European Committee of the Regions

Institution of the European Union

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
Vasco Cordeiro
 Portugal, PSEWebsitewww.cor.europa.eu
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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

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

Principles

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

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.[5]

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).[6]

Composition

The CoR has 329 full members and the same number of alternate members.[7] The number from each EU country reflects the size of its population, but ranges from a representation of an average of 88087 citizens of Malta per seat to 3.45 million citizens per German seat. 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
 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 329

Internal structure

CoR's Jacques Delors Building in Brussels

President

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. Apostolos Tzitzikostas (Greece / European People's Party, EPP), Governor of Central Macedonia Region, was elected President of the European Committee of the Regions on 12 February 2020. On 29 June 2022, he was replaced by Vasco Cordeiro (Portugal / Party of European Socialists, PSE), Member of the Regional Parliament of Azores.

List of presidents

CoR President Presidency Nationality European political group
Vasco Cordeiro, Azores 2022–present  Portugal Party of European Socialists
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Central Macedonia 2020–2022  Greece European People's Party
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, German-speaking Community of Belgium 2017–2020  Belgium Party of European Socialists
Markku Markkula, Espoo 2015–2017  Finland European People's Party
Michel Lebrun, Wallonia 2014–2015  Belgium European People's Party
Ramón Luis Valcárcel, Murcia 2012–2014  Spain European People's Party
Mercedes Bresso, Piedmont 2010–2012  Italy Party of European Socialists
Luc Van den Brande, Flanders 2008–2010  Belgium European People's Party
Michel Delebarre, Dunkirk, Nord-Pas-de-Calais 2006–2008  France Party of European Socialists
Peter Straub, Baden-Württemberg 2004–2006  Germany European People's Party
Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham 2002–2004  United Kingdom Party of European Socialists
Jos Chabert, Brussels-Capital Region 2000–2002  Belgium European People's Party
Manfred Dammeyer, North Rhine-Westphalia 1998–2000  Germany Party of European Socialists
Pasqual Maragall, Barcelona, Catalonia 1996–1998  Spain Party of European Socialists
Jacques Blanc, Languedoc-Roussillon 1994–1996  France European People's Party

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. Vasco Alves Cordeiro (Portugal / Party of European Socialists, PES), Member of the Regional Parliament of Azores, was elected First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions on 12 February 2020. On 29 June 2022, he was replaced by Apostolos Tzitzikostas (Greece / European People's Party, EPP), Governor of Central Macedonia Region.

Bureau

The Bureau is the executive body of the CoR. It comprises 61 members: the president, the First Vice-President, the presidents of the six political groups, one vice-president per member state (27), and 26 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 policy programme and instructs the administration on the implementation of its decisions.[8]

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 six thematic commissions, which specialise in topical areas:

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

The CoR has six political groups: the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PES), the European People’s Party (EPP), Renew Europe (RE), the European Alliance (EA), the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and The Greens (GRE). The members of each political group meet before major meetings to adopt common positions, membership of the plenary body is as follows, with 15 seats currently vacant:[9]

Group Seats
European People’s Party (EPP)
121 / 329
Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PES)
89 / 329
Renew Europe (RE)
50 / 329
European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)
25 / 329
European Alliance (EA)
13 / 329
The Greens (GRE)
12 / 329
Members not belonging to any group
4 / 329

Conference of Presidents

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

The CoR also comprises 27 national delegations.[10] 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 President's and Bureau decisions and the smooth running of the CoR administration. Petr Blížkovský is the CoRs' Secretary-General since 16 December 2019.

Secretariat-General

The Secretariat-General consists of five directorates: Members and Plenaries; Legislative Work 1; Legislative Work 2; Communication; Human Resources and Finance. The Logistics and Translations Directorates are jointly managed with the European Economic and Social Committee. The total number of CoR staff in 2015 was 527.

Budget

The CoR's 2013 budget (€36.5M) represents 0.06% of the total EU budget which makes it the third smallest EU institution in terms of budgetary needs. Its 2014 budget (€90.2M) breakdown according to purpose of expenditure is as follows: 39.7% – Consultative Works (€35.8M); 30.3% – Translation, Interpretation and Print (€27.2M); 30% – Administration and Functioning (€27M). The CoR's 2015 budget was €89.2M.[11] 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

OPEN DAYS 2013. Former President of the CoR Ramón Luis Valcárcel 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, 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

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

Number of CoR Members increases from 344 to 353, following the accession of Croatia (CoR members later decreased to 350).

Early 2020 – Brexit and Greens

Following Brexit (31 January), the number of CoR Members decreased to 329 due to the removal of the 24 members from the United Kingdom. As of February, a new Political Group was represented in the CoR, The Greens.

Criticism

In 2020, the Committee of the Regions was criticized for its 20-year-old unresolved case of Robert McCoy, a former internal auditor, who has been severely harassed after he blew the whistle on "fraud and embezzlement" at the EU body. In his speech before the European Parliament, McCoy claimed the CoR had run "a vindictive campaign" against him and "denigrated" his personal and professional reputation. That issue made the Committee receive criticism also from the Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who used to work for the Committee of the Regions. She told Parliament that from her experience, the administration at the CoR had been "totally incompetent and rotten to the core". She also accused the CoR of being stuck in "full denial mode" and suggested potential budgetary sanctions.[12] One of the leading critics of the Committee of the Regions' inaction on this issue was also the Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský: "When I look at this case, it reminds me of the American film 'Groundhog Day' where the protagonist becomes trapped in a time loop".[13]

See also

References

  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. ^ "CoR - the role of the CoR in EU policy-making and legislation". Archived from the original on 16 May 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  6. ^ http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:306:0150:0152:EN:PDF[bare URL]
  7. ^ Delegation of the European Union to Croatia. "Croatian Delegation in EU Committee of the Regions". Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  8. ^ "CoR – Bureau". cor.europa.eu. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012.
  9. ^ "CoR members". Retrieved 15 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "CoR – National delegations". Europa. Archived from the original on 28 April 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Budget On-line".
  12. ^ VON DER BURCHARD, HANS. "POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Health power grab – Budget deal – Whistleblower saga". Politico.eu. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  13. ^ VON DER BURCHARD, HANS. "POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Health power grab – Budget deal – Whistleblower saga". Politico.eu. Retrieved 20 November 2020.

External links

  • European Committee of the Regions official website
  • Europe in my Region
  • List of Members
  • Access to documents of the European Committee of the Regions on EUR-Lex
  • Subsidiarity Monitoring Network of the Committee of the Regions
  • Atlas of Decentralised cooperation for Development, a website dedicated to decentralised cooperation developed jointly by the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission
  • Group of the European People's party in the Committee of the Regions Archived 25 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  • Group of the Party of European Socialists in the Committee of the Regions
  • Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the Committee of the Regions
  • Group of the European Alliance in the Committee of the Regions
  • Group of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the Committee of the Regions
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