Brussels, 1 July 2013
Committee of the Regions welcomes Croatian members
Following the accession of Croatia to the European Union today, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) welcomes a new Croatian delegation consisting of nine full members to its assembly.
Welcoming the Croatian delegation, CoR President Ramón Luis Valcárcel said: "I would like to pay tribute to Croatia's local and regional authorities who, from the beginning have always fully engaged in the accession process and played a fundamental role in bridging the gap between Brussels and Croatia's citizens. Croatia's EU membership should not be celebrated purely in political and economic terms: it is an opportunity to look to the tragedies of the past and show that we, as Europeans, must continue to work together to overcome divisions and strive towards a better, common and more peaceful future."
Vojko Obersnel, Head of the CoR's Croatian delegation and Mayor of the City of Rijeka, stressed: "The Republic of Croatia enters the family of European partners after a long period of preparation and negotiations. Despite continuing to face many new challenges, I am pleased that we will finally be able to participate as equal members in the shaping of Europe and our citizen's future. I am strongly convinced in the European perspective for Croatian cities, municipalities and counties, and look forward to their constructive contribution in helping build a better society inside the European Union for all of us.''
Candidates for the Croatian members and alternates of the CoR national delegation were proposed by the Croatian national associations of local and regional authorities - Croatian County Association, Association of Cities and Association of Municipalities of the Republic of Croatia. The list of nominated candidates was then submitted by the Ministry of Administration to the EU Council. The Croatian delegation will consist of the following members:
A final ninth member will be appointed later in the year.
The CoR has been firmly supporting the efforts of the Croatian counties and municipalities along the road to acc ession, in particular with the setting up of the CoR-Croatia Joint Consultative Committee in 2010. The CoR had welcomed nine observers from Croatia's local and regional authorities to attend its plenary sessions and other meetings from early 2012 so as to support them in taking their proper place in the European decision-making process. In cooperation with the European Commission, the CoR has also been engaged in strengthening the administrative capacities of Croatian local authorities in the framework of the Local Administration Facility Programme, notably via the organisation of seminars at local level and study visits of Croatia's local and regional representatives in Brussels.
A special ceremony will be organised during the upcoming CoR plenary session on 3 July to welcome the Croatian delegation.
To celebrate Croatia's accession, the CoR will also be organising a 3-day press trip to coincide with the CoR plenary session. The trip will be an opportunity for the Croatian press to meet politicians from Croatia and the EU institutions and learn more about how EU local and regional authorities can make their voice heard in the EU decision-making process. This will include a press conference open to all media where the CoR President, Ramón Luis Valcárcel, and Head of the CoR's Croatian Delegation, Vojko Obersnel (Mayor of Rijeka), will speak about the future of Croatia's local government following EU membership. The conference is being held on 3 July from 10am at the Committee of the Regions.
The Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives from all 28 Member States. Its mission 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 infringes the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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