|Client:||Council of European Municipalities and Regions|
|Project:||Evaluation of Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)|
|Team:||Clive Grace, Mike Bennett|
As the representative organisation for 57 national associations of local government from 41 European countries, CEMR holds a unique position in the promotion of local democracy and in the governance of Europe. In 2011 CEMR created new working structures and methods designed to make it more effective in its twin objectives as an influential lobbying organisation and as a nexus for knowledge exchange. This evaluation was commissioned to assess whether these new working practices have improved the effectiveness, efficiency, impact, participation, and relevancy of the organisation. It was overseen by an Advisory Board with representation from the CEMR Secretariat and from members of CEMR’s working structures.
The evaluation adopted the following methods: documentary analysis, surveys of working structure participants and of national member associations and semi-structured interviews.
The surveys were made available in English and in French. The documentary analysis was used to understand: the narrative and rationale for the creation of the new working structures and to seek information; their configuration, organisation and interrelationships; and their mandates, accountability, business planning and performance mechanisms.
CEMR is highly valued. CEMR is a crucial network for its members. If it did not exist, someone would create it. Indeed the conundrum of representative local government organisations is that they are “necessary” but that they are based on ironic virtue. Their very representativeness is simultaneously a strength and weakness. By trying to bring together different voices they create unity but this attempt to find consensus among difference can be destabilising and representative organisations can at times be threatened by antagonisms between different members’ interests.