In the framework of the debates that feed into the Conference on the Future of Europe, members of the CoR commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs – CIVEX – discussed on equality as a building block of European democracy. They argued that local and regional authorities play an important role in building up an inclusive democracy and equality because they are the level of governance closest to citizens and can have an influence on these issues. The CIVEX commission also adopted an opinion on better EU law-making emphasising that the territorial dimension of EU policies must be bolstered and that local and regional authorities should be involved in every stage of the EU decision-making process, notably by using the RegHub implementation reports as a tool for examining the legislative proposals.
Two days after the European Citizens Panel of the Conference on the Future
of Europe gathered in Strasbourg to discuss
"European democracy, Values and rights, rule of law and security"
, the EU value of equality was debated by CoR members of
the CIVEX commission. The debate "equality as building block of European democracy"
focussed on how local and regional authorities can promote inclusive
democracy in their constituencies, allowing their citizens to enjoy equal
opportunities and participate fully in public life, feeling safe and free
from fear of any kind of discrimination.
The potential of LRAs to improve the functioning of democracy by making it
more inclusive is significant, as they interact with their constituents on
a daily basis, in places where their everyday life happens and where,
ultimately, equality of all citizens is enforced or neglected. In this
respect, the cooperation with civil society organisations and the
involvement of young people are important assets.
, former member of the European Commission,
member of the CoR High Level Group on European Democracy
who was speaking at the debate, commented:
"Social exclusion affects one out of five citizens in the EU. This is
the main driver for inequalities in our societies. The EU Treaties and
the Charter of Fundamental Rights are very explicit about our values,
one them being equality. But, so far, EU policies are not very relevant
in this regard. The lack of inclusiveness is at the origin of a
negative feedback loop, between social exclusion and political
The lower are the levels of political participation, the worse are the
quality standards of our democracies.
I would like the Conference to support that the EU must strengthen its
capacity to act in those areas, notably by
better associating local and regional authorities."
, President of Young European Federalists – JEF Europe, added:
"The idea of the EU being a union of values has been harmed in recent
years. The Conference is therefore the necessary opportunity to commit
to a Rule of Law mechanism and Fundamental Rights to protect rights of
anyone, in particular minorities. But there are other angles of
striving for equality in the Conference too: How can we for instance
speak of equality when during European elections, one citizen can vote
by mail ballot, and the other cannot? JEF Europe wants equality for
all, in a Conference for all and is happy to support regional
authorities in achieving that goal.”
Speaking about gender equality,
Concepción Andreu Rodríguez (ES/PES)
, President of the Regional Government of La Rioja, CoR rapporteur on
"A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025"
“For a long time women have been a token presence in legislative
assemblies. Politics in Europe is still in the hands of men and we need
to change it. Let us change the focus, legislate and work for equality.
No one can stay out of democratic processes, let alone women. We
therefore call on the European Commission to facilitate women’s access
to regional and local electoral processes”.
The CoR, through the mobilisation of its members in the Conference on the
Future of Europe and beyond, can facilitate and encourage initiatives
aiming to promote inclusive democracy and the principle of equality, as
well as the exchange of best practices. Local and regional authorities
should be recognised as strategic partners in the design, implementation
and monitoring of the various strategies, thus bringing to light local and
regional differences and contributing to the adoption of appropriate
measures. In this respect, the CoR has launched together with the
International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) and the city of Gdańsk, the
Paweł Adamowicz Award,
to be given to a city leader, civic leader or organisation working at local
or regional levels to promote freedom and solidarity, equality and
non-discrimination. The award ceremony will take place at the CoR's
Since the Conference is a unique opportunity to rethink and reform the way
EU legislation is made, the CIVEX members also adopted during the meeting
the draft opinion
"Better regulation: Joining forces to make better laws"
. CoR rapporteur
Piero Mauro Zanin (IT/EPP),
President of the Regional Council of Friuli-Venezia Giulia said:
"Local and Regional Authorities know that recovery and growth is too
often undermined by administrative and regulatory burdens. LRAs and the
CoR can actively contribute to a “Better regulation” system through
simplification. Better regulation must incorporate multi-level
governance: the involvement of all authorities with legislative power,
responsible for implementing EU rules. This is a prerequisite for high
quality legislation. Including strategic foresight into the
policy-shaping process will be fundamental, and it will be also useful
to further strengthen the RegHub network. Its consultations create an
environment for the exchange of good practices, making RegHub a better
regulation instrument itself".
The opinion proposes ways to put this territorial approach into
practise by involving the CoR, like
the continuation of the work of CoR rapporteurs of the CoR in the
, the collection of input from local and regional authorities such as with
the network of RegHubs
that could be activated for directives and regulations on which
consultations and reviews have been organised in order to support the
implementation of these texts. Moreover, the CoR
considers that the Commission's public consultations should be publicised
more widely, including through the LRAs' with a view to collecting requests
and input from end users of pieces of legislation that have territorial
impact like National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) and the Green
Deal objectives. The opinion will be adopted in CoR Plenary on 1-2
The CoR adopted opinions on the five communications published by the
European Commission under the Union of Equality:
Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, rapporteur: Concepción Andreu Rodríguez, adopted in October 2020
EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025, rapporteur: Yoomi Renström (SE/PES), adopted in May 2021
EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation, rapporteur-general: Jácint Horváth (HU/PES), adopted in February 2021
LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025, rapporteur: Kate Feeney (IE/Renew Europe) tabled for adoption at the
plenary session in October 2021
Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities
rapporteur-general: Daniela Ballico (IT/ECR), adopted in May 2021
Latest CoR opinions on democracy and fundamental rights:
European democracy action plan
, rapporteur Aleksandra Dulkiewicz (PL/EPP), adopted June 2021
Strategy to strengthen the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental
Rights in the EU, rapporteur Jean-Luc Vanraes, (BE/ Renew Europe), adopted in June 2021.
The CoR as EU body has adopted a gender strategy in 2018
that is being updated on regular basis.
In March 2018, the CoR Bureau
adopted a “no male-only panel policy for own, hosted and co-organised
events and conferences.”.
In the opinion A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025,
the CoR “
asks the EU institutions, including the Committee of the Regions, to
adopt codes of conduct favouring the participation of women and men on
equal terms with regard to composition and leadership positions, with
the ultimate aim being gender parity between CoR members."
Strategy for a gender balance in Members’ participation in the CoR,
the CoR Bureau recommends “
(…) to take account of gender balance when nominating members and
alternates in order to reach gender parity at the level of the
membership as a whole."
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