24 May 1993

Doc. 6847

1403-19/5/93-2-E

REPORT

giving an opinion on the texts adopted

at the 28th Session of the Standing Conference of

Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE)1

(16-18 March 1993)

(Rapporteur: Mr ZIERER,

Germany, CDU/CSU)


I. Draft opinion

1.       The Assembly has since its very first sessions regarded the contribution of local and regional authorities to the building of Europe as vital, and the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe can play a crucial part in the introduction and exercise of democracy in the local and regional authorities of the countries of central and eastern Europe.

2.       Furthermore, the Assembly has always shared the Conference's desire for statutory improvement and supported and contributed to the efforts made with this in mind.

3.       In accordance with its terms of reference, the Assembly hereunder gives its opinion on the texts adopted at the 28th Session of the CLRAE.

A.       Resolution 241 (1993) on the 7th European Symposium of Historic Towns

4.       The Assembly has followed with interest the series of European Symposia of Historic Towns and hopes that it will continue under the aegis of the CLRAE. The series, which began in Split in 1971, is a continuing reminder of the importance of integrating conservation with dynamic policies of urban planning. It also provides a convenient context for bringing together local authorities, parliamentarians and representatives of non-governmental organisations. In particular the symposia have become one of the institutional links between the Council of Europe and Europa Nostra/IBI.

5.       The resolution, following the declaration adopted in Istanbul in September 1992, places special emphasis on solidarity with the municipalities and regions involved in the war in the former Yugoslavia. This concern parallels that expressed by the Assembly Committee on Culture and Education (see in particular Doc. 6756). The cultural dimension should be included in supporting programmes for this area, including the "Causes Communes" initiated at local authority level. This resolution should therefore be read together with CLRAE Resolution 251.

6.       The Assembly also shares and supports the desire for action to be taken in respect of the environment in the countries of central and eastern Europe. It would like this action also to include awareness and education programmes for use in schools.

B.       Resolution 242 (1993) on statutory improvement of the CLRAE and enhancement of the participation of regions and towns

7.       The Assembly regrets that the Conference, having affirmed its desire to give local and regional authorities a statutory position more appropriate to their specific nature and respective roles, ultimately adopted a compromise resolution which cannot be satisfactory to the regions; the latter would like the Council of Europe to provide them with a platform for dialogue and consultation enabling them, completely independently, to deal with subjects peculiar to their status and situation and to forge the links they consider appropriate with, inter alia, the Parliamentary Assembly.

8.       The Assembly therefore reiterates its desire for two Chambers to be set up within a single body, which would differ from that proposed in the resolution in that it would retain its present denomination of Conference. One of the Chambers would comprise local authorities, while the other would be made up of regional authorities.

9.       The Chambers should differ from the Conference's proposed Sections in that they should enjoy a certain amount of autonomy, each have a Bureau and be allowed to hold an annual plenary session separate from the annual session of the Conference. The Parliamentary Assembly is convinced that this is the only solution which will enable the Council of Europe and Conference to strengthen the latter's role as a representative of the various local and regional authorities among the different European bodies.

10.       The Assembly also understands the CLRAE's wish to be granted a certain degree of independence in managing its financial resources, as enjoyed by the Parliamentary Assembly. But for the same reason it cannot understand the Conference's continuing request for the Council of Europe budget to meet its members' participation expenses. The Assembly is sure that statutory improvement of the CLRAE necessarily involves the payment by local and regional authorities of the costs of their members' participation in the Conference.

11.       Where admissibility conditions for members are concerned, the Assembly would like the basic principle to be that members must hold elected office. It is aware of the special circumstances obtaining in certain member states and of the need to take these into account. It suggests that the Rules of Procedure of the Conference (or of each of the two Chambers) allow for this and include a full list of possible exceptions. The list would appear in an appendix to the Rules of Procedure and would be revised in the event of any further accession or following institutional changes in any country.

C.       Resolution 243 (1993) on citizenship and extreme poverty: the Charleroi Declaration

12.       The Assembly notes this resolution with satisfaction. Like Resolution 244, it corresponds to the concerns of Assembly Recommendation 1196 (1992) on severe poverty and social exclusion: towards guaranteed minimum levels of resources. Its Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee was represented at the Nottingham Conference on Housing and its approach thereto is reflected in paragraphs 5 and 15 iii b of Recommendation 1196.

