EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Document 32024Y02478

Protocol on cooperation between the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions

OJ C, C/2024/2478, 4.4.2024, ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/C/2024/2478/oj (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, GA, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

Legal status of the document In force

ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/C/2024/2478/oj

European flag

Official Journal
of the European Union

EN

C series


C/2024/2478

4.4.2024

Protocol on cooperation between the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions

(C/2024/2478)

The European Commission (the Commission) and the European Committee of the Regions (the Committee),

having regard to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 305 to 307 and 263 thereof and Article 8 of the Protocol (No2) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality annexed to the Treaties,

having regard to the Protocol on cooperation between the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions signed on 16 February 2012,

A.

whereas the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognise the territorial dimension of the European Union by referring to the principle of self-government, by introducing the aim of territorial cohesion and by including the regional and local dimension in the respect of the principle of subsidiarity;

B.

where the Treaties provide for this, consultation of the European Committee of the Regions is mandatory for the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council;

C.

whereas the multilevel governance approach and active subsidiarity (1) are important tools for designing and implementing EU policies, the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions commit to continuous long-term cooperation and dialogue throughout each term of office, with due respect for each partner’s prerogatives, and agree as follows:

I.   COOPERATION AS REGARDS LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURES AND PLANNING

1.

The President of the Commission shall present the political guidelines to the Committee’s Plenary Assembly at the beginning of the Commission’s term-of-office.

2.

Taking into account the political guidelines of the President of the Commission, the Committee will develop its political priorities and strategic planning of its consultative works, addressed, as appropriate, in a meeting between the Vice-President responsible for relations with the Committee and the President of the Committee.

(i)   Commission work programme

3.

In the first semester of a given year, the Committee will adopt a resolution addressed to the Commission outlining the Committee’s key positions regarding the Commission work programme for the forthcoming year.

4.

A meeting between the President of the Commission or the Vice-President responsible for relations with the Committee and the President of the Committee shall be organised at least once a year during the preparation of the Commission work programme to examine questions of common interest, including the impact of the Committee’s opinions.

5.

The President or the Vice-President of the Commission responsible for the relations with the Committee presents each year to the Committee the strategic priorities for the following year in the context of a plenary debate with members.

The Committee takes into account the Commission’s priorities and deadlines in the establishment of its annual policy priorities and the organisation of its own work.

(ii)   Consultation planning

6.

Meetings shall be organised as appropriate and at least once a year between the services of the Commission and the Committee to jointly discuss, related to the Commission work programme or other publicly announced initiatives, key files for which particularly close cooperation and consultation of local and regional authorities, including on the implementation of EU policies, is envisaged, as well as policy areas where outlook opinions could provide a substantial contribution.

(iii)   Procedures throughout the legislative process

Exchange of information and presence of the Commission at meetings of the Committee

7.

The Commission and the Committee exchange any necessary documentation and information as speedily as possible.

8.

The members of the Commission shall be invited by the President of the Committee to take part in the Committee’s work, particularly in Plenary Sessions and Bureau meetings, as well as in special activities organised by joint agreement. A member of the Commission is entitled to take the floor at the Committee’s Plenary Session when legislative proposals are debated which fall into their responsibility. They may on such occasions also choose to respond to questions from Committee members sent in advance of the debate, including as a result of a previous local-matters debate.

9.

Senior Commission officials may be heard by the Bureau of the Committee. Commission officials in charge of the dossiers which the Committee is examining shall take part as far as possible in the meetings of the Committee’s commissions to which they are invited in order to clarify the Commission’s proposals and take note of the positions expressed by members of the Committee.

Dialogue with local and regional authorities

10.

The Commission recognises the privileged role of the Committee in the relations between the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union and local and regional authorities of the Member States.

11.

The Committee shall consult local and regional authorities as an upstream part in the political process in a timely manner.

12.

Promoting the development of a more participatory European Union, and in accordance with active subsidiarity and better regulation, the Committee acts as an institutional forum expressing the views of and securing the European Union’s dialogue with local and regional authorities.

Where the Commission and the Committee decide to implement the dialogue with local and regional authorities jointly, the Commission shall ensure that the Committee is fully involved in the preparation of meetings.

Structured dialogue with associations

13.

The Commission and the Committee jointly organise a structured dialogue with associations of local and regional authorities and regional Parliaments with legislative powers at political level. During the year, the dialogue may take the form of meetings of the relevant Committee commissions, plenaries, or separate meetings attended by the responsible members of the Commission. They may be supplemented by service-level meetings.

Consultations

14.

Where pertinent, in line with each partner’s prerogatives and the consultation planning mentioned in point 6, the Commission shall involve the Committee and local and regional authorities in its consultation processes, taking into account the latter’s specific role in implementing EU legislation.

