CONGRESS OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITIES OF EUROPE
In 1994, the Committee of ministers founded the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) as an advisory body, which replaced the old Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. The Congress helps new Member States in practically implementing their efforts to set up effective local and regional self-government.
- is a spokesperson for European regions and municipalities;
- is a forum in which the elected representatives of local and regional communities can talk about their problems, combine their knowledge and experience, and tell governments their views;
- advises the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in all matters concerning local and regional policies;• works closely with national non-governmental organisations, which represent local and regional governments;
- organises discussions and conferences to inform the public, as it is very important for a successful democracy that the public is included;
- prepares regular reports on the state of local and regional democracy in every individual Member State of the Council of Europe and in every candidate country, and follows particularly attentively the implementation of the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
The Congress is divided into two chambers: Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. The entire assembly has 318permanent and 318 substitute members and all of them are elected representatives of one of over 200,000 local and regional communities in the member states of the Council of Europe. The chambers alternately elect a Congress President for a two-year mandate.
The Congress holds its plenary meetings once a year in Strasbourg. The meeting can be attended by delegations of accredited European organisations and countries, which are not members of the Council of Europe, as special guests or observers.
The Standing Committee, which contains representatives of delegations from all the countries, operates during the time of the Congress plenary sessions.
The Congress organises its work in four committees, founded on the basis of the Charter. They are:
- Institutional Committee, whose task is primarily to prepare reports on the progress of local and regional democracy in Europe;
- Culture and Education Committee, working on culture, education, media, youth, sport and communication issues;
- Committee on Sustainable Development, dealing with environmental concerns, town and country planning matters;
- Committee on Social Cohesion, responsible for the issues of employment, citizenship, migration, inter-community relations, and gender equality;
The Director of the Congress is responsible for the jobs in hand and is helped by the secretariat, consisting of staff from the Council of Europe.