D.       Resolution 244 (1993) on the right to housing and its implementation by local and regional authorities

13.       The Assembly regrets that specific attention has not been drawn by the CLRAE to the problems of housing for young people.

E.       Resolution 245 (1993) on municipal and regional environmental policy in Europe

14.       The Assembly fully subscribes to the Conference's proposals, which follow the same lines as the Assembly's work in this sphere.

15.       The Assembly reiterates its attachment to partnerships with the main parties involved in environment-related policies. It was moreover in this spirit that the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities, in pursuance of the terms of reference given to it by the Assembly, carried out the "Freshwater Europe" campaign relating to water resource management, at the end of which it will shortly be required to examine guidelines for a pan-European water management policy.

16.       With more particular reference to local authorities' role in this field, the Assembly shares the CLRAE's wish to encourage them to run awareness and education programmes and other activities in their own areas.

F.       Resolution 246 (1993) on combatting the greenhouse effect and protecting the ozone layer: the role of local and regional authorities

17.       The Assembly is of course delighted about the role that the Conference wishes local and regional authorities to play in this sphere: both the organisation of action involving the general public and the steps to encourage the business world and policy-makers to do everything possible to help to protect the ozone layer and combat the greenhouse effect.

18.       It also believes that it would be useful if local and regional authorities were represented at the forthcoming pan-European Conference of Ministers of the Environment, to be held in Bulgaria in 1995.

G.       Resolution 247 (1993) on north-south solidarity and interdependence: the role of the CLRAE

19.       The Assembly welcomes the support expressed by the CLRAE in favour of the Council of Europe's "North-South Centre", and its various proposals for an improvement in the centre's functioning. These largely meet the suggestions contained in the Assembly's Resolution 998 (1993) on the Council of Europe's North-South Centre: role and achievements, adopted on 12 May 1993, and stating, inter alia, that "the North-South Centre merits continued existence ... <and that it> has made and continues to make a positive contribution to north-south understanding in Europe".

20.       The Assembly can welcome the educational activities proposed by the CLRAE. It is in encouraging awarences within Europe of north-south issues that the Council of Europe's centre in Lisbon can make its most effective contribution.

H.       Resolution 248 (1993) on inter-territorial co-operation

21.       Inter-territorial co-operation is now essential to the building of Europe. The 3rd Conference of Mediterranean Regions, held recently in Taormina by the Parliamentary Assembly and the CLRAE, clearly showed the interest felt by some regions which have the same problems and similar aims in having a platform for dialogue and co-operation. However, inter-territorial links, even if they are organised and sustained, have no legal framework to give their results any lasting value.

22.       The Assembly can therefore only subscribe to the Conference's proposal to the Committee of Ministers that the draft Convention on Inter-territorial Co-operation be adopted, a quite natural complement to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation.

23.       If local and regional authorities are actually to play the role increasingly acknowledged to be theirs, this convention could only help them to do so efficiently.

I.       Resolution 249 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe: the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities

24.       This resolution is entirely in line with Assembly thinking on Gypsies in particular and on minorities in general. It should be considered alongside Assembly Recommendation 1203 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe. The practical proposal for a network of municipalities concerned with the reception of Gypsy communities should in particular be given support.

25.       In fact, the situation of Gypsies warrants closer attention on the part of the Council of Europe and its member states. The problems facing Gypsies have been attracting the attention of the Parliamentary Assembly for a long time.

26.       The Parliamentary Assembly rejects all forms of discrimination against Gypsies and it therefore supports the wish of the Standing Conference that the European Committee on Migration (CDMG) be instructed to organise a forum on the implications of the migration of Gypsies and their situation in this context. The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography should be associated with such a forum.

J.       Resolution 250 (1993) on the development of local and regional self-government in central and eastern European countries

27.       As early as 1989 the Assembly acknowledged and offered support for the role that the CLRAE can play in helping the countries of central and eastern Europe to set up systems in accordance with the Council of Europe's European Charter of Local Self-Government.

28.       However, it has to be said that the authorities created do not all comply with the principles of decentralisation, bringing a de facto dispersal of central government control. Recent events such as the dissolution by the Lithuanian Parliament of the Vilnius municipal council, leaving the city under direct rule, prove that constant vigilance must be shown as systems of local democracy are introduced and applied.

