The CoR's CIVEX Commission's second meeting yesterday featured a lively debate on the recommendations put forward in the draft opinion on enlargement strategy and the main challenges for the candidate countries , presented by Georgios Papastergiou , Prefect of Pieria (Greece/EPP). This debate was chaired by Luc Van den Brande, who also set out the next steps in following up the CoR's White Paper on Multilevel Governance.
Georgios Papastergiou's draft opinion gives a frank assessment of the progress that each of the candidate countries has made towards accession. What makes it unique, however, is its evaluation of how the candidate countries have got local and regional authorities involved in their preparations for accession. For example, with regard to Turkey the rapporteur expresses "dissatisfaction at the total lack of progress with transferring responsibilities to local authorities", and also "notes that alignment with the acquis in the area of regional policy and coordination of structural instruments are still limited". Similarly, Mr Papastergiou also notes that, in Croatia, "the decentralisation strategy has not been adopted, due to a lack of commitment at political level", and regrets "the lack of general coordination between the political and technical levels, as well as between the central administration and local authorities". Regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the rapporteur "urges that decentralisation be continued and that further responsibilities be transferred to municipalities", although he also "sees a need for better coordination between national and local levels of government". These comments complement the European Commission's general assessment in its communication in October and the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament in February.
The CIVEX Commission's second meeting also gave its chair, Luc Van den Brande , an opportunity to outline its activities – focusing, amongst other things, on the follow-up to the CoR's White Paper on Multilevel Governance and on cooperation with the European Commission in that connection: "We want to move towards a European Charter on multilevel governance, which will establish the foundations for inclusive governance procedures in Europe. As chair of CIVEX, I will ensure that we keep on building our relations with our institutional partners by making them accountable for the stance taken on CoR recommendations". To that end, he stated that follow-up of opinions adopted by the CoR would be included as a specific item on the agenda of each CIVEX Commission meeting.
CIVEX will also need to keep a close eye on the implementation of the new Stockholm Programme , and will be involved in the European Citizens' Initiative and continue to foster active citizenship. It will also be kept very busy with the neighbourhood policy and decentralised cooperation: the CoR and local and regional authorities have recently increased their influence in these areas, not least by establishing the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and the Conference on decentralised cooperation. According to Luc Van den Brande, "such intensified modes of cooperation must be sought in other areas, such as the Eastern Partnership and the Northern Dimension".
The next CIVEX Commission meeting will be held in Barcelona on 26-27 April. For the full meeting agenda click here .
Visit the CoR's website at : www.cor.europa.eu .
The Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives . The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can 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.