European Committee of the Regions
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the assembly of regional and local representatives of the European Union (EU), which gives the sub-national authorities (i.e. regions, districts, provinces, cities and municipalities) a direct voice in the EU's institutional framework. It is intended to ensure that they can express their point of view on EU policy and that regional and local identities and privileges are respected. In April 2009 the committee set out its role in the political system of the European Union in a declaration of principle.
The CoR was set up in 1994 for two reasons: First, around three quarters of EU legislation is implemented at local or regional level, so it makes sense for local and regional representatives to have a say in the development of new EU legislation. Second, there was concern that there might be a growing gap between the public and the process of European integration ; the involvement of elected representatives from the level of government closest to citizens has been one way of bridging this gap.
The seat of the Committee of the Regions is the Delors building in Brussels.
The regions of the European Union, especially the German federal states, have been lobbying for a greater say in EU affairs. This led to the creation of the European Committee of the Regions by the Maastricht Treaty and opened up the possibility for member states to be represented in the EU Council of Ministers by ministers from their regional governments.
The composition, organization and tasks of the CoR are regulated in TFEU . The Amsterdam Treaty added five additional areas of mandatory consultation. It was also stipulated that a member of the CoR cannot be a member of the European Parliament at the same time. The Lisbon Treaty gives the CoR the right to refer legal acts to the European Court of Justice for breaches of the subsidiarity principle if the CoR was to be heard in the legislative process .and 305 to 307
Three principles govern the work of the CoR:
This principle, which was enshrined in the Treaties at the same time as the CoR was set up, says that decisions in the European Union should be taken as closely as possible to the citizen. The European Union should therefore not take on tasks for which the national, regional or local level is better suited.
Closeness to the citizens
All levels should strive to be “close to the citizen” by making their work transparent, above all, so that citizens know exactly who is responsible for what and to whom they can turn to with their concerns.
Cooperation between the European, national, regional and local levels is the prerequisite for solid governance in Europe - each of these four levels is indispensable and should be included in the entire decision-making process on several levels (“multi-level governance”).
The Treaties stipulate that the European Commission and the Council of the European Union must ask the Committee of the Regions for an opinion on areas where EU legislative proposals could have an impact on regional and local levels. Outside these areas, the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament can also refer the matter to the CoR in cases where they consider a legislative proposal to have a significant impact on the regional or local level. The CoR can also publish an own-initiative opinion, giving it the opportunity to put issues on the EU's agenda.
The CoR has received the right (privileged status) to refer to the European Court of Justice since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force after its ratification by all EU Member States (Article 8, Protocol No. 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and the Proportionality).
The CoR has 329 members and the same number of alternate members, with each country represented roughly in proportion to its population. However, one member represents a very different number of residents (e.g. 88,087 Maltese, 3.45 million Germans). Article 300, paragraph 5 of the TFEU Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union refers for the first time to demographic developments in the EU with regard to the composition of the CoR. The number of members per country is as follows:
|Number of members||States|
|24 each||Germany France Italy|
|21 each||Poland Spain|
|12 each||Belgium Bulgaria Greece Netherlands Austria Portugal Sweden Czech Republic Hungary|
|9 each||Denmark Finland Ireland Croatia Lithuania Slovakia|
|7 each||Latvia Slovenia|
|5 each||Luxembourg Malta Cyprus|
The members of the CoR are local and regional politicians such as members of parliament from the state parliaments, local council members, mayors of cities and also prime ministers from the German federal states.
The members of the CoR are nominated by the governments of the EU member states and by the EU Council of Ministers. Usually the list of members is drawn up by the whole government or by a member of the government (usually the interior or foreign minister, in some cases also the head of government). Subnational actors are generally integrated in the process of drawing up such a list, but there is only a legal basis for this in the federal states (e.g. Belgium , Germany , Italy , Austria or Spain ).
The criteria for inclusion are geographical and political; That is, it is ensured that the members come from different parts of the country and reflect the party landscape. Such criteria are relevant everywhere, although not explicitly stated in the Netherlands , Ireland and Italy. Gender criteria are also respected in Finland and the Netherlands .
Paragraph 14 of the law on cooperation between the Federation and the Länder in matters relating to the European Union defines the competencies for appointing the German CoR delegation. In Germany , the federal government is adopting the proposals made by the conference of ministers presidents . Each federal state receives one seat and another five seats rotate according to the criterion of population. The remaining three seats belong to the three central municipal associations of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB), German Association of Cities (DST) and German District Association (DLkrT).
In Belgium all 12 seats go to the regions or communities. Six (5) seats go to the Flemish Region , four (3) to the Wallonia Region and two to the Brussels Capital Region . The seat for the German-speaking community of Belgium is provided alternately by the French and Flemish communities . In the centralized states, the regions tend to be less well represented, with more seats going to local representatives.
