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The Pan-European General Principles on Local Self-Government 

1. European Charter on Local Self-Government (ETS. No. 122)

2. Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority (CETS No. 207)

3. Recommendation No. R (95) 19 of The Committee of Ministers to Member States on The Implementation of the Principle of Subsidiarity
  • observance of the principle of subsidiarity in member states’ legal systems in its dual dimension, as a criterion for allocating powers between different levels of government and guiding them in the exercise of these powers, can only contribute to a better application of the principles contained in the European Charter of Local Self-Government
  • effective performance of the increasingly numerous and complex tasks assigned to local and regional authorities demands the provision of adequate human and financial resources which, in some cases, are available only in organisations (territorial authorities or intermunicipal co-operation structures) of a large scale
  • the essentially political nature of local self-government, which must allow the citizen to participate more closely in the management of public affairs, and should therefore be entrusted to elected authorities;
  • local self-government requires the clearest possible division of powers as regards both the formulation and the implementation of policies, and presupposes that the authorities entrusted with these powers have the human, legal and financial resources to exercise them;
  • the protection of the financially weaker local authorities calls for the introduction of financial equalisation measures which, depending on the circumstances and the degree of financial autonomy of the local and regional authorities, may involve vertical equalisation (from central government) and/or horizontal equalisation (among local authorities)

4. European Commission for Democracy through Law – Compilation of Venice Commission Opinions concerning constitutional and legal provisions for the protection of local self-government

5. Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for local and regional government. Valencia Declaration on a Council of Europe Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level.

  • Good governance is a requirement at all levels of public administration. At local level, it is of fundamental importance because local government is closest to citizens and provides them with essential services and it is at this level that they can most readily feel ownership of public action.
  • In pursuit of this aim the Strategy has the following three objectives:
    • Citizens are placed at the heart of all democratic institutions and processes;
    • Local authorities constantly improve their governance in accordance with the 12 Principles set out below;
    • States (or regional authorities, depending on member states’ institutional structure) create and maintain the institutional preconditions for the improvement of governance at local level, building on their existing commitments in accordance with the European Charter of Local Self-Government and other Council of Europe standards.
  • The Principles of Good Democratic Governance at local level are:
  1. Fair Conduct of Elections, Representation and Participation, to ensure real possibilities for all citizens to have their say in local public affairs;
  2. Responsiveness, to ensure that the local authority meets the legitimate expectations and needs of citizens;
  3.  Efficiency and Effectiveness, to ensure that objectives are met while making the best use of resources;
  4. Openness and Transparency, to ensure public access to information and facilitate understanding of how local public affairs are conducted;
  5. Rule of Law, to ensure fairness, impartiality and predictability;
  6. Ethical Conduct, to ensure that the public interest is put before private ones;
  7. Competence and Capacity, to ensure that local representatives and officials are well able to carry out their duties;
  8. Innovation and Openness to Change, to ensure that benefit is derived from new solutions and good practices;
  9. Sustainability and Long-term Orientation, to take the interests of future generations into account;
  10. Sound Financial Management, to ensure prudent and productive use of public funds;
  11. Human rights, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion, to ensure that all citizens are protected and respected and that no one is either discriminated against or excluded;
  12. Accountability, to ensure that local representatives and officials take responsibility and are held responsible for their actions.