7 October 1997       Doc. 7945

ADOC7945

      REPORT 1

      on the Draft European Charter of Regional Self-Governement

      of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE)

      (Rapporteur: Mr João B. Mota Amaral,

      Portugal, Group of the European People's Party)

      _____

Summary

      After three years' work, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) has just approved a draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government. The Assembly, which had already given a favourable opinion on the preliminary draft Charter, as approved by the CLRAE in June 1996, fully supports this initiative, and recommends that the Committee of Ministers make it a binding Council of Europe Convention in the very near future. It also requests that the Assembly and CLRAE be associated with the intergovernmental work to prepare for the final decision of the Committee of Ministers on this matter.

      I. Draft recommendation

1.       The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe decided, in 1994, to draw up, in conjunction with the Parliamentary Assembly, a European Charter of Regional Self-Government, modelled on the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

2.       At its fourth plenary session (3-5 June 1997) the CLRAE adopted Recommendation 34, containing the final draft of the European Charter of Regional Self-Government. In the recommendation, the CLRAE asks the Committee of Ministers, among other things, to examine the draft with a view to its adoption as a Council of Europe Convention, and also requests the support of the Parliamentary Assembly.

3.       The Assembly draws attention to its Resolution 1118 (1997), in which it expressed a favourable opinion of the preliminary draft Charter, which the CLRAE adopted last year on a preliminary basis, and welcomes the fact that the majority of the suggested improvements put forward by it had been incorporated into the final draft.

4.       The Assembly can but welcome the spirit of co-operation which prevailed in the relations between the two bodies throughout the drafting process, which proved highly productive.

5.       The Assembly declares itself satisfied with the wording of the draft adopted by the CLRAE, which it fully supports. The draft Charter offers a regionalisation model true to the values of the Council of Europe and sufficiently flexible to be adaptable to the various needs and political structures of the organisation's member states.

6.       By taking the principle of subsidiarity as a foundation for the relations between the various administrative tiers - upwards as well as downwards -, the draft Charter guarantees that the interests of local authorities will be respected. Similarly, the draft stipulates that recognition of regional self-government implies that regions will respect the integrity and sovereignty of the states of which they are part.

7.       The Assembly congratulates the CLRAE on having undertaken wide-ranging consultations about the preliminary draft Charter. It notes with satisfaction that the Assembly of European Regions and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions expressed favourable opinions on the draft and contributed to the finalising of the text. The consensus which emerged on the draft clearly shows that local and regional authorities are convinced of the usefulness of the legal instrument put forward by the CLRAE. The Assembly can but endorse this viewpoint.

8.       The recent regionalisation initiatives in certain member states are clear signs that this is a modern political process.

9.       The CLRAE's initiative is thus undeniably appropriate. The Assembly is sure that the drafting of a Council of Europe Convention on this subject will make possible, on the one hand, the provision of an international legal guarantee to existing European regions and, on the other hand, a reference point for states which have started to give thought to reforming their political and their local and regional government structures.

10.       What is more, a draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government would, like the European Charter of Local Self-Government, soon add to the Council of Europe's record of achievement and help to better define the features of the democratic state, which the organisation advocates and represents.

11.       The Assembly further hopes that the preparation of the draft by the CLRAE will make contributions to the discussions which are shortly to begin of regions' representation in the Council of Europe, to which it attaches great importance.

12.       The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       grasp the political opportunity provided by the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government and, to this end, examine the draft as soon as possible;

ii.       associate the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe with the work which would be entrusted to an intergovernmental committee of experts so as to finalise the text prior to its adoption and opening for signature.

      II. Explanatory memorandum

       by Mr MOTA AMARAL

      Page

1.       Historical background        4

2.       The final draft of the European Charter on Self-Government        5

3.       Appendix: Recommendation 34 (1997) of the CLRAE       7

1.       The historical background

      In June 1994, at its first session, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) adopted Resolution 8 (1994), in which it asked its Chamber of Regions and Chamber of Local Authorities, in co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly, to draw up a European Charter of Regional Self-Government along the lines of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

      A CLRAE working group, with the assistance of experts, then drew up a preliminary draft Charter, which was approved by the Chamber of Regions of the CLRAE and adopted by the Standing Committee of the CLRAE on 5 July 1996. The text which appears in CLRAE Resolution 37 (1996) had been forwarded to the Parliamentary Assembly for opinion.

