Brussels, 24 November 2009
Van den Brande tells Barroso: work with us for stronger better Europe
Luc Van den Brande, the President of the EU Committee of the Regions, has told José Manuel Barroso that he will expect to see a more inclusive approach to lawmaking, based on the CoR's proposed system of multi-level governance, over the five years of the next European Commission. At a meeting on Monday, Van den Brande presented the EC President with the CoR's White Paper on multi-level governance which details the CoR's expectations in a wide variety of policy areas where local and regional authorities are involved.
"President Barroso has already underlined the benefits of multi-level governance in the presentation of his work programme, highlighting in particular areas such as the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs and the EU's social agenda. That is why we agreed to analyse together how to give a political follow up to the recommendations made with our White Paper on the multi-level governance, in order to give guidance to the future European Commission. The goal is to develop a more effective means of assessing the territorial impact of new legislation, or suggest a more inclusive approach to the development of the future Lisbon Strategy," said President Van den Brande after the meeting.
One key area where the Committee can bring real added value to the EU's policies is climate change, and Van den Brande also urged Barroso to enlarge the role of the Committee in the Covenant of Mayors, the pact made by more than 950 local and regional leaders to go beyond the EU's 20/20/20 climate goals. "A new Eurobarometer survey to be published later this month will show quite clearly that European citizens expect their local and regional authorities to play a significant role in tackling greenhouse gas emissions, and the CoR is well placed to assume that role at the European level. We stand ready to assume the political back-up of the Covenant of Mayors, to develop it further through agreements with other groups such as the US Conference of Mayors, and to ensure that the initiative is widely communicated to European citizens," Van den Brande said.
The position of cohesion policy within the future EU budget was also raised during the meeting, and Van den Brande stressed its fundamental role in ensuring the balanced development of Europe.
The Committee of the Regions
Around two-thirds of EU legislation is implemented by local and regional authorities in the Member States. The Committee of the Regions was created in 1994 to give representatives of local government a say over the content of these laws. The CoR organises five plenary sessions a year, where its 344 members vote on opinions issued in response to proposed legislation. The European Commission, which initiates EU laws, and the Council of Ministers, which determines the final content of the legislation (usually in tandem with the European Parliament), are obliged to consult the CoR on a wide range of policy areas including the environment, employment and transport. The Lisbon Treaty will strengthen the position of the Committee of the Regions further. In future, the Committee must be consulted by the European Parliament on all issues that are important for regions and municipalities. The Committee can also appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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