The 3rd European Congress of Local Governments

Krakow, 27 – 28 March 2017

Local governments in the face of the challenges of the twenty-first century

Krakow became a self-government capital of Europe for 2 days. Nearly 1800 guests – regional leaders, representatives from state administration, scientific and business institutions, cultural and non-governmental organisations from over 40 countries participated in the 3rd European Congress of Local Governments that took place in Krakow on 27th and 28th of March. The theme of this year’s meeting was: Local governments in the face of the challenges of the twenty-first century. This Congress is one of the international conferences in Europe devoted to the issues of regional politics, cooperation between local governments, representatives of state administration, science and business.

The programme of the 2-days Congress consisted of over 80 different events (thematic blocs, report presentations, panel sessions, workshops and lectures) divided into several theme paths: Business and Local Government, Finances, Economy, Innovations, Society, Environment, Tourism and Local Government. Among the conference guests we hosted journalists who will prepare detailed reports from the Congress.

According to Zygmunt Berdychowski, President of the Programme Council of the Economic Forum, Founder of the Congress, local politicians have not only presented what they have gained but also complained about poor relations with the central administration. “Management, healthcare, culture or self-government’s economic activity – these were the topics that have dominated the side meetings. I believe, that many of them have decided to attend the Congress to get to know how the other local politicians are solving those problems they have to face as well”, said Zygmunt Berdychowski.

“We, the local politicians in Poland have to build the cooperation foundations whithin the EU. As for now, it is a prerogative of the central government”, said Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Krakow, during the opening plenary session: “Global Changes Facing Europe and Local Governments in the 21st Century”. He pointed out that the local governments are for example not allowed to invite immigrants to settle in Polish cities and communes which significantly limits them in enhancing the EU politics on the local level. Another guest, François Decoster, Chair of the Commission on Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has stated that the Committee of the Regions is a very complex, technical institution whose main goals are to support the economic development of the member states on the local level. “It is a kind of local voice on the EU stage which aims to bring EU decision-makers closer to the regional problems”, summed up François Decoster.

“In Romania, most of the money from the Cohesion Fund of the financial perspective 2007-2013 was invested in infrastructure, in my city, effectiveness on this field reaches up to 90%,” claimed Emil Boc, former Prime Minister of Romania (2008-2012), currently the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca.

Ossi Savolainen, Regional Mayor of Helsinki-Uusimaa, briefly presented the concept of regional policy in Finland as a non-core EU member. “The  administrative units in Finland are independent, although from the EU point of view, we are like a remote island,” said  Savolainen.

One of the most important guests taking part in the 3rd European Congress of Local Governments was Anna Zalewska, Minister of Education who delivered a speech on “Personnel Training for a Modern Economy. The Implementation of Education Reform”. Minister Zalewska explained the aims and assumptions lying at the foundation of the recent educational reforms and their implications for local governments, providing examples of how the ministry of education takes into account the expectations and the input of local authorities.

Considering the upcoming local elections in Poland in 2018, the presentations of the main Polish parties, on the local government’s future development, have attracted the interest of the Congress participants.

According to Grzegorz Schetyna, the Chairman of the Civic Platform self-government in Poland is a symbol of a great succsess, a kind of a milestone of the Polish transformation towards democracy. However, there are still several elements in this system that might be improved to be more effective. “Self-government is much faster than the central government”, stated Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz the President of the Polish People’s Party (PSL), adding that PSL is in favour of the decentralised self-government in Poland.

During the Congress much attention was devoted to the international cooperation of European cities and regions. According to Jean-Michel Berlemont, Deputy Mayor of Nancy, France, relationships often go beyond the near abroad. “We create partnerships with Brazil or Australia,” said Mr Berlemont, while conceding that Nancy’s most important project is cross-border cooperation between France, Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium. Oleksandr Hanushchyn, Chairman of Lviv Regional Council, noted that each region is different, and cooperation priorities differ between Mexico and the USA, Poland and Slovakia, or Ukraine and Moldova.

