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Rules of Procedure of the Committee of the Regions

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Rules of Procedure of the Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions is a consultative body of the European Union (EU) established by the Treaty of Maastricht. It is made up of 353 members and an equal number of alternate members appointed for 5 years. The Committee must be consulted, as part of the European decision-making process, in the following areas: economic and social cohesion, trans-European infrastructure networks, health, education and culture, employment policy, social policy, the environment, vocational training and transport.

ACT

Rules of Procedure of the Committee of the Regions.

SUMMARY

These rules govern the operation and organisation of the Committee of the Regions. The right to adopt its own Rules of Procedure is conferred on the Committee by Article 306 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU). The current version of the Rules entered into force on 10 January 2010.

Composition

The Committee is made up of representatives of regional and local bodies. Both members and alternates must hold an electoral mandate or be politically accountable to an elected assembly, in accordance with Article 300 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

Members are nominated by their Member State, but it is the Council that adopts the list of members and alternates, which it does by qualified majority. They may not be bound by any mandatory instructions and must be completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the general interest of the EU. They serve a five-year term of office.

The role of alternates is to represent the members if they are unable to attend.

The members and alternates from one Member State make up its national delegation. Each delegation is led by a chairman, elected from among its members.

Members and alternates of the Committee of the Regions may form groups which reflect their political affinities. Each group must be made up of at least 18 members representing at least one fifth of the Member States. In addition, at least half of the members of the group must be members.

Each political group has a secretariat staffed by Secretariat-General personnel. The groups normally meet during plenary sessions. They may also hold an extraordinary meeting twice a year.

Interregional groups, such as the Alpine Area group, for example, may also be set up.

The Plenary Assembly

The Committee meets as a Plenary Assembly. Its main tasks are to:

  • adopt opinions, reports and resolutions;
  • adopt the draft estimates of expenditure and revenue of the Committee;
  • adopt the political programme of the Committee at the beginning of every term;
  • elect the President, the first Vice-President and other members of the Bureau;
  • set up commissions;
  • adopt and revise the Rules of Procedure of the Committee;
  • decide to bring actions before the Court of Justice of the EU.

The President of the Committee convenes the Plenary Assembly at least once every three months. At the written request of at least one quarter of the members, the President must convene an extraordinary Plenary Session. The request must state the subject matter which is to be discussed at the extraordinary Plenary Session. No other matter may be dealt with.

The President must send the draft agenda, based on a preliminary draft prepared by the Bureau, to the members and alternates at least four weeks before the Plenary Session. The Bureau finalises the draft agenda at its meeting prior to the opening of the Plenary Session.

Plenary Sessions are open to the public unless the Plenary Assembly decides otherwise. Representatives of the European Parliament, Council and Commission may attend Plenary Sessions and other distinguished guests may also be invited. The Bureau may propose that the Plenary Assembly hold a topical debate slot to discuss topical political issues of regional and local relevance.

A quorum exists at a Plenary Session if a majority of the members is present.

The Plenary Assembly decides by a majority of the votes cast, unless the Rules of Procedure provide otherwise.

The Bureau

The Bureau reflects the overall composition of the Committee. It is made up of the President, the first Vice-President, one Vice-President per Member State, 28 other members, and the chairmen of the political groups. It is elected for two and a half years by the Plenary Assembly. There are currently 63 members of the Bureau. Excluding the President, the first Vice-President and the chairmen of the five political groups the seats are allocated as follows:

  • three seats: Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Poland
  • two seats: the Netherlands, Greece, Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania;
  • one seat: Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta.

The Bureau's main tasks are as follows:

  • establishment of the draft policy programme at the beginning of each term and monitoring of its implementation;
  • preparation, organisation and coordination of the work of the Plenary Assembly and the commissions;
  • responsibility for financial, organisational and administrative matters;
  • engagement of the Secretary-General and certain categories of officials and other servants;
  • submission of the draft estimates of expenditure and revenue to the Plenary Assembly;
  • if necessary, setting up working groups on specific topics;
  • when the Plenary Assembly is not able to act within the deadline, the Bureau may bring an action before the Court of Justice of the EU on behalf of the Committee. The Plenary Assembly shall decide at the next session whether to maintain the action in question.

The President

The President represents the Committee and directs its work. He is assisted by a first Vice-President and by one Vice-President for each Member State.

Commissions

At the beginning of each mandate, the Plenary Assembly sets up commissions to prepare its work. The task of the commissions is to draw up the draft versions of opinions, reports and resolutions and submit them to the Plenary Assembly for adoption. There are six commissions at the moment:

  • CIVEX: Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs;
  • COTER: Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy;
  • ECOS: Commission for Economic and Social Policy;
  • EDUC: Commission for Education, Youth, Culture and Research;
  • ENVE: Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy;
  • NAT: Commission for Natural Resources.

In addition to these six commissions, there is also a Temporary Ad hoc Commission for the European Union Budget. This was set up in 2010 for a limited period of time.

The composition of the commissions must reflect that of the Committee. Each member of the Committee must belong to at least one commission but may not belong to more than two. Exceptions may be made by the Bureau for members belonging to national delegations which have fewer members than the number of commissions.

The proceedings of the commissions are open to the public, unless a commission decides otherwise. Representatives of the European Parliament, Council and Commission may attend the deliberations of the commissions and reply to questions from members. Public hearings and meeting with experts may be organised to clarify one or more items on the agenda.

Documents drawn up by the Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions produces opinions, reports and resolutions, which are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The Committee adopts opinions pursuant to Article 307 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU:

  • on the basis of a referral from the Commission, the Council or the Parliament in the cases provided for by European Treaties or in other cases where one of these institutions considers it appropriate;
  • on its own initiative;
  • when, in the event of the Economic and Social Committee being consulted, it considers that specific regional interests are involved.

Opinions express the views of the Committee and include recommendations or specific proposals for amendments. Each opinion is accompanied by a separate explanatory statement.

Reports contain analysis and recommendations on topics which fall within the Committee's area of interest.

Resolutions refer to the activities of the Union of topical interest. They deal with important concerns of regional and local authorities.

Secretariat-General

The Committee is assisted by a Secretariat-General headed by a Secretary-General. The Secretariat-General must ensure the efficient functioning of the Committee, help the members in the performance of their duties and draw up the minutes of the meetings of the Committee's constituent bodies. The Secretary-General ensures that the decisions taken by the Bureau or the President are carried out. He attends the meetings of the Bureau in an advisory capacity. He is appointed by the Bureau by a two-thirds majority of its members for a period of five years.

ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS

Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or established in a Member State has a right of access to the documents of the Committee in accordance with the Treaty and Regulation (EC) No. 1049/2001, and subject to the arrangements laid down by the Bureau.

REFERENCE TABLE

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Rules of Procedure of the Committee of the Regions

10.1.2010

-

OJ L 6 of 9.1.2010

RELATED ACTS

Protocol on cooperation between the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions of 22 February 2012.

In 2012, a Protocol on cooperation between the European Commission and the Committee was adopted by both institutions with a view to strengthening and formalising the mandatory and optional consultative function of the Committee in areas of particular importance as listed in the Commission's annual work programme. The Protocol notably looks to enhance synergies between the respective activities of the Committee and the Commission in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, economic, social and territorial cohesion and cross-border cooperation.

The Committee is also called on to strengthen consultations with local and regional authorities as part of structured dialogue.

The Committee finally sees a strengthening of its role of checking the compliance of EU legislative proposals it receives with the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality.

Last updated: 10.01.2014

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