25th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 29-31 October 2013

Communication by Natalyia ROMANOVA, President of Chamber of Regions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to welcome you all to the 25th session of the Chamber of Regions of the Congress.

I would like to open the session by informing you about the Chamber’s main activities since the last session and I would also like to share with you some ideas for possible future activities of the Chamber.

As you may remember, during the previous Session of the Chamber we held a Round Table on the theme of regionalisation and devolution in Europe in a context of economic crisis. The Round Table was focused on the impact of the crises on the regionalization process, on the possible answers to recession and social exclusion and on connections between the crises and the regional trends of nationalism in Europe.

Bruno MARZIANO and Marie-Madeleine MIALOT-MULLER, who are here with us today, and who I would like to thank for their contribution, brought to the round table the added value of their experience as rapporteurs of the reports on “Regions with special status” and on Trends and developments in regionalisation in Council of Europe member states, which is under preparation”.

Today we shall hold a debate on the possible follow-up to be given to that Round Table. I believe the Chamber should pay particular attention to promoting the regionalisation process, help regions improve economic effectiveness via good governance methods and consider the origin and consequences of the recent trends in regional nationalism.

Since the beginning of my mandate, I wanted to strengthen the political dimension of the activities of the Chamber, by dedicating an item of the Bureau’s agendas to political developments at regional level in Europe. For this reason, we systematically dealt with the major political events at regional level and with regional elections results.

We discussed, in particular, the initiative of the Catalan Parliament to consider the desire for autonomy of the Catalan population; of the future Referendum on independence of Scotland and on the project to create a single “Territorial unit of Alsace”. We also considered the results of regional elections in the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Croatia and Russian Federation.

During recent months, we cooperated closely with the European Associations of regional authorities. We took part in the Assemblies of the major European regional associations. I would like to highlight some of them:

—the General Assembly of the Association of European Border Regions held in Liegè on 7-8 November 2013- and I would like to thank its President Mr Lambertz, for the very good job he did with AEBR;

—the General Assembly of the CALRE, the Conference of Regional Legislative Assemblies held in Brussels on 21-22 October 2013; and last but not least,

—the General Assembly of the AER, the Assembly of the European Regions, held in Paris on 17 May 2013.

Mrs Sonja Steen, President of the Committee on Culture, Education, Youth and International Cooperation of the AER, will join us and be a guest speaker for the debate on regionalisation later this morning. Both the AER Summit on “Regions facing the crises”, held in Paris, and the AER Black Sea summit held in Rize, in which I took part, were very successful.

Our wish for the future is to keep on developing the cooperation with the European regional associations.

The Chamber contributed also to several other activities and events. May I ask you to refer to document [CPR(25)1] for the full list of activities of the Chamber since our last session.

As for the future, I propose to continue contributing to the implementation of the Congress’ priorities 2013-2016, in respect of all the aims of the Council of Europe and in close co-operation with all relevant partners.

Regional democracy and regionalisation is a major political challenge for the Chamber of Regions. A comprehensive analysis of the trends of regionalisation in Europe is in fact currently being carried out within the Congress.

This is of particular importance at a moment when claims for strengthened regional autonomy, and in some cases secession, are made in a number of European countries.