The members are then appointed by the Council of the EU on the basis of proposals from the member states. Since the Treaty of Nice , appointments have been made by qualified majority (previously: unanimity). The term of office of the members is five years (Art. 305 TFEU), whereby reappointment is possible. In their work they are not bound by any instructions, so they act (theoretically) politically completely independently.
Since the Treaty of Nice , members must also hold an electoral mandate from the local authority they represent or be politically responsible to an elected assembly.
The President, who is elected at the plenary assembly for a term of two and a half years, directs the work of the CoR, chairs the plenary sessions and represents the institution externally. Karl-Heinz Lambertz ( Belgium / Party of European Socialists , PES), President of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community of Belgium , was elected President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on July 12, 2017. Apostolos Tzitzikostas ( Greece / European People's Party , EPP), Governor of Central Macedonia , has been the new Chairman of the Committee of the Regions since February 12, 2020 .
The Presidents of the Committee of the Regions
|President of the CoR||Presidency||nationality||European party|
|Apostolos Tzitzikostas||2020 – today||Greece||European People's Party|
|Karl-Heinz Lambertz||2017-2020||Belgium||European Social Democratic Party|
|Markku Markkula||2015-2017||Finland||European People's Party|
|Michel Lebrun||2014–2015 (interim)||Belgium||European People's Party|
|Ramón Luis Valcárcel||2012-2014||Spain||European People's Party|
|Mercedes Bresso||2010–2012||Italy||European Social Democratic Party|
|Luc Van den Brande||2008-2010||Belgium||European People's Party|
|Michel Delebarre||2006-2008||France||European Social Democratic Party|
|Peter Straub||2004-2006||Germany||European People's Party|
|Sir Albert Bore||2002-2004||United Kingdom||European Social Democratic Party|
|Jos Chabert||2000-2002||Belgium||European People's Party|
|Manfred Dammeyer||1998-2000||Germany||European Social Democratic Party|
|Pasqual Maragall i Mira||1996-1998||Spain||European Social Democratic Party|
|Jacques Blanc||1994-1996||France||European People's Party|
First Vice President
The first vice-president is also elected by the plenary for two and a half years and represents the president in his absence. Markku Markkula ( Finland / European People's Party , EPP), member of the Espoo City Council , has been the CoR's First Vice-President since his election on July 12, 2017.
The Bureau is the decision-making body of the CoR. It has 63 members: the President, the First Vice-President, 28 Vice-Presidents (one per Member State), the chairmen of the political groups represented in the CoR and 28 other members from the national delegations, so that the Member States and political groups are represented in a balanced way. The Bureau usually meets seven to eight times a year, drafts the CoR's political program and gives the administration instructions on how to implement its decisions.
CoR members meet six times a year in plenary in Brussels to discuss and adopt opinions, reports and resolutions.
CoR technical commissions
The plenary sessions and the opinions are prepared by six technical commissions, among which the CoR members are divided. The technical commissions specialize in the following areas:
- Commission for Cohesion Policy and the EU Budget (COTER)
- Expert Commission for Economic Policy (ECON)
- Expert Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC)
- Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE)
- Commission for Natural Resources and Agriculture (NAT)
- Commission on Citizenship, Governance, Institutional Affairs and External Relations (CIVEX)
They prepare draft opinions and organize conferences and seminars on subjects that fall within their remit. Each specialist commission has around 100 members (each member can belong to two specialist commissions) and is supported by a secretariat within the administration. The CoR Bureau is also supported by a specific Commission for Financial and Administrative Affairs (CAFA).
The members of the CoR are currently organized into six political groups, the composition of which is based on the European political parties or the groups of the European Parliament (figures as of 25 May 2020):
- Group of the European People's Party (EPP, 115 members, 102 alternates)
- Group of the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PES, 88 members, 88 alternates)
- Renew Europe (Renew, 49 members, 44 alternates)
- European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR, 25 members, 21 alternates)
- European Alliance (EA, 12 members, 13 alternates)
- The Greens (11 members, 9 deputies)
Seven members and 29 alternates do not belong to any political group.
The members of each political group meet before important meetings to adopt common positions.
Conference of Presidents
The President, First Vice-President, Group Chairmen and Secretary-General meet in a Conference of Presidents before each plenary session and other important meetings to find political consensus on strategic issues.
There are also 28 national delegations in the CoR. Its members meet before plenary sessions and other important dates to discuss common positions.
The General Secretary is appointed by the Presidium for a five-year term. As Head of Administration of the CoR, he is not allowed to hold a political mandate. Its task is to ensure the implementation of the presidium's decisions and the smooth work of the administration. Gerhard Stahl has been General Secretary of the CoR since 2004 (reappointment in 2009). Jiri Burianek has been Secretary General of the CoR since September 1, 2014.
The General Secretariat
The general secretariat has five directorates:
- Members and plenary sessions
- Legislative activity 1
- Legislative activity 2
- Human resources and finance.
The Logistics and Translation Directorates are managed jointly with the European Economic and Social Committee .
