Regionalisation (i.e. transfer of powers) has been – and even at present is – a very sensitive issue in many Council of Europe member States. This is for example the case in France, where the present existing 22 regions are to be reduced to only 13, which resulted in severe protests, for example in Alsace against the merger of Alsace, Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne.
One of the utmost aims of the Council of Europe is to reinforce those frameworks which support conflict prevention and their resolution in member States and at the same time create economically and politically stable regions.
Hence, in addition to all the requirements laid down by the Council of Europe or the European Union for the establishing or re-establishing of an administrative region, one must examine how far the basic democratic principles are respected during such a procedure by Council of Europe member States.
Regions are also communities which are bound together by historical, religious, cultural, geographical, social and even economic traditions and links. However, sometimes regions are also artificially created under political pressure, thus missing the above-mentioned cohesive force. In that case, the principles of the Council of Europe might be significantly pushed into the background. In addition, if the demarcation of the regions – for one reason or the other – is not done in a balanced way, it may result in economic or socio-economic disadvantages for inhabitants of one region or unjust advantages for the other.
Balancing the power between the State and its regions in a way which enables unity while guaranteeing diversity is not an easy task. The Parliamentary Assembly should therefore look into this matter and make concrete suggestions for a reasonable design or redesign of the regions in the member States.