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Crisis and decentralisation
Financial and economic crisis - 17.11.2009
Crisis still a top priority for the Council of Europe
The Ministers responsible for local and regional government of the Council of Europe countries adopted, on 17 November 2009, the Utrecht Declaration, a document focusing on the economic and financial crisis.
The Council of Europe emphasises the leading role to be performed by local and regional authorities in ending the economic and financial crisis. At the Utrecht conference, which concluded with the adoption of a Declaration, Ministers drew particular attention to the respective roles of local authorities and central governments, stressing the responsibility of the latter for guaranteeing the resources of local authorities.
The secretary general of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Jeremy Smith, was invited to present CEMR's second survey on the impact of the crisis on Europe's towns and regions. The survey reveals that contrary to statements by EU and international institutions that 2010 will see an economic and financial improvement, Europe's local and regional authorities fear that 2010 will be as difficult as 2009 or even worse.
The crisis at top of ministers' agenda in the coming years
In the Declaration, the Ministers adopted the Utrecht Agenda on the establishment of good local and regional governance for 2010-2013, identifying specific challenges of great common significance. Among these may be mentioned the management of the financial/economic crisis, the low level of democratic participation in public life at the local and regional levels, and increasing the organisational effectiveness of local and regional authorities' governance.
The Additional Protocol to the Charter of Local Self-Government was also opened for signature at the conference and likewise constitutes an innovative contribution to good governance and participation at the local and regional levels.
The Conference of Ministers responsible for local and regional government of the Council of Europe countries meets every two years. The 17th session will be held in 2011 in Ukraine.