      The Assembly expressed a positive opinion of the preliminary draft (Resolution 1118 (1997) and congratulated the CLRAE on the praiseworthy initiative of preparing the Charter, declaring itself generally satisfied with the wording of the preliminary draft.

      At the same time, the CLRAE embarked upon a wide-ranging series of consultations of associations of local and regional authorities (including the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and the Assembly of European Regions). At the same time, hearings on the preliminary draft Charter were held in Hanover (March 1996), Barcelona (October 1996), Florence (February 1997) and Wroclaw (March 1997).

      Following the consultation period, and when it had studied the proposals resulting, the CLRAE working group submitted a revised draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government to the fourth session of the Congress, held in June 1997 in Strasbourg. The Chamber of Regions, after hearing the opinion issued by the Chamber of Local Authorities, approved the text, which was then formally approved by the Congress in plenary session (see appendix 1).

      On the occasion of this solemn session, I had the honour of taking the floor to express the Parliamentary Assembly's support for the draft Charter, as well as to voice its best wishes for the success of the document as a contribution by the Council of Europe to the modernisation of the democratic state.

The final draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government

      The final text of the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government appears in Recommendation 34, adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe on 5 June 1997 (vid. Appendix I). In this recommendation, the CLRAE invites the Parliamentary Assembly to support the draft Charter and the Committee of Ministers to examine the draft with a view to its adoption as a Council of Europe Convention.

      As already stated, the Assembly has already had occasion to give its opinion of the preliminary draft Charter adopted in 1996, and I wish to refer back to the comments I made in the explanatory memorandum accompanying the draft resolution, most of which remain valid (see document 7771 revised).

      The Assembly now has to give its view of the final draft, as adopted at the fourth session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.

      First and foremost, it must welcome the excellent spirit of co-operation prevailing in the relations between the two bodies throughout the drafting process, which proved highly productive. In practice, the Assembly, in Recommendation 1118 (1997) had made a series of comments about certain details of the text's wording. I can but express satisfaction at the fact that the Congress has taken up a large part of these proposals, as put by the Assembly. In respect of certain details of the text which do not reflect the viewpoints expressed by the Parliamentary Assembly, I take the view that there is no need at this stage to start a detailed debate of the finer points, but that it is important to reach a verdict about the text as a whole. This is all the more the case if the Committee of Ministers accedes to the Parliamentary Assembly's request and associates the Assembly, together with the CLRAE, with the work of the intergovernmental committee which would be asked to finalise the text. In this context, the Parliamentary Assembly could again put forward its proposals for the text at a later date.

      I now come back to the text as it exists: the first thing I must emphasise is that it received very broad support from the CLRAE when it was officially adopted in June 1997. This simply reflects the efforts made by its authors to seek the broadest consensus on the document. I therefore welcome the wide-ranging nature of the consultations conducted by the CLRAE during preparation of the final draft. The positive opinions expressed by Europe's most representative associations of local and regional authorities certainly increase the legitimacy of the draft Charter. In order to extend the consultations, the CLRAE had the good idea of holding hearings in four different countries, open to elected representatives and to experts (legal experts, senior officials of regional authorities, etc), so as to tell them about the draft and request their views. Only the European Union's Committee of the Regions was prevented from giving its opinion, and this is regrettable. The hearings led to official reactions from numerous regions and associations of regions and local authorities, which voiced their viewpoints on the draft Charter. Even some states are reported to have expressed favourable opinions already. The CLRAE working group has thus been able to benefit from a wide range of highly useful views, enabling it to fine-tune the text.

      Furthermore, it is important to emphasise the new-found topicality of the Charter now that regionalisation is taking hold throughout Europe. The recent initiatives relating to self-government for Scotland, the constitutional reform in Portugal and that under way in Italy are highly visible examples of this process. In this context the Council of Europe must shoulder its responsibilities and provide the service it is best equipped to offer, meaning the development of common legal instruments. Far from aiming at central planning or trying to create a political process artificially, and far from trying to impose homogeneous regionalisation on the Council's member states, the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government serves two purposes: it both reflects current trends within the states which already have regions as part of their internal organisation and offers guidance to those member states starting to give thought to reform of their political and administrative structure. The - deliberate - flexibility of the text, and the fact there is no attempted definition of the region - which might subsequently have become as rigid and unbreakable as it would be inconvenient - make the Charter immediately applicable to a wide variety of situations, as found in Europe.

