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33RD PLENARY SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

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Regional policy and the IGC take centre stage ...
Regional policy and the IGC take centre stage

33rd Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions

The 33rd plenary session of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union ended on Thursday in Brussels in speeches and a debate on the future of the community's regional policy and EU reform. Watched by Michel Barnier, the European commissioner for regional affairs and the intergovernmental conference, the COR president, Jos Chabert, stressed the importance of the COR's contribution in these two areas.

Mr Chabert welcomed the European Commission's initiative to organise decentralised on-the-spot conferences to meet citizens as part of the 'Dialogue on Europe'. He asked the commissioner to involve COR members in this initiative. 'The European Commission's proposal to model the Committee of the Regions in the future on the European Parliament and give it a more political role is excellent. On the other hand, the proposal to increase the number of COR members to 233 after enlargement is still far below our expectations.

'We hope to be able to arrive at a compromise solution which ensures our future political role. We are delighted that the EP constitutional committee supports the COR's request to have 350 members in future, i.e. half the number of EP members, instead of a third,' said the COR president.

After Agenda 2000 and the reform of the structural funds, regional policy was now up and running and the main decisions had been adopted to cover a long, seven-year period. The COR had issued its opinion, and it hoped that the European Commission would take account of the main points.

Mr Chabert noted that the COR had managed to work out a consensus acceptable to all the local and regional authorities in Europe, starting from viewpoints that were often very different indeed.

Six items concerning regional policy had been on the agenda for the plenary session. The COR wanted to reflect with the European Commission on the key issues and work out major advances together.

During the debate on community regional policy, the president announced two other COR initiatives: there would be a conference in Mainz (Germany) on 13/14 September 2000 to discuss, in particular, interregional and cross-border co-operation, the problems of the most remote regions and the future of regional policy after 2006.

This last subject would be studied in greater detail at a conference scheduled for 27/28 November 2000 in Valencia (Spain). The COR was still resolved to play a key role in the development of the new regional policy, concluded Jos Chabert.

At the end of the plenary session the president of the Committee of the Regions said that members had done valuable work by adopting 16 opinions and 3 resolutions, viz:

1. Communication from the commission to the council, the European Parliament, the economic and social committee and the Committee of the Regions on certain community measures to combat discrimination

Proposal for a council directive to establish a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation

Proposal for a council directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

Proposal for a council decision establishing a community action programme to combat discrimination 2001-2006

Rapporteurs: Ms Agneta Granberg (Gothenburg City Council, SV/EPP); Mr Peter Moore (member of Sheffield City Council, UK/ELDR)

2. Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the council on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products

Rapporteur: Mr Tommaso Sodano (Executive Member, Naples Provincial authority, I/NI)

3. White paper on food safety

Rapporteurs: Ms Diane Bunyan (Member of Bristol Unitary Authority, UK/PES);

Mr Guido Gonzi (Councillor, Albareto, I/EPP)

4. Proposal for a European Parliament and council regulation establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products and repealing council regulation (EC) No. 820/97

Rapporteur: Sir Simon Day (member of Devon County Council, UK/EPP)

5. Communication from the commission - A concerted strategy for modernising social protection

Rapporteur: Ms Martine Buron (Mayor of Châteaubriant, F/PES)

6. Commission staff working paper on non-food crops in the context of Agenda 2000

Rapporteurs: Mr Marc Censi (Midi-Pyrénées Regional Council, F/EPP)

Ms Nicette Aubert (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regional Council, F/PES)

7. Communication from the commission to the council, the European Parliament, the economic and social committee and the Committee of the Regions: 'Towards a European research area'

Rapporteur: Ms Marie-Christine Blandin (member of Nord-Pas de Calais Council, F/PES)

8. Resolution on the partnership principle

Rapporteur: Mr Jan Tindemans (member of parliament for Limburg, NL/PES)

9. Communication from the commission to the council, the European Parliament, the economic and social committee and the Committee of the Regions on cohesion and transport

Rapporteur: Mr Ramón Luís Valcárcel Siso (President of the Autonomous Community of Murcia, ES/EPP)

Co-rapporteur: Mr Nikos Tabakídis (Mayor of Ag. Anargyron, GR/PES)

10. Sixth periodic report on the social and economic situation and development of regions in the European Union

Rapporteur: Mr Jean-François Bazin (Bourgogne Regional Council, F/EPP)

11. Towards a European integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) strategy - general principles and policy options

Rapporteur: Ms Annette McNamara (Member of Cork County Council, IRL/EA)

12. COR resolution on the implementation of the European employment strategy

Rapporteurs: Mr Henning Jensen (Mayor of Naestved County, DA/PES); Mr Pedro Sanz Alonso (President of the Autonomous Community of la Rioja, ES/EPP)

13. Resolution: Annual statement on the priorities of the Committee of the Regions

Political groups PES, EPP, ELDR, EA

14. Expiry of the ECSC treaty in July 2002

Rapporteurs: Mr Robert Collignon (minister for the budget, culture and sport, government of the French-speaking Community in Belgium, B/PES);

Mr Loke Mernizka (member of the Assembly of the Land of North-Rhein-Westphalia, D/PES)

15. Communication from the commission to the European Parliament, the council, the economic and social committee and the Committee of the Regions on the fifth report on the implementation of the telecommunications regulatory package

Communication from the commission to the council, the European Parliament, the economic and social committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards a new framework for electronic communications infrastructure and associated services - the 1999 communications review

Rapporteur: Mr Risto Koivisto (Leader of Pirkkala local authority, FI/PES)

16. Commission report to the European Council: Better lawmaking 1999

Rapporteur: Dr Edmund Stoiber (prime minister of Bavaria, D/EPP)

17. Mid-term review of structural interventions Objectives 1 and 6 (1994-1999). Developing a management culture through evaluations: toward best practice

Rapporteur: Sir Ron Watson (member of Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, UK/EPP)

18. 9th and 10th annual reports of the structural funds (1997 and 1998) ERDF - ESF - EAGGF - FIFG

Rapporteur: Mr Willy Burgeon (President of the Union of Municipalities and Local Authorities of Wallonia, B/PES)

19. The role of the local and regional authorities in the reform of European public health systems

Rapporteur: Mr Tilman Tögel (member of the Saxony-Anhalt parliament, D/PES)

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