During the discussion panel “Intelligent Regions and Cities – from Vision to Strategy” Adam Hamryszczak, Undersecretary of State in the Polish Ministry of Development, spoke about the importance of “social participation and submission of new solutions for evaluation by citizens”. He added that the Polish government intends to support regions, towns/cities, and above all their inhabitants, experts and innovators. According to Roman Ciepiela, mayor of Tarnów, this process is strongly associated with the level of local government and cannot be imposed from above. Jacek Krupa, Marshal of Malopolska Region, pointed out that the main objective of smart growth should be long-term improvement of the quality of life of residents. “Another aspect of smart development should be smart specialties,” he stressed.

The issues related to the interaction between business-government have not been forgotten. Grzegorz Lot, Vice-President of TAURON Sprzedaż Sp. z o.o., drew attention to the fact that the introduction of the “Breathe The Air” programme requires a joint anti-smog initiative, education, involvement of residents, building proactive attitudes among local residents, gaining knowledge about the attitudes of local residents and their needs and motivations. Cooperation with local governments is the key here.

How does national heritage shape the local community? George Alibegashvili, Chairman of the Tbilisi City Municipal Assembly, recalled that Georgia has always felt part of the West, as it resulted from the merger of cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Israel. “However, we had a lot in common with Eastern cultures – Arabic, Turkish, or Persian, so for Tbilisi the concept of multiculturalism and tolerance is important,” Alibegashvili stressed.

The first day of the 3rd European Congress of Local Governments in Krakow ended with the Local Government Leader Gala. The title of the Village Mayor 2016 went to Grzegorz Niestrój, Mayor of Kornowac. The title of the Town Mayor 2016 went to Grzegorz Niezgoda, Mayor of Szczawnica. The title of City Mayor went to Piotr Grzymowicz, Mayor of Olsztyn. The Partner of the competition was “Rzeczpospolita” daily. Additionally, the Jury decided to honour with a Special Award H.E. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz who stressed that the “reform of self-government is one of the best reforms conducted in Poland after the 1989”, adding that “local authorities remain close to the problems of the local communities and therefore are respected and trusted by voters”.


ICE Kraków Congress CentreMarii Konopnickiej 17, 30-302 Kraków


Institute for Eastern Studies, organiser of the Economic Forum in Krynica.

Host City:

Strategic Partner:

TAURON Polska Energia SA is a holding company in the capital group and is engaged in coal mining, manufacture, distribution and sale of energy. Operation of TAURON Group covers about 18% of country’s area. It is one of main business entities in Poland, the largest distributor and second-largest seller and producer of electricity. The shares of TAURON Polska Energia SA are listed on The Warsaw Stock Exchange. The Company is a part of the index of socially responsible companies – RESPECT Index.

Commercial Partners:

CEZ ESCO Polska is a company belonging to the CEZ Group in Poland, which offers comprehensive energy services for businesses, municipalities, and private and public organizations. The company offers its customers comprehensive services including energy audits, energy consulting for heat and electricity supply, managing the construction and operation of energy sources, as well as the modernization of public lighting and thermo-modernization of public and private buildings.

Comarch was set up in 1993 in Kraków, Poland. It has been running projects for the leading Polish and international brands in the economy’s most important sectors, e.g.: telecommunications, finances, banking and insurance, commerce and services, IT infrastructure, public administration, industry, health services, and in the SME sector. Several dozen of thousands of world brands in over 40 countries on 5 continents. Presently, the company employs over 5,300 experts in 28 countries.

DZP was established in 1993. For many years now we have been the largest independent Polish law firm. We provide complex advice to clients in all sectors, offering them full-range legal advisory. What makes our services different is our understanding of both legal and business needs of our clients, and the many years’ experience and expert knowledge of our specialists. Our worldwide network of relations with leading foreign law firms enables us to advise on the international market.

