What is the European Local Democracy Week?
What is the European Local Democracy Week?
The “European Local Democracy Week” (ELDW) is an annual European event, in the framework of which local authorities from all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe (and beyond) organise public events to meet and engage with their citizens on issues of current interest. The aim is to promote and foster democratic participation at local level.
The week around 15 October has been chosen for holding this event as a tribute to the European Charter of Local Self-Government, opened for signature on that date in 1985.
The aim of the ELDW is to promote and foster democratic participation at grassroots level in Europe and, in particular, to raise citizens’ awareness of how local authorities operate and what local elected representatives are doing at the European level, as well as to inform them of the opportunities for taking part in local decision-making processes.
Through its online platform, updated by the partaking authorities, the ELDW also functions as a network of local and regional authorities and their associations to share their events and activities organised to boost citizen participation, and to get ideas and inspiration from each other’s experiences.
The sample of activities organised in the framework of the ELDW includes a large variety of approaches to develop the different dimensions and themes of citizen participation. Participating authorities and associations may choose to develop activities which are related to the current theme of the ELDW or to the priorities of their community. Examples on the types of events that are being organised in the framework of the ELDW can be found in the thematic ideas section or by searching for events by country on the dedicated online platform.
During the ELDW, local authorities are encouraged to reflect on their responsibilities as key actors in democratic societies. The vitality of local democracy improves the quality of life in our communities and enhances the effectiveness of local governance.
Furthermore, the Week creates the opportunity to assert local democracy as one of the common components for constructing a democratic Europe, and informs the public and elected representatives about the Council of Europe and its Congress’s role in this area.
Who can take part in ELDW?
The ELDW is intended for local and regional authorities (local communities, cities, municipalities, provinces, regions). Citizens and NGOs are both the principal beneficiaries of the ELDW’s activities, and its main actors. Young people can also play an essential role in making the Week’s messages widely known, and the Youth and Children Councils are strongly encouraged to participate in the Week.
Local Authorities may organise different events with their citizens and target groups during the week around 15 October when the ELDW is officially held each year. They can also organise ELDW events on other dates around October if they cannot schedule activities during that period.
Regions and Intermediate local authorities, such as County Councils and provinces, can contribute to the ELDW in various ways, mainly:
- Registering their participation as a Partner in the current edition, organising their own initiatives involving citizens and other local partners, focusing on activities related to their competencies (cultural, education, social and health services, ombudsmen offices, etc.).
- Co-operating with other participating local authorities by supporting their initiatives with their institutional logo and by financial or ‘in-kind’ support (printing leaflets, providing equipment, printing the ELDW posters and leaflets).
- Disseminating information to local authorities in the region/county to raise awareness of the ELDW and the role of the Council of Europe and the Congress in promoting local democracy.
For more information: How to take part in the ELDW?
Who is responsible for this event?
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, as a political assembly composed of elected officials from local and regional authorities of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, is responsible for the co-ordination of the ELDW across Europe.
The European dimension of local democracy
Proximity, a vibrant local democratic life and good governance at the local level are aspirations largely shared by most Europeans.
Several organisations work towards promoting local democracy in Europe. The Council of Europe is committed to promoting a style of local self-government that meets the needs of citizens wherever they may be. The Council of Europe also initiated the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the body in charge of monitoring its implementation in each country. Through this instrument the signatory states undertake to recognise the principle of local self-government in domestic legislation.