European Committee of the Regions publishes its vision to make the EU more united, democratic and responsive to citizens' needs
Shortly before EU leaders are expected to adopt the "EU's Strategic Agenda" for the next five years, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) set out its views on the future of the Europe. Entitled "Working together to bring the EU closer to its citizens", the document published by the Committee calls on Member States to radically change the way the EU works. The Committee argues that all EU decisions and policies must be anchored locally if it is to strengthen democracy and regain citizens' trust.
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the CoR, remarked: "The European elections showed that the vast majority of citizens still believe their future lies in a united European Union, so it is now time to change course and deliver. Nevertheless, at a time when the tide of populism and Euroscepticism is growing it can no longer be business as usual. The EU must become more visible, effective and responsive to citizens' needs by changing the way it works. This means empowering and engaging the one million local and regional politicians elected across the Member States in the European Union. Cities a0000000000000000000nd regions are a fundamental part of the EU’s democratic foundation on which we must rebuild Europe".
Markku Markkula, First Vice-President of the CoR, said: "Cities and regions have shown that they can co-create a sustainable Europe which is able to tackle societal challenges and innovation by anchoring EU's policies and solutions to the local and regional level. The targets set by the European Council and by the European Parliament will not be reached without a strong contribution by local and regional authorities, directly working with communities and using the best practices".
Three principles to bring the EU closer to citizens:
-Changing the way EU decisions are made - “Active subsidiarity” as set out by the Task Force on Subsidiarity and Proportionality, a new way of working for the EU is needed. Regional and local authorities need to be involved in all phases of the EU legislative cycle;
-Bringing every level of government together: Multi-level governance - coordinated action between the European, national, regional and local levels is essential for the EU to deliver its objectives. More decentralisation and a better division of powers must be developed to promote good governance;
-Permanent dialogue with citizens: the CoR has been calling for establishing a permanent system of citizens’ dialogues/consultations that extends beyond the periods leading up to the European elections. This new mechanism would complement the EU’s decision-making structure, allowing citizens’ to influence the EU’s agenda-setting and policymaking.
Anchoring EU policies locally:
-Making the Sustainable Development Goals the overarching development strategy for the EU for all levels of government;
-Building cohesion within the EU , which includes a strong EU's cohesion policy beyond 2020 benefitting from adequate funding, a reinforced EU social dimension, better urban/rural linkages to address the territorial divide, and relevant measures to tackle demographic changes;
-Fighting for a sustainable environment : the CoR supports an ambitious roadmap towards a climate-neutral Europe, ensuring adequate engagement of all levels of government through national Multilevel Climate and Energy Dialogues. The Committee also calls for a Common Agricultural Policy that is fair, sustainable, based on solidarity and safeguards the central role of EU regions;
-Boosting research, innovation and digital transformation , including a dedicated policy for research and development with a strong link to the regions, and a place-based EU industrial and trade policy;
-Putting EU values into practice at local and regional level : given the responsibilities of cities and regions in the reception and integration of migrants, the CoR asks for adequate EU funding and support to its "Cities and Regions for Integration Initiative" launched earlier this year. The CoR also wants to enhance the capacity of public authorities at local and regional level outside the EU's borders.
An EU budget that meets the EU’s ambitions
In a bid to ensure cities and regions have the necessary room for manoeuvre to strengthen the EU's growth potential, the CoR demands that the EU's next long-term budget is at least 1.3% of the EU27 Gross National Income and is adopted as soon as possible to allow early planning and preparation of the funding programmes. The CoR further warns that any attempt to recentralise the EU budget, particularly in a way that would undermine shared management of EU programmes, must be avoided.
Notes to the editors:
In March 2018, as a conclusion to the 8th Summit of Regions and Cities in held in Bucharest, the CoR set out a 10-point declaration for the future of the EU based on building the EU from the ground up.
The CoR will detail its proposals for the new European Union legislative mandate in a resolution to be adopted by its political groups during the plenary session of 26-27 June.
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