4th European Congress of Local Governments – summary

It is already a tradition that once a year all the most important central level politicians, local government officials, business representatives and local leaders come to Cracow to discuss the most important challenges and problems of local authorities. This year 4th European Congress of Local Governments was attended by nearly 1,900 guests from 36 countries around the world. The Congress took place on 26-27 April under the slogan “Local government: A strategy for the future”. Over 100 journalists listened to the sessions and made live inserts with the most important guests. One of the most important and largest such conferences in Europe included over 80 events. There were: program blocks, panels, workshops, lectures, presentations and “success stories” within them. The events were carried out in the following paths: Finance, Society, Innovation, Economy, Environment, and Business and Local Government.

Politically, the talks dominated the local government elections that all local parties and committees are waiting for in the autumn. No wonder that all the leaders of the parliamentary groups appeared in Krakow to show their idea for the local government.  Parties presented the first assumptions of their programs. “The local government must be an entity, it must have the opportunity to make decisions, it must be independent,” said Grzegorz Schetyna, chairman of the Civic Platform. How important should be the local government in the life of every citizen of our country convinced the head of the Polish People’s Party – Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz “Being proud of Poland, from its history, from your regionalism can not be entered into the law.” Reviving, The Left wants to build a self-government community above political divisions. This was declared by the deputy chairman of the Democratic Left Alliance – Krzysztof Gawkowski. The representatives of the Kukiz’15  Movement convinced that the citizens are the most important. The deputy of this grouping, Maciej Andrzejewski, remarked that in the local government elections, “candidates with aspirational and not political aspirations” will be put on the electoral roll.

Local government officials have the greatest impact on the lives of every citizen in our country. In the meantime, there has been a long-standing problem in this level with the arrangement of relations between local and central authorities. “For years, the self-government has changed a lot and today it is probably the best time to come back to the debate, how it should function in the new realities. The existing solutions, regulations, the model of functioning of self-governments, in Poland and in Europe, exhaust their possibilities. The local government has to perform more and more tasks and, in consequence, receive more and more money. But they can not be subsidies, but own revenues. He must act alone. Modification of legislation and extension of powers are indispensable. Already in the years 2012-2013 a lot was said about the need to re-arrange relations between the state and the local government. Unfortunately, we have not even taken a step forward since. And yet we should all take care of the good of the Republic and its sustainable development. For every citizen, let alone politics, regardless of the level, it should be important for Poland to become an increasingly important player on the map of Europe. “- emphasizes Zygmunt Berdychowski, the originator of the Krakow conference and Chairman of the Program Board of the Economic Forum in Krynica.

For two days, Krakow became the self-government capital of Europe. As the mayor of the City of Krakow says, prof. Jacek Majchrowski is an important event for the city. “The European Congress of Local Governments does not touch abstract, academic subjects, we only talk about life in cities, their development, everyday life, and so something that is very real and close to each of us. We co-organize EKS, because in many of these areas of the city life we ​​feel a leader, we think we have something to share, and at the same time we are interested in thinking about people from outside “- emphasizes the long-time ruler of the second largest city in Poland.


The inaugural session “Local government: A strategy for the future” brought a common voice from many European countries, whose representatives took part in it. “Regions should have much greater sovereignty,” said Jose Maria Cunha Costa, chairman of the Viana do Castelo Municipal Council in Portugal, with the approval of the rest of the panelists and the public. Support for this idea was also expressed by panelists in the second plenary session – “Is Europe Ready to Embrace the Revival of Regionalisms?”.

Its participants emphasized that the problems on the local government – central government line led to a growing desire to break into the independence of regions that have a very strong local identity – such as Catalonia, Scotland and Flanders. Nationalist movements in these places also became a springboard for power. “In the UK, once, local parliaments were strong. They had their budgets. We chose members of regional authorities. Suddenly, the regions disappeared and a problem arose because London did not fully understand the needs of local communities. We also lost a lot of money from the European Union. And yet, in the British Isles, first you talk about counties, then we come from there and there is our identity “- emphasized Valerie Carter, chairwoman of the European Council for Villages and Small Towns.

The summary of the first day of the Congress was a gala, during which prizes were awarded to the best local governments in the country. The best rural municipality was Kobierzyce. The title of the best urban-rural municipality went to the Dziwnow municipality. The award for the best county went to the Pruszkow county. Gliwice was the best city on the rights of the county, and the best city was Legionowo.

The order of local governments was determined on the basis of a detailed Financial Ranking of the Local Government in Poland. It was prepared by the Cracow University of Economics and the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies.

In addition, three more prizes were awarded. The best startup was the KreaTech company, which teaches children programming through play. A special distinction went to the Hyper Poland startup. That company will present its capsule for fast travel during the Economic Forum in Krynica.

The gala summarizing the first day of the 4th European Congress of Local Governments is also the highest-level guests. In Krakow, among others, the vice president of the Council of Ministers – Beata Szydlo, and the secretary of state, the government’s representative for local government – Pawel Szefernaker. Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs Beata Szydło said that local governments and central authorities are dependent on each other and together they create Poland.

The very special prize – The Golden Key of Wprost went to Nowa Sól. In the emotional speech of the president of this city – Wadim Tyszkiewicz, defended competence and role of local government in the state system. Especially on the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining of independence.

The organizer of the European Congress of Local Governments is the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies – the organizer of the Economic Forum and the Forum of Regions in Krynica. The city of Host is the City of Cracow.