29.       The Assembly subscribes to and supports the CLRAE's proposal that the Committee of Ministers substantially increase the resources needed for the LODE programme. It particularly emphasises the training of local and regional authority staff and the provision of information to elected representatives. Democracy and local self-government are only possible if those responsible are trained. Only after training and with access to information can those responsible perform their task properly.

30.       As for the setting up of a foundation for the development of local self-government, one of whose tasks would be to co-ordinate bilateral and multilateral assistance programmes with the countries of central and eastern Europe, the Assembly would like care to be taken to avoid duplication and the creation of too many bodies. It points out that the OECD's new data bank containing all the information about bilateral and multilateral projects with these countries was an instrument of co-ordination, and therefore requests that any feasibility study of a project such as the one proposed by the CLRAE be preceded by an investigation into what might already exist in this sphere.

K.       Resolution 251 (1993) on humanitarian action and aid to local democracy in the former Yugoslavia

31.       The Assembly fully supports Resolution 251 adopted by the CLRAE on humanitarian action and aid to local democracy in the former Yugoslavia.

32.       It is pleased to note that the text refers to its own Recommendation 1205 (1993) on the situation of the refugees and displaced persons in several countries of the former Yugoslavia and to its Recommendation 1189 (1992) on the establishment of an international court to judge war crimes.

33.       It also supports the principle that the economic embargo should not be applied to humanitarian aid.

34.       It can only approve of the support and contribution by the local and regional authorities towards enabling the refugees of the former Yugoslavia to be received under acceptable conditions and endorses the Conference's appeal to governments to display solidarity by receiving these refugees and to take measures to bring an end to the hostilities as soon as possible.

35.       In this prospect, the Council of Europe is co-operating with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF in the provision of psychological assistance to refugee women and children who have been traumatised by the war and is supporting the efforts of the non-governmental organisations which are seeking to establish close contacts between local authorities of the regions of the former Yugoslavia and of other European states.

36.       While making it clear that the Council of Europe should first and foremost make every possible effort to further the peace process in the territories of the former Yugoslavia, the Assembly gives its encouragement to action taken to bring relief to the population groups of this region, whose situation is dramatic.

37.       It unreservedly supports the "Causes Communes" initiative, not limited to humanitarian action in the strict sense, but intended to include practical action relating to training and information about democracy. This kind of "proximity partnership" involving "donor" and "beneficiary" communities has already been tried and tested. The activities in Romania under the scheme to help Romanian villages, which received Council of Europe support, showed that institutional activities organised by intergovernmental organisations needed to be complemented by "capillary" action by non-governmental bodies.

38.       The importance of encouraging the development of unbiased and pluralistic information is rightly emphasised. Such initiatives should be linked to confidence-building measures introduced by the Council of Europe, especially concerning the media, and the activity of the FIEJ-IFJ (International Federation of Editors and Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists) Co-ordinating Centre for Independent Media in the Balkan region recently established in Ljubljana.

39.       Account should also be taken of the cultural dimension (and see above on Resolution 241).

L.       Resolution 252 (1993) amending the Rules of Procedure

40.       The Assembly shares the desire for national delegations and political groups to be set up within the CLRAE. These changes are a natural consequence of the spirit underlying the statutory improvement of the Conference.

M.       Resolution 253 (1993) on the regional dimension of the European audiovisual area

41.       For the Assembly, pluralism remains a key objective in the media landscape. The regional dimension can be a welcome addition to the variety of the media provision, but it should not preclude the availability of national or international sources of information and entertainment.

42.       Greater attention should be paid to the provision of multilingual options on televised broadcasts (whether by subtitling or alternative audio channels).

N.       Resolution 254 (1993) on the impact on local and regional authorities of the Single Market, the Maastricht Treaty and the European Economic Space

43.       The Assembly supports the wish of the Conference that the right of foreigners to vote at local level should be introduced as advocated in the "European Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level". It also shares its concern at the growing extent of migration towards western Europe resulting from economic disparities with central and eastern Europe. In fact, this problem is soon to be considered by the Parliamentary Assembly.

44.       The Assembly recalls its role as the parliamentary forum of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) and its biennial report on ECMT activities. The most recent one is the subject of Resolution 977 (1992). A new resolution and report, covering ECMT activities in 1991 and 1992 is at present under elaboration and will deal with the transport issues raised in CLRAE Resolution 254.

