What is the purpose of the Strategy of Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level?

The purpose of the Strategy is to improve governance of local authorities on a continual basis. This can be done by local authorities implementing the twelve principles of the Strategy and also by exchanging experimenters and information with other local authorities, at a national level, but also at an international level, making each European local authority a learning local authority.

How can I contribute to the Strategy?

You can contribute by becoming active in your own local authority and persuade your elected representatives to implement the twelve principles of the Strategy of Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level. You could also try and persuade them to apply for the Label of good democratic governance. You can do this for example by writing letters to your elected representatives or contributing to online discussions with them via twitter of Facebook or blogs.

What are the 12 Principles?

The twelve principles encapsulate the fundamental values of European democracy and form the complete spectrum of requirements for good democratic governance. The twelve principles are:



Fair Conduct of Elections, Representation and Participation




Efficiency and Effectiveness


Openness and Transparency


Rule of Law


Ethical Conduct


Competence and Capacity


Innovation and Openness to Change


Sustainability and Long-term Orientation


Sound Financial Management


Human rights, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion



For more elaborated information on the principles click here. (link to page with principles and the bullet points)

What is the Council of Europe’s role?

The Council of Europe encourages the ongoing improvement of the quality of democracy at all levels, starting at the local level. It urges governments to put in place the policies and tools which help local authorities run their affairs more effectively. It supports local authorities that genuinely commit themselves to effective democratic governance. Through the Council of Europe, European local authorities and their associations can exchange experience and practice and learn from each other.

What can central authorities do?

Across Europe, central authorities can play an active role by discussing the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level with the national associations of local authorities. If they agree that the Strategy would help create the conditions for improving local governance, they can officially join and set about implementing it.  

How does the implementation process work?

Implementation of the Strategy of Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level usually follows the steps below:

More detailed information can be found here.

What can local authorities do in countries which have officially adopted the Strategy?

At their own initiative or by invitation from the national association, local authorities can subsequently sign up and pursue implementation of the twelve principles.

What can local authorities do in countries where there is not yet an implementation plan for the Strategy?  

A local authority has several options. It may

What can regional authorities do?

The decision to join may be taken at the regional level in countries where the regions have a major role in the running of local authorities and a valid interest, therefore, in improving how they are governed. In addition, regions can

Finally, in their capacity as major political and administrative entities, with an interest in improving their own governance, regions may also want to take inspiration themselves from the guidelines offered by the Strategy.

Who is looking after the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level?

The Council of Europe’s Stakeholders Platform has overall responsibility for the Strategy. The Platform comprises representatives from the Council of Europe statutory institutions: the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Conference of International NGOs, as well as from Council of Europe’s steering committee working in the field: the European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR).

The Platform’s brief is to follow and give guidance on how to implement the Strategy and further develop it in the light of experience. In so doing, it:

How is the Strategy implemented?

1. Local authorities commit themselves to improving their performance, on a continuous basis. They are invited to adopt the Strategy and its twelve principles formally.

2. The Governments or Associations of Local Authorities, whichever level is the most appropriate, draw up and adopt national action programmes, highlighting the measures to be taken and breaking them down into the constituent steps for carrying them out.

3. A European Label prepared and accredited by the Council of Europe is awarded nationally to local authorities having achieved a certain overall level of good governance under the 12 principles.

Which countries are implementing the Strategy?

Currently Belgium, Bulgaria, Norway and Ukraine are implementing the Strategy. Other countries such as Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain are currently contemplating their implementation approach.