      What is more, care was taken in the draft to guarantee explicitly respect for the territorial integrity of states, thus clearly indicating that the regionalism defined therein is not to be used to conceal would-be secessionist aspirations.

      The centralism which hallmarked certain European political models found its limits as the roles which public administration is called upon to play in modern states multiplied. The more complicated the administration of modern states becomes, the more necessary it proves both to increase the numbers of political decision-making centres and to bring these closer to citizens. A vertical separation of powers thus becomes the necessary complement to the traditional horizontal model defined by Montesquieu. The strengthening of local democracy, long advocated by the Council of Europe, works towards this end, and has shown its usefulness in increasing democratic security in the geographical area covered by the organisation. The creation of democratic regions is another expression of the same principle, and one which might, moreover, prove able to make a useful contribution to solving the issues raised by certain cultural and linguistic minorities in Europe.

      These few ideas lead me to take the view that this Charter could, like the European Charter of Local Self-Government, on which it is based, become a vital instrument for defining the features of the democratic state governed by the rule of law, as perceived by the Council of Europe, and that it could very rapidly be added to the Council's record of legal/political achievement. Our organisation thus has an excellent opportunity to embark on a large-scale political project which would give new impetus to its role as a source of ideas. It is my hope that the Committee of Ministers will grasp this opportunity and decide to draw up in the very near future a Council of Europe Convention based upon the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government adopted by the CLRAE.

      Appendix

Strasbourg, 12 June 1997       Provisional edition

      FOURTH SESSION

      (Strasbourg, 3 - 5 June 1997)

      RECOMMENDATION 34 (1997) 2

      ON THE DRAFT

      EUROPEAN CHARTER OF REGIONAL SELF-GOVERNMENT

      RECOMMENDATION

      ON THE DRAFT

      EUROPEAN CHARTER OF REGIONAL SELF-GOVERNMENT

I.       The Congress,

      In response to a proposal by the Chamber of Regions, and after taking note of an Opinion of the Chamber of Local Authorities,

1.       Having examined the report presented by Mr Peter Rabe (Lower Saxony, Germany) at the present session;

2.       Having regard to Resolutions 67 (1970) on "the problems of regionalisation in Europe" and 117 (1980) on "regional institutions in Europe" of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe;

3.       Having regard to Resolution 8 (1994) and Recommendation 6 (1994) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and to the request in Resolution 8 to draw up a "European Charter of Regional Autonomy" along the lines of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, in co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly, as stipulated in paragraph 23 of the Geneva Declaration;

4.       Having regard to the Declarations adopted at various conferences and conventions organised by the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, particularly the Galway Declaration (1975), the Bordeaux Declaration (1978) and the Geneva Declaration (1993);

5.       Having regard to the Resolution on "Community Regional Policy and the Role of the Regions", adopted on 18 November 1988 by the European Parliament;

6.       Having regard to the Parliamentary Assembly's commitment towards regionalisation and, in particular, to its Recommendations 1021 (1985) and 1256 (1995) on regions within the Council of Europe;

7.       Bearing in mind the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Council of Europe Convention No. 122) of 15 October 1985, and welcoming the fact that it has so far been signed by 32 member states and ratified by 24 of these;

8.       Being mindful of the importance of the principle of subsidiarity, which was defined for the first time in an international text in Article 4, paragraph 3, of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and was included as a basic principle in the Maastricht Treaty;

9.       Having regard to Recommendation No. R (95) 19 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity, which was adopted on 12 October 1995;

10.       Having regard to Statutory Resolution (94) 3 relating to the setting-up of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and to the Congress's Charter, particularly transitory provision No. 1, which presupposes that those countries without regions will make progress in the area of regionalisation;

11.       Having regard to its Resolution 37 (1996), whereby it provisionally approved a preliminary draft of the European Charter of Regional Self-Government;

