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Ministers responsible for local and regional government from the Council of Europe's 44 member states have agreed o...
Ministers responsible for local and regional government from the Council of Europe's 44 member states have agreed on a set of principles for regional self-government, which should serve as common European standards for regional democracy based on the principle of subsidiarity. A similar set of principles for local self-government was adopted by the Council of Europe in 1985, and has since proved to be an important instrument for reforms in many member states.

The principles for regional self-government take into account the broad variety of existing regional arrangements in member states, and also accept that states are free to decide whether or not they wish to establish a regional tier. The principles cover such issues as regional responsibilities, relations with other sub-national territorial authorities, involvement in the state decision-making process, supervision of regional authorities by state authorities, protection of regional self-government, the right of association and other forms of co-operation, external relations, the election and functions of regional bodies, regional administration, financial resources, and financial transfers.

The ministers could not, however, reach a consensus on the form of a European legal text on regional self-government. During the debates last Friday neither a convention nor a less legally binding recommendation had the support of a clear majority. In a declaration adopted by the conference, the ministers therefore asked the Steering Committee on Local and Regional Democracy to draft a range of legal instruments, according to the different proposals made during the conference. The ministers will examine the resulting texts at their next session in Budapest in 2004.
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