45.       Where local and regional authorities' position in this context is concerned, in particular, the Assembly can but subscribe to the desire for the reinforcement of transfrontier co-operation, local and regional autonomy and an overall, long-term regional/spatial planning policy. This fits in with the parallel discussions under way in the Assembly's Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities.

46.       On the subject of the CLRAE's regret that the Maastricht Treaty does not refer to local and regional authorities as beneficiaries of the principle of subsidiarity, and its request that the EEC lay down a legal definition of that principle, the Assembly considers this step inappropriate. The definition and laying down in legal terms of the subsidiarity principle with reference to local and regional authorities are not a matter for the EEC, but primarily one for states and the European Charter of Local Self-government already contains many relevant provisions.

47.       However, given the importance of the principle, increasingly the basis for definitions of the tasks for which the different tiers of government are responsible, the Assembly proposes that the Committee of Ministers ask the competent bodies of the Council of Europe (Directorate of Legal Affairs, CLRAE, Parliamentary Assembly) to define the principle in relation to member states, and that, as a second stage, consideration be given to preparing an instrument (charter, outline convention...) to provide a more precise legal basis for the exercise of the principle by local and regional authorities.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr ZIERER

Introduction2

      The 28th Session of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe took place from 16 to 18 March 1993 in Strasbourg. The President, Mr Mollstedt, wished to pursue his aim as stated on his election in March 1992 by giving further, more detailed consideration at this session of the Conference to statutory improvement of the CLRAE and enhancement of the participation of regions and towns.

      Another feature of the Conference was a major debate on poverty and ways of reducing it through citizenship and on the right to housing and its implementation by local and regional authorities. During this debate the Conference was addressed by Mrs L Onkelinx, Belgian Minister for Social Affairs, and Mrs de vos van Steenwijk, President of ATD Fourth World.

      Another major debate took place on environmental matters, specifically local and regional authorities' policy on the environment and their potential role in combating the greenhouse effect and protecting the ozone layer.

      Prior to that debate a communication from the Committee of Ministers was presented by Mr Robin Squire, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment responsible for local government matters, United Kingdom.

      On the final day of the session, a statement was made by Mr Miguel-Angel Martinez, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, who also answered several questions put to him by members of the Conference.

I.       Major events

      At the start of the debate on the statutory improvement of the Conference and enhancement of the participation of regions and towns, Catherine Lalumière, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, made her statement, largely devoted to this question. Taking as an example the results of the referendums held on ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and the Agreement on the European Economic Area, the Secretary General underlined the dangers of a Europe based solely on inter-state structures, sacrificing co-operation at various levels of responsibility on the basis of democratic principles, subsidiarity and solidarity. Only a Europe based on these principles could place society firmly on its essential foundations: pluralist democracy, human rights and the rule of law, guaranteeing what it now usually refers to as "democratic security".

      In this context Mrs Catherine Lalumière said that statutory changes were vital to the CLRAE, as they would, while ensuring that there was still unity of representation for all territorial authorities, also make it possible for both tiers — local and regional — to express their own views on matters specific to them.

      Concluding, the Secretary General pointed out that: "The break with history that has come about in the eastern part of our continent since 1989, the new political task of the Council of Europe which has resulted, the reaffirmation of the importance of the regions, underlined by the debate on the principle of subsidiarity, all these are factors which ... create favourable prospects for the stronger integration of regions and towns within the Council of Europe".

      During the same debate on the statutory improvement of the CLRAE and enhancement of the participation of regions and towns, another speaker was Pasqual Maragall, Mayor of Barcelona and President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions. He emphasised the CLRAE's role as an "irreplaceable forum", especially for co-operation with central and eastern Europe.

      He expressed his conviction that priority had to be given to persuading various states of the greater role that local and regional authorities had to play and the importance to tomorrow's Europe of the practical application of the principle of subsidiarity. With this in mind, the first aim had to be a statutory improvement of the CLRAE enabling it to perform its task to the full. It was important not to deprive the Conference of its unitary structure, within which the division into two sections would enable towns and regions to deal with their own specific problems.

      Later, during the debate on extreme poverty, Laurette Onkelinx, Belgian Minister for Social Affairs, urged local authorities to pursue a new policy, in conjunction with the NGOs, to combat poverty and vulnerability. Reaffirming that local and regional authorities bore the main responsibility in this area, she said: "Local representatives bear the brunt of efforts for the advancement of democracy and citizenship, which can only be achieved through a constant struggle to promote social integration and prevent exclusion and poverty".