12.       Having regard to its Recommendation 22 (1996), whereby it sought opinions on the aforesaid draft;

13.       Thanking the Parliamentary Assembly for its contribution to the preparatory work on the Charter and for its favourable interim opinion in Resolution 1118 (1997);

14.       Taking account of the position taken up by the European Union's Committee of the Regions [doc. CPR/GT/RSG (3) 5] and the opinions expressed by the Assembly of European Regions [doc. CPR/GT/RSG (3) 3] and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions [doc. CPR/GT/RSG (3) 8];

15.       Taking account of the proposals and comments from many associations of local and regional authorities in the member states;

16.       Taking account of the proposals received at the hearings held by its working group in Hanover (22 March 1996), Barcelona (18 October 1996), Florence (27 and 28 February 1997) and Wroclaw (10 March 1997) as well as the many suggestions received from members of the Congress;

17.       Thanking the many experts who contributed to the preparatory work on the Charter, in particular Mr Philippe de Bruycker and Mr Nicolas Levrat;

II.       Invites

1.       The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to support the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government, as appended hereto;

2.       The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to examine the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government, with a view to its adoption as a Council of Europe convention;

3.       The second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, October 1997) to express a political opinion in favour of this step towards fuller recognition of the importance of regionalism for the process of European construction, in accordance with the lead given by the Vienna Summit;

4.       The Governments of member States which have not yet done so to ratify the European Charter of Local Self-Government, at the latest at the same time as their ratification of the European Charter of Regional Self-Government.

      APPENDIX

DRAFT EUROPEAN CHARTER

OF REGIONAL SELF-GOVERNMENT

Preamble

The member States of the Council of Europe, signatory hereto,

1.       Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles of respect for human rights and democracy, which are their common heritage and constitute conditions for democratic security and factors for peace;

2.       Considering that the right of citizens to participate in the conduct of public affairs is one of the democratic principles that are shared by all member States of the Council of Europe and that regions further the exercise of that right;

3.       Convinced that the existence of regions governed by representatives elected by universal suffrage and endowed with real responsibilities can provide an administration which is both effective and close to the citizen;

4.       Convinced that the principle of subsidiarity is a major contribution to the development of democracy in Europe on the basis of the equal legitimacy of the different levels of authority: local, regional, national and European;

5.       Considering that this Charter and the European Charter of Local Self-Government are complementary in the application of the principle of subsidiarity for the benefit of regional and local authorities;

6.       Aware that the region is an appropriate level of authority for effective implementation of subsidiarity, which is considered one of the basic principles to be observed with regard both to European integration and to the internal organisation of States involved in this movement;

7.       Asserting that regionalisation must not be achieved at the expense of the autonomy of local authorities but must be accompanied by measures designed to protect such authorities and fully respecting what has been achieved through the European Charter of Local Self-Government;

8.       Affirming that recognition of regional self-government entails loyalty towards the State to which the regions belong, with due regard to its sovereignty and territorial integrity;

9.       Affirming that recognition of regional self-government should be accompanied by measures to implement solidarity between regions so as to foster balanced development;

10.       Considering that the region, as an essential component of the State, bears witness to Europe’s diversity, contributes to the enrichment of its culture with due regard to its traditions and in keeping with its history, and furthers its economic prosperity with a view to sustainable development;

11.       Aware that interregional and transfrontier co-operation makes a valuable and indispensable contribution to European construction;

12.       Affirming that the creation of appropriate European institutions should take account of the existence of regions within European States as regards the framing and execution of policies implemented at European level and should encourage regions to participate in such institutions, in particular in the Chamber of Regions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and the European Union's Committee of the Regions;

13.       Asserting that these principles presuppose the existence of a level of regional authority endowed with democratically constituted decision-making bodies and possessing a wide degree of autonomy with regard to their responsibilities, the ways and means by which those responsibilities are exercised and the resources required for the fulfilment of their tasks;

14.       Considering that, over and above the profound differences existing between the legal and institutional traditions of the different European countries, it is both desirable and appropriate to extend the process of regionalisation within European States on the basis of the principles set out below;

15.       Considering that one of the means by which these aims are to be achieved is through agreements in the field of their respective territorial structures,

Have agreed as follows:

Article 1

      The Contracting Parties undertake to consider themselves bound by the following articles in the manner and to the extent prescribed in one of the procedures contained in Article 20 or Article 23 of this Charter.

