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C 22/4 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 24.1.

2000

Resolution of the Committee of the Regions: ‘For a European Constitutional Framework’

(2001/C 22/02)

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS,

having regard to the presidency conclusions of the Cologne and Helsinki European Councils confirming
the intention to convene an intergovernmental conference with the task of resolving the institutional
issues which were not settled in Amsterdam, and which must be concluded prior to enlargement;

having regard to the decision of the Cologne and Tampere European Councils to draw up a charter of
fundamental rights of the European Union;

having regard to the report by the group of experts chaired by Mr Dehaene;

having regard to the European Commission’s contribution to preparations for the intergovernmental
conference, dated 10 November 1999, and its opinion of 26 January 2000 entitled Adapting the
institutions to make a success of enlargement (COM(2000) 34 final);

having regard to the European Commission’s communication of 12 July 2000 on a basic treaty for the
European Union (COM(2000) 434 final;

having regard to its opinion of 16 February 2000 on the process of drawing up a Charter of Fundamental
Rights of the European Union (CdR 327/99 fin) (1);

having regard to its opinion of 17 February 2000 on the 2000 Intergovernmental Conference (CdR
53/99 fin) (2);

having regard to the European Parliament resolution (A5-0086/2000) on the proposals for the
intergovernmental conference, adopted on 13 April 2000;

having regard to the draft report of the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs on
the constitutionalisation of the Treaties (PE 286.949);

having regard to the decision taken by its Bureau on 10 March 1999, under the fifth paragraph of
Article 265 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, to draw up a resolution on a European
constitution and to direct the Commission for Institutional Affairs to undertake the preparatory work;

having regard to the draft resolution adopted on 9 June 2000 by the working party on a European
constitution (Commission for Institutional Affairs);

having regard to the draft resolution: For a European Constitutional Framework (CdR 144/2000 rev. 1,
rapporteur: Mrs Bresso, I/PES) adopted by the Commission for Institutional Affairs on 5 July 2000;

whereas the legitimacy of the European Union is based on both States and peoples;

whereas the current democratic deficit is bound to increase following enlargement if institutional
problems are not tackled;

whereas radical changes have occurred in recent years, and whereas the European Union is currently
undergoing institutional reform,

adopted the following resolution at its 35th plenary session of 20 and 21 September 2000 (meeting of
20 September).

(1) OJ C 156, 6.6.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 156, 6.6.2000, p. 6.
24.1.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 22/5

The Committee of the Regions 9. stresses that making the institutions more democratic
means making the decision-making processes more
democratic, and that this can only be achieved by
involving citizens and their elected representatives, par-
1. considers that the institutional reforms currently in ticularly at regional and local level;
progress will have a profound influence on the future of
the European Union;

2. thinks that it must look more closely at current processes 10. highlights the urgent need for decisions on institutional
and at their inevitable implications for local and regional reform in the run-up to EU enlargement. The reforms
authorities; and that, in particular, it must examine the must be thorough and immediate. There must be definite
potential role of these authorities in the framework rules which enable the Union to rise to the challenges
which ensues from these processes, both within the EU ahead and guarantee the peace, security and prosperity
institutions and with regard to the public; which integration has brought to Europe over the last
fifty years. Enlargement, however, cannot and must not
be delayed, and indeed the candidate countries should be
involved in the reform discussions.
3. thinks that it should discuss its analysis with the European
institutions, and especially the European Parliament, in
the best possible conditions, with each respecting their
specific roles; and considers, in this context, that regular
contacts between its Commission for Institutional Affairs In this context:
and the EP Constitutional Affairs Committee on insti-
tutional issues are essential;

11. stresses that the bigger the Union, the greater the need
4. notes that the work of the current intergovernmental for a clarity which the Treaties currently do not provide
conference and the work on the framing of an EU charter and which is now being demanded in various quarters;
of fundamental rights are related;

5. regrets that it has been only marginally involved in the
procedures for setting up the two relevant bodies and in 12. thinks that Europe has a heritage of shared values which
the scheduled consultations; and highlights the lack of must be safeguarded and protected by means of an
consistency on the part of those who advocate ever instrument which guarantees their inviolability;
greater involvement of Europe’s citizens, yet overlook the
advisory role of the representatives of the authorities
which are closest to them. If the Union is to be built by
the people for the people, the role of local and regional
authorities throughout Europe becomes fundamental; 13. considers that major joint initiatives such as the single
European currency already entail a relinquishment of
national sovereignty;
6. considers that the current institutional reforms provide
an opportunity not only to clarify the application of the
subsidiarity principle at EU level and the instruments for
monitoring compliance with it, but also to safeguard it 14. stresses that the historic changes under way require
by ensuring a clear delineation of competences within the greater transparency, not only on the part of the insti-
European Union, based on a partnership of equality and tutions, but also in the methods for revising the Treaties;
cooperation between the spheres of government;

7. thinks that the nature of the current changes, and the
course they should take in the future, need to be 15. notes that many countries are debating the case for giving
considered; the EU a constitutional framework that guarantees shared
values, sets out key principles, enshrines those rules
which are essential for the democratic operation of
European society and the rule of law, and delineates
8. reiterates the need for a more democratic and more competences within the European Union; this would be
transparent European Union, as already stated in its seen by many as a means of establishing solid and lasting
opinion on the intergovernmental conference; foundations for the European venture;
C 22/6 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 24.1.2000

