The role of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) is to put forward local and regional points of view on EU legislation. It does so by issuing reports (‘opinions’) on Commission proposals.
The Commission, the Council and the Parliament must consult the Committee of the Regions before EU decisions are taken on matters concerning local and regional government (for example on employment policy, the environment, education or public health).
The Committee of the Regions currently has 353 members (and as many alternate members) from all 28 EU countries.
Members and alternates are appointed for a five-year term by the Council, acting on proposals from the EU countries. Each country chooses its members in its own way, but the delegations all reflect the political, geographical and regional/local balance in their country.
The members are elected members of or key players in local or regional authorities in their home region.
The CoR holds five plenary sessions each year, to define general policy and adopt opinions.
There are six ‘commissions’ to consider different policy areas and prepare the opinions to be debated in the plenary sessions:
- Territorial cohesion
- Economic and social policy
- Education, youth and research
- Environment, climate change and energy
- Citizenship, governance, institutional and external affairs
- Natural resources
The Committee also adopts resolutions on topical political issues.
Four political groups are represented in the CoR, reflecting the main European political families:
- European People's Party (EPP)
- Party of European Socialists (PES)
- Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)
- Union for Europe of the Nations - European Alliance (UEN-EA).
Stronger role after Lisbon Treaty
Under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission now has to consult with local and regional authorities and their associations across the EU as early as in the pre-legislative phase. The CoR, as the voice of local and regional authorities, is deeply involved in this procedure.
Once the Commission has made a legislative proposal, it has to consult the Committee of the Regions again if the proposal concerns one of the many policy areas that directly affect local and regional authorities.