PART I

A.       Foundation of regional self-government

Article 2 - Foundation of regional self-government

1.       The principle of regional self-government shall be recognised as far as possible in the constitution.

2.       The scope of regional self-government shall be determined only by the constitution, the statutes of the region, national law or international law.

3.       The statutory provisions determining the scope of regional self-government shall, as far as possible, afford the regions specific protection by virtue of the procedures or conditions for their adoption.

B.       Definition of regional self-government

1.       Principle

Article 3 - Principle

1.       Regional self-government denotes the right and the ability of the largest territorial authorities within each State, having elected bodies, being administratively placed between central government and local authorities and enjoying prerogatives either of self-organisation or of a type normally associated with the central authority, to manage, on their own responsibility and in the interests of their populations, a substantial share of public affairs, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.

2.       In conformity with the provisions of the present Charter, the scope of regional self-government shall be determined by the domestic law of each State on the conditions set forth in Article 2, paragraph 2.

2.       Types of competence

Article 4 - Own competences

1.       The competences of the regions shall be acknowledged or determined by the constitution, the statutes of the region, national law or international law.

2.       The regions' own competences may not be affected or limited except by the constitution, by national law or by international law.

3.       The regions shall have decision-making and administrative powers in the areas covered by their own competences. These powers shall permit the adoption and implementation of policies specific to each region.

4.       Within the limits of the law, it is desirable that the implementation at regional level of tasks which fall within the competence of national government should be assigned to regional bodies. The regions shall be provided with the necessary resources to this end.

Article 5 - Delegated competences

1.       Competences may, within the limits of the law, be delegated to the regions by other levels of government.

2.       Delegation of competences shall, in so far as is reasonable, be clearly defined. The resources, in particular material and financial, for the effective exercise of these additional powers shall be properly provided for in the instrument of delegation.

3.       The bodies responsible for exercising such competences shall, as far as is possible within the limits of the law, be allowed discretion in adapting their exercise to the conditions specific to the region and to their organisational structures, in the interests of efficiency and in accordance with the wishes of the region's inhabitants. Provision for the financial aspects in the instrument of delegation shall not excessively restrict this discretion.

3.       Spheres of competence

Article 6 - Regional affairs

1.       In addition to the competences which, in conformity with the principle set forth in Article 3, are acknowledged or attributed to the regions by the constitution, the statutes of the region, national law or international law, regional affairs shall equally cover any matter of regional interest that is not excluded from their competence or assigned specifically to another authority.

2.       When exercising their competences the regions shall, with due respect for the law, be guided by the interests of the citizens as well as the principle of subsidiarity and take into account the reasonable requirements of national and European solidarity.

Article 7 - Relations with local authorities

1.       The regions which possess competences concerning authorities to which the European Charter of Local Self-Government is intended to be applicable shall respect the spirit and the letter of that Convention in their relations with such authorities.

2.       Regions shall apply the principle of subsidiarity in their relations with local authorities.

3.       Within the limits of the law, regions may delegate some of their competences to local authorities in accordance with the principles set forth in Article 5.

4.       In so far as it falls within their competence, regions shall wherever necessary endeavour to ensure financial equalisation between the local authorities located within their boundaries.

Article 8 - Interregional and transfrontier relations

1.       In the spheres falling within their competence, regions shall be entitled to undertake activities of interregional or transfrontier co-operation, in accordance with any procedures laid down by domestic law. These activities shall be carried out with due regard to domestic law and to the international obligations of the State.

2.       Regions forming part of a transfrontier area may, with due regard to the law of all national legal systems concerned as well as to international law, provide themselves with joint deliberative and/or executive bodies. The acts of these bodies shall be subject to the procedures of the competent courts to the same extent as if they had been performed by a regional body, in accordance with the principles set forth in the existing treaties on the subject.

3.       The interregional or transfrontier relations of regions shall be governed by the relevant international agreements, in so far as these are applicable.

Article 9 - Participation in State affairs

1.       In so far as rules adopted at central government level may alter the scope of regional self-government or affect the interests of regions, regions shall be able to participate in the decision-making process.