Optional consultations

15.

Optional consultation should be envisaged and can be jointly identified if at least one of the following criteria applies:

the issue concerned relates to the regulatory or executive remits of the devolved authorities: regional, local or intermediate,

the projected EU legislation or the national measures that will have to be adopted for the purposes of its implementation are likely to have a direct impact on local or regional budgets and/or the operation of the regional or local administration,

the EU measure concerned is likely to have an impact on economic, social and territorial cohesion,

the future legislative act has a particular sensitivity as regards subsidiarity,

the projected measures relate to informing the European public and raising their awareness of EU policies in the areas of competence of the Committee,

the issues relate to the Commission’s and the Committee’s joint activities in relation to the European Union’s external policies, as described in Section IV.

Outlook opinions and the pre-legislative phase

16.

In line with the consultation planning referred to in point 6 above, the Commission and the Committee discuss announced Commission initiatives with the objective of identifying jointly a selected number of outlook opinions in areas of particular importance to local and regional authorities, where the Committee has the competence and appropriate local information resources.

The requests for such outlook opinions shall be notified by the Vice-President responsible for relations with the Committee. Requests for outlook opinions shall be accompanied by a specific mandate and a coherent framework of actions to be drawn up by mutual agreement, including focus and time frame for the Committee’s input into a possible upcoming Commission initiative. The Committee adopts its outlook opinion in time to fit the adoption of a proposal as planned by the Commission. The public consultations portal of the Commission and its calls for evidence, complemented on occasion by the Commission work programme, shall be the main tool of choice for identifying the subjects for this type of consultation.

Political follow-up to outlook opinions should be provided by attendance of a member of the Commission in the Committee’s Plenary Session or by senior Commission officials attending relevant Committee’s commission meetings. In principle, the Commission makes reference to the Committee’s outlook opinion in the impact assessment of its legislative proposal.

17.

The Commission and the Committee shall work together to involve local and regional authorities in the Commission’s public consultations. The Commission will facilitate the participation of local and regional authorities and regional Parliaments with legislative powers by appropriate design of its questionnaires and other tools it uses for its consultations. It will also do so by providing sufficiently detailed feedback and visibility to the views of the Committee, local and regional authorities and regional Parliaments in its impact assessments accompanying Commission proposals. To encourage a higher response rate from local and regional authorities, the Committee will raise awareness among local and regional authorities about exploiting the existing consultation and feedback opportunities to contribute to policymaking and implementation.

New consultation

18.

The Commission may renew the consultation of the Committee about the implications for local and regional authorities of an emerging result of the legislative process.

If at any stage in the legislative procedure the Commission modifies substantially its proposal subsequent to the initial Committee referral and where the Treaties provide for mandatory consultation, it will ensure that the Committee is re-consulted. The Committee may respond to the new consultation in a procedure that is compatible with the timeframe and focus of the legislative procedure. The Commission will consider the Committee’s response to the new consultation.

Follow-up of the opinions

19.

In its opinions the Committee may adopt specific amendments it wishes to suggest to legislative proposals of the Commission. The Committee shall also include a summary with each opinion.

20.

The Committee shall communicate, as quickly as possible, to the Commission the adopted opinions and resolutions or other forms of advice it may choose to give, in particular when it raises concerns on the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity.

21.

To enable the Committee to regularly assess the impact of its work, the Commission services shall provide the Committee with targeted replies, setting out the Commission’s position on the main amendments and key proposals of Committee opinions and resolutions and, where applicable, how they have been taken into account, or providing reasons for not doing so. Where relevant, the Commission replies at this occasion to the subsidiarity concerns expressed by the Committee. The Commission shall strive to transmit its replies within a maximum of three months. They may be supplemented by a political exchange on selected opinions.

Proposed changes to legislative proposals, when accepted by the Commission, shall be incorporated as far as possible in its amended proposals, if any.

II.   THEMATIC COOPERATION AS REGARDS ACTIVITIES

22.

The Commission and the Committee agree to intensify their cooperation in order to increase the synergies between their respective activities, in particular in the context of the Treaty objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion, and especially in the implementation of cross-border, interregional and transnational cooperation. Under the framework of this protocol, specific thematic action plans and other bilateral cooperation arrangements between the Commission and/or Commission services, as appropriate, and the Committee may be concluded to strengthen the delivery of common policy objectives, as well as the joint governance of platforms and networks targeting cities and regions.

23.

As a general principle, as regards such activities of common interest, in particular such which the Committee carries out at the initiative of the Commission and which go beyond consultation, the Commission is willing to cooperate in the organisation and implementation of these activities in the most appropriate way and within available means, including by way of logistical and/or financial support,. The Commission may consider secondment of staff, to the extent available, in the interest of the services and on the basis of reciprocity.

