The EU regions selected to participate in the new Network of Regional Hubs project (#RegHub) gathered on 31 January in Brussels for their very first meeting. In 2019 the Network will concentrate its work on three EU policy areas having significant repercussions at local and regional level, namely public procurement, air quality and cross-border health-care. The Regional Hubs network project is an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). It is meant to enable feedback from local and regional authorities about their experience in implementing EU legislation on the ground, with the ultimate aim of making EU law better and closer to the citizens.
The CoR has set up a pilot project consisting of a Network of "Regional Hubs" for EU policy implementation review. The initiative was taken up as one of the recommendations by the Subsidiarity Task Force established by the European Commission's President during the first half of 2018. It is part of the "new way of working" supported by the Task Force, not only for subsidiarity monitoring during the EU legislative stage (via the existing CoR's Subsidiarity Monitoring Network) but also during implementation.
Following a call for applications, and based on a set of specific criteria (geographical balance, commitment from the region, and experience in implementing EU policies) the CoR has selected a list of 20 hubs ("core group") and 17 "associated hubs" for the pilot phase (2019-2020) of the initiative. During those two years, the aim will be to test out the appropriate method to deliver implementation feedback on a selected number of EU policies.
Welcoming the representatives of the participating regions, CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz said: "The Regional Hubs project is an ambitious initiative that will show what 'active subsidiarity" concretely means. I'm happy to see that the pilot project is having a very promising start. We were impressed by the number of regions applying to take part and by the quality of their applications. However this project is a marathon, not a sprint. We now need to start working together with the ambition to turn this initiative into a permanent feedback system that will enable to better link the European level to the local one".
Michael Schneider (EPP/DE), State secretary of the Land of Saxony-Anhalt to the German Federal Government President of the CoR Subsidiarity Steering Group, welcomed the launch of the Network of Regional Hubs, which "will assess the implementation of EU legislation in practice. It can provide useful insights on the different policy areas where the density of EU legislation can be diminished. I expect the European Commission to make 'active subsidiarity' a key priority for its next mandate", he said.
In 2019, the Network will focus its work on three EU areas having a clear political interest for local and regional authorities and touching on their competence, namely public procurement, air quality and cross-border healthcare.
The first consultation will focus on public procurement, a key competence of local and regional public administrations. In this context, both the European Commission's DG GROW (Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) and the European Parliament's IMCO Committee (Internal Market and Consumer Protection) participated in the workshop to welcome the pilot project and express their main technical needs.
The political launch of the Regional Hubs pilot project will to take place during the 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities, in Bucharest on 14-15 March, in the presence of representatives of the participating regions. The objective is also to provide input to the European Commission's assessment of his better regulation policy, expected during the first quarter of 2019.
If successful, the pilot project will be operational from 2021 onwards and opened up to all EU regions willing to participate.
About two-third of EU legislation is implemented at local and regional level. As a result local and regional authorities have valuable first-hand experience in applying EU legislation, in close contact with local businesses, social partners, civil society and citizens. Through its opinions, the CoR formally shares the position of local and regional authorities on EU legislative proposals. There is nevertheless a need to make use of the knowledge of local and regional authorities at an earlier stage of the EU legislative process and benefit from their experiences in the implementation of EU legislation. As the institutional voice of regions and cities in the EU, the CoR is uniquely placed to collate the contributions of all local and regional authorities for that purpose.
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