European Ministers Conference
Spanish Minister for Public Administration Elena Salgado, together with Council of Europe Secret ary General Terry Davis, opened the 15th Conference of European Ministers responsible for local and regional institutions of the Council of Europe", held at the Valencia Conference Centre on 15 and 16 October. Elena Salgado was elected to chair the conference which, under the motto "Good local and regional government.The European challenge", brought together delegations from the 47 member states, as well as 21 ministers for public administration and other state and institution representatives. Delegations debated the role of citizens in regional and local democracy and the latest developments in regional autonomy "Valencia Declaration" During the Conference, the ministers of the Council of Europe member states approved the "Valencia Declaration". This document collects several proposals focusing on the promotion of good democratic governance at a local level in Europe. The final declaration pointed out the need for states to adopt measures that ensure ethical beh aviour by local authorities and transparent management of public affairs and decision making. On the one hand, it was agreed that an additional protocol to the European Local Autonomy Chart would be developed in order to con solidate the right to democratic participation, citizens right to information and the obligations of local authorities in respect of these rights. On the other hand, ministers reinforced their support of the innovation and good local governance strategy whose aim is to commit national and local authorities to the fulfilment of the twelve principles of good democratic governance. This strategy foresees that governments and local authorities should agree to carry out specific action plans and also contemplates the establishment of a European Seal of Innovation and Good Governance and an European Award to Local Authority Excellence. As the Conference was being held, the Council of Europe lauched the European Local Democracy Week, whose aim is to increase awareness of the importance of local democracy amongst citizens and encourage them to participate in social political life.