|Type||Advisory body to the European Union|
|Purpose||Consultative to the EU institutions; subsidiarity monitoring – can approach the Court of Justice of the European Union with regard to the application of subsidiarity principle|
|Headquarters||Jacques Delors building, Brussels, Belgium|
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The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the European Union's (EU) assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities (i.e. regions, counties, provinces, municipalities and cities) with a direct voice within the EU's institutional framework.
Established in 1994, the CoR was set up to address two main issues. First, about three quarters of EU legislation is implemented at local or regional level, so local and regional representatives needed to have a say in the development of new EU laws. Second, there were concerns about a widening gap between the public and the process of European integration; involving the elected level of government closest to the citizens was one way of closing the gap.
Within the European Union, local and regional authorities have lobbied for an increased say in EU affairs. This resulted in the creation of the European Committee of the Regions by the Maastricht Treaty, and the provision for Member States to be represented in the Council of the EU by ministers from their regional governments.
There are three main principles at the heart of the committee's work:
The Treaties oblige the European Commission and the Council of the European Union to consult the Committee of the Regions whenever new proposals are made in areas that have repercussions at regional or local level. Outside these areas, the commission, Council and European Parliament have the option to consult the CoR on issues if they see important regional or local implications to a proposal. The CoR can also draw up an opinion on its own initiative, which enables it to put issues on the EU agenda.
The CoR has gained the right (privileged status) to approach the European Court of Justice now that the Treaty of Lisbon has entered into force following ratification by all EU Member States (Article 8, Protocol (No. 2) on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality).
The CoR has 329 full members and the same number of alternate members. The number from each EU country reflects the size of its population, but ranges from a representation of an average of 88087 citizens of Malta per seat to 3.45 million citizens per German seat. Its members are locally and regionally elected representatives including mayors, regional presidents and councillors. The numbers per country are as follows:
Elected for a two-and-a-half-year term at the plenary assembly, the President guides the committee's work, chairs plenary sessions and is the CoR's official representative. Apostolos Tzitzikostas (Greece / European People's Party, EPP), Governor of Central Macedonia Region, was elected President of the European Committee of the Regions on 12 February 2020. On 29 June 2022, he was replaced by Vasco Cordeiro (Portugal / Party of European Socialists, PSE), Member of the Regional Parliament of Azores.
|CoR President||Presidency||Nationality||European political group|
|Vasco Cordeiro, Azores||2022–present||Portugal||Party of European Socialists|
|Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Central Macedonia||2020–2022||Greece||European People's Party|
|Karl-Heinz Lambertz, German-speaking Community of Belgium||2017–2020||Belgium||Party of European Socialists|
|Markku Markkula, Espoo||2015–2017||Finland||European People's Party|
|Michel Lebrun, Wallonia||2014–2015||Belgium||European People's Party|
|Ramón Luis Valcárcel, Murcia||2012–2014||Spain||European People's Party|
|Mercedes Bresso, Piedmont||2010–2012||Italy||Party of European Socialists|
|Luc Van den Brande, Flanders||2008–2010||Belgium||European People's Party|
|Michel Delebarre, Dunkirk, Nord-Pas-de-Calais||2006–2008||France||Party of European Socialists|
|Peter Straub, Baden-Württemberg||2004–2006||Germany||European People's Party|
|Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham||2002–2004||United Kingdom||Party of European Socialists|
|Jos Chabert, Brussels-Capital Region||2000–2002||Belgium||European People's Party|
|Manfred Dammeyer, North Rhine-Westphalia||1998–2000||Germany||Party of European Socialists|
|Pasqual Maragall, Barcelona, Catalonia||1996–1998||Spain||Party of European Socialists|
|Jacques Blanc, Languedoc-Roussillon||1994–1996||France||European People's Party|
The First Vice-president is also elected by the plenary assembly for two-and-a-half years and represents the president in the latter's absence. Vasco Alves Cordeiro (Portugal / Party of European Socialists, PES), Member of the Regional Parliament of Azores, was elected First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions on 12 February 2020. On 29 June 2022, he was replaced by Apostolos Tzitzikostas (Greece / European People's Party, EPP), Governor of Central Macedonia Region.
The Bureau is the executive body of the CoR. It comprises 61 members: the president, the First Vice-President, the presidents of the six political groups, one vice-president per member state (27), and 26 other members from the national delegations, enabling it to reflect national and political balances. The Bureau generally meets seven or eight times a year to draw up the CoR policy programme and instructs the administration on the implementation of its decisions.
The members of the CoR meet in plenary session in Brussels six times a year, to discuss and adopt opinions, reports and resolutions.
