The member States of the Council of Europe, signatory hereto,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between
its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which
are their common heritage;
Considering that one of the methods by which this aim is to be achieved is through
agreements in the administrative field;
Considering that the local authorities are one of the main foundations of any democratic
Considering that the right of citizens to participate in the conduct of public affairs is
one of the democratic principles that are shared by all member States of the Council of
Considering that it is at local level that this right can be most directly exercised;
Convinced that the existence of local authorities with real responsibilities can provide
an administration which is both effective and close to the citizen;
Aware that the safeguarding and reinforcement of local self-government in the different
European countries is an important contribution to the construction of a Europe based on
the principles of democracy and the decentralisation of power;
Asserting that this entails the existence of local authorities endowed with democratically
constituted decision-making bodies and possessing a wide degree of autonomy with regard to
their responsibilities, the ways and means by which those responsibilities are exercised
and the resources required for their fulfilment,
Have agreed as follows:
The Parties undertake to consider themselves bound by the following articles in the
manner and to the extent prescribed in Article 12 of this Charter.
Article 2 Constitutional and legal foundation for local
The principle of local self-government shall be recognised in domestic legislation, and
where practicable in the constitution.
Article 3 Concept of local self-government
- Local self-government denotes the right and the ability of local authorities, within the
limits of the law, to regulate and manage a substantial share of public affairs under
their own responsibility and in the interests of the local population.
- This right shall be exercised by councils or assemblies composed of members freely
elected by secret ballot on the basis of direct, equal, universal suffrage, and which may
possess executive organs responsible to them. This provision shall in no way affect
recourse to assemblies of citizens, referendums or any other form of direct citizen
participation where it is permitted by statute.
Article 4 Scope of local self-government
- The basic powers and responsibilities of local authorities shall be prescribed by the
constitution or by statute. However, this provision shall not prevent the attribution to
local authorities of powers and responsibilities for specific purposes in accordance with
- Local authorities shall, within the limits of the law, have full discretion to exercise
their initiative with regard to any matter which is not excluded from their competence nor
assigned to any other authority.
- Public responsibilities shall generally be exercised, in preference, by those
authorities which are closest to the citizen. Allocation of responsibility to another
authority should weigh up the extent and nature of the task and requirements of efficiency
- Powers given to local authorities shall normally be full and exclusive. They may not be
undermined or limited by another, central or regional, authority except as provided for by
- Where powers are delegated to them by a central or regional authority, local authorities
shall, insofar as possible, be allowed discretion in adapting their exercise to local
- Local authorities shall be consulted, insofar as possible, in due time and in an
appropriate way in the planning and decision-making processes for all matters which
concern them directly.
Article 5 Protection of local authority boundaries
Changes in local authority boundaries shall not be made without prior consultation of
the local communities concerned, possibly by means of a referendum where this is permitted
Article 6 Appropriate administrative structures and resources
for the tasks of local authorities
- Without prejudice to more general statutory provisions, local authorities shall be able
to determine their own internal administrative structures in order to adapt them to local
needs and ensure effective management.
- The conditions of service of local government employees shall be such as to permit the
recruitment of high-quality staff on the basis of merit and competence; to this end
adequate training opportunities, remuneration and career prospects shall be provided.
Article 7 Conditions under which responsibilities at local
level are exercised
- The conditions of office of local elected representatives shall provide for free
exercise of their functions.
- They shall allow for appropriate financial compensation for expenses incurred in the
exercise of the office in question as well as, where appropriate, compensation for loss of
earnings or remuneration for work done and corresponding social welfare protection.
- Any functions and activities which are deemed incompatible with the holding of local
elective office shall be determined by statute or fundamental legal principles.
Article 8 Administrative supervision of local authorities'
- Any administrative supervision of local authorities may only be exercised according to
such procedures and in such cases as are provided for by the constitution or by statute.
- Any administrative supervision of the activities of the local authorities shall normally
aim only at ensuring compliance with the law and with constitutional principles.
Administrative supervision may however be exercised with regard to expediency by
higher-level authorities in respect of tasks the execution of which is delegated to local
- Administrative supervision of local authorities shall be exercised in such a way as to
ensure that the intervention of the controlling authority is kept in proportion to the
importance of the interests which it is intended to protect.
Article 9 Financial resources of local authorities
- Local authorities shall be entitled, within national economic policy, to adequate
financial resources of their own, of which they may dispose freely within the framework of
- Local authorities' financial resources shall be commensurate with the responsibilities
provided for by the constitution and the law.
- Part at least of the financial resources of local authorities shall derive from local
taxes and charges of which, within the limits of statute, they have the power to determine
- The financial systems on which resources available to local authorities are based shall
be of a sufficiently diversified and buoyant nature to enable them to keep pace as far as
practically possible with the real evolution of the cost of carrying out their tasks.
- The protection of financially weaker local authorities calls for the institution of
financial equalisation procedures or equivalent measures which are designed to correct the
effects of the unequal distribution of potential sources of finance and of the financial
burden they must support. Such procedures or measures shall not diminish the discretion
local authorities may exercise within their own sphere of responsibility.
