European Committee of the Regions

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European Committee of the Regions
CoR logo.svg
Global European Union.svg
Formation 1994 (1994)
Type EU body
Purpose 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
Location
Coordinates 50°50′26″N 4°22′38″E / 50.84056°N 4.37722°E / 50.84056; 4.37722Coordinates: 50°50′26″N 4°22′38″E / 50.84056°N 4.37722°E / 50.84056; 4.37722
Membership
350
President
Markku Markkula (Finland, EPP)
Website www.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

The European 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. First, about three quarters of EU legislation is implemented at local or regional level, so local and regional representatives needed to have a say in the development of new EU laws. Second, there were concerns about 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 European 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 at the heart of the Committee's work:[3]

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.[5]

Composition[edit]

The CoR has 350 full members and the same number of alternate members.[6] 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 6
 Romania 15  Slovakia 9  Cyprus 5
 Netherlands 12  Denmark 9  Luxembourg 5
 Greece 12  Finland 9  Malta 5
 Czech Republic 12
Total 350

Internal structure[edit]

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

President[edit]

Elected for a two-and-a-half-year term at the plenary assembly, the President guides the Committee's work, chairs plenary sessions and is the CoR's official representative. Markku Markkula (Finland / European People's Party), member of the Espoo City Council, is the current President elected on 12 February 2015.

List of Presidents[edit]

CoR President Presidency Nationality European political group
Markku Markkula, Espoo 2015–present Finland Finnish European People's Party
Michel Lebrun, Wallonia 2014–2015 Belgium Belgian European People's Party
Ramón Luis Valcárcel, Murcia 2012–2014 Spain Spanish European People's Party
Mercedes Bresso, Piedmont 2010–2012 Italy Italian Party of European Socialists
Luc van den Brande, Flanders 2008–2010 Belgium Belgian European People's Party
Michel Delebarre, Dunkirk, Nord-Pas-de-Calais 2006–2008 France French Party of European Socialists
Peter Straub, Baden-Württemberg 2004–2006 Germany German European People's Party
Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham 2002–2004 United Kingdom British Party of European Socialists
Jos Chabert, Brussels-Capital Region 2000–2002 Belgium Belgian European People's Party
Manfred Dammeyer, North Rhine-Westphalia 1998–2000 Germany German Party of European Socialists
Pasqual Maragall i Mira, Barcelona, Catalonia 1996–1998 Spain Spanish Party of European Socialists
Jacques Blanc, Languedoc-Roussillon 1994–1996 France French European People's Party

First Vice-President[edit]

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. Karl-Heinz Lambertz, (Belgium / European People's Party), Minister-President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, was elected First Vice-President on 12 February 2015.

Bureau[edit]

The Bureau is the executive body of the CoR. It comprises 63 members: the President, First Vice-President, 28 vice-presidents (one per Member State), the Presidents of the CoR political groups and 28 other members from the national delegations, enabling it to reflect national and political balances. The Bureau generally meets seven or eight times a year to draw up the CoR’s policy programme and instructs the administration on the implementation of its decisions.

Plenary assembly[edit]

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[edit]

The CoR structures its work by means of six thematic commissions, which specialise in topical areas:

  • CIVEX: citizenship, governance, institutional and external affairs
  • COTER: territorial cohesion policy;
  • ECON: economic and social policy;
  • ENVE: environment, climate change and energy;
  • NAT: natural resources and agriculture;
  • SEDEC: culture, education and research.

They prepare draft opinions and hold conferences and seminars focused on their areas of competence. Each commission has approximately 100 members (each member can be part of two commissions) and is supported by a secretariat within the administration. A special Commission for Financial and Administrative Affairs (CFAA) is also established to assist the CoR Bureau.

Political groups[edit]

The CoR has five political groups: the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PES), the European People’s Party (EPP), 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.

Conference of Presidents[edit]

The CoR President, First Vice-President, Presidents of the political groups and the Secretary General gather within a Conference of Presidents before each plenary session and other important meetings, with the aim of reaching a political consensus on strategic questions.

National delegations[edit]

The CoR also comprises 28 national delegations.[7] Members meet in their national delegations before plenary sessions and other events to discuss common positions.

Secretary-General[edit]

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 President's and Bureau decisions and the smooth running of the CoR administration. Jiří Buriánek is the CoRs' current Secretary-General since 1 September 2014.

Secretariat-General[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Summaries of EU legislation". 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. ^ "Key Facts". Committee of the Regions. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Summaries of EU legislation". Europa. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  5. ^ http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:306:0150:0152:EN:PDF
  6. ^ Delegation of the European Union to Croatia. "Croatian Delegation in EU Committee of the Regions". Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "CoR — National delegations". Europa. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 

External links[edit]