19 April 1994

Doc. 7077

1403-19/4/94-1-E

REPORT

giving an opinion on the texts adopted

by the Standing Committee of the Standing Conference of

Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE)

(30 August 1993 and 18 March 1994)

(Rapporteur: Mr JUNG,

France, Group of the European People's Party)


I. Draft opinion

1.       Owing to the reform of the CLRAE and the creation of the new Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the Assembly is presenting its opinion on texts adopted by the CLRAE for the last time in this form. It would like at the outset to salute the creation of the Congress, which it had always encouraged.

2.       It would also like to point to the support that it has consistently given to CLRAE initiatives, convinced not only of its importance within the Council of Europe but also, and above all, of the importance of local democracy as the basic level of democracy which is vital if our societies are to function smoothly in accordance with the principles upheld by the Council of Europe. In this respect, it is delighted at the excellent mutual co-operation which has always existed between the Assembly and the CLRAE and hopes that this will continue with the new Congress.

3.       The Assembly would like to assure the Congress of its intention to pay close attention to such continued co-operation in the interests of defending local democracy and respecting local self-government, aspects which are of particular significance, notably with regard to the countries of central and eastern Europe.

4.       In keeping with its terms of reference, the Assembly hereby sets out its opinions on the texts adopted by the Standing Committee of the CLRAE on behalf of the Conference.

A.       Resolution 255 (1993) on HIV/Aids — activities of local and regional authorities1

1.       The Assembly supports all awareness-raising initiatives aimed at the prevention of Aids. Indeed, it is extremely concerned about the global scale of the Aids epidemic, its ravages on continents such as Africa and the worrying development of the disease in central and eastern Europe.

2.       Aids presents us with the same dilemma as other illnesses, but in a particularly acute form, namely, that of reconciling the demands of public health protection and respect for individual liberty. It is, therefore, a challenge to democracy. The Assembly reaffirms its abhorrence of discrimination and exclusion and advocates that the disease and its consequences should be handled in a democratic way.

3.       The Assembly can, therefore, promise the Conference its unreserved support and assistance for all multidisciplinary initiatives and hopes that the fight against Aids will be one of the priorities of the Council of Europe's Intergovernmental Programme of Activities.

4.       It should also be stressed that, in order to obtain a universal vaccine and to eradicate Aids as swiftly as possible, there is a need for a truly concerted scientific research policy at European, or even world, level.

B.       Resolution 256 (1994) on the 3rd Conference of Mediterranean Regions

1.       The Assembly welcomes this third conference and concurs with the CLRAE on the development of Mediterranean co-operation.

2.       The Assembly has always been and remains particularly sensitive to the problems of the Mediterranean basin, which is a region where European stability and democratic security might be called into question. Whilst the Council of Europe is currently giving priority attention to central and eastern Europe, the Assembly does not as a consequence intend to neglect the Mediterranean region.

3.       It is continuing its work on this region, notably preparations for a debate on the various issues raised at the 3rd Conference of Mediterranean Regions.

4.       In addition, it shares the CLRAE's concern to ensure that the fourth conference, to be held in Cyprus in 1995, is prepared as well as possible.

C.       Resolution 257 (1994) on integrated planning and local development

1.       The Assembly endorses the CLRAE's account of the widening disparities in levels of development between European regions and can therefore only encourage its proposals to promote more balanced development.

2.       In keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, it particularly supports the proposal to base new development strategies at local and regional levels, which are best placed to exploit the full potential of the areas concerned.

3.       It also endorses the principle of administrative co-ordination whereby development policies would be based on co-operation between all the competent administrations in the interests of economy of resources and efficiency of investment and results.

4.       The Assembly is concerned at such disparities in development between European regions but also between countries, in particular with regard to the countries of central and eastern Europe and is therefore prepared to back any initiative designed to promote the socio-economic development of regions experiencing development problems. When the time comes, it would like to be involved in the conference to take stock proposed by the CLRAE in order to monitor the effectiveness of the proposed models.

D.       Resolution 258 (1994) on co-operation between public and private sectors2

1.       The Assembly welcomes the prospects for increased co-operation between the public and the private sector at national, regional and local level, as outlined in Resolution 258. It refers to its own position on the related subject on privatisation, contained in Resolution 953 (1990) on "privatisation — rewards and problems".

2.       It does, however, draw attention to certain principles contained in Resolution 953 which should be borne in mind in any CLRAE follow-up. Thus, it must be ensured "that the consumer benefits from a given privatisation in the form of a wider choice between better and less costly products or services", that privatisation "must lead to savings in government expenditure", and that it "should be more efficient in meeting the social and other objectives associated with the system it replaces".

E.       Resolution 259 (1994) on regional and local authorities and transfrontier or transnational school co-operation3

1.       Many of the general principles expressed in this resolution (such as the importance of educational exchanges, the European dimension of education, the need to combat intolerance) and certain considerations of a more specific nature (such as the importance of minority languages) directly reflect Assembly interest.

2.       The Assembly has not had the opportunity to examine in the time available the various model agreements proposed by the CLRAE. These cover a wide range of fields, certain of which are under current investigation by the Assembly (for example heritage classes).

