European Code of Conduct for the Political Integrity of Local and Regional Elected Representatives

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European Code of Conduct for the Political Integrity of Local and Regional Elected Representatives
by Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
(1999) The purpose of this code is to consolidate the relationship between citizens and local and regional policy-makers by setting out, at European level, ethical principles approved by the delegates of Europe’s local and regional elected representatives. The Congress invites national governments and national associations of local and regional authorities of the member states to detail the standards and principles established by the code in their national legislation and in ethical codes.

Contents

Preamble[edit]

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe,

Stressing that local and regional elected representatives carry out their duties within the framework of the law and in accordance with the mandate given to them by the electorate and that they are accountable to the whole of the local or regional population, including those electors who did not vote for them ;

Considering that respect for the electorate's mandate goes hand in hand with respect for ethical standards ;

Deeply concerned by the increase in the number of judicial scandals involving political representatives who have committed offences while in office and noting that local and regional elected representatives are not above such offences ;

Convinced that the promotion of codes of conduct for local and regional elected representatives will allow trust to be built up between local and regional politicians and citizens ;

Convinced that a relationship of trust is indispensable for elected representatives to be able to perform their role effectively ;

Noting that legislation is more and more frequently supplemented by codes of conduct in various areas such as commercial relations, banking relations and administration ;

Believing that it is the duty of local and regional elected representatives to take similar steps in their various areas of responsibility ;

Convinced that a definition, in the form of a code of conduct, of the ethical obligations of local and regional elected representatives will clarify their role and duties and reaffirm the importance of those duties ;

Convinced that such a code must encompass as fully as possible all the work done by elected representatives ;

Stressing that rules of conduct imply those ethical imperatives must be respected ;

Pointing out that the whole of civil society must be involved in restoring a climate of confidence and stressing the role of the citizens themselves and the media in this respect ;

Reasserting that obligations cannot be imposed without guarantees being granted to enable local and regional elected representatives to fulfil their duties and recalling in this respect the relevant provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the Draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government ;

Taking into consideration the legislation currently in force in member countries and the relevant work being done at international level, proposes the following Code of Conduct for the Political Integrity of Local and Regional Elected Representatives :

I – SCOPE[edit]

Article 1 – Definition of an elected representative[edit]

For the purposes of this Code, the term “elected representative” means any politician holding a local or regional authority mandate conferred through a principal election (election by direct suffrage) or secondary election (election to executive office by the local or regional council).

Article 2 – Definition of functions[edit]

For the purposes of this Code, the term “functions” means a principal or secondary elective mandate and all functions performed by an elected representative under that mandate.

Article 3 - Object of the code[edit]

The object of this Code is to specify the standards of behaviour expected of elected representatives in the performance of their duties and to inform citizens of the standards of behaviour that they have a right to expect of their elected representatives.

II – GENERAL PRINCIPLES[edit]

Article 4 - Primacy of law and the public interest[edit]

Elected representatives hold office under the law and must at all times act in accordance with the law.

In performing their functions, elected representatives shall serve the public interest and not exclusively their direct or indirect personal interest or the private interest of individuals or groups of individuals with the aim of deriving direct or indirect personal benefit therefrom.

Article 5 – Objectives of fulfilling a mandate[edit]

Elected representatives shall undertake to perform their functions with diligence, openness and a willingness to account for their decisions.

Article 6 – Constraints of fulfilling a mandate[edit]

In performing their functions, elected representatives shall respect the powers and prerogatives of all other political elected representative and all public employees.

They shall not encourage or help any other political representative or any public employee to breach the principles set forth herein when performing their functions.

III - SPECIFIC OBLIGATIONS[edit]

1. Taking of office[edit]

Article 7 – Rules governing election campaigns[edit]

Candidates' election campaigns shall aim to provide information and explanations on their political programmes.

Candidates shall not seek to secure votes by any means other than persuasive argumentation and debate.

In particular, they shall not attempt to obtain votes by slandering other candidates, by the use of violence and/or threats, by tampering with electoral rolls and/or the results of the ballot or by granting or promising favours.

2. Holding of office[edit]

Article 8 – Ban on favouring[edit]

Elected representatives shall not perform their functions or use the prerogatives of their office in the private interest of individuals or groups of individuals, with the aim of deriving a direct or indirect personal benefit therefrom.

Article 9 – Ban on exercising authority to one's own advantage[edit]

Elected representatives shall not perform their functions or use the prerogatives of their office to further their own direct or indirect private or personal interests.

Article 10 – Conflict of interests[edit]

When elected representatives have a direct or indirect personal interest in matters being examined by local or regional councils or by executive bodies, they shall undertake to make those interests known before deliberations are held and a vote is taken.

Elected representatives shall abstain from any deliberation or vote on a question in which they have a direct or indirect personal interest.

Article 11 – Limit on concurrent holding of two or more appointments[edit]

Elected representatives shall comply with any regulations in force aimed at limiting the concurrent holding of two or more political appointments.

Elected representatives shall not hold other political appointments where this prevents them from performing their functions as an elected representative.

Nor shall they have or hold functions, elective mandates, occupations or official appointments which entail supervision of their own functions as an elected representative or which they themselves are supposed to supervise in their capacity as an elected representative.