      She also referred to the Belgian legislation of 12 January 1993 repealing the provisions of the Penal Code and of a law of 1891 under which vagrancy and begging were offenses, and also instituting an emergency programme for a more cohesive society.

      Mr Robin Squire, United Kingdom Under-Secretary of State responsible for local government matters, said that the Committee of Ministers was willing to examine "in depth and in a constructive spirit" the text adopted by the Conference on its statutory improvement. It was clearly a prerequisite of a strengthening of the Council of Europe's role that there should be an increased presence of the CLRAE, a necessary tool for extending democracy and enabling it to be exercised at every level, including the local and regional. This was the spirit in which the Committee of Ministers had granted a 20% increase in the appropriations for the Conference in the 1993 budget, twice the size of the overall budget increase.

      Miguel-Angel Martinez, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, addressed the Conference at its sitting of 18 March. He first welcomed the planned CLRAE reform as a means of consolidating joint action within the Council of Europe, providing better co-ordination between all of its bodies, particularly the Conference (CLRAE) and the Parliamentary Assembly.

      The President of the Assembly pointed to the Council of Europe's new role as it became a platform for integration and convergence, which European states had to reach in order to enter the first circle of the building of Europe. The Council of Europe was becoming the place for initiation into political participation, rather than, as used to be claimed, a waiting room for countries hoping to enter the Community.

      He also went into detail about the statutory improvement of the CLRAE, which was crucial to the process of making it more representative of local and regional authorities. Reform of the kind suggested would strengthen the CLRAE's dignity, political activity and financial resources.

      Turning to the proposals put forward in Resolution 242, adopted on the first day of the session, Mr Martinez said that "he did not like the term Section" used to describe each of the two groupings in which local and regional authorities respectively would be able to deal with matters specific to them. The President preferred the name "Chamber", conferring a full measure of dignity on each of the two bodies which might exist within the Conference after the reform. If there were two Chambers, it would be easy to see how far co-operation extended among both local authorities and regions. In the same spirit, he said that he would prefer the name "Conference" to be retained to refer to the whole made up of the two future Chambers, a name which better reflected reality.

      Where the financing of Conference activities was concerned, the President — making no reference to a limit on its resources — suggested that members' travel-related expenses should be met by their local and regional authorities or associations. The adoption of a solution identical to that applied in the Assembly would help to create equal dignity for Assembly and Conference members. The current formula, that is the payment of CLRAE members' travel expenses under the general Council of Europe budget, gave them the same de facto status as the experts participating in meetings of the various Council of Europe committees.

II.       Summaries of adopted texts

a.       Resolution 241 (1993) on the 7th European Symposium of Historic Towns

      This text has been examined by the Committee on Culture and Education, whose contribution will be inserted in the draft opinion.

      Your Rapporteur nevertheless wishes to draw particular attention to paragraph 8 of the resolution, relating to action to be taken in the environment sector, especially in the countries of central and eastern Europe.

      He is in full agreement with this request, to which he would like to add environment education programmes for use in schools.

      He is also sure that co-operation in this field will be helpful and effective, involving local and regional authorities which can carry out "proximity" activities, which are extremely useful, especially in the environment sector.

b.       Resolution 242 (1993) on statutory improvement of the CLRAE and enhancement of the participation of regions and towns

      This text was adopted after a lively discussion between "municipalists" and "regionalists". The former wished to retain the Conference's unitary structure and give precedence to local authorities, the tier of government most directly representative of Europe's citizens. The "regionalists" said that the CLRAE had to grasp the opportunity of statutory reform to take a decisive step towards the regions, which should be given a place befitting the function they have in several countries. At the end of the debate, the text adopted recommended that the statutory reform of the CLRAE respect the principles of:

      —un       ity in the representation of local and regional authorities;—

      —re       cognition of the diversity of local and regional government structures;—

      —th       e opening of CLRAE structures to regions with legislative powers and to large towns, currently under-represented within the Conference;—

      —fl       exibility in working methods and internal structures, in order to be able to adapt to a constantly changing context.In

      In this text the Conference proposed changing its name to Chamber of Local and Regional Authorities, which, while retaining its unitary structure, could comprise two Sections. One of these could deal particularly with local government matters, while the other concentrated on regional government affairs.

