Association of Regions of the Czech Republic
In June 2001, one year after the regional system was put into effect, the establishment of the Association of Regions in the Czech Republic private interest group was initiated at a working meeting held by the newly elected presidents. The main aim of the new organisation is to promote the regions' joint interests, especially overseeing the overall development of the territory and tending to the needs of its citizens.
The association represents the collective voice of the regions, represented by the presidents and the Lord Mayor of the City of Prague . The association's highest body is the Council, and its members are the regional presidents and the Lord Mayor of the City of Prague . Although the association has a short history, it is among the most respected organisations in the public sector and mainly due to its ability to carry out a debate on all issues that affect the functioning of the regions, it is a powerful body working intensively to the benefit of the regions.
The association offers the regional administrations services ranging from representing regional interests in parliament, the cabinet and European institutions, to drawing up various reports, standpoints and initiatives in a number of functions the region must carry out by law (e.g. in the area of regional development programmes). The association aims to make it easier for its members to exchange experiences in many areas of public administration, from educational systems to health, information technology, social security and reform, the environment and more. The association offers support to the regions in their international activities and support to members of the Czech national delegation in the Committee of the Regions.
Since its establishment, the association has markedly influenced political and social events, and supports the joint interests and rights of the regions brought together in the association in accord with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
How is the association organised and who are its members?
All 13 regions in Bohemia and Moravia as well as the City of Prague are members of the association. The association's highest body is the Council. According to the association's statutes, members of the Council are the regional presidents and the Lord Mayor of the City of Prague . The Council elects a chairman and three vice-chairmen, and decides on setting up commissions. Commissions serve as advisors to the Council. The Council has set up a number of commissions, such as the Commission for Regional Development, the Commission for Public Administration, the Commission for Regional Financing, the Commission for Education, the Commission for Health Services, the Commission for the Environment and Agriculture, the Commission for Transportation etc.
Members of the commissions are for the most part elected regional representatives. Commission sessions create as well as offer working space for monitoring and issuing standpoints on major national and European issues in their area of competence. Recent sessions have focussed on e.g. public administration reform, public financing and regional financing reform, system changes in the network of public health care providers, issues regarding schools and school facilities set up by the regions, road repair and maintenance issues etc.
In the ongoing process to decentralise public administration in the Czech Republic , the regions are urging for change to the public financing system that in its present form does not reflect the regions' changing competence nor does it correspond to the extent of new tasks the regions have taken on. The regions advocate a legislative amendment that would support sufficiently financing the performance of these new capacities so that they can be carried out as efficiently and for citizens as practically as possible.
When does the Council meet?
As a rule the Council meets once every six to eight weeks. The session provides members of the Council with sufficient room to exchange information and carry out a thematically-structured discussion. Talks are mainly aimed at issues connected with government policy towards the regions. As with the commissions, the Council always meets in one of the regions.
What is the programme of the Council members' session?
The Council session includes essential issues concerning the regions. Notable guests from among the representatives of the central government administration, members of parliament, noted representatives of public organisations and international companies etc. may also be invited.
Due to the number of Council members, one of the most important aspects of the session is to offer the opportunity to discuss joint problems and take decisions on these issues. Talks are precisely structured in the programme, yet despite this members may also carry out discussions among themselves in the course of the session.
How is the association financed?
The association is financed through regular membership dues needed for carrying out administration provided to the Head Office (four employees).
What is the association Head Office?
The Head Office of the Association of Regions in the Czech Republic is an association body that ensures decisions taken by the associations highest body, the Council, are carried out, and organises and technically secures operations. A director is in charge of the Head Office, and s/he reports to the Council chairman.
What is a "region"?
In accordance with the law on regions, a "region" is a territorial community of citizens who have the right to self-government. At the same time, a "region" is a public corporation that has its own property that it administrates independently under the conditions stipulated by law and in accordance with its budget. Regional bodies include the Regional Assembly, Regional Council, President and Regional Office. The president can set up additional bodies.
A "region" tends to the overall development of its territory and the needs of its citizens.
The current public administration system includes tasks that the region:
– carries out independently (independent regional competence)
– fulfils on behalf of the state on the basis of delegation (delegated regional competence).
Each region observes protecting the public interest when carrying out independent and delegated tasks.
How many regions are in the Czech Republic ?
Fourteen greater territorial self-governing units were created in the Czech Republic . Thirteen of these are regions and one, the City of Prague , is both a municipality and a greater territorial self-governing units.
Founding members of the association are (from June 8, 2001 ):
– Karlovy Vary Region
– Liberec Region
– Moravian-Silesian Region
– The Pardubice Region
– The Ústí Region
– Vysočina Region
– Zlín Region
On September 14, 2001 the following regions joined:
– South Bohemian Region
– Hradec Králové Region
– The Olomouc Region
– The Pilsen Region
– Central Bohemia Region
On July 13, 2002 the following became a member:
– Southern Moravia Region
And on March 21, 2003 the following joined the association:
– City of Prague
All fourteen greater territorial self-governing units are currently members of the association.