CCRE-CEMR’s 70th anniversary :

On 1 October 1950, the first convention on local authority cooperation in Europe took place in Seelisberg, on the shores of Lake Lucerne. On this day seventy years ago, a group of fifty mayors and local representatives from Benelux, France, Italy and West Germany formally founded the Council of European Municipalities in Geneva, thereby launching the first local governments’ organisation. Devolution and municipal administrations’ empowerment have been the core values of the Council ever since.

To develop a European common spirit and unite the Europeans, the national governments’ actions only would have not sufficed. Mayors and local representatives saw the importance of joining together the living cells of the nations, to build a cross-border network of cooperation and solidarity. Under the aegis of this newly-established consortium, municipalities were set to be the European house’s cornerstones, by cementing their ties across the continent.

CEM’s early actions materialised in the inauguration of the Town Twinning programme. Serving equally as a peacekeeping operation, this scheme aimed at supporting dialogue amongst different cultures, and fostering friendship between former enemy parties in a post-war context.

In 1984, the “R” in CEMR’s name was added to include also regions and counties. By broadening its focus on a wider territorial scale, CEMR reasserted its commitment in challenging the capitals’ centrifugal forces, to redistribute power for a healthier and more balanced economic growth. Over the years, regions have acquired important powers in many countries, namely in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and Spain.
As a champion of local democracy and autonomy, CEMR strives to shape Europe’s future, by intensifying its influence in the European policy-making processes. Today, the Council’s sixty member associations pool their efforts in areas of common interests, such as governance, economic and social cohesion, climate and energy transition.
As European regulation impacts more than 60% of the policies enforced by cities, CEMR ensures its partners’ voices get heard when new policy is being compiled.

In seventy years of business, the Council’s capillary action has affected European economic, political and social fabrics significantly. Extending its activity also beyond the EU political borders, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions continues its mission in connecting communities while federating nations for a Europe which is free, and united in the diversity of its vibrant territories.

To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Historical Archives of the European Union will explore seventy years of CEMR’s life through the lens of its eleven presidents, whose legacies still shape today Council’s course of action.