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Self government

The Congress held debates on local self-government in Cyprus and North Macedonia, as well as recovery from Covid-19, hate speech and fake news, territorial integration, opportunities for young people, relations with the diaspora and Roma integration

On the second day of the 41st session, Wednesday October 27, 2021, the Congress adopted reports on local self-government in Cyprus and North Macedonia. The report on Cyprus was presented by Gunn Marit Helgesen (Norway, EPP / CCE) and Marc Cools (Belgium, GILD). The debate was followed by an exchange with the Cypriot Minister of the Interior Nicos Nouris. Zdenek Broz (Czech Republic, ECR) and Harald Bergmann (Netherlands, GILD) presented the report on North Macedonia, which was followed by a statement by the Deputy Minister of Local Self-Government of North Macedonia, Zoran Dimitrovsky, who also answered questions from the floor.

Members of Congress held a plenary debate on “Covid: the road to recovery?” “. The aim was to address the urgent issues facing European cities and regions: how can societies get out of the crisis when the health situation seems to be stabilizing in many European countries? OECD Deputy Secretary General Ulrik Vestergaard-Knudsen underlined the heterogeneity of the economic and social impact of the pandemic between regions. CEB-appointed Governor Carlo Monticelli underlined the role of local and regional authorities as “valuable allies when it comes to delivering high impact social investments to communities most in need”.

Local and regional elected representatives across Europe are faced with the rise of fake news and hate speech in recent years, especially on the Internet and social networks. As such, a thematic debate was organized by the Chamber of Local Authorities in order to determine the responses to be provided and the tools to be developed to meet the challenge of fake news and hate speech. The project will explore ways to detect these phenomena and possible legal and technical actions against them. At the opening of the exercise of the President of the Chamber of Local Authorities, Bernd Vöhringer, drew attention to the increase in hate speech and fake news on the Internet and the impact of these negative phenomena on the working environment for mayors and councilors.

In plenary, Hungary’s State Secretary for Security Policy Péter Sztaray underlined the key priorities of the Hungarian Presidency: artificial intelligence and digitization, protection of national minorities, environmental issues, l anti-Semitism and youth issues during his speech to Parliament Committee of Ministers.

On the same day, the Chamber of Regions debated interregional and cross-border cooperation for better territorial integration in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Congress in particular called on member states to use Protocol No. 3 to the Madrid Convention, which constitutes a legal basis for transfrontier co-operation in Europe. Congress also called for special legal provisions for “cross-border communities” with legal status, to overcome obstacles created by different legal regimes on either side of the border, as well as to strengthen cross-border governance and “horizontal subsidiarity” through the transfer of skills and operational resources to cross-border communities.

The Chamber of Regions also discussed the challenges to expand vocational training and lifelong learning for young people at regional level, shared measures and best practices to address these issues, and considered additional measures. that the Congress wishes to undertake on this subject. This was achieved through a debate on lifelong education to ensure / secure lifelong employment prospects for the younger generations, a challenge for the regions.

Members of the Chamber deepened the role of relations with diaspora communities as a contribution to regional development and regional mechanisms to engage diasporas in order to promote commercial and cultural exchanges, attract foreign investment, facilitate technology and knowledge transfer, and to seize other socio-economic benefits of diaspora ties during its third debate on Wednesday morning.

At the opening of the session, the President of the Chamber of Regions, Harald Sonderegger, called for a re-decentralization of powers and resources to the regions and their better distribution with an improved system of multi-level governance. This is because during the Covid-19 crisis, many powers were recentralized to the national executive and many decisions were taken without proper consultations with regional authorities – despite the multi-level governance that s has proven to be more efficient and flexible in responding to the pandemic. , when it was used.

Also on the agenda is the Dosta! -Congress Prize awarded to municipalities in Portugal, Greece and the United Kingdom for initiatives aimed at integrating Roma and Travelers. The first place went to the Portuguese municipality of Torres Vedras, which has drawn up a unique plan strengthening cohesion between local communities and the Roma. The second place was awarded to the Greek municipality of Argostoli for the improvement of the living conditions of the Roma community, the conditions of school attendance of children, as well as for housing and health care support for the population. rom on the island of Kefalonia. British Salford won the 3rd prize for the implementation of an educational exhibition.

The Chamber of Local Authorities elected John Warmisham (UK, SOC / G / PD) and Oksana Derkach (Ukraine, EPP / CCE) respectively 6th and 7th Vice-President.

Videos of the proceedings: Plenary session | Chamber of Local Authorities | Chamber of Regions

*** 41st Congress Session ***

Agenda – Documents: ENG | FRA | DEU | ITA | RUS
41st session webpage: live stream, photos, videos and useful links

Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera