Date(s) the 11/09/2019
9 PROPOSALS FOR THE ACTIVITY PROGRAM 2021/2024 OF THE CONGRESS OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL POWERS OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
In the coming years the migration issue will be one of the main themes of the European political agenda. The demographic figures are clear: today on the European continent (including Russia) 730 million inhabitants who, with the current birth rates, will fall to 670 at the end of the century. To maintain the same pace of development today, Europe will therefore need an additional demographic contribution through migration flows. Moreover, over the same period, Africa will increase from 1,250 billion today to 4 billion at the end of the century. Therefore, the migration issue will be crucial and will not be exhausted only in welcoming refugees from war or conflict. The largest flows will be "economic migrants". We know that the influx of migrants raises concerns and fears in European public opinions which, if not governed, can give rise to manifestations of intolerance and discrimination. With what policies do you manage migration? how to ensure integration and protection of identities? how to ensure rights for migrants without citizens living them as a reduction of their rights and undermining their identity? what integration policies? They are crucial issues for the local power system because it is in the municipalities and territories that migration and their impacts must be managed. This is why the Congress must take these issues as a priority, monitoring the phenomenon and elaborating proposals for its management at the local level.
2. CRISIS OF REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY AND LOCAL DEMOCRACY.
One of the crucial issues of our time is the crisis of representative democracy and the affirmation of an autocratic vision of power management called "illiberal democracy". In Russia, Turkey, Poland, Hungary and the Caucasus, this tendency clearly manifests itself, which risks spreading to other areas of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. At the same time there is everywhere - even in Western countries - a crisis of public confidence in political institutions and the emergence of populist and anti-systemic movements that are increasingly popular (think of the recent elections in Brandenburg and Saxony in Germany). It is a trend that also affects local authorities increasingly exposed to the reduction of their autonomy. The Congress - reinforcing the monitoring activity - must draw up guidelines for safeguarding and protecting the rights and autonomy of local authorities and for the renewal of local democracy and the forms of relationship between citizens and power. And on these issues also promote a training and assistance activity for the local ruling classes.
3. DEMOCRACY AND INFORMATION. DEMOCRACY AND TECHNOLOGIES.
With digital information systems, the influence of media in democratic life is enormously increased, with distortive effects on citizens' orientations and opinions. It is a subject that also involves the local dimension. The Congress should develop guidelines for local information management that strengthens transparency, allows citizens to have a more correct knowledge of local policies and encourages the reconstruction of trust and credibility in local authorities. More generally, modern digital technologies now invest every aspect of the life of every local community, influencing and modifying the relations between citizens and institutions. And the extension of the forms of artificial intelligence offer new and unpublished scenarios. The Congress should offer guidelines, rules, tools to optimize benefits and reduce the risks of technologies.
4. RIGHTS OF MINORITIES.
The tendency to restrict democratic spaces and rights, especially affects minorities. As a result of the exchanges of territories following the two world wars, all Central and Eastern European countries are characterized by the presence of minorities (Hungarians in Romania, Slovakia and Serbia, Germans in Poland and the Czech Republic, Russians in the Balts and in Ukraine, Albanians in Macedonia, Turks in Bulgaria, Serbs and Croats in Bosnia, etc.) to which, for fear of separatist pressures, collective rights and forms of representation and protection are not recognized. It is a problem that also affects local authorities (think of Mostar, where local elections have not been held for the conflict between the various communities for 13 years). The Congress could draw up a "Code of Conduct for the Protection of Minorities" which offers guidelines and lines of action for local authorities. The issue of minorities also invests Rome, on which the Congress already carries out an activity that must be strengthened has continued.
5. PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE.
Despite the fact that civil conscience today has a greater awareness of the inviolability of individual rights, every day we witness violence against women, children, frail people and homosexuals. It is essential that a constant action is also developed at local level against all forms of discrimination or oppression. The Congress should instruct in "Permanent album of good anti-discrimination practices" and work for their dissemination and adoption in Municipalities and Regions.
6. FIGHT AGAINST INEQUALITY.
Years of economic crisis have exacerbated social inequalities and brought out new forms of poverty and marginalization. Local welfare policies are essential to counter them and encourage greater and more equal opportunities for each person. The Congress should monitor local welfare policies and offer guidelines for strengthening welfare and social cohesion policies and a permanent information campaign to extend best practices.
7. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.
The 17 objectives for sustainable and lasting development (ODD) proposed by the UN have in municipalities and regions an essential place for an effective application of policies to combat climate change, pollution and the affirmation of sustainability environmental and ecological. Also in this crucial field, the Congress should promote a support action to Municipalities and Regions by developing guidelines, proposals and projects that favor the extension of policies aimed at achieving the 17 objectives of the ODD.
8. BEYOND OUR BOUNDARIES.
The destinies of Europe depend more and more on what happens on its borders. It applies to Russia and the great Eurasian region. It is valid for Turkey, a hinge country between east and west, between north and south, between Christianity and Islam. It is valid for the Mediterranean, whose economic, migratory and political dynamics increasingly invest Europe's life. It is valid for Africa that by this century will represent almost 40% of the world population (4 billion out of 11). Promoting local cooperation policies towards municipalities and regions in these areas is therefore essential to contribute to stability, peace and development. The "Partnerships for Local Democracy" are an essential tool that needs to be strengthened and extended.
9. AN EFFECTIVE CONGRESS.
Improving the effectiveness of Congress activity is essential for the recognition of its role. The essential goal to be pursued with determination is the adoption and respect of the Charter by the Municipalities and Regions of the 47 Countries of the Council of Europe. Equally important is an activity of information and periodic reporting of the activity carried out in order to increase the visibility and knowledge of the Congress. A more visible Congress whose intense activity is known to give more strength to claim the restoration in favor of the Congress of the 3% share of the budget of the CoE. And finally, greater effectiveness can also be obtained with a statutory reform that increases the autonomy of the Congress and a revision of the dimensions and criteria of composition of the Congress.