On 1 February, the meeting of the CIVEX Commission demonstrated once again the commitment of its members to bring forward the CoR's work on safeguarding democracy, freedom, security and justice, by appointing three rapporteurs to tackle issues of immense importance in today's society: Reinforcing democracy and integrity of elections, the Revised Schengen Area Governance, and on extending the list of EU crimes to hate speech and hate crime.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for fruitful exchanges on the opinions currently in preparation, in relation to the countries which are among the closest to the European Union, and not only in geographical terms. This specifically concerns the opinions on Strengthening the EU-UK relationship at subnational level and remedying the territorial impact of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, and on the Enlargement Package 2021.
The thematic debate on the Conference on the Future of Europe and the territorial dimension of European democracy presented yet another opportunity to further shape the CoR's contribution to this process. While the final stretch of the envisaged timeline of the Conference is quickly approaching, efforts need to be made to already look beyond spring 2022 and build on the outcomes of the Conference, with cities and regions to play a pivotal role. Furthermore, the debate on democracy and elections showed the importance of renewing democracy in the EU, of the need to deliver for citizens at the local and regional level and of broad democratic participation.
The meeting also saw the formal launch of the Decentralization Index, an extension to the Division of Powers Portal which has been growing for almost 10 years now. With the addition of the Index, which provides a look into decentralisation on political, administrative, and fiscal level, the DoP Portal further deepens the wealth of information relevant for devising policies with a local and regional dimension.