The Congress is a pan-European political assembly representing local and regional authorities from the forty-seven European states of the Council of Europe.
It meets in Strasbourg (France).
Its 648 members hold elective office (they may be regional or municipal councillors, mayors or presidents of regional authorities) and represent over 200,000 authorities in 47 European States with over 800 million citizens.
The UK has one of the largest delegations in the Congress and UK members have important role to play in contributing to policy formulations, election monitoring and development of local democracy in Europe. The English delegation is nominated via the LGA.
What does the CoE do?
It is the only European political assembly to defend the interests of local and regional authorities, promote local and regional democracy, strengthen authorities’ self-government and improve local and regional governance throughout Europe.
It monitors the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and CoE Reference Framework for Regional Democracy; observes local and regional elections; and promotes good governance through exchange of experience.
The Congress provides its members and its institutional partners in the CoE and beyond with a platform for the exchange of ideas, experiences and good practice. It encourages these exchanges and partnerships, and seeks to strengthen dialogue between all players in the field of local self-government and regional democracy.
Moreover, UK members have opportunity to participate in debates in areas of particular interest to UK local authorities (local democracy, climate change etc.) and learn from experiences elsewhere in Europe.
Support to councillors
Travel and accommodation are covered by the Council of Europe and the LGA provided a secretariat for the UK delegation, with formal briefings at each session of Congress.
There are two plenary sessions per year (usually three or four days per session), with further meeting of committees and/or electoral monitoring visits.
To note, all meetings have been held virtually since early 2020. Meetings in Strasbourg may be convened later in 2021, depending on the local advice.