of functioning, while respecting the rules of the Council of Europe. Forms of cooperation and methods of working could improve and strengthen the potential of the organization. In present times, the Congress could also be stronger by being able to react quickly and act immediately. A special attention will be dedicated to this.
I know the question of the languages is a difficult point in our work and that limits some possibilities of participation. I have met this problem all my life. We can use methods offered by technology to overcome this issue with relatively low costs. We learned with the pandemic how to use internet. Let’s take the best of it.
A stronger Congress is also a well-positioned institution within the Council of Europe and globally European and international community. The action plan should be oriented to the existing networks and substantially empower our presence and role so to be recognized and valorized for our power of representation, political orientation and decision. The work of the outgoing Secretary General opens a lot of possibilities, and I would like to try to give continuity to those fundamental initiatives. In particular, we need to follow up on crucial initiatives and I mentioned here only few ones, like the work against radicalization and violent extremism as well as the work on fighting corruption, with the GRECO. I am aware of the funding issues behind those key programmes however a particular effort will be paid to help to resume possible follow up.
A stronger Congress is also a well attended and qualified assemblies. It is important to focus on the role of the participants and to give them the possibility to be valorized, prepared and impactful : innovative methods of meetings and working together, more interactive, with clear follow up identified. A dialogue with the national association of local authorities will be empowered so to empower the role of the Congress and its activities.
The strength of the Congress would be also increased also through a more assertive and day-to-day communication, bringing a more widespread attention to the work of the Congress, its members and networks. Communication is a terribly difficult these days but a special focus will be dedicated to it, to further improve the path already started on digital news and more agile communication in more languages with innovative partnership and cooperation.
Local Democracy is the basis of Democracy and not a lower dimension of it ! The Congress is not the smaller “chamber” of the political institutions of the Council of Europe. On the contrary, its work paves the way for good governance, human rights and rule of law approach lived first hand by citizens.
It will be necessary to identify and valorise the strong added value as a unique local democracy assembly, representing a large Europe. focused on values, principles and rules and highlighting its expertise and potential. The Council of Europe has now an immense role in helping us to navigate through those turbulent times while democracy, human rights and rule of law are our pillars. The Congress must find its relevant place in such a vital task. My commitment is to find paths and ways to have our work being an added value to reach better standards, peace and social and economic development. We have all collectively the duty to produce changes and improvement in local government and in our community.
We should continue and speed up the process to have 100% of monitoring of the Charter in 100% of the member states. Through the Charter we are expressing the basis of what is local and regional democracy. We should also address issues that can complete this basic document in today’s times.
We could also increase our relevance through the election missions and have a better prepared component on this.
The selections of our topics of discussion and policy making - proposed by political bodies - should be ambitious while addressing the reality and changing dynamics in local and regional governance but must also offer policy orientation for the future, by looking deep into the challenges. Our work must be useful for our members.
The monitoring of the Charter and the election observations must remain the key activities of the Congress. I propose to improve the quality of this work with documents that could embraces more the spectrum of our analyses and focus as well on practices that could be shared. It is important that all the countries would be equally involved in the rapporteur missions to have a shared approach to this crucial work of the Congress.
The post monitoring and post elections should be followed by strong follow up activities and connected to the funding raising efforts, both connected to policy orientations and to projects, with possible synergies with other partners, stakeholders and strategic partners. Our policies and observations must become essential and reference points for future changes. Any declaration and steps at the political level should be followed up carefully and no questions should be just set aside.
The Strategy of the Congress till 2026 mention the need to overcome the COVI 19 crisis. It goes much further, now including the war in Ukraine, the changes of the international scenarios. We need to position even more ourselves towards the collective achievements of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Migration and environmental challenges bring us into a permanent crisis situation, where local and regional authorities are the forefront. We need to build constant work on this to be able to elaborate policies for our members, for the national institutions and international institutions, as reference points.
Our strategies are evaluated yearly and adapted accordingly. In changing times, flexibility and reactions are essential. The first crucial moment will be the midterm mandate of our Congress in 2023. In this perspective, a specific attention must be brought in our agenda to the quality of representative democracy and citizens participation, strong polarization of political spectrum,reduction of inequalities in Europe, economic difficulties, environmental issues and developments, solutions and challenges of digitalization.
We should create opportunities of strong and operational partnership within the Council of Europe, but also at the European Union and global level as well as focusing on cooperation with association of local authorities and other types of stakeholders (public and private, civil society organizations and international organizations).
Acting alone is not an option. Struggles in resources (human and financial) are ahead of us but without ambition and vision, we won’t be able to secure further funding for the crucial work of the Congress.
We need to search for allies to make our qualitative work important for changes, at the Council of Europe but also at the member states’ level. Our role of guardian of local democracy must be valorised and be at the center of crucial improvements.
The Congress must look ahead, beyond todays’ work and anticipate the challenges of the future. By now means, we can’t afford to work on “business as usual” mode and we need to identify new forms of cooperation among us and with other partners.
All the Council of Europe members States share the same values. We should work with the contribution from all of them, learning form each other and be the strategic drive at the European level in terms of local and regional democracy.