Article 12 – Exercise of discretionary powers[edit]

In exercising their discretionary powers, elected representatives shall not grant themselves any direct or indirect personal advantage, or grant any individual or group of individuals an advantage with the aim of deriving a direct or indirect personal benefit therefrom.

Detailed grounds shall be given for any decision, specifying all the factors on which the decision is based, in particular the applicable rules and regulations, and showing how the decision complies with those rules and regulations.

Failing any rules and regulations, the grounds for the decision shall include elements such as to show its proportionality, fairness and conformity with the public interest.

Article 13 – Ban on corruption[edit]

In performing their functions, elected representatives shall refrain from any conduct qualifying, under the national or international criminal law in force, as active or passive bribery.

Article 14 - Observation of budgetary and financial discipline[edit]

Elected representatives shall undertake to observe budgetary and financial discipline, which guarantees the proper management of public money, as defined by the relevant national legislation.

In fulfilling their duties, elected representatives shall not do anything to misappropriate public funds and/or grants. They shall not do anything that might lead to public funds and/or grants being used for direct or indirect personal purposes.

3. Relinquishing of office[edit]

Article 15 – Ban on securing certain appointments[edit]

In performing their functions, elected representatives shall not take any measure such as to grant themselves a future personal professional advantage once they have relinquished their functions:

- in public or private bodies over which they exercised supervision while performing those functions;
- in public or private bodies with which they established a contractual relationship while performing those functions;
in public or private bodies which were set up during their term of office and by virtue of the powers entrusted to them.

IV – MEANS OF SUPERVISION[edit]

1. Taking of office[edit]

Article 16 – Limitation and declaration of campaign expenses[edit]

Candidates shall keep their spending on election campaigns in proportion and within reasonable limits.

They shall diligently comply with any measure under the regulations in force requiring the source and amount of the income which they devote to campaign financing and the nature and amount of their spending to be made public.

Failing regulations in force on the subject, they shall provide this information simply on request.

2. Holding of office[edit]

Article 17 – Declaration of interests[edit]

Elected representatives shall diligently comply with any measure under the regulations in force requiring their direct or indirect personal interests, their other mandates, functions or occupations, or changes in their assets to be made public or monitored.

Failing regulations on the subject, they shall provide this information simply on request.

Article 18 – Compliance with internal and external supervisory measures[edit]

In performing their functions, elected representatives shall not hinder the implementation of any supervisory measure which the relevant internal or external authorities may, with due justification and openness, choose to take.

They shall diligently comply with any immediately enforceable or final decision by those authorities.

When giving grounds for their acts or decisions subject to such supervision, they shall expressly mention the existence of the supervisory measures and specify the authorities competent for implementing them.

V – RELATIONS WITH THE PUBLIC[edit]

Article 19 – Publishing and giving grounds for decisions[edit]

Elected representatives shall be accountable to the whole of the local population throughout their mandate.

Elected representatives shall give detailed grounds for any decision which they take, specifying all the factors on which the decision is based, in particular the applicable rules and regulations, and showing how the decision complies with those rules and regulations.

Where that information is confidential, the reasons for such confidentiality shall be explained.

Elected representatives shall diligently respond to any request from the public concerning the performance of their functions, the grounds for their action, or the functioning of the services and departments coming under their responsibility.

They shall encourage and promote any measure which fosters openness concerning their powers, the exercise of those powers and the functioning of the services and departments coming under their responsibility.

VI – RELATIONS WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT STAFF[edit]

Article 20 - Appointments[edit]

Elected representatives shall undertake to prevent any appointment of administrative staff based on principles other than recognition of merit and professional abilities and/or for purposes other than the needs of the department.

In matters of staff appointments or promotions, elected representatives shall take an objective, reasoned decision, showing due diligence.

Article 21 – Respect for the role of local government staff[edit]

In performing their functions, elected representatives shall show respect for the role of the local government staff reporting to them, without prejudice to the legitimate exercise of their hierarchical authority.

They shall not ask or require public employees to take or omit to take any measure such as to give themselves a direct or indirect personal advantage or give an advantage to individuals or groups of individuals with the aim of deriving direct or indirect personal benefit therefrom.

Article 22 – Promotion of the role of local government staff[edit]

In performing their functions, elected representatives shall ensure that the role and tasks of the local government employees reporting to them are promoted to the full.

They shall encourage and promote any measure which fosters improvements in the operating performance of the services or departments coming under their responsibility and the motivation of the staff concerned.

VII – RELATIONS WITH THE MEDIA[edit]

Article 23[edit]

Elected representatives shall respond diligently, honestly and fully to any request from the media for information concerning the performance of their functions but shall not provide any confidential information or information concerning the private lives of elected representatives or third parties.

They shall encourage and promote any measure which fosters media coverage of their powers, the performance of their functions and the functioning of the services and departments coming under their responsibility.

VIII – INFORMATION, DISSEMINATION AND AWARENESS-RAISING[edit]

Article 24 – Dissemination of the code to elected representatives[edit]

Elected representatives shall undertake to ensure that they have read and understood all of the provisions of this code and the regulations referred to herein, and shall declare that they are willing to be guided by the provisions of the code.

Article 25 – Dissemination of the code to the public, local government staff and the media[edit]

Elected representatives shall encourage and promote any measure which fosters dissemination of this code to the staff reporting to them, the public and the media, and which heightens those persons' awareness of the principles contained herein.