Highlighting the role of local and regional authorities in economic policies and structural reforms, which are coordinated through the European Semester
Making proposals on how to improve European Economic governance: A Code of Conduct would help to ensure that local and regional authorities are better involved in the relevant steps of the European Semester process of economic governance at EU level and in all Member States. A call for a code of conduct has already been made in several CoR resolutions and opinions
Develop the basic structure and core content of the Code of Conduct
The idea of a Code of Conduct for the involvement of the LRAs in the European Semester was endorsed by an EP Resolution on the 2016 European Semester, adopted on 26 October 2016; the Rapporteur was Alfred Sant (S&D/MT)
In his intervention at the ECON Meeting on 1 March 2017, when the draft opinion on the CoC was adopted, Mr Sant stated that "I have no doubt that the way forward is to insist on the adoption of a Code of Conduct for the better involvement of regional and local authorities in the European Semester".
Although not considering the Code of Conduct as strictly necessary, the European Commission is more open to the CoR's argument of involving local and regional authorities in the EU economic governance and to analyse the uneven territorial impact of EU and national policies. This new awareness emerges from both the Commission's follow-up of the CoR Opinion of November 2017 and its 2018 Annual Growth Survey.
In its position on the Commission's proposal on re-financing the SRSP and broadening its scope (adopted on 4 July 2018), the EP proposed to also give the programme the goal "to support the involvement and consultation of regional and local authorities in the preparation and implementation of structural reform measures to a degree commensurate with the powers and responsibilities of those regional and local authorities within the constitutional and administrative structure of each Member State".
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that the LRAs – in spite of their broad powers and competences, their role in the implementation of over 40% of the Country-specific recommendations and their responsibility for over 50% of public investment – are insufficiently involved in the European Semester, notably in the design and implementation of the National Reform Programmes;
- notes that the European Semester builds on analyses that do not systematically account for a territorial differentiation of challenges and opportunities within Member States, due to regions and cities' different starting points and endowments of resources, including institutional and administrative capacity of the public administration;
- proposes a Code of Conduct to give a territorial dimension to the European Semester - both at the analytical level (by enriching the Annual Growth Survey, National Reform Programmes and Country-specific Recommendations with analyses of territorial trends and the territorial impact of EU policies) and at the operational level (by providing for a stronger and systematic involvement of the local and regional authorities, building on the approaches of partnership and multilevel governance);
- stresses that the implementation of the country-level provisions of the Code of Conduct should be left to Member States, to respect existing differences between Member States' constitutional layouts and sharing of competencies between levels of government; proposes that the Code of Conduct be implemented at country level over a time span of two years, to allow time to adapt it to their specific contexts;
- stresses that the Code of Conduct should be part of a better governance approach, avoiding unnecessary administrative burdens on local and regional authorities.