Ensuring the success of decentralisation processes in Europe

The Social Affairs Committee today reaffirmed the key role of decentralisation in ensuring better responsiveness of public services to local needs, promoting the responsible exercise of power and strengthening confidence in public authorities.

However, according to the committee, some decentralisation processes have not succeeded in achieving their stated objectives due to inadequate consultation of citizens or insufficient or too little devolution of powers. "The strong polarization of political life in some countries has also created significant obstacles to these reforms," the parliamentarians said.

Adopting a draft resolution, based on the report by Luís Leite Ramos (Portugal, EPP/CD), the committee called on national, federal and regional parliaments to involve parliaments in the design and implementation of decentralisation reforms "from the outset and at all stages of the process", including monitoring and evaluation. Measures should be taken to ensure that once voted on, decentralisation projects are implemented as planned and "cannot be cancelled without justification in the event of a change of parliamentary majority".

The legal framework, the adopted text stresses, should provide adequate safeguards to enable local authorities to exercise their powers effectively and smoothly, and strengthen the financial stability of local and regional authorities.

Finally, full implementation should be ensured of the recommendations of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities resulting from its monitoring missions to Council of Europe member States to verify the fulfilling of their commitments under the European Charter of Local Self-Government.