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The European Charter of Local Self-Government

A Treaty for Local Democracy

Chris Himsworth

eBook (PDF) i

The first critical study of the 1985 treaty that guarantees the status of local self-government

Chris Himsworth analyses the text of the 1985 European Charter of Local Self-Government, traces its historical emergence and explains how it has been applied and interpreted throughout Europe, including the 2014 ‘Local and regional democracy in the United Kingdom’ report published by the Council of Europe in March 2014. Locating the Charter’s own history within the broader recent history of the Council of Europe and the European Union, the book closes with an assessment of the Charter’s future prospects.


1. Introduction
2. Charter Origins
3. The Charter’s Text and Additional Protocol
4. The Institutions and Procedures of Charter Implementation and Enforcement
5. Charter Interpretation and Application
6. Charter Impact: Influencing Local Self-Government in Europe
7. Charter Impact: Beyond European Local Self-Government
8. General Conclusions

About the Author

Chris Himsworth is Emeritus Professor of Administrative Law at the University of Edinburgh, where he has taught, researched and written on public law since 1974. During the period 1997–2013 he was the UK member of the Group of Independent Experts of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. He is the co-author of Scotland’s Constitution: Law and Practice (2015).


As a former long-term member of the Group of Independent Experts of the Congress of Local Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Himsworth is well (if not, best) placed to offer this extensive and comprehensive exploration of the Charter’s origins, provisions and processes, as well as a robust and objective analysis of its impact. He does not fail to deliver. This book is well written, thoughtfully laid out and structured, and it fills a notable gap in the academic area, being the only significant contribution to the legal field to discuss the Charter in any great depth… The European Charter of Local Self-Government: A Treaty for Local Democracy, therefore, is a valuable addition to the literature. Whether as a broad introduction to the Charter and its origins and provisions, or as a more detailed examination of the impact it has on local government across Europe, it is a text that will be of interest to anybody with an appreciation of local government’s place in the world.

- John Stanton, The City Law School, City, University of London, Public Law