      The Parliamentary Assembly Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities has always made quite clear its preference for well-defined structures giving their proper place to both local authorities and regions (see inter alia Recommendation 1021 (1985) on increased regional representation in the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and the motion for a resolution on integration of regional entities or authorities in the work of the Council of Europe (Doc. 6390)).

      It has therefore advocated the setting up of two Chambers which — even together within a single Conference — will be able to preserve the independence of local and regional authorities. The Chambers should also be given a free hand, enabling them quite independently to establish links as they consider appropriate with, in particular, the Parliamentary Assembly.

      In your Rapporteur's opinion, the creation of "Sections" sharing a single Bureau is a "lame" compromise solution which will prove unsatisfactory to the regions. In the spirit of the position adopted from the outset by the committee, its Chairman, Mr Parisi, with the support of Mr Jung and your Rapporteur, presented an amendment to the draft Statute submitted to the Assembly by Sir Geoffrey Finsberg, reiterating the proposal that two Chambers be set up within the Conference - amendment which was not adopted, probably due to lack of information.

      Where working methods are concerned, the Conference proposed the possible opening of membership of certain working groups to senior staff of local and regional authorities and their representative associations.

      In this respect again, the committee considered that the statutory improvement of the CLRAE had to involve the requirement that all members hold elected office, even where "certain working groups" were concerned.

      As far as financing is concerned, the Conference expressed a wish to have the power to manage its budget with a certain amount of discretion, like the Parliamentary Assembly. Unlike the Parliamentary Assembly, however, the CLRAE requested that the general budget of the Council of Europe continue to meet the cost of members' participation, and recommended that only "the expenditure incurred as a result of participation in specific sub-groupings of representatives of authorities not represented in member states' delegations should be borne by the authorities concerned". This is another matter on which the committee does not share the Conference's view. As Mr Martinez has stated, the committee actually believes that, taking the Parliamentary Assembly itself as an example, statutory improvement of the CLRAE necessarily involves payment by the local and regional authorities of the costs of their members' participation in the Conference. The committee has also made a proposal along these lines relating to the draft Statute referred to above.

c.       Resolution 243 (1993) on citizenship and extreme poverty: the Charleroi Declaration

      This resolution has been examined by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee.

d.       Resolution 244 (1993) on the right to housing and its implementation by local and regional authorities

      This resolution has been examined by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee.

e.       Resolution 245 (1993) on municipal and regional environmental policy in Europe

      This resolution was adopted following the presentation of a report and after a debate on the various environment policies pursued by Europe's local and regional authorities and the role of these authorities, on the one hand in the light of the increasingly firm application of the subsidiarity principle and the responsibilities borne by local and regional authorities for achieving sustainable development, and, on the other hand, with a view to the implementation of Agenda 21, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

      The Conference therefore wished the Committee for Sustainable Development — the main instrument for following up the Rio Conference — to forge a genuine partnership with representatives of local and regional authorities. It also asked governments and international organisations to set up, for example, national sustainable development committees on which representatives of local and regional authorities would sit.

      The Conference also encouraged local authorities to develop programmes for environmental education. It pointed to the need for local environment policy to dovetail with other local policies, and said that local authorities should discuss these subjects with NGOs and the private sector.

      Lastly the Conference encouraged the countries of central and eastern Europe to take steps to ensure that their newly-elected local and regional authorities are enabled to deal with their often severe environmental problems. Your Rapporteur is confident that the Assembly will have no reservations about subscribing to these proposals.

f.       Resolution 246 (1993) on combating the greenhouse effect and protecting the ozone layer: the role of local and regional authorities

      The Conference wished to emphasise the role which local and regional authorities can play in relation to this extremely serious environmental problem. They can both make people aware of the problem and provide them with information, encouraging them to take voluntary steps to help reduce energy consumption. Local authorities could also take various energy-saving measures. The latter may be in the realm of transport policy (encouraging people to use public transport, promoting technical improvements to private motor vehicles, etc.).

      In respect of the specific problem of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the Conference encouraged local and regional authorities inter alia to promote the replacement of CFCs as solvents by water-based cleaning agents or non-chlorinated hydrocarbons, restrict the use of CFCs to closed systems, encourage the avoidance of textiles which have to be cleaned with CFCs and provide satisfactory arrangements for the disposal of coolants used in old refrigerators.

