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By Alina Tatarenko*


Head of the Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform

Council of Europe

Ten years ago, in 2008, the Council of Europe adopted the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level, including also the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance. The Strategy and the Principles were agreed earlier at the 2007 Ministerial Conference in Valencia, Spain.

The 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance encapsulate fundamental values defining a common vision of democratic governance in Europe. Using the 12 Principles as a reference point can help public authorities at any level measure and improve the quality of their governance and enhance service delivery to citizens. 

12 Principles of Good Governance:

  1. Participation, Representation, Fair Conduct of Elections
  2. Responsiveness
  3. Efficiency and Effectiveness
  4. Openness and Transparency
  5. Rule of Law
  6. Ethical Conduct
  7. Competence and Capacity
  8. Innovation and Openness to Change
  9. Sustainability and Long-term Orientation
  10. Sound Financial Management
  11. Human rights, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion
  12. Accountability

For more information, see the website:


How the municipalities can adhere to the 12 principles in their activity? 

In order to help local authorities understand and implement the Principles, the Centre of Expertise has developed criteria and indicators for each one in order to ensure that “what gets measured, gets done!” Each municipality can now measure and score itself against the indicators, which allow them to identify their strengths and weaknesses. A municipality can also conduct surveys of citizens and municipal employees, and determine if the self-evaluation is in line with public opinion. Finally, a municipality can develop an action plan to address any weak point – for example, develop a code of ethics in order to raise awareness of ethical conduct and prevent corruption. 

Is there any incentive system to recognize achievements of municipalities? 

Municipalities, which are able to demonstrate adherence to the 12 Principles, can be recognized by receiving the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE). The Label is symbolized by a crystal dodecahedron, each facet of which is engraved with one of the 12 Principles.  National authorities, associations or other relevant bodies can award the Label if they have accreditation from the Council of Europe.

As of today, ELoGE was or is being awarded in Bulgaria, Norway, Malta, Spain, Greece, and Poland. Several other countries, including Ireland, France, Portugal, Ukraine, Italy, and various institutions have piloted the project and are applying for accreditations. The feedback from local authorities that have used the ELoGE benchmark so far is very positive and inspiring – they encourage all of their colleagues to use the 12 Principles and to spread good governance across Europe. The Centre of Expertise is available to provide any relevant support and training.