Recommendation 51 (1998)1 on social cohesion in towns

The Congress, bearing in mind the proposal of the Chamber of Local Authorities,

1. Welcoming and having debated the report on "Social Cohesion in Towns", presented by Mrs Jaggi and Mr Roppe on behalf of the CLRAE Working Group on Policies for the Town;

2. Considering the report as a significant item in a continuing examination by the CLRAE of local policies for the improvement of life in towns, structured around the European Urban Charter adopted by the CLRAE and distributed widely in Europe;

3. Recalling that both social questions and the urban environment were identified as future Council of Europe priorities, in the Final Declaration and Action Plan of the Second Summit (October 1997) and that accordingly the report is to be considered as one of the contributions of the CLRAE to the achievement of these priorities;

4. Supporting the work programme of the CLRAE on urban policies as defined by its Working Group, which in 1998/99 will include, amongst other items:-

- A Conference on "The Statute and Role of Small and Medium-sized Towns" (September 1998, Federation of Russia);

- A Conference on "European Historic Towns and their Associations", (October 1998, Malta);

- A Conference on the European Urban Charter (Catalonia, 1999);

- A series of contributions to the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe.

5. Wishing in particular to support the proposals of the Working Group, endorsed by the Bureau of the Chamber, for a future Council of Europe campaign on urban policies, to be known as "The Year 2001 - the Springtime of Towns" - details of which appear as an Appendix to this Recommendation;

6. Commending the discussions within the Committee of Ministers relating to the establishment in the Council of Europe of an Inter-Sectoral Commission on the Town - a proposal arising from earlier CLRAE Conferences on urban questions, held in Plovdiv in 1995 and Lausanne in 1996;

7. Considering that such a Commission could not only be a useful coordinating mechanism in the Council of Europe for the diversity of its work on urban questions but also as a means for conducting some of the relevant priorities of the texts of the Second Summit;

8. Supporting in this respect the organisation in 1998 of a Conference to which would be convened the partners in such a Commission, ie., Steering Committee on Local and Regional matters; the Parliamentary Assembly; the principal European NGOs working on the subject; and the CLRAE itself - in order to examine its role, objectives and financing;

ASKS THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS TO:-

9. Establish in the Council of Europe an inter-Sectoral Commission on the Town, as already requested by the CLRAE in Recommendation 19 (1996) on "Aspects of urban policies in Europe".

10. Examine, with a view to its approval, the CLRAE proposal for the organisation of a Council of Europe Campaign entitled "Year 2001 - A Springtime of Towns" along the lines identified in the Appendix to this Recommendation.

11. Ask the Steering Committee on Social Policies (CDPS) to identify a number of pilot projects on social cohesion in towns, along the lines of the criteria proposed by the CLRAE in the current report, with a view to the establishment of a network for an exchange of experience and definition of common approaches, a network in which the CLRAE would be willing to play an active role.

12. Associate the CLRAE fully in the Council of Europe's work on social questions arising from the Second Summit.

Appendix

"THE YEAR 2001 -

THE SPRINGTIME OF TOWNS"

Purpose

A focus by the Council of Europe on the opportunities and challenges of life in European towns.

Background

Towns in Europe have always been the centre for cultural achievement; of diversity and creativity; for some of mankind's greatest innovations; as vectors for economic development; a demographic focus and axes for the movement of capital, goods and persons.

They are also the arena where some problems of society; social exclusion, a poor or monotonous built environment, inadequate housing, crime, drug abuse are most acutely felt or perceived.

At the end of the 20th century, there is nonetheless a renewal in the vigour and the attraction of towns. People are returning after years of rural exodus. More sensitive urban planning and architecture, a sense of social solidarity, wider possibilities for collective and individual development, a conviction about environmental quality and sustainable development, the application of information technology, a more responsive and transparent public administration, are factors in an urban transformation and renaissance.

The dawn of a new century is thus an appropriate moment to mark this Springtime of our towns.

Time

March 21 - June 30 in the year 2001

Organisation

An international Committee under the aegis of the Council of Europe and of its Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe supported by national agencies in member countries.

If the Council of Europe were to create an Inter-Sectoral Committee on the Town, such a Committee would be the body responsible for the campaign.

The composition of the international and national bodies would reflect the different partners concerned by urban questions.

Method

The identification and networking of innovative policies and projects in towns.

Organisation of Conferences, Seminars and other events.

Exhibitions and publications.

Mobilisation of media.

Preparation

An expert Group would be established to prepare the campaign.

1998

One meeting of the expert group (6 members), under the responsibility of the CLRAE's Working Group on Policies for the Town and paid on the budget of the CLRAE.

1999

Three meetings of the expert Group, in a widened composition paid on the budget of the Council of Europe.

Establishment of national agencies.

2000

Transformation of the expert Group into an international organising Committee, with membership to include significant European personalities associated with the subject.

Three meetings of the Committee, paid on the budget of the Council of Europe.

Meetings of National Agencies.

2001

The Campaign.

1 Debated by the Chamber of Local Authorities on 26 May 1998 and adopted by the Standing Committee of the Congress on 28 May 1998 (see Document CPL (5) 3, Draft Recommendation, presented by Mr L. Roppe, Rapporteur).