Committee of the Regions

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Committee of the Regions
Official emblem of the COR
Established 1994
Type EU Body
President Michel Lebrun (Belgian)
Members 353
Represents Local and regional government
Powers Consultative to the EU institutions; subsidiarity monitoring - can approach the Court of Justice of the European Union with regard to the application of subsidiarity principle
Seat Jacques Delors Building, Brussels
Website cor.europa.eu
European Union
Flag of the European Union

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government
of the European Union

Coordinates: 50°50′26″N 4°22′38″E / 50.84056°N 4.37722°E / 50.84056; 4.37722

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the European Union's (EU) assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities (i.e. regions, counties, provinces, municipalities and cities) with a direct voice within the EU's institutional framework.

Established in 1994, the CoR was set up to address two main issues. Firstly, about three quarters of EU legislation is implemented at local or regional level, so it made sense for local and regional representatives to have a say in the development of new EU laws. Secondly, there were concerns that there was a widening gap between the public and the process of European integration; involving the elected level of government closest to the citizens was one way of closing the gap.[1]

History[edit]

Within the European Union local and regional authorities have lobbied for an increased say in EU affairs. This resulted in the creation by the Maastricht Treaty of the Committee of the Regions, and provision for member states to be represented in the Council of the EU by ministers from their regional governments.[2]

Principles[edit]

There are three main principles[3] at the heart of the Committee's work:

Subsidiarity

This principle, enshrined into the Treaties at the same time as the creation of the CoR, means that decisions within the European Union should be taken at the closest practical level to the citizen. The European Union, therefore, should not take on tasks which are better suited to national, regional or local administrations.[4]

Proximity

All levels of government should aim to be 'close to the citizens', in particular by organising their work in a transparent fashion, so people know who is in charge of what and how to make their views heard.

Partnership

Sound European governance means European, national, regional and local government working together – all four are indispensable and should be involved throughout a "multi-level governance" decision making process.

Scope[edit]

The Treaties oblige the European Commission and the Council of the European Union to consult the Committee of the Regions whenever new proposals are made in areas that have repercussions at regional or local level. Outside these areas, the Commission, Council and European Parliament have the option to consult the CoR on issues if they see important regional or local implications to a proposal. The CoR can also draw up an opinion on its own initiative, which enables it to put issues on the EU agenda.

The CoR has gained the right (privileged status) to approach the European Court of Justice now that the Treaty of Lisbon has entered into force following ratification by all EU Member States (Article 8, Protocol (No. 2) on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality [1]).

Composition[edit]

The CoR has 353 members following Croatia's accession to the EU on 1 July 2013.[5] The number from each EU country roughly reflecting the size of its population. Its members are locally and regionally elected representatives including mayors, regional presidents and councillors. The numbers per country are as follows:

State Members State Members State Members
 Germany 24  Belgium 12  Ireland 9
 United Kingdom 24  Hungary 12  Croatia 9
 France 24  Portugal 12  Lithuania 9
 Italy 24  Sweden 12  Latvia 7
 Spain 21  Bulgaria 12  Slovenia 7
 Poland 21  Austria 12  Estonia 7
 Romania 15  Slovakia 9  Cyprus 6
 Netherlands 12  Denmark 9  Luxembourg 6
 Greece 12  Finland 9  Malta 5
 Czech Republic 12
TOTAL 353

Internal structure[edit]

Committee of the Regions' Jacques Delors Building in Brussels, Belgium
CoR's Jacques Delors Building in Brussels
President

Elected for a two-and-a-half-year term, the President guides the Committee's work, chairs plenary sessions and is the CoR's official representative. Michel Lebrun (Belgium / European People's Party), local councillor in Viroinval, is the current President elected on 26 June 2014.

