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THE CONVENTION, ENLARGEMENT AND THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

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The Committee of the Regions' plenary session will take place in Brussels tomorrow and Thursday. This session will ...
The Committee of the Regions' plenary session will take place in Brussels tomorrow and Thursday. This session will be unusual in that the focus will not be on adopting opinions but on debates with 'non-CoR' dignitaries on two subjects which the committee regards as top priority.

Enlargement will be at the centre of attention tomorrow. President Albert Bore has invited the commissioner for enlargement, Günter Verheugen, and municipal and regional representatives from 13 applicant countries to the session. Discussion is to concentrate on two points: preparing the applicant countries' regional and local authorities for accession and the EU's regional policy post-enlargement.

On Thursday there will be two guest speakers: the Danish minister for

European affairs, Mr Haarder, and the vice-chairman of the Convention on the

Future of Europe, Giuliano Amato.

Mr Haarder will present the Danish presidency's programme to the EU

municipalities and regions; Mr Amato will reply to CoR members' comments and

questions on the convention's guidelines at this stage in its work. In addition to the CoR members, European associations pursuing regional and local interests will take part in the debate, which will be followed by the adoption of the CoR's first contribution to the convention's work, in the light of the extraordinary CoR Bureau meeting in Gijon.

Public-private partnership and the information society: presentation of best

practice

In tandem with the plenary session, an exhibition will be arranged jointly

by the Committee of the Regions and the company Cisco Systems on the theme

of public-private partnerships, e-learning and the information society.

This exhibition will be in two parts: several regions will present examples

of good practice in these matters, paving the way for an exchange of

information between regional and local representatives on the subject, and

businesses will present e-learning tools accessible to the EU and applicant

country regional and local authorities.

The work of the Committee of the Regions is by no means limited to drafting

opinions, President Albert Bore explains. Much of the added value it

contributes to the community institutions lies in its serving as forum for

exchange of experiences among persons in positions of regional and local

responsibility. The exhibition on 3 and 4 July is a good example,

reflecting the practical role that can be played by the regional and local

authorities, at grassroots level, in implementing an EU global strategy for

a knowledge-based society, as part of the Lisbon process.

Opinions to be debated

Three draft opinions are on the plenary session agenda:

- Application of legislation governing health and safety at work to

self-employed workers. Rapporteur: Derek Boden (leader of the UK's

North West Regional Assembly).

- A new community strategy on health and safety at work 2002-2006

- Increasing labour force participation and promoting active ageing.

- A new impetus for European Youth.

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