The Committee of the Regions was established in 1994 in the European Union Agreement and it is an advisory body comprising representatives of European regional and local authorities. The Committee of the Regions must be consulted before a EU decision is made with regard to local and regional administration such as regional policies, the environment, education and transport.
The Committee has 344 members. The number of representatives from each member state approximately reflects the number of inhabitants in the state and it is as follows:
|France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom:||24|
|Poland and Spain:||21|
|Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Greece and Sweden:||12|
|Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania and Slovenia:||9|
|Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia:||7|
|Cyprus and Luxemburg:||6|
The members of the Committee are elected politicians working in local or regional authorities, often they are the representatives of regional administrations.
They are nominated by EU governments but they are politically independent. The EU Committee appoints them to their posts for four years and they can be re-appointed. They also must have a mandate from the authorities they represent or they must be politically accountable to these authorities.
The Committee of the Regions appoints its Chair who is in post for two years. In February 2008 Luc Van den Brande from Belgium was elected the Chair for the coming period.
What are the roles of this Committee?
The Committee of the Regions aims to promote the opinions of local and regional authorities with regard to legal EU regulations. The Committee presents its opinions on the proposals made by the Commission.
The Commission and the Council must consult the Committee of the Regions on issues that directly affect local and regional authorities, but the Committee may be consulted at any time. The Committee may take a view on its own initiative and present it to the Commission, Council and the Parliament.
How is the work of the Committee organised?
The Committee of the Regions organises five plenary sessions each year and defines its general policies and accepts submissions.
The members of the Committee are divided into specialised ‘commissions’ whose task it is to prepare plenary sessions. There are six commissions in total:
- Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy (COTER)
- Commission for Economic and Social Policy (ECOS)
- Commission for Sustainable Development (DEVE)
- Commission for Culture and Education (EDUC)
- Commission for Constitutional Affairs and European Government (CONST)
- Commission for External Relations (Relex).