European Committee of the Regions
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is an EU advisory body composed of locally and regionally elected representatives coming from all 27 Member States. Through the CoR they are able to share their opinion on EU legislation that directly impacts regions and cities.
The Council of the European Union officially appoints the CoR members, upon proposal of the Member States.
Together, they form the 329-member CoR assembly which gathers in Brussels a few times a year to discuss political priorities and adopt opinions on EU legislation.
Each national delegation elects a chairman and appoints a coordinator. The coordinators’ role is to liaise between the CoR administration and the members of their national delegation.
CoR members are supported by an administration headed by the Secretary-General.
The CoR works to bring EU citizens closer to the EU. By involving regional and local representatives who are in daily contact with their electorate’s concerns, but also by inviting citizens to participate in various events and debates, the CoR contributes to reducing the gap between the EU institutions’ work and EU citizens.
- Multilevel governance
Working in partnership is another pillar of the CoR’s work. In other words, the CoR believes in coordinated action between the European, national, regional and local levels.
The principle of subsidiarity must be complied with throughout the EU legislative process, meaning that decisions must be taken at the level of government that best serves the public interest – locally where possible.
The European Commission and the Council of the European Union must consult the CoR whenever new proposals are made in areas that have repercussions at regional or local level: economic, social and territorial cohesion, Structural Funds, European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund, employment and social affairs, education, youth, vocational training, culture and sport, environment, energy and climate change, transport, trans-European networks, and public health.
Outside these areas, the Commission, Council and European Parliament have the option to consult the CoR. The CoR adopts recommendations on draft EU laws and also proposes new policies on the basis of local and regional experience and expertise. It can also propose new laws and put new issues on the EU agenda.
The CoR’s role was recognised and strengthened by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009. The CoR must be consulted during all phases of the EU legislative process and can bring EU legislation before the European Court of Justice whenever it deems that its institutional rights or national, regional and local governments have been neglected.
What does the CoR do?
The CoR gives regions and cities a formal say in EU law-making ensuring that the position and needs of regional and local authorities are respected.
The European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament must consult the CoR when drawing up legislation on matters concerning local and regional government such as health, education, employment, social policy, economic and social cohesion, transport, energy and climate change. If this is not done, the CoR can bring a case before the Court of Justice.
Once the CoR receives a legislative proposal, it prepares and adopts an opinion and circulates it to the relevant EU institutions.The CoR also issues opinions on its own initiative.
The CoR members are elected representatives serving in local or regional authorities. Each country nominates members of its choice who are appointed for renewable five-year terms by the Council of the EU. The number of members per country depends on the size of that country’s population.
Members from one country form the national delegation which reflects the political, geographical, regional and local balance of their country.
Each member can also choose to be part of a political group in the CoR. Currently there are six political groups reflecting a range of political affiliations: the European People’s Party (EPP), the Party of European Socialists (PES), Renew Europe, the European Alliance Group (EA), the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) and The Greens. Members can also choose not to be part of a political party if they so wish (non-aligned).
The CoR appoints a president from among its members for a two-and-a-half-year term.
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. On 12 February 2020, he was replaced by Apostolos Tzitzikostas (Greece / European People’s Party, EPP).
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. On 12 February 2020, he was replaced by Vasco Alves Cordeiro (Portugal / Party of European Socialists, PES).
How does the CoR work?
The CoR appoints a rapporteur (one of its members) who consults stakeholders and prepares the opinion. The text is discussed and adopted by the CoR commission in charge of the policy area concerned. The opinion is then presented to all members in plenary session who vote to amend and adopt it. Finally, the opinion is shared and communicated to all relevant EU institutions.
There are up to 6 plenary sessions per year, adopting opinions that cover 50 to 80 EU legislative projects.
The CoR and you
The CoR encourages participation at all levels, from regional and local authorities to individual citizens. Regional and local authorities, associations, NGOs, experts and academics can take part in online surveys, consultations and events. European Entrepreneurial Region Awards are open to all regions with political competencies, while thesis competitions are open to academics.
The CoR has set up a number of networks to enable all EU regions and cities to exchange best practices, work together and contribute to the EU debate on topics such as growth and employment, fight against climate change, cross-border cooperation, development and subsidiarity.
The European Committee of the Regions represents the 1 million local and regional politicians of the European Union and engages especially with Young Elected Politicians (YEPs) by inviting them to the CoR Plenary sessions or for example to the European Summit of Regions and Cities.
Since its creation in 1994, the European People’s Party Group is a leading force in the European Committee of the Regions; the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives. Given that approximately two-thirds of EU legislation is implemented by local and regional authorities, it gives locally and regionally elected representatives of government a say over the content of EU legislation and represents the interests of citizens living and working in the EU’s diverse cities, regions and municipalities. Local and regional politicians are also ideally placed to establish and maintain close links with European citizens. The EPP Group aims to enhance the efficiency and influence of the CoR through its formal and informal contacts with the other EU institutions and governments.
Under the motto “think globally – act locally“, the EPP Group strongly defends the principle of subsidiarity. This means that decisions should always be taken at the level closest to citizens unless a better result can be achieved by working at the national or European level.
The party counts on the Groups in the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions to defend and promote its values of democracy, transparency and efficiency by shaping common policies and putting citizens first.
Csaba Borboly is a permanent member of the Committee of the Regions since October 2012, in the Committee on Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) and the Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE). He is also the political coordinator of the Group of the European People’s Party in the Commission for Education (SEDEC).
Csaba Borboly is one of the vice-presidents of the European Committee of the Regions.