- Local authorities shall be consulted, in an appropriate manner, on the way in which
redistributed resources are to be allocated to them.
- As far as possible, grants to local authorities shall not be earmarked for the financing
of specific projects. The provision of grants shall not remove the basic freedom of local
authorities to exercise policy discretion within their own jurisdiction.
- For the purpose of borrowing for capital investment, local authorities shall have access
to the national capital market within the limits of the law.
Article 10 Local authorities' right to associate
- Local authorities shall be entitled, in exercising their powers, to co-operate and,
within the framework of the law, to form consortia with other local authorities in order
to carry out tasks of common interest.
- The entitlement of local authorities to belong to an association for the protection and
promotion of their common interests and to belong to an international association of local
authorities shall be recognised in each State.
- Local authorities shall be entitled, under such conditions as may be provided for by the
law, to co-operate with their counterparts in other States.
Article 11 Legal protection of local self-government
Local authorities shall have the right of recourse to a judicial remedy in order to
secure free exercise of their powers and respect for such principles of local
self-government as are enshrined in the constitution or domestic legislation.
Part II Miscellaneous provisions
Article 12 Undertakings
- Each Party undertakes to consider itself bound by at least twenty paragraphs of Part I
of the Charter, at least ten of which shall be selected from among the following
Each Contracting State, when depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance or
approval, shall notify to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of the paragraphs
selected in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of this article.
Any Party may, at any later time, notify the Secretary General that it considers itself
bound by any paragraphs of this Charter which it has not already accepted under the terms
of paragraph 1 of this article. Such undertakings subsequently given shall be deemed to be
an integral part of the ratification, acceptance or approval of the Party so notifying,
and shall have the same effect as from the first day of the month following the expiration
of a period of three months after the date of the receipt of the notification by the
- Article 2,
- Article 3, paragraphs 1 and 2,
- Article 4, paragraphs 1, 2 and 4,
- Article 5,
- Article 7, paragraph 1,
- Article 8, paragraph 2,
- Article 9, paragraphs 1, 2 and 3,
- Article 10, paragraph 1,
- Article 11.
Article 13 Authorities to which the Charter applies
The principles of local self-government contained in the present Charter apply to all
the categories of local authorities existing within the territory of the Party. However,
each Party may, when depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval,
specify the categories of local or regional authorities to which it intends to confine the
scope of the Charter or which it intends to exclude from its scope. It may also include
further categories of local or regional authorities within the scope of the Charter by
subsequent notification to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Article 14 Provision of information
Each Party shall forward to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe all relevant
information concerning legislative provisions and other measures taken by it for the
purposes of complying with the terms of this Charter.
Article 15 Signature, ratification and entry into force
- This Charter shall be open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe.
It is subject to ratification, acceptance or approval. Instruments of ratification,
acceptance or approval shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of
- This Charter shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the
expiration of a period of three months after the date on which four member States of the
Council of Europe have expressed their consent to be bound by the Charter in accordance
with the provisions of the preceding paragraph.
- In respect of any member State which subsequently expresses its consent to be bound by
it, the Charter shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the
expiration of a period of three months after the date of the deposit of the instrument of
ratification, acceptance or approval.
Article 16 Territorial clause
- Any State may, at the time of signature or when depositing its instrument of
ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, specify the territory or territories to
which this Charter shall apply.
- Any State may at any later date, by a declaration addressed to the Secretary General of
the Council of Europe, extend the application of this Charter to any other territory
specified in the declaration. In respect of such territory the Charter shall enter into
force on the first day of the month following the expiration of a period of three months
after the date of receipt of such declaration by the Secretary General.
- Any declaration made under the two preceding paragraphs may, in respect of any territory
specified in such declaration, be withdrawn by a notification addressed to the Secretary
General. The withdrawal shall become effective on the first day of the month following the
expiration of a period of six months after the date of receipt of such notification by the
Article 17 Denunciation
- Any Party may denounce this Charter at any time after the expiration of a period of five
years from the date on which the Charter entered into force for it. Six months' notice
shall be given to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Such denunciation shall
not affect the validity of the Charter in respect of the other Parties provided that at
all times there are not less than four such Parties.
- Any Party may, in accordance with the provisions set out in the preceding paragraph,
denounce any paragraph of Part I of the Charter accepted by it provided that the Party
remains bound by the number and type of paragraphs stipulated in Article 12, paragraph 1.
Any Party which, upon denouncing a paragraph, no longer meets the requirements of Article
12, paragraph 1, shall be considered as also having denounced the Charter itself.
Article 18 Notifications
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify the member States of the
Council of Europe of:
- any signature;
- the deposit of any instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval;
- any date of entry into force of this Charter in accordance with Article 15;
- any notification received in application of the provisions of Article 12, paragraphs 2
- any notification received in application of the provisions of Article 13;
- any other act, notification or communication relating to this Charter.
In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorised thereto, have signed this
Done at Strasbourg, this 15th day of October 1985, in English and French, both texts being
equally authentic, in a single copy which shall be deposited in the archives of the
Council of Europe. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall transmit certified
copies to each member State of the Council of Europe.