All UK members of the CoR are elected politicians representing local authorities or the devolved bodies of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London. The Local Government Association (LGA) is the secretariat to the UK Delegation to the CoR.
Appointing the UK delegation
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 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; 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 that 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”.
Once a year, the full UK Delegation meets in London to draw up its strategy, with both full and alternate members entitled to vote. The EU Representative to the UK and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government address the Delegation.
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.