      The Conference asked the Committee of Ministers to ensure that the forthcoming pan-European Conference on the Environment makes an up-to-date review of the greenhouse effect and of the relevant measures so far carried out and that the CLRAE is closely associated with the conference programme. It also requested the conference strongly to encourage the banning, as a matter of urgency, of CFC emissions and the taking of measures with a view to considerably reducing CO삲 emissions.

      The text adopted by the CLRAE is accompanied by an appendix detailing a series of measures intended to save energy, to promote public transport, walking and cycling and to restrict private motoring.

g.       Resolution 247 (1993) on North/South solidarity and interdependence: the role of the CLRAE

      This resolution has been examined by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.

h.       Resolution 248 (1993) on inter-territorial co-operation

      Local and regional authorities are increasingly active in the forging and development of links with their counterparts abroad, not only within the context of international organisations, but also in the framework of bilateral or multilateral relations. On the other hand, the results of these various kinds of co-operation have no legal force, given that there is no instrument providing a legal basis for such action.

      For both these reasons the Conference requested that the Committee of Ministers adopt the draft Convention on Inter-territorial Co-operation and open it for signature and ratification.

      A convention of this kind would recognise the right of local and regional authorities — in so far as their statutes permit — to conduct relations with their counterparts in other states and to exercise their powers more appropriately in the Community or pan-European context.

i.       Resolution 249 (1993) on Gypsies in Europe: the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities

      This text has been examined by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography and the Committee on Culture and Education.

j.       Resolution 250 (1993) on development of local and regional self-government in central and eastern European countries

      As central and eastern Europe's geopolitical situation has changed, efforts have been made there to create local and regional self-government systems. In several countries, the European Charter of Local Self-Government, together with the Council of Europe's experience and achievements in the sphere of local democracy, have served as a valuable basis for these major changes.

      The Council of Europe's programmes (Demosthenes and Lode) — the poor financial resources of which were deplored by the Conference — and other action taken by other European organisations are helping the progress of the countries of central and eastern Europe towards genuine local and regional self-government.

      The Conference called on the states of central and eastern Europe to encourage genuine local and regional self-government by creating independent structures, but also by avoiding excessive central government control, the result of which would be a re-centralisation of state power, and to recognise that effective local self-government is based upon adequate financial resources enabling local and regional authorities to use their own resources to participate in overall economic development, while ensuring that those authorities receive grants determined on the basis of objective criteria.

      The Conference also drew attention to the need for local and regional authority staff to be given appropriate training, and for elected representatives to be kept fully informed, enabling both to perform their tasks properly.

      The Conference asked the Committee of Ministers substantially to increase the resources needed for the Lode programme, so that the CLRAE can meet all the demands of the countries concerned. It also suggested the setting up of a Foundation for the Development of Local Self-government, which could, among other tasks, co-ordinate the bilateral and multilateral programmes of co-operation with the countries of central and eastern Europe.

      Your Rapporteur believes that he is speaking for the committee when he welcomes the emphasis placed upon training and information for local and regional authority staff and elected representatives. He has already given support to the activities of the network of training centres.

      Where a possible Foundation to co-ordinate the various bilateral and multilateral co-operation programmes with central and eastern Europe is concerned, your Rapporteur points out that the OECD has already set up a co-ordination service. Care should therefore be taken to avoid duplication.

k.       Resolution 251 (1993) on humanitarian action and aid to local democracy in the former Yugoslavia

      Noting the dramatic situation in the former Yugoslavia and agreeing with the Parliamentary Assembly's condemnation of the massive and blatant violations of human rights, the odious policy of "ethnic cleansing" and the perpetration of crimes against humanity, the Conference welcomed the initiatives taken by, or with the co-operation of, local and regional authorities in liaison with non-governmental humanitarian organisations.

      It offered support inter alia for the initiative taken by the Belgian and Swiss "Causes Communes" with a view to setting up a number of initially experimental "Local Democracy Embassies". These, the fruit of an agreement between a local authority in former Yugoslavia and several other European local authorities, would involve the permanent presence of staff on the spot to:

      —en       courage the democratic process;—

      —en       courage the provision of unbiased information from a variety of               sources;—

      —co       llect eye-witness accounts and other information about the situation of ethnic minorities;—

      —re       ceive requests from refugees and displaced persons and take stock of local resources and needs.Th

      The Conference invited the Secretary General and the Committee of Ministers to give practical support to the initiative. It also asked local and regional authorities, European governments and the United Nations to make every effort to show solidarity with the population groups in difficulties and to ensure that the initiatives taken to restore peace to the territories of the former Yugoslavia receive the active support of all concerned.

l.       Resolution 252 (1993) amending the Rules of Procedure

      In this text the Conference suggested some amendments to its Rules of Procedure. As well as some minor changes, the two new elements are proposals for the action and role of national delegations and political groups to be acknowledged.

