The Council of Europe has always stressed the significance of strong and independent local and regional authorities for freedom and democracy in Europe. With the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE), it has established its own organ to represent the interests of the local and regional authorities.
The CLRAE deals with current political matters affecting local and regional bodies and issues resolutions and statements that are passed on to the member states of the Council of Europe and recommendations for the Committee of Ministers of theCouncil of Europe. The CLRAE also organises conferences and symposiums on a Europe-wide level to deal with local and regional issues. The CLRAE takes a special interest in helping the new member states from Central and Eastern Europe build democratic structures.
The CLRAE has 286 delegates from the local and regional authorities in the member states. It comprises two chambers: the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber ofRegions. Dr Herwig van Staa is the head of the Austrian delegation and of the EPP group. In addition, Tyrolean experts are involved in various statutory committees and working groups.