Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Policy Committee

CEMR statutory affairs - 01.11.2003

CEMR Policy Committee in Martina Franca : President Giscard d'Estaing warns IGC not to weaken Constitution
The Policy Committee of CEMR met in Martina Franca (Puglia, Italy) on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 October 2003.
The highlight of the meeting was the debate on the IGC from the local and regional authorities' viewpoint in the presence of CEMR president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing; President of Puglia region and of the Italian association of CEMR, Raffaelle Fitto; Italian Minister for European Affairs, Rocco Buttiglione and mayor of Martina Franca, Leonardo Conserva.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing warned the Inter Governmental Conference (IGC) not to weaken or complicate the Constitution.
He said : « There are only two options for the IGC, either improve the text or adopt it. It took the Convention eighteen months to draft the Constitution as a consensual text accepted by all stakeholders, including the fifteen EU Member States and the ten future members. It is unlikely that the IGC would manage to improve this text when it has but a few weeks to discuss it. The IGC should thus accept it as it stands. »
The President of the Puglia Region spoke in favour of the Committee of the Regions of the EU. « The European Constitution must grant the Committee of the Regions a fundamental role in the European governance and in the EU institutional architecture, said Raffaele Fitto. Local authorities can't be merely informed of current decision making processes within the various EU Institutions; they must be consulted prior to any decision being taken if such decision is likely to have a significant impact on the sphere of competence of local governments».
Italian Minister for European Affairs explained that the Italian government supports the draft Constitution. Rocco Buttiglione stated that « to open a general debate (on the Constitution) could lead to a weakening of the project » drafted by the Convention. He also insisted on the « fundamental role of consulting local and regional realities. Without such consultation, the sytem will never be efficient ».
The members of the Policy Committee have adopted CEMR's work programme and draft budget for the year 2004. They have also approved the project for a seminar in Versailles on 16 January 2003. The seminar will focus on local self-government, it will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the European Charter of local liberties.

The Policy Committee has also accepted the CEMR position on Services of general interest (SGI) which opposes moves towards the compulsory liberalization of local and regional services.
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