      It is proposed that the existence of national delegations be laid down in a rule of the Rules of Procedure (new Rule 3 ter); the same rule provides that each delegation shall appoint a Chairman, a Secretary and, possibly, another person who may make statements to the Conference or to the Secretariat on its behalf.

      Another new rule provides for the formation of political groups, which must each consist of members of at least three different nationalities and have a minimum of fifteen members.

m.       Resolution 253 (1993) on the regional dimension of the European audiovisual area

      This text has been examined by the Committee on Culture and Education.

n.       Resolution 254 (1993) on the impact on local and regional authorities of the Single Market, the Maastricht Treaty and the European Economic Space

      This resolution raises several questions which are also within the ambit of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development and the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

      Where the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities is concerned, your Rapporteur wishes to draw attention to the emphasis placed by the Conference on the need to reinforce transfrontier co-operation, local and regional autonomy and an overall, long-term regional/spatial planning policy.

      The Conference's wish to see the development of transfrontier co-operation in the countries of central and eastern Europe and its request to this end to the Committee of Ministers tie in with the thoughts of the Parliamentary Assembly, which, for example, in line with the wish expressed by participants in the 5th European Conference of Frontier Regions (Rovaniemi, Finland, 18-21 June 1991), hopes to be able to hold the 6th Conference, in collaboration with the CLRAE, in a country of central or eastern Europe.

      The concern expressed about an overall policy and a new long-term approach to regional/spatial planning also ties in with the interests of the committee, which has, through its Sub-Committee on Regional Planning, started to consider the new prospects for European regional/spatial planning in the light of recent geopolitical changes in Europe, and bearing in mind the need to take account of environmental concerns in regional/spatial planning policies.

      On the other hand, it considers inappropriate paragraph 4, in which the CLRAE regrets that the Maastricht Treaty does not refer to local and regional authorities as beneficiaries of the principle of subsidiarity and requests that the EEC lay down a legal definition of the principle. These questions are first and foremost a matter for each state.

      Your Rapporteur also believes that the CLRAE cannot, as it does in paragraph 16, ask a ministerial conference (the CEMAT in this instance) to "report" to it, but should go no further than to invite the CEMAT to devote more attention to the subjects mentioned in that paragraph.

      The text has been also examined by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography and the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.

      Reporting committee: Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities.

      Committees for opinion: the opinions on Resolutions 241, 243, 244, 247, 249, 251, 253 and 254 have been prepared by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

      Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

      Reference to committee: Doc. 6809 and Reference No. 1863 of 10 May 1993.

      Draft opinion unanimously adopted by the committee on 13 May 1993.

      Members of the committee: MM. Parisi (Chairman), Ruffy, Lord Newall (Vice-Chairmen), MM. Adamowicz, Alemyr, G. Bjarnason, Mrs Blunck, MM. Bondevik, Bonrepaux, Brennan, Briane (Alternate: Valleix), Büchel, Demiralp, Dimmer, Mrs Dromberg, MM. Eversdijk, Feldmann, Ferrarini, Gonzalez Laxe (Alternate: Bolinaga), Mrs Graenitz, MM. Granstedt, Hadjidemetriou, Hardy, Homs i Ferret, Jung, Konstantopoulos, Lanner, Lotz, Mészaros, Monfils, Pinto, Redmond, Reis Leite, Mrs Robert, MM. Rubner, Sarens, Semerdjiev, Mrs Severinsen, MM. Slomka, Talay, Toshev, Tummers, Vassiliades, Vella, Zierer

      N.B.       The names of those who took part in the vote are printed in Italics.

      Secretaries to the committee: Mrs Cagnolati and Mr Sich.


1 1 See Doc. 6809.

2 1As in the last years, the Assembly committees are again under pressure to deliver instant opinions on texts adopted by the CLRAE. The Committee on Culture and Education wondered if the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities could not usefully review the delays left to this procedure. It would also be instructive to know what attention is effectively paid by the Committee of Ministers to the Assembly opinions on these texts.