2.       Participation by regions in central government affairs may:

-       either be ensured through appropriate representation of the regions within legislative or administrative bodies;

-       or be based on procedures of discussion or consultation between State bodies and each region concerned;

-       or derive from consultation between central government bodies and a structure representing the regions.

      These forms of participation shall not be mutually exclusive.

Article 10 - Participation in European and international affairs

1.       Regions shall have the right to participate or be represented, through bodies designed for this specific purpose, in the activities of the European institutions.

2.       Regions shall at least have the right to be consulted by their national government whenever their State is negotiating the conclusion of an international treaty or the adoption of some other instrument within the framework of a European organisation which may directly affect their powers or their fundamental interests. The same shall apply whenever the implementation of rules adopted at European level may be their responsibility.

3.       National governments may involve regions in the negotiating process, notably by including regional representatives in the national delegations.

4.       In order to promote or defend their interests, regions shall have the right to set up, either individually or collectively with other regions or local authorities, liaison offices vis-à-vis other regions or local authorities or vis-à-vis international organisations - in particular European organisations - which are active in their spheres of competence.

4.       Institutional organisation of regions

Article 11 - The principle of regional self-organisation

      To the fullest possible extent, regions shall have the right to adopt and, at the very least, supplement their statutes with due regard to the Constitution and the laws passed in accordance with Article 2, paragraph 3.

Article 12 - Regional bodies

1.       Without prejudice to the different forms of citizen participation in decision-making, regions shall be endowed with a representative assembly and an executive body.

2.       The assembly shall be freely and directly elected by secret ballot on the basis of universal suffrage.

3.       Except in the case of direct election by the population, the executive body shall be answerable to the assembly in accordance with the conditions and procedures laid down by the domestic law of each State party to the present Charter.

4.       The conditions of office of elected regional representatives shall provide for the free exercise of their functions, in particular through adequate allowances.

5.       Members of the representative assembly or the executive body may not be subjected to measures of the central authority which encroach upon the free performance of their duties, except in connection with judicial proceedings.

Article 13 - Regional administration

1.       Regions shall have their own assets and their own system of administration, as well as such bodies of their own as they may set up and their own staff.

2.       Regions may freely determine the internal structures of their administrative system and their bodies.

3.       Regions may determine the conditions of service of their staff within the limits of such general principles as may be laid down by the central or federal authority in the matter.

5.       Regional finance

Article 14 - Principles

1.       The funding system for the regions shall provide them with a foreseeable amount of revenue commensurate with their competences and allowing them to conduct their own policies.

2.       The regions' sources of funding shall be sufficiently diversified and buoyant to enable them to keep pace, as far as possible, with the real evolution of the cost of exercising their competences and with general economic development.

3.       As regards the exercise of their own competences, the regions' financial resources shall consist mainly of own resources, which they may use freely.

4.       The principle of solidarity necessitates the introduction, within each State, of a financial equalisation mechanism taking account of both the potential resources and the needs of regions, with the aim of harmonising the living standard of inhabitants of the different regions.

5.       Transfers and grants shall as a rule be made on a non-earmarked basis. Financial transfers to regions and, where applicable, sharing of taxes as provided for in Article 15, paragraph 3 shall be governed by predetermined rules based on a few objective criteria corresponding to the regions' actual needs.

6.       Regions shall, within the limits of the law, have access to the capital market in order to cover their capital expenditure by borrowing, provided they can demonstrate their ability to service the debt throughout the repayment period from their own income.

7.       A statutory obligation to comply with certain budgetary rules or a standardised accounting system shall not constitute an encroachment on the regions' financial autonomy.

Article 15 - Own resources

1.       Own resources shall consist mainly of taxes, duties or charges which regions have the right to raise within the limits defined by the constitution or the law. Regions shall be able to determine the rates of regional taxes and duties.

2.       Where they cannot raise their own regional taxes, regions shall be entitled, within the limits prescribed by the constitution or the law, to set additional percentages on taxes levied by other public authorities.

3.       The regions' share in general taxes set by the constitution or the law shall also be regarded as own resources. Appropriate procedures shall be set up for consulting all regions on rules and arrangements for sharing and allocating such resources.