List of Committee of the Regions' former Presidents

CoR President Presidency Nationality European Political Group
Michel Lebrun, Wallonia 26 June 2014 – Present Belgian European People's Party
Ramón Luis Valcárcel, Murcia 18 July 2012 – 26 June 2014 Spanish European People's Party
Mercedes Bresso, Piedmont 10 February 2010 – 18 July 2012 Italian Party of European Socialists
Luc Van Den Brande, Flanders 6 February 2008 – 10 February 2010 Belgian European People's Party
Michel Delebarre, Dunkirk, Nord Pas de Calais 16 February 2006 – 6 February 2008 French Party of European Socialists
Peter Straub, Baden-Wurttemberg 11 February 2004 – 16 February 2006 German European People's Party
Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham 6 February 2002 – 11 February 2004 British Party of European Socialists
Jos Chabert, Brussels-Capital Region 16-17 February 2000 - 6 February 2002 Belgian European People's Party
Manfred Dammeyer, North Rhine Westphalia 18-19 February 1998 - 16-17 February 2000 German Party of European Socialists
Pasqual Maragall I Mira, Barcelona, Catalunia 20-21 March 1996 – 18-19 February 1998 Spanish European People's Party
Jacques Blanc, Languedoc-Roussillon 9-10 March 1994 – 20-21 March 1996 France Party of European Socialists
First Vice-President

The First Vice-President is also elected by the plenary assembly for two-and-a-half years and represents the President in the latter's absence. Catiuscia Marini, Party of European Socialists, President of Italy's Umbria Region, was elected First Vice-President on 26 June 2014.

Bureau

The Bureau is the ruling body of the CoR. It comprises: the President, First Vice-President, 28 vice-presidents (one per Member State), the Presidents of the CoR political groups and other members from the national delegations, enabling it to reflect national and political balances. The Bureau generally meets seven/eight times a year, draws up the CoR’s policy programme and instructs the administration on the implementation of its decisions.

Plenary assembly

The members of the CoR meet in plenary session in Brussels six times a year, to discuss and adopt opinions, reports and resolutions.

CoR commissions

The CoR structures its work by means of internal commissions, which specialise in topical areas: territorial cohesion policy; economic and social policy; environment, climate change and energy; natural resources and agriculture; culture, education and research; citizenship, governance, institutional and external affairs. They prepare draft opinions and hold conferences and seminars focused on their areas of competence. Each commission has approximately 100 members and is supported by a secretariat within the administration.

Committee for Financial and Administrative Affairs (CFAA)

This committee – which has eight members – advises the Bureau on administrative and financial questions.

The political groups

The CoR has five political groups: the European People’s Party (EPP), the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the European Alliance (EA) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). The members of each political group meet before major meetings to adopt common positions. The CoR President, First Vice-President and presidents of the political groups also gather before each plenary session and other important meetings, with the aim of reaching a political consensus on key questions.

National delegations

The CoR also comprises 28 national delegations. Members meet in their national delegations before plenary sessions and other events to discuss common positions.

Secretary-General

The Secretary-General is appointed for five years by the Bureau. As head of the CoR administration, the secretary-general must not hold a political mandate. He is responsible for implementing Bureau decisions and the smooth running of the administration. Jirí Buriánek is the CoR's current Secretary-General.

Secretariat-General

The Secretariat-General consists of seven directorates: Administration and Finance; Members Service and Registry; Consultative Works; Communication, Press and Events; and Horizontal Policies and Networks. The Logistics and Translations Directorates are jointly managed with the European Economic and Social Committee. In 2013, CoR has total staff of 537 officials.

Budget

Compared to the substantially increased role of the CoR in the global EU framework, as indicated by the Lisbon Treaty, the CoR remains a lean and very efficient organization, which makes it the third smallest EU institution in terms of budgetary needs. The CoR's 2013 budget (86,5 mil. EUR) represents only 0.06% of the total EU budget. Its 2014 budget (90,2 mil. EUR) breakdown according to purpose of expenditure is as follows: 39,7% - Consultative Works (35,8 mil. EUR); 30,3% - Translation, Interpretation and Print (27,2 mil. EUR); 30% - Administration and Functioning (27 mil. EUR). Although all CoR expenditure formally falls under Heading 5 (Administrative expenditure) of the EU Budget, as is the case for the European Parliament budget, a substantial part of its budget relates to non-administrative expenditure. Most obvious examples are all CoR expenses related to its Members and their political activities.

