Head of Delegation
Councillor Gordon Keymer
List of Members
Richard Kitt (UK national co-ordinator)
Tel: +32 2 502 3680 – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Hughes (Delegation Secretary)
Tel: +44 20 7664 3101 - e-mail: email@example.com
All UK members of the CoR are elected politicians representing local authorities or the devolved bodies of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. The Local Government Association (LGA) is the secretariat to the UK Delegation to the COR.
Appointing the UK delegation
The UK Delegation has always set out to be representative of UK sub-national government, drawing on a range of criteria to ensure that it is balanced. It aims not only to select its representatives from across the entire UK but also to have a fair balance across the political spectrum, including the smaller political parties. The UK Delegation also tries to maintain a gender balance between members (currently about half of the Delegation are women) and representation of ethnic minorities.
Although the UK Delegation is formally nominated by the UK Government, it receives proposals from the following bodies: the Local Government Association of England & Wales (in consultation with English regional bodies); the Scottish Executive (in consultation with the Scottish Parliament and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities); the Welsh Assembly (in consultation with the Welsh Local Government Association); and the Northern Ireland Assembly (in consultation with the Northern Ireland Local Government Association).
Organisation and promoting policy interests
The UK Delegation tries to ensure all members play a full and active part. Although the COR grants each full member two commission places and none to alternates, under an informal arrangement within the UK Delegation each of the 24 full and 24 alternate members is allocated a seat on a CoR commission so that they can become rapporteurs, move amendments, and debate in meetings – these are known as “permanent alternates”.
Twice a year, the full UK Delegation meets in the UK to draw up its strategy, with both full and alternate members entitled to vote. The Minister for Europe attends the June meeting, whilst the Ambassador of the incoming Presidency of the UK attends at each UK-based meeting.
The UK delegation is structured along political lines, with each political group meeting before the full delegation meets. Relations between UK Members across political divides is usually cooperative and rarely adversarial. Votes are taken in on issues of policy and strategy.
The secretariat to the UK Delegation is provided by the Local Government Association (LGA) offices in London and Brussels . The secretariat coordinates briefings for members attending meetings; gives feedback to local authorities on CoR developments and Opinions; and promotes the work of the Delegation both within the UK and throughout the EU. The national local government associations and devolved bodies are key to determining not only the candidates for UK CoR nominations, but also proposing the policy the UK Delegation should take. The CoR too benefits indirectly from the expertise of the national associations and their member authorities, by drawing on the best practice and experience they can offer.
Local and regional government structures in the UK
The United Kingdom comprises four constituent countries: England (84% UK population), Scotland (8%), Wales (5%), Northern Ireland (3%) – source: ONS 2007
Local government in England and Wales is organised in two contrasting ways. In Wales and some parts of England , a single tier "all purpose council" is responsible for all local authority services and functions (Unitary, Metropolitan or London Borough). The remainder of England has a two-tier system, in which responsibility for services is divided between district and county councils. Councillors are responsible for making decisions on behalf of their local community about local services such as land use, refuse collection and leisure facilities. They also agree the local authority budget and set the policy framework as well as appointing chief officers and making constitutional decisions. Councillors are elected for a four-year term. In most councils the office of mayor is a largely ceremonial, with the principal political office being “Leader of the Council”; in only a few councils there is a directly elected mayor. Local government employs 2.1 million people in England and 164,000 in Wales and is one of the largest employers in England and Wales . 58% of jobs in local government are in education (teachers and support staff), 14% in social services and 8% in corporate functions.
The diverse nature of England means that different localities often identify closely with specific regions. In response to the need for a regional dimension in policy development, 13 regional local government associations exist to promote the regional aspect within many policies and government programmes. They broadly follow the boundaries of the Government's Regional Offices. Apart from the South East of England, each region is represented by a single regional local government association. London is a special case, where there is both a directly elected Mayor and an elected assembly (GLA); the Mayor of London has devolved responsibility for a number of strategic policy issues, although this is more limited than for the devolved administrations in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .
Local Government in England & Wales is represented collectively by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Welsh LGA (WLGA). The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) and the Northern Ireland LGA (NILGA) represent local government in their respective areas. The LGA European & international unit provides the secretariat for UK local government on international bodies (CoR; CEMR; Congress of local and regional authorities in Europe; UCLG). Many individual local authorities or regional consortia have their own Brussels Offices.
Devolved (regional) government in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland
Devolution is creating an increasingly diverse and diverging public policy agenda across the UK . A number of powers have been assigned to the devolved (regional) administrations. However the Government-appointed Secretaries of State for Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland remain responsible for matters not devolved, and represent the home countries in the UK cabinet.
International relations and relations with the European Union remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government and the UK Parliament (Houses of Commons and Lords). However, the UK Government recognises that the devolved administrations will have an interest in international and European policy making in relation to devolved matters, notably where implementing action by the devolved administrations may be required, and therefore they may attend meetings of the Council of Ministers and participate in working groups. The devolved administrations are responsible for implementing international, ECHR and EU obligations which concern devolved matters.
The basic structure in each country is that there is an elected assembly ( Scottish Parliament , the National Assembly for Wales, or the Northern Ireland Assembly ) which has powers of appointment and scrutiny of the governing body ( Scottish Executive, the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Ireland Executive Committee). The Executive/Cabinet is led by a First Minister who is nominated by the elected assembly and in turn appoints the other Ministers.