The European Semester

24.

The Commission recognises that in many Member States national budgetary and financial policies are strongly influenced by local and regional political actors. To strengthen their role, the Commission and the Committee actively promote the appropriate involvement of local and regional authorities in the European Semester, reflecting their key competences and responsibilities in the design and implementation of reforms. The Committee may invite the responsible member of the Commission to discuss the European Semester during a plenary session or commission meeting.

Cross-Border Cooperation and European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation

25.

The Commission strives, with the support of the Committee, to remove legal and administrative barriers to cross-border cooperation and promotes the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). The Committee, which is organising the register of all existing EGTCs, will ensure that the Commission is informed about all new EGTCs and that this information is published in the C series of the EU Official Journal in accordance with Article 5(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1082/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council (2).

III.   IMPLEMENTATION OF SUBSIDIARITY AND PROPORTIONALITY AND MULTI-LEVEL GOVERNANCE AND BETTER REGULATION

An assembly composed of political representatives of local and regional authorities

26.

The Commission recognises the privileged role of the Committee as an assembly composed of political representatives of local and regional authorities in the European Union. It will cooperate closely with the Committee in implementing Article 2 of the Protocol (No 2) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, not least by consulting, when relevant, the Committee at the pre-legislative stage to ensure that the regional and local dimensions of an envisaged action are taken into account.

When the Commission finds it relevant in light of the work to be performed, it will also involve the Committee in expert groups on topics of direct relevance to cities and regions. The Committee may propose to the Commission, on the basis of the expertise it could provide, to be invited to take part in such groups, with the decision on the composition of the group in each case remaining the sole prerogative of the Commission, in line with its relevant rules (3).

The Commission and the Committee collaboratively strive to create a culture of active subsidiarity. The Commission and the Committee agree that decisions should be taken at the closest possible level to the citizen by the most appropriate means and where they can most effectively achieve their objective. In the consultation planning as referred to in point 6, and during their regular annual contacts, the Commission and the Committee shall identify the planned legislative initiatives that call for a specific focus on subsidiarity and proportionality and the application of better regulation.

27.

In the spirit of active subsidiarity, the Committee delivers information and fact-based assessments on the impact and added value of existing and envisaged EU legislation at local and regional level.

The Committee will use its platforms and networks to this end. It will summarise their activities in this field in an annual report to the Commission. The Commission facilitates these networks’ contribution to its better regulation work, where appropriate.

The Commission and the Committee shall enhance cooperation on territorial impact assessments, rural proofing, the assessment of how legislation is implemented at local and regional level and strategic foresight and for that purpose may conclude action plans, as appropriate. They will continue cooperation, within the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) framework.

As regards territorial impact assessments of EU legislation in particular, the Committee will screen future EU initiatives in the ‘calls for evidence’ and suggest a number of initiatives with potential asymmetric territorial impacts that the Commission should analyse, in its impact assessments, according to its better regulation guidelines and toolbox. In this respect the Commission may draw on support from the Committee in preparing its impact assessments. For Territorial Impact Assessment workshops organised by the Committee, the Commission will facilitate the participation of its relevant services.

28.

Throughout the legislative process, the Committee pays particular attention to compliance of EU legislative proposals with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, taking into account provisions in force and changes envisaged. For this purpose, the Committee will engage the expertise of its ‘Better Regulation and Active Subsidiarity Steering Group’ and share the group’s recommendations with the Commission. It will contribute to the work of present and future initiatives to keep the acquis up to date, connect with local and regional authorities’ experience with legislation via its ‘RegHub network of regions for EU policy implementation review’, and stay in close contact with regional parliaments with legislative powers.

The Commission and the Committee shall in this context work together in the entirety of the EU policy-making cycle, in full respect of their respective competencies and the principle of sincere cooperation.

The Commission and the Committee use the subsidiarity and proportionality assessment grid as agreed by the Task Force to foster a common understanding of those principles and their more effective application by the institutions and bodies at European, national and subnational levels to which the Treaties assign a role in the preparation of new EU legislation and/or mention their possible participation in its subsidiarity scrutiny. The Commission and the Committee shall share information regarding subsidiarity monitoring on a regular basis, in particular as regards the relevant opinions of national and regional Parliaments. If, during a legislative procedure, the Committee raises substantial concerns regarding the respect of the principle of subsidiarity, it shall immediately inform the co-legislators and the Commission.

29.

The Commission uses the contributions provided by the Committee in its annual report on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and on relations with national Parliaments.

IV.   EXTERNAL DIMENSION OF THE EU POLICIES

30.