Work[edit]

OPEN DAYS 2013. Former President of the CoR Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso and the EU Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn are listening to the opening speech of the EC President José Manuel Barroso
Opening session of the OPEN DAYS 2013
Opinions

The European Commission, Council of Ministers and European Parliament consult the CoR when drawing up legislative texts (directives, regulations, etc.) on areas affecting local and regional authorities. The draft texts are forwarded to the relevant CoR commission. A rapporteur is then appointed to draw up the Committee's opinion. This draft opinion must be adopted by the CoR commission before being discussed at the plenary session. Once it has been approved in plenary, the official opinion is sent to all the European institutions and published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Resolutions

Resolutions enable the Committee to express its view on important and topical issues. The CoR's political groups or 32 CoR members can draw up resolutions.

Studies and other publications

The CoR produces studies on various aspects of the local and regional dimension of the EU (education, transport, social issues, enlargement, etc.). They are drawn up with the help of outside experts. The CoR also produces publications for both the general public and for regional and local players, aimed at explaining its activities and outlining current political developments.

Events

As a meeting place for regions and cities, the CoR organises conferences, seminars and exhibitions in cooperation with local and regional partners and other EU institutions. Once a year, during the European Week of Regions and Cities (OPEN DAYS), the CoR welcomes to its headquarters thousands of participants who take part in lively discussions or seek partners to collaborate on joint projects.

Key dates[edit]

1992: Maastricht Treaty EU leaders decide to set up the Committee of the Regions (CoR) as a consultative assembly which will provide regions and cities with a voice in the EU decision-making process and act as a direct link between Brussels and the citizens. The Treaty makes it mandatory for the European Commission and the Council of Ministers to consult the CoR on key areas of regional concern. CoR members are to be nominated by the governments of Member States and will serve for four years. In March 1994 the CoR holds its first plenary session in Brussels.

1995: EU enlargement The CoR's membership increases from 189 to 222, following the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden.

1997: Amsterdam Treaty Extends the CoR's remit to cover around two thirds of the EU's legislative proposals. The Treaty also makes it possible for the Committee to be consulted by the European Parliament.

2001: Nice Treaty Underlines the democratic legitimacy of the CoR by requiring that its members are elected or politically accountable to an elected regional or local assembly. Caps the number of members at 350.

2002–03: Convention on the Future of the EU CoR members take part in the convention responsible for drafting an EU constitution. The text expressly recognises the role and powers of local and regional government; it also gives the CoR the right to go to the Court of Justice of the European Communities to challenge EU laws which do not comply with the principle of subsidiarity.

May 2004: EU enlargement Number of CoR members increases from 222 to 317, following the accession of 10 new Member States.

February 2006: new term of office The CoR starts a new four-year term. Its political priorities include boosting the role of local and regional authorities in line with the Lisbon Strategy for Jobs and Growth, strengthening cohesion and solidarity, and spearheading the ‘Communicating Europe – Going local’ campaign to bring the EU closer to its citizens.

January 2007: EU enlargement With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the number of CoR members rises from 317 to 344.

December 2007: Lisbon Treaty The Lisbon Treaty confirms the CoR's right to appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Communities to safeguard its prerogatives and the subsidiarity principle – a right already recognised by the Convention on the Future of the EU. This new entitlement will strengthen the CoR's political role, by enabling it to act more effectively on the EU stage for the benefit of regional and local authorities. The Lisbon Treaty extends the term of office of CoR members from four to five years.

July 2013: EU enlargement With the accession of Croatia, the number of CoR members rises from 344 to 353.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Europea - summaries of EU legislatioin". EU Europa. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Wagstaff, Peter (1999). Regionalism in the European Union. United Kingdom: Intellect Books. p. 185. ISBN 1-84150-001-1. 
  3. ^ "Committee of the Regions - Key Facts". Committee of the Regions. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Europa - Summaries of EU legislation". Europa. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Delegation of the European Union to Croatia. "Croatian Delegation in EU Committee of the Regions". Retrieved 12 June 2013. 

External links[edit]