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COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS DEALS WITH FALLOUT FROM THE AMSTERDAM TREATY

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The EU's council of ministers had wilfully chosen to place the committee of the regions in an uncomfortable positio...
The EU's council of ministers had wilfully chosen to place the committee of the regions in an uncomfortable position through its lack of foresight in anticipating the Amsterdam Treaty, said COR president Manfred Dammeyer to COR members.

At a COR plenary session last week Mr Dammeyer underlined the necessity to conclude an inter-insitutional co-operation agreement at the earliest possible opportunity to deal with the practical implications of the entry into force of the treaty, namely the need to adopt a significant number of opinions in the COR's new areas of compulsory consultation over a relatively short period.

Putting to one side the illegal deadlines imposed by the council, the COR nevertheless opted for an urgency procedure to adopt its opinions on the taxation of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures and the European Social Fund. Legislative proposals in these two areas are currently pending adoption by the council. The COR remains alert to the risk of a legal challenge resulting from possible procedural shortcomings.

Upcoming Intergovernmental Conference

Re the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on settling institutional issues left unresolved by the Amsterdam Treaty, the 222 members of the COR adopted a resolution calling on speedy reform to prepare for enlargement, and further strengthen subsidiarity. In particular, the committee calls for EC Article 5 of the treaty to take account of the special role of regional and local authorities in respect of this principle. The resolution was presented by the European Peoples Party on the basis of a report by Luc van den Brande (EPP), minister-president of Flanders and Risto Koivisto (PES), leader of Pirkhala local authority (Finland).

The resolution stressed that the COR should be engaged as a full partner, along with the European parliament, in the preparations for the new ICG, and called for recognition of the COR as a fully-fledged EU Institution (as defined by article 7(1) of the EC Treaty), as opposed to its current role of EU consultative body.

It also called on the EU's heads of state and government to grant the COR the express right to bring proceedings before the European Court of Justice to defend its powers - particularly relevant in light of the current procedural difficulties arising from the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty - and to give regions with legislative powers the right to institute proceedings.

In forwarding the resolution to Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor and president in office of the council, Mr Dammeyer made clear the COR's determination to see regions and local authorities represented in the IGC high-level reflection group proposed by the European parliament. 'I am ready to nominate a representative of the COR to this reflection group' declared Dammeyer.

In his letter, Mr Dammeyer also backed the establishment of a list of fundamental rights for the EU.

Kosovo

Addressing the crisis in Kosovo the COR's Socialist group tabled a resolution at the initiative of its vice-president, Gianfranco Lamberti, mayor of Livorno (PES), following a broad debate launched by the mayor of Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos (EPP), on the role of local authorities on the ongoing negotiations towards a lasting peace in the Balkans. The resolution stressed that the involvement of regional and local authorities will be a vital component of any successful EU strategy for the reconstruction of the Balkan region.

Mr Dammeyer said: 'Europe's regions and cities are ready to

play their part in the reconstruction process.'

Employment resolution

Europe's current employment crisis can best be abated by a broad mix of strategic and locally led microeconomic incentives to boost employment throughout the EU. This was the main message that emerged from a resolution on employment adopted by the members of the COR as its contribution to the Cologne European Council discussions on European employment pacts.

Introducing the resolution COR member and mayor of Naestved (Denmark), Henning Jensen (PES) commented that regional and local bodies are important catalysts in promoting employment through practical measures which aim to create sustainable jobs. The resolution says that this approach must be given top priority. 'Regions and municipalities must have the widest possible scope to put in place employment measures that meet their specific needs,' he said.

The following opinions were adopted:

1.Territorial Employment Pacts - Commission 6 - CdR 91/99 rev. 2 - COM-6/009

Rapporteurs : Mr EFSTATHIADIS (GR)

Mr VIRTANEN (FIN)

1.Resolution on European Employment Pact - Commission 6 - CdR 156/99 rev. 1 - COM-6/013

Rapporteur : Mr JENSEN (DK)

1.Trans-European transport network: 1998 report on the implementation of the guidelines and priorities for the future - Commission 3 - COM(1998) 614 final - CdR 60/99 rev.1 - COM-3/023

Rapporteurs : Mr VALCRCEL SISO (ESP)

Mr GUSTÂV (SV)

1.Environmental impact of electricity transmission lines - Commission 4 - CdR 399/98 rev.2 - COM-4/019

Rapporteur : Mr KOULOUMBIS (GR)

1.Proposal for a Council Directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures -

Commission 3 - COM(96) 331 final - 96/0182 (SYN) - CdR 364/96 fin

Rapporteurs: Mr WEINGARTNER (A)

Mr LEBRUN (B)

1.Proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) on the European Social Fund - Commission 5 - COM(1998) 131 final - 98/0115 (SYN) - CdR 155/98 fin

Rapporteurs: Mrs MATTHEWS (UK)

Mr CORREIA (P)

1.Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the basic Decision relating to the Socrates programme to include Turkey among the beneficiary countries. Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the basic Decision relating to the third phase of the Youth programme to include Turkey among the beneficiary countries. Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the basic decision relating to the Leonardo programme to include Turkey among the beneficiary countries - Commission 7 - COM(96) 199 final - 96/0130 COD - 96/0131 COD - 96/0132 COD - CdR 226/99 fin - COM-7/010

Rapporteur: Mr EVANS (UK)

1.The problems of the homeless and accommodation in cities - Commission 4 - CdR 376/98 rev.1 - COM-4/018

Rapporteur: Mr GEINDRE (F)

1.The role of local and regional authorities in tourism development and the impact of European Union measures in the sphere of tourism - Commission 5 - CdR 157/98 rev. 2 corr. - COM-5/003

Rapporteur : Mr LAZARIDIS (GR)

1.Report of the Business Environment Simplification Task Force (BEST) and the Commission Communication 'Promoting Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness' - The Commission's Response to the BEST Task Force Report - Commission 6 - COM(1998) 550 final) - CdR 387/98 rev. 1 corr.2 - COM-6/008

Rapporteur : Mr UNTERRIEDER (A)

1.Proposal for a Council Decision establishing a Community action programme in the field of civil protection -

Commission 4 - COM(1998) 768 final - CdR 104/99 rev. 1 - COM-4/021

Rapporteur: Mr SAUWENS (B)

1.Alternative Traffic in Towns - Commission 4 - CdR 105/99 rev. 1 - COM-4/022

Rapporteurs: Mrs POWELL (UK)

Mr GUSTÂV (SV)

1.Communication from the Commission to the Council, EP, ESC and COR on sustainable urban development in the EU - Commission 4 - COM(1998) 605 final - CdR 115/98 rev.1 - COM-4/020

Rapporteurs : Mrs POWELL (UK)

Mrs SIITONEN (FIN)

1.Proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) laying down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector - Commission 2 - COM(1998) 728 final - 98/0347 (CNS) - CdR

101/99 rev. 1 - COM 2/006

Rapporteurs : Sir Simon DAY (UK)

Mr NORDWALL (SV)

1.Resolution on situation in Kosovo (CdR 161/99)

1.Resolution on the year 2000 problem (CdR 208/99)

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