International cooperation in local government matters
The Department for Local Government and Regional Administration of the Ministry of Finance is active in international cooperation within its sphere of operations and represents Finland in certain international organizations and bodies. The main focus is in cooperation with the Council of Europe and the other Nordic countries. The volume of nationally binding legislation concerning local government matters prepared in the European Union is also growing.
The Ministry of Finance and the Department for Local Government and Regional Administration aim to influence the agreements, recommendations and guidelines relating to the Department’s sphere of operations prepared in various international bodies and see to their implementation and follow-up in Finland.
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is a political cooperation and human rights organisation established in 1949 to promote the unity of its 47 member states, pluralistic democracy and human values, to improve the living conditions, and to protect human rights and the rule of law in general.
It issues recommendations and guidelines to its member states, of which the European Charter of Local Self-Government, legally binding on Finland as well, is the best known in terms of local government matters. The Additional Protocol to the Charter on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority was ratified in Finland in 2012. The recommendations are available on the Council of Europe website.
The European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) is an intergovernmental forum of representatives of the member states. The Committee deals with matters relating to public administration and its modernisation, democracy and how this could be further improved, public finances, and transfrontier cooperation. In these matters the focus of the Committee is on the local and regional government perspectives of the member states. The Department for Local Government and Regional Administration represents the Finnish Government at the Committee meetings and prepares the materials and positions concerning Finland.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) functions as a forum for local and regional administration representatives in the Council of Europe. The Congress aims to reinforce the political, administrative and economic cooperation between the regional and local government authorities. The Ministry of Finance appoints the representatives and their substitutes based on proposals by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities is responsible for the support services for the Finnish delegation. The Department for Local Government and Regional Administration together with the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities organizes regular meetings with the Finnish representatives in the Congress.
Nordic cooperation has long traditions and a well-established position in local government matters. The societies and role and functions of the local sector in the Nordic countries are very similar, which is why international collaboration and comparison among them is often most useful.
Nordic ministers for local government affairs and representatives of their ministries convene to discuss topical reforms in their field on an annual basis.
Local government cooperation across national borders has been incorporated into a special treaty between Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Finland adopted the treaty in 1979.
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The Department for Local Government and Regional Administration follows the proceedings of the Court of Justice of the EU concerning local government affairs and finances and, if necessary, participates in the proceedings.
The Ministry of Finance appoints the Finnish members and their alternates to the Committee of the Regions of the EU based on a proposal by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.
The Department for Local Government and Regional Administration together with the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities organises regular meetings with the Finnish representatives in the Committee of the Regions.
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