European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans addressed the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) focusing on the reflection of the future direction of the EU. The discussions with the local and regional leaders, concentrated especially on one of the Commission's scenarios of "Doing less more efficiently" under which some policy areas could be devolved or returned to the Member States.
The debate came just a few days after the first meeting of the Task Force on Subsidiarity and Proportionality and "Doing Less More Efficiently
", which is composed of three CoR members and three members of national parliaments. Led by First Vice-President Timmermans, the Task Force is working to identify what responsibilities the EU can offload back to national governments, and consider ways to better involve regional and local authorities in EU policy making.
Welcoming Commissioner Timmermans, the CoR President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, expressed his appreciation for the launch of the Task Force and reiterated the CoR's objective of work: " Our Committee does not want to focus on deciding which level of government will be deprived from its competences and which will receive new ones. It is rather about working better together, in the interest of the whole Union. The Committee's conviction is clear: Europe will work better by associating its cities and regions and by actively supporting regional development, in particular by preserving the EU's cohesion policy ".
Referring to the main challenges the EU is currently confronted with, including citizens' feeling of insecurity, immigration and the "challenge of tribalism and nationalism", Commissioner Timmermans stressed that solutions to these problems cannot just be looked at national and European level. " The Task Force has to look mainly at three things: are the procedures we have in place today to ensure compliance with subsidiarity and proportionality working well enough?; what are the areas where Europe should do less and leave to national, regional or local authorities ? What are the areas where Europe should do more?; and how do we structurally engage in dialogue with local and regional authorities in EU law-making and implementation? "
"Subsidiarity political red card"
Linked to this debate all five political groups of the CoR have tabled a resolution for the second day of the plenary session, considering a "Subsidiarity red card" to the European Commission's proposal to divert resources allocated to the EU's cohesion policy 2014-2020 to support a programme aimed at supporting structural reforms in the Member States. In the draft resolution, the political groups reject the reasoning given by the Commission to justify compliance with the subsidiarity principle, since the objective of cohesion policy is not to support structural reforms in the Member States but reduce economic and social disparities between EU regions.
Note to the editors:
European Commission President Juncker created a Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and "Doing Less More Efficiently" in November 2017 as a follow-up to the White Paper on the Future of Europe and his State of the Union address. The Task Force is chaired by the Commission's First Vice-President Timmermans, and is currently composed of three members from the national Parliaments and three members from the CoR. The CoR is represented by its President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, the President of the CoR Subsidiarity Steering Group, Michael Schneider, and the First Vice-President of the CoR commission in charge of institutional affairs, François Decoster.
The Task Force will meet on a monthly basis from January to July 2018. Following its constitutive session on 25 January, the Task Force will meet on 23 February to identify ways to better involve regional and local authorities in the preparation and the follow up of Union policies . Members of the Task Force are expected to deliver their final report to President Juncker by mid-July.
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