17th Session of Conference of European Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government

Thursday 3 November, 14.30-16.15 - Outlook for the future

Speech by President Keith Whitmore, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Council of Europe

Reply to Vice-President Manuel Chaves

Mr President,

I take this opportunity to thank Mr Chaves personally and also on behalf of my colleagues in the Congress.

Mr Chaves , I would like to congratulate you - and your colleague Secretary of State Gaspar Zarrias - for the work that you have done, and especially for the extremely serious and inclusive approach that you have taken in the preparation of this report, including an exchange of views with Congress members last year.

You were well-placed for this work.  I think that your previous experience as president of the region of Andalusia has given you a good grasp of the need of maintaining a healthy political dialogue between politicians at all levels of governance.

The excellent report that you have produced is proof that this approach has yielded results. We have a report that will serve to orientate our work for the coming years. 

We fully support your findings, and I would underline in this respect the importance that we attach to strengthening political dialogue.

The Congress is a political assembly and we are fully determined and committed to maintaining a serious and robust dialogue with our political partners.

Our main partner for such dialogue is the Committee of Ministers. In the same spirit we are committed to maintaining a strong dialogue with this ministerial conference and with the political representative(s) that the conference may entrust with the follow-up of this Conference - just as you were entrusted to follow-up the last conference.

Between ministerial conferences, our secretariat will continue to cooperate closely with the secretariat of this conference.

I am pleased to say that our dialogue with the Committee of Ministers has improved substantially since the last Ministerial Conference.  We will continue our efforts to maintain and to further develop this dialogue. 

This is not a one-way process.  The Committee of Ministers - in a reply to the Congress adopted 3 weeks ago - has pledged to play its part in this dialogue.

We have a common objective, to deepen local and regional democracy in Europe.  We are open to all forms of cooperation with the Committee of Ministers, using all possible means. You will find the Congress to be a serious and reliable partner.

Mr Chaves,

Your report is one of the key documents of this Conference. It conveys an important message.  I believe that its main points should be fully reflected in the final declaration of this Conference.