4.       Regional tax management may, for the sake of rationalisation, efficiency and co-ordination, be made the responsibility of an administration belonging to several authorities or to an authority other than the region, without this affecting the ownership and use of the revenue.

C.       Protection of regional self-government

Article 16 - Protection of regional boundaries

1.       Without prejudice to such procedures of direct democracy as may be provided for in domestic law, a regional boundary may not be altered until the region concerned has given its agreement.

2.       In the event of a general redrawing of regional boundaries, consultation of all the regions concerned, in accordance with any procedures prescribed by domestic law, may be substituted for the express agreement of each region.

Article 17 - Right of regions to institute legal proceedings

      Regions shall be empowered to bring an action in the competent courts in order to secure the free exercise of their powers and respect for the principles of regional self-government enshrined in the present Charter or in domestic law.

Article 18 - Conflicts of competences

1.       When a conflict of competences exists, it shall be settled by a judicial body.

2.       Conflicts of competences shall be settled according to the constitutional and statutory principles of each State. Failing a clear solution in the positive law applicable, the principle of subsidiarity shall be taken into consideration in the decision.

Article 19 - Supervision of regional instruments

1.       Supervision of instruments adopted by regions may be exercised only in such cases and according to such procedures as are provided for by the constitution or the law.

2.       Any supervision of regional instruments shall be aimed only at ensuring compliance with the law. Such supervision shall be exercised only ex post facto, subject to the existence of a procedure for the approval of the region's statute.

3.       Supervision may, however, include an appraisal of expediency with regard to the power of implementation referred to in Article 4, paragraph 4, and the exercise of competences delegated to the regions.

PART II

Article 20 - Undertakings and reservations

1.       The Contracting States agree to be bound by all the provisions of this Charter and undertake not to hinder through any measure the effective exercise of the monitoring arrangements referred to in Article 22 of the Charter.

2.       In order to take account of the diversity and developing nature of regional situations in European States, States shall be authorised to enter reservations in respect of the following articles:

      -       Article 4, paragraph 4,

      -       Article 8, paragraph 2,

      -       Article 10, paragraph 3,

      -       Article 13, paragraph 3.

      In States where the regional assembly is traditionally composed of elected representatives of the local authorities forming the region, a State shall be authorised to enter a reservation in respect of the direct character of the election as provided for in paragraph 2 of Article 12.

3.       No reservation other than those provided for in the preceding paragraph shall be permissible.

4.       Reservations shall be notified to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe at the time of signature, ratification or accession.

5.       Any State which has entered reservations may withdraw them at any time by notification to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Article 21 - Interpretation of the Charter

      None of the provisions of this Charter shall be interpreted as encroaching on or restricting a form of self-government more widely conferred on territorial authorities by international law or by the domestic law of each State Party.

Article 22 - Monitoring of the application of the Charter

1.       Each State shall, during the year in which the Charter enters into force as far as it is concerned, and every five years thereafter, draw up a report on the application of the Charter.

2.       States which have entered reservations in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 20 shall examine in their report the relevance of maintaining such reservations.

3.       The report shall be submitted for examination by the CLRAE, which shall transmit it with its observations to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers shall consider every national report in accordance with such procedures as it shall lay down, and shall notify its conclusions to the State concerned and to the President of the CLRAE.

4.       The Committee of Ministers shall, if appropriate and after consultation with the CLRAE and the Parliamentary Assembly, take measures designed to permit examination of reports submitted by non-member States of the Council of Europe.

Article 23 - Undertakings by States involved in a process of regionalisation

1.       States in which a process of regionalisation is currently under way may ratify this Charter while undertaking to implement its provisions by setting up and developing regional structures. They shall undertake, within a period of not more than ten years from the entry into force of the Charter as far as they are concerned, to set up the legal framework and the administrative and financial mechanisms which will enable them to comply, in respect of their regions, with the rights set forth in this Charter, on the conditions stipulated in paragraph 1 or 2 of Article 20.

2.       Each State in respect of which the Charter is in force on the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall, during the year in which the Charter enters into force as far as it is concerned, and every three years thereafter, draw up a report on developments in the regionalisation process; these reports shall be subject to the procedure provided for in paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 22. Following the fourth report at the latest, the Party concerned shall inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of its undertaking to comply with the Charter on the conditions specified in paragraph 1 or 2 of Article 20.