The CoR structures its work by means of six thematic commissions, which specialise in topical areas:
They prepare draft opinions and hold conferences and seminars focused on their areas of competence. Each commission has approximately 100 members (each member can be part of two commissions) and is supported by a secretariat within the administration. A special Commission for Financial and Administrative Affairs (CFAA) is also established to assist the CoR Bureau.
The CoR has six political groups: the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PES), the European People’s Party (EPP), Renew Europe (RE), the European Alliance (EA), the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and The Greens (GRE). The members of each political group meet before major meetings to adopt common positions, membership of the plenary body is as follows, with 15 seats currently vacant:
|European People’s Party (EPP)|
121 / 329
|Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PES)|
89 / 329
|Renew Europe (RE)|
50 / 329
|European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)|
25 / 329
|European Alliance (EA)|
13 / 329
|The Greens (GRE)|
12 / 329
|Members not belonging to any group|
4 / 329
The CoR president, first vice-president, presidents of the political groups and the secretary general gather within a Conference of Presidents before each plenary session and other important meetings, with the aim of reaching a political consensus on strategic questions.
The CoR also comprises 27 national delegations. Members meet in their national delegations before plenary sessions and other events to discuss common positions.
The Secretary-General is appointed for five years by the Bureau. As head of the CoR administration, the Secretary-General must not hold a political mandate. He is responsible for implementing President's and Bureau decisions and the smooth running of the CoR administration. Petr Blížkovský is the CoRs' Secretary-General since 16 December 2019.
The Secretariat-General consists of five directorates: Members and Plenaries; Legislative Work 1; Legislative Work 2; Communication; Human Resources and Finance. The Logistics and Translations Directorates are jointly managed with the European Economic and Social Committee. The total number of CoR staff in 2015 was 527.
The CoR's 2013 budget (€36.5M) represents 0.06% of the total EU budget which makes it the third smallest EU institution in terms of budgetary needs. Its 2014 budget (€90.2M) breakdown according to purpose of expenditure is as follows: 39.7% – Consultative Works (€35.8M); 30.3% – Translation, Interpretation and Print (€27.2M); 30% – Administration and Functioning (€27M). The CoR's 2015 budget was €89.2M. Although all CoR expenditure formally falls under Heading 5 (Administrative expenditure) of the EU Budget, as is the case for the European Parliament budget, a substantial part of its budget relates to non-administrative expenditure. Most obvious examples are all CoR expenses related to its Members and their political activities.
The European Commission, Council of Ministers and European Parliament consult the CoR when drawing up legislative texts (directives, regulations, etc.) on areas affecting local and regional authorities. The draft texts are forwarded to the relevant CoR commission. A rapporteur is then appointed to draw up the committee's opinion. This draft opinion must be adopted by the CoR commission before being discussed at the plenary session. Once it has been approved in plenary, the official opinion is sent to all the European institutions and published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Resolutions enable the committee to express its view on important and topical issues. The CoR's political groups or 32 CoR members can draw up resolutions.
The CoR produces studies on various aspects of the local and regional dimension of the EU (education, transport, social issues, enlargement, etc.). They are drawn up with the help of outside experts. The CoR also produces publications for both the general public and for regional and local players, aimed at explaining its activities and outlining current political developments.
As a meeting place for regions and cities, the CoR organises conferences, seminars and exhibitions in cooperation with local and regional partners and other EU institutions. Once a year, during the European Week of Regions and Cities, the CoR welcomes to its headquarters thousands of participants who take part in lively discussions or seek partners to collaborate on joint projects.
July 2013 – EU enlargement
Early 2020 – Brexit and Greens
Following Brexit (31 January), the number of CoR Members decreased to 329 due to the removal of the 24 members from the United Kingdom. As of February, a new Political Group was represented in the CoR, The Greens.
In 2020, the Committee of the Regions was criticized for its 20-year-old unresolved case of Robert McCoy, a former internal auditor, who has been severely harassed after he blew the whistle on "fraud and embezzlement" at the EU body. In his speech before the European Parliament, McCoy claimed the CoR had run "a vindictive campaign" against him and "denigrated" his personal and professional reputation. That issue made the Committee receive criticism also from the Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who used to work for the Committee of the Regions. She told Parliament that from her experience, the administration at the CoR had been "totally incompetent and rotten to the core". She also accused the CoR of being stuck in "full denial mode" and suggested potential budgetary sanctions. One of the leading critics of the Committee of the Regions' inaction on this issue was also the Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský: "When I look at this case, it reminds me of the American film 'Groundhog Day' where the protagonist becomes trapped in a time loop".
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