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Governance is the process of governing. The European Commission’s concept of governance, as set out in the 2001 White Paper on European Governance, refers to the "rules, processes and behaviour that affect the way in which powers are exercised at European level, particularly as regards openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence" [1]. These five "principles of good governance" reinforce those of subsidiarity and proportionality. The main characteristics of good governance are that it assures that the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making.

Key principles of governance

  • Participation: This will require participation by both men and women either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. This latter aspect means an organised civil society.
  • Openness and accountability: Governmental institutions as well as private sector and civil society organisations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders and in general to those affected by their decisions or actions.
  • Effectiveness and coherence: Process and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of the resources at their disposal. It also means sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment

Further information:


  1., page 8

References - other_docs

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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:

LEED Programme (Local Economic and Employment Development):

OECD LEED Trento Centre for Local Development, Italy:

Council of the European Municipalities and Regions: