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“The Regions in the future of the European Union” Prof. Dr. D. ANTONIO BAR CENDON Professor of Constitutional Law University of Valencia Spain.

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Presentation on theme: "“The Regions in the future of the European Union” Prof. Dr. D. ANTONIO BAR CENDON Professor of Constitutional Law University of Valencia Spain."— Presentation transcript:

1 “The Regions in the future of the European Union” Prof. Dr. D. ANTONIO BAR CENDON Professor of Constitutional Law University of Valencia Spain

2 Contents: The framework of the regional question in the EU The expansion of regionalism in Europe The Regions and the EU at present The Regions in the debate on the future of Europe: Different approaches Conclusion: The role of Regions in the future of Europe

3 The framework of the regional question in the EU The need to improve the democratic legitimacy and transparency of the Union and its institutions, in order to bring them closer to the citizens (Declaration 23 on the future of the Union, T. Nice) The need to improve the efficiency of public management: Decentralization The need to protect and give representation to the different cultural national and regional identities: the nationalist factor

4 The expansion of regionalism in Europe (1) “Prehistory” of regionalism: –Cons. Federal Germany, 1919 –Cons. Federal Austria, 1929 –Cons. II Republic Spain, 1931: “Estado integral” –Cons. Italy, 1947: el “Stato regionale” –Cons. Federal Germany, 1948

5 The expansion of regionalism in Europe (2) Constitutional reforms towards federalism and regionalism: –Belgium: Federal State, reforms of 1970, 1980, 1988 and 1993 –( France: Regions established by Law of 5 July 1972; reforms by Constitutional Law of 28 Mar.2003) –Portugal: autonomy for Azores and Madeira, Cons –Spain: Estado de las Autonomías, Cons –Finland: autonomy for Åland (1922), Cons –U.K.: autonomy for Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland, 1999

6 The expansion of regionalism in Europe (3) Other steps on European regionalism: –1951: Council of European Municipalities and Regions –1957: Conference of Local and Regional Authorities (Council of Europe) –1971: Association of European Border Regions –1973: Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions –1980: Framework Agreement for Transborder Cooperation (1982: West Alps; 1982: Jura; 1983: Pyrenees; 1991: Galicia-Norte de Portugal) –1986: Assembly of European Regions –1994: Council of European Municipalities and Regions (Council of Europe)

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9 The EU and the Regions Reforms by the T. of Maastricht: –Committee of the Regions (Arts TEC) –Representatives “at ministerial level” at the meetings of the Council (Art. 203 TEC) –Principles of “subsidiarity” and “proportionality” (Art. 5 TEC) –European Regional Development Fund (Art. 160, 161, 162 TEC) –Economic and Social Cohesion Fund (Arts. 158, 159, 161 TCE)

10 The Regions in the TEC (1) Preamble: “Anxious to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions” Art. 158: “In particular, the Community shall aim at reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions or islands, including rural areas ”

11 The Regions in the TEC (2) Principle of subsidiarity ( Art. 5 ): “In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, only if and insofar as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, …, be better achieved by the Community ” Principle of proportionality ( Art. 5 ): “Any action by the Community shall not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of this Treaty”

12 The Committee of the Regions Consultative body (Arts ): 222 representatives of of regional and local bodies ( T.Nice: “ who either hold a regional or local authority electoral mandate or are politically accountable to an elected assembly” ) –appointed by the Council acting unanimously on proposals from the respective Member States –for four-year term, renewable –Spain: 21 members (17 repres. CCAA + 4 repres. Municipalities) –( T.Nice: 344 members; Spain: 21) The CoR members are completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the general interest of Community The CoR is consulted by the Council or by the Commission where the Treaty so provides The Council or the Commission set the Committee, for the submission of its opinion, a time-limit which may not be less than one month The CoR may be consulted by the European Parliament It may also issue an opinion on its own initiative

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15 Different concepts on the role of the Regions in the future of the EU An ample perspective: requests of the AER A radical view: requests of the Intergroup “Nations without State” The view of the “Constitutional Regions” The institutional perspective: –The requests of the CoR –The requests of the EP –The proposals by the Commission The view of the European Convention

16 Requests of the AER Recognition of the regional structure as a part of the national identity in the general principles of the EU Explicit incorporation of the Regions in the description of the principle of subsidiarity Participation of Regional Parliaments in the mechanism for the control of the respect of the the principle of subsidiarity (Participation also in a future body representing National Parliaments –Second Chamber) Right of referral to the CJ to defend their own powers Right to be consulted at an earlier stage in the decision-making process Extension of the jurisdiction of the Regions in matters of the application of Community Law Strengthening of the role of the Committee of the Regions: giving its opinions a binding force giving it the right of referral to the CJ giving the “Constitutional Regions” a special role within it

17 Requests of the Intergroup ‘Nations without State’ ( ) Scotland, Wales, Flanders, Vall é e d ’ Aoste, Catalonia, Basque Country, Galiza, Andaluc í a, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Valencia Fairer Parliamentary representation: Regions ought to be the electoral units for the purposes of election to the European Parliament Broader conception of Subsidiarity: the mutual definition of powers between states and constitutional entities needs to be reflected in the constitutional design of the European Union Constitutional pluralism in the EU: the constitutions of the states, and those of the constitutional entities within them, cannot be cancelled or overridden by legislative action on the EU level A strongly decentralised conception of the EU: 'confederation' at least as appropriate a term for it as 'federation ‘ Possibility of internal enlargement: to achieve national independence within the European framework The Committee of the Regions should reflect the relative populations of its constituencies, not that of the MS Languages: The same legislative rights should be given to the languages of the stateless nations as for the official language of the Member State

18 Requests of the ‘Constitutional Regions’ ( ) Bavaria, Catalonia, North Rhine-Westphalia, Salzburg, Scotland, Wallonia, Flanders To participate directly in the preparatory work for the Intergovernmental Conference of 2004 The role and setting of the regions in the European policy-making process and the institutional framework must be added as a theme to be debated There should be a review of the division of political responsibilities between the EU, on the one hand, and the Member States and their Regions, on the other. (They favour a flexible solution which would not hinder the European integration process) Right to initiate proceedings in the CJ to defend their powers and competences The Committee of the Regions should get the status of a fully-fledged EU institution with political powers going beyond a purely consultative role and with the right to institute proceedings in the CJ National and Regional Parliaments could be better involved in the European policy process and their interaction with the European Parliament could be improved The EU has to give way to the involvement of the constitutional regions in the decision-making process including the Council

19 Requests of the CoR as regards its own role Status as a fully-fledged Institution Right of referral to the CJ: to defend their own powers to defend the principle of subsidiarity Strengthening its powers and competences: Right to veto in some of the cases of compulsory consultation To participate in the codecision process in the 10 cases of compulsory consultation Codecison role in programs of transborder cooperation Need to justify deviations with respect to CoR opinions in cases of compulsory consultation To extend compulsory consultation to every subject under regional or municipal power Right to address the Commission, orally and in writing To monitor the observance of the principle of subsidiarity

20 Requests of the CoR as regards the role of the Regions The CoR as the sole means for the participation of the Regions in the decision-making process at the EU level Acknowledgement of the role of the Regions in the implementation of the EU policies: subsidiarity Definition of a process of consultation by the Commission to the Regions at an early stage of the adoption of the EU policies affecting the Regions Right to initiate proceedings before the CJ to defend their powers and competences Refusal of the right of the Regions with legislative power to constitute a Second Chamber (within or without the CoR)

21 [Positive] Proposals of the E.P. (Res. Role of the Regional Authorities..., ) Definition of a process of direct participation of the Regions in the preparation and adoption of the EU policies To define precisely the exercise, application and monitoring of the subsidiarity principle To strengthen the internal mechanisms of cooperation with and participation of the Regions in the formulation of the will of the State and on the implementation EU law To strengthen the cooperation between Regional Parliaments and the European Parliament through the C. on Regional Policy To give the CoR the right to initiate proceedings before the CJ to defend its powers and competences

22 [Limitative] Proposals of the E.P. (Rep. Napolitano, ) The right to initiate proceedings before the CJ will only be realised under the authority of the State concerned, according to its national legislation The right to self-determination of the territorial entities cannot be acknowledged No distinction must be established between Regions: all territorial entities shall have the same role in the EU process The EP is the only representative of the peoples and citizens of Europe: –There shall not be a Second Chamber for the Regions –Regional constituencies for the election of the EP may be established The CoR is the only representative of the local and regional entities: it cannot be superseded by any other body that does not represent the whole of the territorial entities

23 Proposals of the Commission’s White Paper on ‘European Governance’ ( ) Goal: “Reaching out to citizens through regional and local democracy…” The Commission should: –establish a more systematic dialogue with European and national associations of regional and local government at an early stage of policy shaping –setting up tripartite target-based contracts between Member States, regions and localities, on one hand, and the Commission on the other The Committee of the Regions should: –prepare exploratory reports in advance of Commission proposals Member States should: –improve the involvement of local and regional actors in EU policy-making –promote the use of contractual arrangements with their regions and localities

24 Draft EU Constitution [‘Penélope’] by Prodi, Barnier and Vitorino ( ) It is not very different –to this respect– from the drafts produced so far by the European Convention Peculiarity: “Assembly of the Regions”: –consultative body (replacement for the CoR) –empowered to initiate proceedings before the CJ: for annulment for infringement of the principle of subsidiarity

25 The regional question in the works of the European Convention Reports of the Working Groups: –W.G. 1: Subsidiarity –W.G. 4: National Parliaments –W.G. 5: Complementary competences –W.G. 9: Simplification of EU law –W.G. 11: Social Europe Preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty: –Draft Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality –Draft Protocol on the role of National Parliaments in the EU

26 Proposals of the European Convention Preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty: –The regional structure as a part of the national identity of the Member States –The need of a permanent dialogue with the associations representing civil society (including Regions) Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality: –The Commission must justify its proposals with regard to the principle of subsidiarity: including impact on regional legislation –National Parliaments should establish internal procedures to consult with Regional Parliaments –The CoR shall be empowered to initiate proceedings before the CJ

27 Conclusions (1) Contradictions between the regionalist discourse and the proposals made for the reform of the EU The EU is –and will continue to be– a union of States Complexity of the regional structure: –Different forms of territorial organization –High number of Regions –Different kind of Regions –Many other territorial entities A uniform treatment for the territorial entities has been –implicitly– adopted

28 Conclusions (2) A uniform treatment for the territorial entities : –The CoR as the only means for the participation and representation of all the territorial entities –Strengthening of the CoR’s powers: including consultative function, referral to CJ, … –No establishment of a Chamber of Regions The management of the regional question is referred to the Member States jurisdiction Strengthening of the direct dialogue between the Commission and the territorial entities Promotion of the cooperation between Regional Parliaments and the European Parliament The presence of Regional representation within the national delegations in the Council and in other bodies is foreseen

29 “The Regions in the future of the European Union” The End


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