News - UDiTE
PORTUGUESE MUNICIPALITIES MAKING GOOD PROGRESS TOWARDS COUNCIL OF EUROPE ACCREDITATION WITH EUROPEAN LABEL OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
UDITE & ATAM host Council of Europe - European Label of Governance’ Excellence (ELoGE) awards - Portugal
Opening the session, Luís Leite Ramos, Member of Parliament and Council of European Parliamentary Assembly member and Chair of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development , welcomed the process and encouraged more Portuguese authorities to apply for the label.
Ronny Frederickx, UDITE Executive Director, thanked all the 21 municipalities for having embarked on the #ELOGE process. He confirmed that the evaluation jury had decided that 7 Municipalities were judged to have addressed all 12 principles of Good Governance.
Welcoming the distinguished guests and Member of Parliament, Paul Gatt, President of UDITE recalled his own experience in Madrid 4 years ago where his own authority Naxxar Local Council was awarded the label. He underlined that the process whilst requiring hard work and commitment from both elected members and officers represented a positive process that instilled anew motivation in the organisation.
He underlined that ELOGE is a recognition that every member involved in the municipality should be proud of; Mayors, Councillors, Municipal Directors, officials, employees, but not just, the whole community of the towns and cities which will receive this label, should likewise be proud to be joining a pioneering group of #ELOGE accredited local authorities from across Europe.
Changing culture, meaning change for good how we do things. It is something that needs to become an integral part of how we act, how we manage, how we take decisions, how we communicate. It is important therefore that we get this message across even to the least among our employees, to everyone in the municipality. This is a challenge in itself because it is far easier to cut corners. It is actually more difficult, not only to follow the rules but to do that extra effort.
The backdrop to these awards has seen a difficult period for local authorities that have been confronted by the pandemic. Covid-19 has managed to disrupt everything we do including the smooth preparation of this project. Even having to organize this project, it proved to be tough and challenging. Even whilst Municipalities were working on this project and doing the benchmarking exercise, the same municipalities were facing new realities. Having to adopt to new practices in a very short periods of time. This pandemic has given municipalities little time to think before deciding, to consult, to even perhaps follow certain rules and regulations. Employees needed to be able to work from home. Above all they had to make the decision to first safeguard the provision of all services and also safeguard the health of their own employees and that of the community.
A broad cross-section of Portuguese municipalities from North and South, coastal plains and mountain valleys, urban and rural areas participated in a series of workshops and awareness-raising activities related to ELoGE and the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from all participants attested to the interest in and value of ensuring a sustainable and annual implementation of the ELoGE Benchmark in Portugal.
Gina Coelho of ATAM explained that the ELoGE approach, measuring local governance against adherence to the 12 Principles, is a model citizens and local officials can believe in. Although all the municipalities present were due to receive the award, several recognised that the journey to ELoGE was more important than the award, as it forced local officials, citizens, and their elected representatives to question their governance practice.
The Council of Europe’s 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance include fundamental values defining a common vision of democratic governance in Europe. The European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE) is awarded to local authorities who demonstrate their respect for the 12 Principles, as measured against the relevant benchmarks.
Paul concluded by calling on today’s recipients to reach out their neighbouring towns and cities who are as yet sceptical, or perhaps afraid to take on this benchmarking exercise. Perhaps they are daunted by the challenges presented by the 12 principles. He said “Let us all be the messengers to these cities, let us give them the courage and confidence they need to secure this good democratic governance accolade that their citizens will welcome”. He thanked Executive Director of UDiTE, Ronny Frederickx for leading this project, Maria da Glória Sarmento, the Portuguese expert, Francisco Alveirinho Correia President of ATAM and Gina Coelho from ATAM and Alina Tatarenko, Council of Europe’s Center of Expertise at the Council of Europe.
Presenting the awards Francisco, congratulated all the participants for having made such great efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winners of the European Label of Good Governance 2021 in Portugal were:-