3.       The general position of the Assembly's Committee on Culture and Education is one of full support for action at the local and regional levels in the cultural sector.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr JUNG

Introduction

      The texts of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE) covered by this opinion have been adopted by its Standing Committee on behalf of the Conference, given that the current CLRAE will no longer meet in its present form following the reform adopted by the Committee of Ministers.

      As the Assembly and its Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities has dealt with the reform of the CLRAE on several occasions, it is sufficient to recall that on 14 January 1994 the Committee of Ministers adopted a Statutory Resolution (1994) 3 on the creation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and the Charter of the new CLRAE. This Congress, which has new rules and is more representative, will replace the CLRAE as the representative body of local and regional authorities.

      The texts covered by this opinion were adopted by the Standing Committee at its meetings of 30 August 1993, in the case of Resolution 255 (transmitted to the Assembly on 14 January 1994), and 18 March 1994, in the case of Resolutions 256 to 259 (transmitted on 29 March 1994).

1. Recent developments

      The Standing Committee of the CLRAE met for the last time in Strasbourg on 18 March 1994, notably to implement the statutory improvement of the CLRAE following the decisions adopted by the Committee of Ministers and to approve the most recent texts prepared by the current CLRAE.

      It was also informed of the work of a restricted working group responsible for preparing the new structures and drawing up draft rules of procedure for the new Congress. The matter of relations between the new Congress and the Parliamentary Assembly has not yet been dealt with as priority has been given to setting up new structures.

      The rules of the Congress and the specific rules of procedure for each of its two Chambers (Chamber of Local Authorities and Chamber of Regions) will be adopted by each body at the first session of the Congress.

      The Standing Committee also discussed the programme for the first session of congress to be held in Strasbourg from 31 May to 3 June 1994.

      Moreover, in keeping with the third transitory provision of the Charter of the new CLRAE and on the occasion of this Standing Committee meeting, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers drew lots to designate which Chamber will put forward candidates for the presidency of the Congress (Article 13.1 of the Charter stipulates that the Congress shall elect its president, in turn, from among the members of each Chamber and that the president's term of office shall be two ordinary sessions).

      The Chamber of Local Authorities was chosen to preside at the first session of the Congress.

2. Summary of adopted texts

a.       Resolution 255 (1993) on HIV/Aids — activities of local and regional authorities4

      The Conference emphasises the particularly close relationship between Aids and human rights and the deficiencies and divergences in the statistical approach to HIV/Aids. It wonders about the possible role of the public authorities in the face of the coming changes in sexual mores and the current risks of confusing Aids prevention and drug prevention policies. It considers local authorities to be well placed to "experiment" with regard to prevention, treatment and care.

      The Conference places the emphasis on prevention, which must comprise information, screening and aid for research. It must be comprehensive, objective and neutral and, as well as promoting the most comprehensive possible knowledge of the illness, must encourage responsible sexuality. Particular measures should be addressed to certain target groups, such as young people, prisoners, drug addicts, homosexuals and prostitutes.

      Screening must be voluntary and free; it must be obligatory for "any transfer of blood, sperm, breast milk, organs, etc.". With regard to treatment and care, these must be planned, offered to all without discrimination and diversified to take account of patients' wishes, and so on.

      In its final recommendations, the Conference calls, amongst other things, for collaboration between all the various bodies of the Council of Europe, with a view to producing a common European strategy, or at least common thinking, on public health objectives commensurate with the advent of HIV/Aids.

      According to WHO, every day 5 000 people in the world become infected with the virus; by the year 2000, over 40 million people will probably be HIV-positive (today the number stands at 13 million) and millions of people will develop Aids. The phenomenon is difficult to measure, since, as was pointed out in Resolution 255, definitions of the illness vary from country to country.

      The fight against the epidemic involves providing genuine education on sexualities, informing people about the modes of transmission of the virus (blood and sex) and introducing a comprehensive prevention policy, including specific preventive actions for groups of drug addicts. In particular, if prevention is to be effective, further study is needed on human behaviour regarding sexuality, which is still an inadequately researched and relatively unknown area.

      The risk of transmission via medical treatment must not be neglected, even if blood, blood factors and derivatives will soon be produced synthetically. In Africa, for example, blood is rarely tested and heated and people still symbolically associate needles with healing.

      In a few years time we will be faced with new medical, social, ethical and other problems, of which we are not yet fully aware, owing to the growing numbers of HIV-positive and patients developing full-blown Aids and the increasing average lifespan of those with the disease. Attention must be given to improving care and treatment systems for HIV-positive and Aids sufferers and to improving training for health service staff, especially general practitioners.

b.       Resolution 256 (1994) on the 3rd Conference of Mediterranean Regions

      This text refers to the work of the 3rd Conference of Mediterranean Regions held in Taormina from 5 to 7 April 1993. It highlights the importance of the Mediterranean basin for Europe from various points of view — political, socio-economic, cultural and ecological. It recommends that particular attention be paid to countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the CLRAE subscribes to the Mediterranean Landscape Charter drawn up by the regions of Andalusia, Languedoc-Roussillon and Tuscany.

