At the bottom is Cyprus in terms of Local Government
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has reached a total of fifteen recommendations, which rank Cyprus as one of the worst in terms of local democracy.
The President of the Union of Municipalities, Alexis Galanos, stressed during a press conference that the proposed reform of Local Government in Cyprus "should be in line with the recommendations for more responsibilities and ensuring the financial independence of Local Authorities."
"The opposite will simply mean backwardness and contempt for the European authorities," he said, stressing that "Cyprus, in this case, is at the bottom."
According to the head of the Cypriot delegation to the Congress, Stavros Gerolatsitis, these recommendations are expected to be approved by the Plenary Session of the Congress, which will meet on October 20. He also pointed out that the recommendations in many places repeat the corresponding recommendations made in 2001 and 2005, "a fact that shows that the Government has not taken them into account in the intervening time".
Among other things, the recommendations provide for the explicit recognition of local authorities in the Constitution, in order to guarantee the right of local communities to self-government and also to ensure the legal and administrative status of existing local authorities in the event of a solution.
It is also stated that in the context of the ongoing administrative reform, arrangements should be made for the strengthening of local authorities and the transfer to them of more tasks and functions, which, however, should be transferred as genuine, full and exclusive responsibilities, free from any guardianship of the central government.
The recommendations state that the regulatory powers of local authorities in all matters falling within their remit should be exempted from the requirement for approval by the central government.
The central government, it says, instead of determining the human and administrative resources of local authorities should use its power to provide local authorities with the staff and technical facilities necessary to carry out their duties.
Congress is calling for the abolition of the power of the Council of Ministers to suspend local elections in certain areas "for reasons of public interest", as it serves no legitimate purpose today.
It also calls for the abolition of central government power to approve local authorities' budgets and to limit the control of the legality of financial management exercised by local governments.
It is also recommended that the mechanism for providing government grants be defined in a way that makes it transparent and predictable for local authorities.
As stated, regardless of maintaining the principle of co-financing development projects, local authorities should have more financial resources at their disposal for capital expenditures, in order to strengthen local priorities in this area and to be able to implement development projects effectively. and efficient.
According to the recommendations, the Cypriot authorities should work out satisfactory guarantees for the implementation of the basic principle of adequate funding of local authorities, after a careful and in-depth examination of local needs and after an effort is made to maintain a balance between costs and mandatory functions of local authorities and the resources available for each year.
Finally, it is stated that the Cypriot authorities should take steps to ensure the immediate implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
However, as Mr. Galanos said, the Republic of Cyprus is only "morally committed" to the CoE, since the treaty of the European Charter of Local Self-Government by which the Republic of Cyprus ratified the Charter in 1988, is not self-executing.
He added that the necessary steps should be taken by the Government or the Parliament to make the European Charter a self-executing treaty.
Mr. Galanos noted that over time there has never been a real effort to implement the local government charter, adding that "any reform we are talking about is in the direction of savings, functionality and body building."
"Promoting these necessary administrative and financial changes does nothing. "What we have today is a continuation of the colonial regime in Cyprus", he said and concluded by saying that apart from the municipal and community elections, the local authorities in Cyprus look more like "local administration, than local self-government".