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Governance and citizenship
EU Treaty - 30.07.2007
The Draft Reform Treaty - a big step forward for European local and regional government
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) welcomes the text of the draft European Reform Treaty and calls the Inter-Governmental Conference to retain all the gains for regional and local government.
The draft European Reform Treaty* is a big step forward for local and regional government across Europe says CEMR Secretary-General Jeremy Smith. It preserves all of the key points in the Constitutional Treaty which strengthened the role of the local and regional levels. In addition, the new draft protocol on public services (or services of general interest) underlines the need for the EU to respect the wide discretion of local and regional authorities in the providing, commissioning and organising of our public services.
He added: We hope the Inter-Governmental Conference can accept all of these points without problem. The European Union cannot be a top-down creation - it needs the active involvement of all levels of government if we are to tackle successfully the issues that concern our citizens.
The key points specifically for local and regional government in the draft Treaty are (in addition to services of general interest):
The explicit recognition, for the first time in any EU treaty, of the principle of local and regional self-government;
The definition of subsidiarity is extended to include the local and regional levels, which means that the EU should not act where action at local or regional level is appropriate - till now subsidiarity has been seen as an issue between the EU and national governments;
More effective consultation of local and regional government, and their associations, including a duty on the European Commission to minimize the financial and administrative burdens in any new legislation;
The objectives of the EU would include territorial as well as economic and social cohesion - this means a greater focus on the impact of European laws and policies on the ground in our regions and cities, as well as on whole countries;
The Committee of the Regions is to have the power, for the first time, to go to the Court of Justice if it believes the subsidiarity principle has been breached, or if its right to be consulted on relevant issues is not respected.
* The draft European Reform Treaty is now being discussed in the Inter-Governmental Conference set up by Europe's heads of state and government at their Council meeting in Brussels last month. It aims to amend the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community.