      The CLRAE recommends stepping up co-operation between the states on the northern and southern shores and envisaging the creation of a permanent structure for Mediterranean co-operation. It also advocates the joint management of natural resources in the basin.

      It addresses specific requests to the Committee of Ministers to include activities to develop Mediterranean co-operation in the Intergovernmental Programme of Activities, notably in the field of democracy, human rights, environment and migration (plan presented by the region of Sicily to set up a foundation for Mediterranean migrations). It also decided to consider organising a conference on intra-Mediterranean migration.

      It expresses a general desire to pursue co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly in this field with regard to the follow-up to be given to this third conference as well as the preparation of the next conference to be held in Cyprus in 1995.

      I would like to stress the great importance the Assembly, and in particular this committee, attaches to these issues, to which it will continue to pay close attention. I would point to some of the committee's current work such as the preparation of a report on co-operation in the Mediterranean basin or its opinion on the environmental consequences of uncontrolled population growth, for example, which will probably also include consideration of the situation in the Mediterranean region.

c.       Resolution 257 (1994) on integrated planning and local development

      This text describes the major socio-economic disparities that exist between European countries and regions. It makes a general recommendation for policies and strategies to improve the potential of the different municipalities and co-operation between them.

      The CLRAE notes that traditional development policies have tended to increase disparities between regions and have failed to improve their socio-economic cohesion. It advocates setting up an overall sustainable development policy based on planning which takes account of economic and social factors as well as issues relating to regional planning and the environment.

      In order to do so, it suggests that the various development policies that exist at the different levels of authority (local, regional, national and European) should be co-ordinated. This should be done without creating new administrative bodies through voluntary co-operation by the existing levels of planning.

      Having regard to the subsidiarity principle, and in the interests of efficiency and economy, it is proposed to use regional and local territorial development models as a basis and respect the degree of territorial autonomy that exists in each country in implementing integrated development programmes.

      Specific requests are addressed to governments and regional authorities to implement such territorial development policies, at the same time encouraging the establishment of municipal syndicates to pursue this objective.

d.       Resolution 258 (1994) on co-operation between public and private sectors5

      In line with the general privatisation trend in Europe, this resolution calls for enhanced co-operation between the private and the public sector, notably in providing various local public services. It recommends research on the most appropriate forms of such co-operation, and urges joint action between international organisations, national, regional and local authorities, as well as private companies to carry it out. Finally, it calls for an international conference to be convened to further explore the subject.

e.       Resolution 259 (1994) on regional and local authorities and transfrontier or transnational school co-operation6

      After recalling previous proposals, the CLRAE emphasises the benefits to be gained from transnational and transfrontier school exchanges. It recalls that their objectives are not only educational but also cultural and social. In addition, the CLRAE underlines the important role played by international communities or authorities.

      The CLRAE invites the latter to conclude co-operation agreements and to reinforce their cultural policy and requests to carry out in a few years an evaluation of the initiatives taken.

      To this end, it also requests support from the Committee of Ministers, the Secretary General and the European Union.

      Several model agreements are appended to this resolution.

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

      Committee for opinion: the opinions on Resolutions 255, 258 and 259 have been prepared by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development and the Committee on Culture and Education.

      Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

      Reference to committee: Doc. 7023 and Doc. 7059, Reference No. 1938 of 15 April 1994.

      Draft opinion unanimously adopted by the committee on 14 April 1994.

      Members of the committee: MM. Parisi (Chairman) (Alternate: Leccese), Ruffy, Lord Newall (Vice-Chairman), MM. Alemyr, Bachna (Alternate: Kolar), Bernardini (Alternate: Andreoli), Gudmundur Bjarnason (Alternate: Mrs Astgeirsdottir), Mrs Blunck (Alternate: Mr Antretter), MM. Bonrepaux (Alternate: Valleix), Brennan (Alternate: Mitchell), Briane, Büchel, Mrs Ciemniak, MM. Demiralp, Dimmer, Mrs Dromberg, MM. Eversdijk, Feldmann, Ferrarini, Frunda, Mrs Graenitz, Mr Granstedt (Alternate: Mrs Saint Cyr), MM. Grau i Buldu, Hadjidemetriou, Hardy, Jung, Mrs Kaliska, MM. Korakas, Koulouris, Kukk, Lanner, Lie, Lotz, Meszaros, Monfils, Motiu, Mozetic, Pinto, Pozela, Redmond (Alternate: Sir John Hunt), Mr Reis Leite, Mrs Robert, Mr Rubner, Mrs Sanches de Miguel, Mr Sarens, Mrs Severinsen, MM. Spacek, Szymanski, Talay, Toshev, Tummers, 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 Sixto.


1 1The opinion on this resolution was prepared by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee.

2 1The opinion on this resolution was prepared by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.

3 2The opinion of this resolution was prepared by the Committee on Culture and Education.

4 1This text was examined by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee which contributed to the opinion on this resolution.

5 1This text was examined by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development which contributed to the opinion on this resolution.

6 2This text was examined by the Committee on Culture and Education which contributed to the opinion on this resolution.