PART III

Article 24 - Signature, ratification, entry into force

1.       This Charter shall be open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe. It shall be subject to ratification, acceptance or approval. Instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

2.       This Charter shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiry of a period of three months after the date on which five member States of the Council of Europe have expressed their consent to be bound by the Charter in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph.

3.       In respect of any member State which subsequently expresses its consent to be bound by it, the Charter shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiry of a period of three months after the date of the deposit of the instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval.

Article 25 - Regions to which the Charter shall apply

      The principles of regional self-government contained in this Charter shall apply to all the regions existing within the territory of a Contracting Party. However, each Contracting Party may, when depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval, specify the categories of regions to which it intends to confine the scope of the Charter or which it intends to exclude from its scope.

Article 26 - Accession by non-member States of the Council of Europe

      After the entry into force of this Charter and after consultation with the CLRAE, the Committee of Ministers may, by a decision taken by a unanimous vote, invite any non-member State to accede to the Charter. This invitation must receive the express agreement of each of the States which have ratified the Convention.

Article 27 - Denunciation

      Any Contracting Party may denounce this Charter at any time after the expiry of five years from the date on which the Charter entered into force for it. Six months' notice shall be given to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Such notification shall not affect the validity of the Charter in respect of the other Contracting Parties, provided that at all times there are not fewer than five such Parties.

Article 28 - Notifications

      The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify the member States of the Council of Europe of:

a.       any signature;

b.       the deposit of any instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval;

c.       any date of entry into force of this Charter in accordance with Article 24;

d.       any notification received in application of Article 20, paragraphs 4 and 5, concerning reservations;

e.       any notification concerning the exclusion of certain categories of regions from the scope of the present Charter, in conformity with Article 25;

f.       any notification by a State having ratified the Charter under the terms of Article 23, at the latest following the expiry of the period specified in Article 23, paragraph 2;

g.       all Committee of Ministers, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and Parliamentary Assembly reports adopted under the arrangements for monitoring the application of this Charter;

h.       any other act, notification or communication relating to this Charter.

In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorised thereto, have signed this Charter.

Done at ______________, this _______ day of ___________ 19__, in English and French, both texts being equally authentic, in a single copy which shall be deposited in the archives of the Council of Europe. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall transmit certified copies to each member State of the Council of Europe.

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

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: None.

Reference to committee : Permanent mandate.

Draft recommendation adopted by the committee on 22 September 1997.

Members of the committee: Mr Briane (Chairman), Mr Ruffy, Mrs Aytaman, Mme Severinsen (Vice-Persons), MM. Abdulatipov, Akçali, Andreoli, Assis Miranda, Blaauw, Mrs Blunck, Mr Cerny, Sir Sidney Chapman, MM. Chircop (Alternate : Vella), Cox, Christodoulides, Mrs Ciemniak, Mr Ciupaila, M. Cox, Mrs Dromberg, MM Erroi, Feldmann, Frunda, Giannattasio, Gregory, Gyorivanyi, Haraldsson O., Hoeffel, Mrs Jaruga-Nowacka, Mr Johansson, Mrs Johansson, MM. Koçi, Korakas, Kukk, Kovacevic, Mrs Lambergs, MM. Lie, Martínez-Casañ, Minkov, Molnar, Mota Amaral, Mozetic, Olivo, Penz, Plattner, Prokes, Prosser, Prusi, Rakhansky, Recoder, Mrs Riess-Passer, MM. Samofalov, Shishlov, Skoularikis, Sobyanin, Staes, Steolea, Svoboda, Theis, Toshev, Valkeniers, Woltjer, Yamgnane (Alternate: Mr Lengagne), Zierer.

N.B.The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries to the committee : Mrs Cagnolati-Staveris, Mr Grau Tanner, Mr Chevtchenko.


1 . by the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities.

2 .        Discussion by the Congress and adoption on 5 June 1997, 3rd sitting (see doc. CPR (4) 4 revised, Recommendation presented by Mr P. Rabe, Rapporteur).