Antonella Cagnolati: “National associations are the ‘national parliaments’ of local and regional authorities and key partners of the Congress”

Interview – 13.7.2012

The Congress is holding the 4th General Meeting of Associations of Local and Regional Authorities: what do you think the meetings have achieved and what fresh impetus would you like to give them?

National associations of local and regional authorities play a vital role in their countries.  This involves representing the authorities and organising consultation between them, while also defending their interests in dialogue with institutional and non-institutional partners.  At the same time, they carry out very important international co-operation activities on issues close to the interests of the Congress.  Although they do not have a national institutional status, they are the ‘national parliaments’ of local and regional authorities.  It therefore seemed entirely natural to us that the Congress, as the assembly of the local and regional authorities in Council of Europe member states, should hold regular dialogue and consultation meetings with these key partners.

In this connection, we believe that increased dialogue between the Congress and national associations helps to develop co-operation projects for which the achievements of the Congress and the Council of Europe can offer the national associations real added value.  The 4th General Meeting is being held against the particular background of the reform of the Council of Europe and the Congress, which is intended to give our organisation and its various bodies fresh impetus and bring its action closer into line with the needs of its member states at all levels.  The Congress is willing to play its part here and we hope that the associations will respond to the call.

In October, the Congress will adopt its priorities for 2013-2016.  What contribution could national associations make to implementing them?

The primary objective of the general meeting is to seek the associations’ views about the draft priorities adopted by the Bureau of the Congress before they are submitted to its members for discussion and adoption.  We want the priorities also to reflect the national associations’ aspirations for European action.  We therefore expect the associations to react to the priorities for 2013-2016 submitted to them and look forward to receiving their comments, proposals and criticisms, etc.

However, a further aim of the general meeting this year will be to submit proposals to the associations concerning action in priority fields for the Congress in respect of which we would like to conclude co-operation agreements with interested associations.  We believe that this offers the opportunity of practical co-operation with those associations which might be interested, either because they are already active in the relevant areas or because they wish to develop joint action with the Congress.