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Policy Committee - 13.12.2005
CEMR's policy committee calls for cohesion policy that respects commitments made to new member states
The policy committee of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) has adopted a declaration stating that any (budget) reduction for regional and cohesion policy below that put forward by the Luxembourg presidency would be seen as unjust and a negation of what the EU stands for, at its meeting in Vienna, on 12 December 2005.
The over 100 participants to the meeting add in the declaration that the EU cohesion policy should be at a level that respects the commitments made to the new member states. We cannot but express our disagreement with the proposals presented by the British presidency on 5 December 2005.
CEMR's policy committee urges the heads of states and governments to reach an agreement now on the financial perspectives (EU budget) at a level consistent with the requirements of the Lisbon strategy, and of a true European cohesion policy.
The Constitutional Treaty and Europe's municipalities and regions
CEMR's policy committee adds that it is time to open a debate on status of part III (detailed rules of the EU's powers and policies) of the EU Constitution. For CEMR, these rules are not of the same constitutional character as parts I and II. (Part I sets out the EU's values and objectives, its competences and law-making procedures; part II is the EU Charter of fundamental rights), a high proportion of EU citizens disagree with many of these detailed policies and rules. Many of the concerns expressed during referendum campaigns had less to do with governance issues, but were against giving these detailed rules in Part III "constitutional values".
The Vienna declaration was adopted after a debate involving CEMR's president and mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl; CEMR's first vice president and mayor of The Hague, Wim Deetman; CEMR's vice president and president of the French association of CEMR Louis Le Pensec; CEMR's vice president and mayor of Rhodes Georgios Giannopoulos and CEMR executive president and member of the European Parliament Oldrich Vlasak.
CEMR's guest for the debate was the president of "Confrontations Europe" and former MEP, Philippe Herzog. He echoed CEMR's views on the need for urgent action from EU's governments, saying that the reflection period that followed the "no" votes in the referendums in France and the Netherlands was slowly turning into a big silence from our leaders, that can not bring anything positive.
The policy committee also held a debate on the contribution of European local government to the implementation of the UN's Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Delegates heard the secretary general of the worldwide association United Cities and Local Governments, Elisabeth Gateau, remind them that though some 70% of the eight MDGs are to be implemented at local level, all the decisions so far have been taken at national and international levels. The deputy director of the European office of the millenium campaign, Marina Ponti, informed the participants of the latest European developments on this issue, while stressing the need for more concrete action.
Note: The policy committee meets twice a year; it is for most purposes CEMR's main governing organ. It is based on national representation, ranging from two places for states of less than 5 million, to 6 places for states of more than 60 million population.