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Ref. CG-020 (2016)

Refugees : Council of Europe Congress President welcomes the commitment of Greek local and regional authorities

Strasbourg, 9 September 2016 - At the invitation of Rena Dourou, Governor of the Attica Region, the Council of Europe Congress President Jean-Claude Frécon paid a visit to this region from 6 to 7 September, accompanied by a delegation, to examine the Region’s policy for receiving and integrating refugees. They visited, in particular, the Elaionas and Skaramargas camps, as well as the Logistics centre for the supply of relief items for the refugees.

“In the Attica Region, and throughout the whole of Europe, the problem is not only the reception but also the integration of refugees” underlined Governor Dourou, during a meeting held on 6 September. She also insisted on the necessity of establishing a network of European regions to jointly discuss the priorities and practical steps that need to be taken, an initiative supported by the Congress President.

“The policy of ‘fend for yourself’, of closed borders, and administrative obstacles has no future and will only lead to the rise of populist movements everywhere. The problem of the reception of refugees is not a Greek but a European problem. And our countries will achieve nothing of any value if they do not involve local and regional authorities,” stated Jean-Claude Frécon speaking to the members of the executive board of KEDE, the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece, on 7 September. Congress President also held an exchange of views with Georges Patoulis, President of KEDE, Michalis Angelopoulos, Chair of the Greek delegation to the Congress, and with Greek local elected representatives to examine, in particular, the implementation of the Congress recommendation adopted in 2015 following the monitoring of the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Greece.

Congress President also met Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis on 7 September 2016. They held a broad exchange of views on the situation of local and regional authorities in Greece and also discussed the difficulties relating to the massive reception of refugees and the policies pursued at local and national level. One year after the adoption of the monitoring report on Greece, the Congress President asked the Minister about implementation of the recommendations in the report and the Greek government’s planned reforms. Following these talks, the Congress President said he was confident that there would be fruitful political dialogue with central government, the Greek local and regional authorities and their associations.

This visit to Attica is taking place in the context of the preparation of the report “From reception to integration: the role of local and regional authorities facing migration” by the co-rapporteurs Yoomi Renström (Sweden, SOC) and György Illes (Hungary, ILDG) who were members of the delegation. The report will be submitted to the Current Affairs Committee for approval in October 2016 and subsequently to the Congress for adoption at the March 2017 session.

More information: www.coe.int/congress

The Congress has two chambers, the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. It brings together 324 full and 324 substitute members representing more than 200 000 European territorial communities.
President of the Congress: Jean-Claude Frécon (France, SOC), President of the Chamber of Local Authorities: Anders Knape (Sweden, EPP/CCE), President of the Chamber of Regions: Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC)
Political Groups: Socialist Group (SOC), Group of the European People’s Party (EPP/CCE), Independent and Liberal Democrat Group (ILDG), European Conservatives & Reformists Group  (ECR)