The Committee shall develop activities, including at the request of the Commission, as regards the external dimension of EU policies where local and regional authorities have institutional powers. Cooperation between the Commission and the Committee and, where appropriate and to the extent possible involving at the Commission’s initiating request EU delegations in third countries, will in particular concentrate on:

(a)

supporting the enlargement process and participating in the EU pre-accession policy, including via its Joint Consultative Committees and Working Groups, and the organisation of the annual Enlargement Day conference;

(b)

supporting the neighbourhood policy, notably through its institutional platforms set up such as ARLEM (Euro-Mediterranean regional and local assembly) and CORLEAP (Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership);

(c)

promoting regional and local democracy and capacity-building in third countries (in particular the candidate countries, potential candidates and neighbourhood countries), including, as appropriate, through peer-to-peer cooperation;

(d)

supporting the EU policies and positions; this includes that the Commission may invite the Committee, at its request and subject to the legal, technical and diplomatic possibilities, to participate as an observer in the official EU delegations at international conferences about policy areas which have a territorial dimension;

(e)

sharing information: the Committee shall inform the Commission of the upcoming international conferences and observer missions in which it will participate, on the basis of its bilateral arrangements with international organisations. The Commission may as a result invite the relevant representative(s) of the Committee for a preparatory briefing (meeting);

(f)

developing and promoting decentralised cooperation; notably through continued common support for the ATLAS, and the Portal and the Forum of Cities and Regions for International partnerships;

(g)

cross-border cooperation between the European Union and neighbourhood countries;

(h)

developing and promoting cooperation in relation to the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals;

(i)

strengthening the European Union’s relations with countries which have a federal or strongly regionalised or devolved structure.

V.   INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION POLICY

31.

The Commission and the Committee work closely together in the field of communication and information and cooperate to implement a strong decentralised communication policy at regional and local level. They acknowledge the role played by local and regional authorities in providing the public with accurate information on the European Union’s different policies.

32.

The Commission and the Committee will particularly cooperate in organising events relevant for local and regional authorities. They will contribute to the joint media coverage of these events.

The Commission and the Committee will cooperate in the communication of relevant EU priorities, building on successful experience.

The Commission and the Committee will explore the possibility of sharing media monitoring products and specific knowledge.

33.

Common communication efforts will be established and updated on a regular basis. They will primarily focus on:

cooperation between the EU representation offices in the Member States and Committee members to support their mutual communication and outreach activities at national, regional and local level. The facilities of the Commission’s Representations in the Member States will, by agreement, be available for Committee initiatives where this is appropriate and logistically possible. It may also be necessary to consult with the European Parliament Information Offices, where appropriate;

stepping up cooperation to support the development of activities targeting citizens at local and regional level, including through local and regional media, social media in promoting local and regional initiatives funded by the EU, as well as improving synergies with national associations comprised of regional and local elected representatives;

cooperation on the production and dissemination of audiovisual material to communicate about European policies and local and regional events with the participation of Commission College members to the media, stakeholders and the general public. This includes participation of the Committee in the Commission’s Network of AV correspondents, and in the editorial committee of ‘Europe by Satellite’ and broadcasting of material provided by the Committee;

cooperation in the area of public opinion via exchange of information and feedback on Eurobarometer surveys of interest to the Committee and/or via Eurobarometer surveys with a local and/or regional dimension whenever possible;

cooperation on the development of web tools such as websites and newsletters in the context of the Interinstitutional Editorial Committee so as to develop open information and communication channels with the general public;

cooperation in the area of reaching out to local communities - via the direct involvement of regional and local elected representatives. This would involve developing common schemes for the joint organisation of local dialogues. As a follow up to the recommendations of the Conference on the Future of Europe, joint action and organisational partnership will be developed. The Committee and the Commission will aim to improve synergies and integration by structuring cooperation on their networks which seek to reach out to Europe’s over one million locally and regionally elected politicians, such as the currently existing EU Local Councillors’ Network and the Building Europe with Local Councillors Network. They will work through a common governance to ensure good coordination with the aim of streamlining actions and services and facilitating regular exchanges and feedback, paving the way to the definition of a joint common project.

VI.   ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS

34.

The Commission and the Committee share a common interest in the HR field in order to maximise efficiency gains, share best practices, generate economies of scale and facilitate administrative cooperation and cross-fertilisation.

Further areas of administrative and logistical cooperation could be agreed via specific agreements, also at service level, under the framework of this protocol.

Done at Brussels on 20 March 2024.

For the Commission

Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ

Executive Vice-President

For the Committee of the Regions

Vasco ALVES CORDEIRO

The President


(1)  As referred to in the final report of the Task Force Subsidiarity, Proportionality and ‘Doing less more efficiently’ and in the proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

(2)  Regulation (EC) No 1082/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on a European grouping of territorial cooperation (EGTC) (OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 19).

(3)  Commission Decision C(2016)3301.


ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/C/2024/2478/oj

ISSN 1977-091X (electronic edition)


Top