The voice of one million regional and local elected politicians will be heard in the process of drafting and evaluating EU legislation and contribute to find concrete answers to citizens' concerns
The first plenary meeting of the Fit for Future (F4F) Platform chaired by European Commission’s Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič took place with three CoR members Mark Speich (DE/EPP), Anne Karjalainen (FI/PSE) and Ulrika Landergren (SE/RE). The F4F platform is the main instrument of the Better regulation agenda of the European Commission that aims at reducing unnecessary administrative burdens to citizens and businesses and to help make sure that EU legislation is future proof, more digital and better placed to tackle future challenges. The local and regional level of government, which is the closest to the citizens, is represented in the meetings of the F4F platform in the early drafting and the evaluation phases of EU legislation. This is the one of the achievements of the CoR work in the Task force on Subsidiarity and Proportionality.
The European Committee of the Regions is present in the Government group of the F4F platform with three of its six CoR commission chairs alongside with 27 government representatives from EU Member States. The CoR network of Regional Hubs (RegHubs) which gathers information from cities and regions through targeted consultations and compiles it into implementation reports of selected EU policies is one of the sub-groups of the platform.
This first plenary meeting of the platform provided an opportunity for a preliminary discussion regarding topics for the 2021 Annual Work Programme, which will be finalised by the end of the year. Further exchanges took also place on how the Platform will work in practice and its rules of procedure.
Mark Speich (DE/EPP), Secretary of State for Federal, European and International Affairs for the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia and chair of CoR commission on Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) on the new F4F platform: "The experiences and expertise of European regions and cities must play a key role in the continuous improvement of EU-legislation. I am pleased that the new Fit4Future Platform now provides the opportunity to bring in the perspective of the local and regional authorities. Citizens' expectations of the Fit for Future platform are very high. People finally want to see the practical results of many political announcements. That is why they also have a great interest in what we do and what we achieve. We will have to deliver at the end of our mandate. The European regions and the European Committee of the Regions are doing their best to meet these expectations.”
The topics discussed as regards the 2021 Annual Wok Programme for which the direct experience of local and regional authorities can help identify possible bottlenecks and specific problems in the implementation of Union law were: the reduction of administrative burden as regards labelling, authorisation and permitting procedures, for example in the areas of agriculture or health, state aid or infrastructure; the identification of EU rules that create incoherence, unnecessary complexity and overlaps; the Simplification of reporting obligations by project beneficiaries where the ‘once only’ principle could apply; the support of businesses in establishing digital solutions and the modernisation of the public sector.
Ulrika Landergren (SE/RE), Councillor in the Swedish municipality of Kungsbacka and chair of the CoR commission for Natural Resources (NAT) committed to contribute to the topics proposed by the European Commission: "Regions and cities are at the forefront in implementing EU laws. The CoR is therefore well placed to help the Platform identify legislation that could benefit from more digitalisation and simplification. The same goes for highlighting EU rules regarding issues with reporting, labelling, authorisation and permitting procedures".
Anne Karjalainen (FI/PSE), Kerava City Councillor, chair of the CoR commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) added: "The hands-on approach by the European Commission, which translates its commitment to promote an active subsidiarity approach, is very much appreciated. The CoR will mobilise its networks, and to start with the RegHubs platform, to provide the Fit-for-Future-process with territorial legitimacy and expertise from the ground. And we should take care that the trees of discussing detailed legislation do not hide the forest of an inclusive process which leads to legislation fit for tackling the EU's main challenges of socially just green and digital transitions".
This F4F platform meeting will be followed up by the vote of a resolution on the EC 2021 work programme and a debate where Vice-President Šefčovič will present the EC Work programme 2021 and the first EU strategic foresight on 10 December in the CoR Plenary.
The Fit for Future Platform was launched in 11 May 2020. It is a high-level expert group that help the European Commission in its efforts to simplify laws and to reduce related unnecessary administrative burden and costs. The European Commission will take into account the Platform’s opinions to ensure EU laws help, not hinder, people and business, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises. The work of the Platform will focus on topics highlighted in an annual work programme. For each topic, the Platform will gather data, evidence and input on potential for simplifying and reducing unnecessary costs of specific EU laws without undermining the achievement of their objectives. The Platform will then issue opinions taking into account also digitalisation opportunities and legislative density. These efforts are part of Better regulation agenda of the European Commission.
The Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and Doing Less More Efficiently was set up by the European Commission in November 2017 with following objectives:
- make recommendations on how to better apply the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality
- identify policy areas where work could be re-delegated or definitely returned to EU Member States
- find ways to better involve regional and local authorities in EU policy making and delivery
The Task Force was chaired by the Commission first vice-President Frans Timmermans and composed of 3 members of the CoR, 3 members of the European
Parliament (but the European
Parliament finally hasn't nominated any member) and three members from national Parliaments
(designated by the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of
Parliaments of the EU – COSAC).
The Task Force delivered its final report in 2018 called "The new way of working" that builds upon the concept of "active subsidiary" which means to ensure that the input of the local and regional levels is fully taken into consideration in order to ensure there is adequate EU added-value at all stages of developing, adopting and implementing EU legislation.
The CoR network of Regional Hubs (RegHub) is a network of European regions and cities that evaluates the implementation of EU policies. The network currently consists of 36 dedicated 'contact points'. These are members of staff of a local or regional administration who collect technical feedback from stakeholders about their 'on the ground' implementation experience of existing EU policies. The network thus adds the local and regional perspective to EU policymaking and enlarges its evidence base.
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