The European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament consult the CoR when drafting legal acts (directives, regulations, etc.) on specific issues relevant to regional and local authorities. The drafts are referred to the relevant expert committee. A rapporteur is then appointed to the commission to prepare the CoR opinion. His draft opinion has to be adopted by the commission before it is discussed in plenary. Once it has been adopted in plenary, the now official statement will be sent to the institutions of the European Union and published in the Official Journal.
A resolution allows the CoR to express its position on important and topical issues. The political groups in the CoR can also draft resolutions.
Studies and other publications
The CoR carries out studies on different aspects of the regional and local dimension of the EU (education, transport, social affairs, enlargement, etc.). These documents are drawn up with the help of external experts. The CoR also issues publications to educate the general public or targeted actors at regional and local level about its activities and to inform them about current political issues.
As a meeting place for regions and cities, the CoR organizes conferences, seminars and exhibitions in collaboration with regional and local partners or with other EU institutions. Every year, during the European Week of Regions and Cities (OPEN DAYS), the CoR welcomes thousands of guests to its premises to take part in lively debates or to seek partners to carry out joint projects.
- 1992: Maastricht Treaty
- The heads of state and government of the EU decide to set up the Committee of the Regions (CoR) as an advisory body - this gives regions and cities a voice in the EU decision-making process and creates a direct link between the EU and its citizens. The treaty makes it compulsory for the European Commission and the Council of Ministers to consult the CoR on key areas with regional relevance. According to the treaty, the members of the CoR are appointed by the respective Member States for a four-year term. The CoR's first plenary session will take place in Brussels in March 1994.
- 1995: EU expansion
- With the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden, the number of members in the CoR increases from 189 to 222.
- 1997: Treaty of Amsterdam
- The CoR's competence is extended to around two thirds of EU legislative proposals. On the basis of this contract, the CoR can also be referred to the European Parliament.
- 2001: Treaty of Nice
- The treaty stipulates that the members of the Committee of the Regions hold an electoral mandate or have political accountability to an elected assembly of a regional or local authority, thus strengthening the CoR's democratic legitimacy. The maximum number of its members is set at 350.
- 2002–03: Convention on the Future of Europe
- Members of the Committee of the Regions take part in the convention, which was supposed to present a draft EU constitution. The text explicitly recognizes the role and powers of regional and local authorities; in addition, the CoR is given the right to refer to the Court of Justice of the European Communities in order to contest legal acts of the EU which violate the subsidiarity principle.
- May 2004: EU expansion
- The number of CoR members increases from 222 to 317 as a result of the enlargement by ten new Member States.
- February 2006: New term of office
- A new four-year term of office begins in the CoR. Political priorities include enhancing the role of local and regional authorities in line with the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs, strengthening cohesion and solidarity and leading the “Communicating Europe - Going local” campaign, which brings the EU closer to its citizens should.
- January 2007: EU expansion
- With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the number of CoR members increases from 317 to 344.
- December 2007: Treaty of Lisbon
- The Lisbon Treaty gives the CoR the right to take legal action before the Court of Justice of the European Union for the protection of its rights and for breaches of the subsidiarity principle - a right that has already been recognized by the Convention on the Future of Europe. This new legal entitlement will strengthen the political role of the CoR and allow it to act more effectively at European level for the interests of local and regional authorities. The Lisbon Treaty extends the mandate of CoR members from four to five years.
- July 2013: EU expansion
- With Croatia's accession, the number of CoR members increased from 344 to 353 (the number of members later decreased to 350).
- Otto Schmuck: Committee of the Regions . In: Werner Weidenfeld, Wolfgang Wessels (ed.): Yearbook of European Integration . Nomos, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-4478-0 .
- Committee of the Regions . In: Werner Weidenfeld, Wolfgang Wessels (ed.): Europe from A to Z. Pocket book of European integration . 9th edition. Nomos, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-4478-0 .
- Walter Leitermann: Dispute over the future composition of the Committee of the Regions: Committee incapable of reform. In: EUROPA municipal. 6/2010.
- Official website
- Subsidiarity monitoring network of the Committee of the Regions
- European Movement Germany : Committee of the Regions. ( Memento from March 17, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
- Video presentation
- Declaration of principles on the tasks of the Committee of the Regions ( Memento of August 8, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
- cf. Article 8 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality
- Council of the EU: Committee of the Regions: Council appoints members for the 2020-2025 mandate , press release, 10 December 2019
- European Communities: The selection process for Committee of the Regions members Procedures in the Member States. (No longer available online.) In: cor.europa.eu. Archived from the original on May 15, 2012 ; accessed on June 4, 2019 . (ISBN = 978-92-895-0468-3, English, 2009; pdf, 99 pages)
- Karl-Heinz Lambertz new chairman of the Committee of the Regions. BRF , July 13, 2017, accessed July 15, 2017
- Governor of Central Macedonia is the new President of the European Committee of the Regions , February 12, 2020, accessed on May 21, 2020