ENGIE in Poland is a provider of efficient and innovative solutions. It provides services in the area of construction and operation of infrastructure in facilities, renewable energy, sales and optimization of purchase and consumption of energy and natural gas, with the use of highly developed digital solutions. ENGIE provides its customers energy in the form of heat, electricity and natural gas. It also provides maintenance services and investment in infrastructure of  heating and electricity. ENGIE is active in the field of Public-Private Partnership.

GoPay Sp. o.o. is a group of specialists developing an innovative project of Mobile City Card, which in 2017 will be widely promoted in Polish cities. The company started its operation in 2014, creating modern systems of tickets sale and control for public transport. The company was the first in the country to launch a commercial ticketing system via and mobile application. Currently GoPay solutions operate in dozens of cities in Poland.

Polowiec i Wspólnicy sp. j. specializes in legal services for entrepreneurs. Scope of services covers all aspects of business activity, including projects related to power sector, contracts, restructuring, construction. We have vast experience and expertise in business and strategic advice. We provide services both within the territory of Poland and abroad. We run offices in Kraków and Gliwice. We connect practice and science, members of our team are authors of many scientific publications.

For nearly 25 years we are competent and experienced partner for ICT sector in creating constructive relations with business and regulatory environment. We promote and support companies operating on Polish market, which want to succeed in the area of modern technology and innovative solutions. We cooperate with our partners to ensure that our activities will be always characterized by substantive and professional approach to tasks. We co-organise and patronize the most significant events connected with telecommunication and IT. Our work is to ensure that the voice of Polish ICT sector will be heard and respectable both on domestic and international stages. We encourage to cooperation all interested companies and experts.

Park-M is a leading company in Landscape Architecture and Green Industry. For more than 20 years we have been setting standards and creating trends in Landscape Architecture. Harmoniously and uncompromisingly. Thanks to our comprehensive, rich and diversified offer, constant highly-qualified staff, professional and innovative equipment, own transport base, years of experience, realization of the most prestigious projects in Poland as well as  company’s presence on the international.

PSE Inwestycje S.A. is a company belonging to the PSE Group, which has a statutory duty to prioritise the provision of services to its owner, acting as the Transmission System Operator. These services include the preparation of electricity transmission investments and contract overseeing (contract engineer function), drafting network and electrical equipment designs (design office function) as well as the preparation and supervision of social communication regarding the expansion and modernisation of the transmission network.

Uber is a technological company, which connects application users with drivers, who are using the platform in real time in order to share their vehicles with the others to offer a ride, food delivery or shipment. Uber platform offers an alternative form of transport in over 500 cities in more than 80 countries around the world, helping people to move around their cities. In Poland Uber is available in Warsaw, Kraków,Trójmiasto, Wrocław, Poznań, Łódź and Silesia.

In Poland, Veolia Group is one of the leading providers of services in the area of energy, water and wastewater as well as waste management. Veolia is a time-tested and proven partner to cities and industries, offering services tailored to the needs of its customers. The company creates and implements cost-effective and environmentally friendly solutions. New business models created by the group meet the assumptions of circular economy, and contribute to sustainable development of cities and industry. It operates in 74 cities, including Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan and Tarnowskie Gory.

Law Firm was established in 2004 and has participated in many significant projects and transactions involving the Polish market. The firm provides comprehensive legal services to both Polish entrepreneurs and foreign institutions but also to the public sector, with particular emphasis on local government units. Prominent specialists from our firm provide a wide range of expertise legal services and advice to business transactions.

Self-government organization of banks, established in 1991, founded on the Chambers of Commerce Charter. Membership in the ZBP is voluntary and open for all  banks created under the Polish law as well as for foreign credit institutions branches  operating  in the Republic of Poland. The statutory tasks of the Assiciation is representing  and protecting  common interests of member banks, inter alia with respect to legal regulations related to banking.


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