On 14 November the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Karl-Heinz Lambertz, met with representations of EU regions in Brussels to present the new Network of Regional Hubs project (#RegHub) and discuss the selection procedure of the 20 participating regions for the pilot phase (2019-2020). In line with the recommendations of the Subsidiarity Task Force, the aim of the project is to provide feedback from local and regional authorities about the implementation of EU legislation on the ground, ultimately helping to make EU law better and closer to its citizens.
About two-third of EU legislation are 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. Nevertheless, there is a need to bring the knowledge of local and regional authorities both at an earlier stage of the EU legislative process but also their experiences in the implementation of EU legislation. As the formal voice of regions and cities in the EU and through its institutional role, the Committee is uniquely placed to collate the contributions of all local and regional authorities
This is why the CoR is setting up a pilot project consisting of a Network of "Regional hubs" (contact points) for EU policy implementation review. The initiative was taken up as one of the recommendations by the Subsidiarity Task Force set up by European Commission President Juncker during the first half of 2018. It is part of the "new way of working" advocated by the Task Force, not only for subsidiarity monitoring during the legislative stage (via the existing CoR's Subsidiarity Monitoring Network) but also during the implementation of EU legislation. The initiative was recently acknowledged in the European Commission's communication on "The principles of subsidiarity and proportionality: Strengthening their role in the EU's policymaking" published on 23 October,
Presenting the purpose of the project to the heads of regional offices in Brussels, President Lambertz said: "Everyone working with and for the EU must strive to improve the quality of its laws, so that they positively improve the lives of every citizen. This especially requires the knowledge and experience of local and regional authorities given they are on the front-line, delivering the EU and its policies in their communities. This pilot project – the result of an inclusive process led by the European Commission - is part of that effort. To renew Europe, we need to ensure that even more regions feel that their voices matter and do influence the EU and, ultimately, bringing it closer to its citizens".
The initiative will contribute to better assess the implementation of EU policies, ultimately allowing the EU legislator to improve existing legislation and prepare new legislation.
During the pilot phase of the project (2019-2020), the CoR will consult 20 selected regions to test out the appropriate methodology to deliver result-oriented and quality-focus implementation feedback on a selected number of EU policies (e.g. public procurement, climate change, environmental policy, cohesion policy).
A call for applications for the pilot phase was sent out on 19 October 2018 and will close on 30 November 2018.
The selection of the 20 regions will be based on three criteria: geographical balance, political and administrative commitment, and experience in implementing EU policies. The term "region" should be understood in the broadest sense as any territorial authority implementing EU policy below the national level, and including provinces, departments, Länder, counties, metropolitan areas, large cities or groups of smaller ones, and cross-border territories such as Euroregions.
The 20 selected regions for the pilot phase will be announced in mid-December. They will be invited to participate in a first workshop to take place in Brussels on 31 January 2019.
The Austrian Presidency of the EU is organising a conference on "Subsidiarity as a building principle of the European Union" on 15-16 November 2018 in Bregenz, Austria, that will provide an opportunity to further discuss the Task Force report and consider how to take its recommendations forward.
The political launch of the Regional Hubs pilot project is expected to take place on the occasion of the European Summit of Regions and Cities to take place in Bucharest on 14-15 March 2019.
If successful, the pilot project will be operational from 2021 onwards and opened up to all EU regions willing to participate.
Follow the initiative on social media using #RegHub and #EfficientEU
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