16. stresses that different Member States have different tra- the dialogue on EU matters in local authorities, regions
ditions on this matter: some of them have written and Member States; and calls on all local and regional
constitutions while others do not; in some, the division authorities to play an active part in this process;
of powers is based on permanent dialogue and nego-
tiation; in some, regions have extensive powers while in
others they do not;
23. notes that more effective application of the subsidiarity
principle is central to the institutional problem facing the
17. deems it vital to promote discussions on the future of the Union today and that it will fight for it to be safeguarded
Union in all Member States and among local and regional by a clear delimitation of the competences of the
authorities, in order to explain what should be meant by a European Union, as well as by judicial means;
European constitutional framework and what advantages
and disadvantages this might bring;

24. stresses its wish to play an active part in the debate
18. stresses in this context that a European constitutional launched by the European Commission on governance
framework would be additional to the national consti- with a view to the drafting of a white paper, re-affirming
tution in those countries which have one, and must be the importance of local and regional authorities in this
enshrined in a treaty by the Member States; new future form of government;

19. considers that the term ‘European constitutional frame-
work’ would provide a strong point of reference which 25. deeply regrets that the institutional proposals for reform
the public could understand if the document indicated of the Committee of the Regions only regard the number
clearly and concisely: of members, rather than better exploitation of the COR’s
potential, too;

— the values and principles on which the EU is based,
including respect for the fundamental rights and
freedoms of the people, cultural and linguistic 26. urges that the Committee be accorded the status of an EU
diversity, and the subsidiarity principle; institution, with access to the Court of Justice of the
European Communities, and intends to lobby hard to
achieve this;
— the institutional architecture and the decision-mak-
ing procedures;

— the powers of the European Union, based on the 27. is aware that not all of the European Union’s Member
application of the subsidiarity principle and on a States and local and regional authorities are in favour of
precise indication of its responsibilities in terms of drafting a constitution for the EU. The reasons for
subject areas; initiating the drafting of a European constitutional frame-
work therefore require a thorough explanation, involving
an extensive debate.
— rules on EU financing;

— the procedures for revising the constitutional frame- In the light of the above:
work itself, which must ensure that the final decision
is taken by the Member States and their national
parliaments.
28. believes that the European Union should now consider
the consequences of constitution-building in the light of
20. deems it appropriate to stress the active role of local and the Union’s shared values, the reasons for working
regional authorities in the constitution-building process, together, the transparency of the workings of the Union
both directly and via the Committee of the Regions; and the promotion of more democratic instruments for
revising the Treaties;

21. stresses that local and regional authorities have an
important role in a constitutional process for defining
forms of governance, because of their closeness both to 29. calls on all the local and regional authorities of Europe to
the people and to national governments, which currently play an active part, so that the dialogue can encompass
are empowered to reform the Union; all countries and all levels, enabling the public to express
their views too. The possibility of a constitution-building
process concerns everyone, and is important for Europe’s
22. reiterates that the Committee also has a role to play, regions and municipalities. It cannot be left solely to
alongside other European institutions, in contributing to central government;
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30. affirms that a process which would give the Treaties local and regional autonomy in keeping with the tra-
constitutional status must take account of the impli- ditions of the individual Member States;
cations at local and regional level. That applies to all
changes in the existing balance between the Union and
the Member States which affect the political and legal 31. instructs its president to forward the present resolution
competences of local and regional authorities. Strict to the EU Council, the European Parliament, the European
adherence to the subsidiarity principle is a prerequisite. Commission, and the governments and parliaments of
Constitution-building must also pay heed to, and respect, the Member States.

Brussels, 20 September 2000.

The President
of the Committee of the Regions
Jos CHABERT

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘Regional and local authorities and the European
Union’s common strategy for the Mediterranean’

(2001/C 22/03)

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS,

having regard to the declaration adopted at the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean conference on 28 November
1995;

having regard to the conclusions of the Vienna European Council of 11 and 12 December 1998;

having regard to the conclusions of the Stuttgart Euro-Mediterranean conference of 15 and 16 April
1999;

having regard to the conclusions of the Cologne European Council of 3 and 4 June 1999;

having regard to the conclusions of the Feira European Council of 19 and 20 June 2000;

having regard to its opinion on the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the
European Parliament on strengthening the Mediterranean policy of the European Union: Proposals for
implementing a Euro-Mediterranean partnership (COR 371/95) (1);

having regard to its opinion on Local authorities and the Euro-Mediterranean partnership (COR 125/97
fin) (2);

having regard to its resolution on Decentralised cooperation and the role of regional and local authorities
in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership (COR 40/2000 fin) (3);

having regard to the European Parliament’s resolution of 30 March 2000 on Mediterranean policy;

having regard to the decision taken by its Bureau on 11 April 2000, under the fifth paragraph of
Article 265 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, to draw up an opinion on Regional and
local authorities and the European Union’s common strategy for the Mediterranean, and to direct
Commission 1 for Regional Policy, Structural Funds, Economic and Social Cohesion and Cross-border
and Inter-regional Cooperation to undertake the preparatory work;

(1) OJ C 126, 29.4.1996, p. 12.
(2) OJ C 64, 27.2.1998, p. 59.
(3) OJ C 156, 6.6.2000, p. 47.