Brussels, 28 March 2003
European Commission to step up dialogue with associations of regional and local authorities
Today, the European Commission has decided to launch a public consultation on how to organise the dialogue with associations of regional and local authorities. This dialogue, in which the Committee of the Regions should play a major part, is designed to improve the process of developing European policies that have an impact on regions and municipalities. The consultation that has been initiated today should lead to a Commission communication before the summer setting out the arrangements for this dialogue.
Michel Barnier, the Member of the Commission who is responsible for regional policy and institutional reform, said that "Europe is not built only in Brussels. Europe is a project that should inspire politicians at all levels. When it comes to developing and implementing European policies, I would like to see close interaction between the Commission and the associations that represent the regional and local authorities".
Today's Commission decision follows on from the Commission's commitment in the White Paper on European Governance.(1) Indeed, it is at regional and local level that several European policies produce their effects or are applied. Regional and local authorities should be given the opportunity to express their views, through their associations, before the formal decision-making processes are set in motion. After enlargement, the European Union will comprise some 250 regions and 100 000 local authorities. These authorities are organised in various national and European associations. The Commission wishes to organise a dialogue with the associations that are representative and that are capable of presenting opinions that have been developed collectively. The Committee of the Regions is asked to play a pivotal role in organising this dialogue.
The Union's policy guidelines must be brought to the attention of the regional and local authorities so that the Commission can benefit from their expertise and opinions. Indeed, the regional and local authorities are often well placed to assess the coherence and effectiveness of the European policies that have a major impact on local areas and regions, for example regional development policy, transport, rural development or the environment. A more systematic dialogue with these protagonists will enable the Commission to take more effective decisions on the nature and intensity of the measures to be adopted, and to assess their impact.
The Commission proposes that this dialogue should concern its annual work programme and the major initiatives that are taken for certain policies with a substantial local and regional impact. The President of the Commission will be personally involved in this dialogue on the annual programme. The Commission also proposes that meetings should be organised in which Members of the Commission present the major initiatives of the policies for which they are responsible. The Commission will ask the Committee of the Regions, with its agreement, to organise these meetings and to pinpoint the associations concerned in each case.
It should be pointed out that the Commission has suggested to the Convention on the Future of the Union that an article on good governance should be incorporated into the future Constitution. An article of this kind would provide an additional guarantee to local and regional authorities on their increased involvement in deliberations before the adoption of legislative proposals that concern them.
In response to requests from local and regional players during the consultation for the White Paper on European Governance of July 2001, the Commission gave an undertaking to establish a more systematic dialogue with the European and national associations of regional and local authorities.
When the Commission adopted its Report on European Governance(2) and its Communication on a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue(3) on 11 December 2002, it confirmed this commitment, announcing the adoption of a communication setting out the framework, subjects and arrangements for the dialogue with the associations of local and regional authorities. In order to prepare this communication, the working document that has been approved today sets out a number of essential principles that should govern the Commission's relations with the associations of local and regional protagonists, and defines the scope of this dialogue.
In order to collect the comments of all interested parties, all contributions will be made available online on the Internet at the following address:
All contributions will be carefully studied with a view to drafting the communication that the Commission intends to adopt in the first half of 2003. Contributions may be sent between now and 23 May 2003 to the following e-mail address:
or by post to the following postal address:
Directorate-General for Regional Policy
Bureau: CSM2 1/16
Mr Barnier's speech on regions and institutional reform to the Convention on 7 February 2003 can also be consulted by clicking
Further information on the following web site :
(1)COM(2001)428 final, 25.7.2001
(2)COM(2002)705 final, 11.12.2002
(3)COM(2002)704 final, 11.12.2002