ISSN 1977-091X

doi:10.3000/1977091X.C_2012.277.eng

Official Journal

of the European Union

C 277

European flag  

English edition

Information and Notices

Volume 55
13 September 2012


Notice No

Contents

page

 

I   Resolutions, recommendations and opinions

 

RESOLUTIONS

 

Committee of the Regions

 

96th plenary session held on 18 and 19 July 2012

2012/C 277/01

Resolution on the Priorities of the Committee of the Regions for 2013 in view of the Work Programme of the European Commission

1

 

OPINIONS

 

Committee of the Regions

 

96th plenary session held on 18 and 19 July 2012

2012/C 277/02

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on The global approach to migration and mobility

6

2012/C 277/03

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum

12

2012/C 277/04

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on Future cities: Environmentally and socially sustainable cities

18

 

III   Preparatory acts

 

COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

 

96th plenary session held on 18 and 19 July 2012

2012/C 277/05

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on EU financial instruments in home affairs

23

2012/C 277/06

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on EU financial instruments in justice and citizenship

43

2012/C 277/07

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on A mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions

51

2012/C 277/08

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Proposal for a Regulation on the programme for the environment and climate action (LIFE)

61

2012/C 277/09

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on The award of concessions contracts

74

2012/C 277/10

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Proposal for a Regulation on European territorial cooperation

96

2012/C 277/11

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Airport package

110

2012/C 277/12

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Connecting Europe facility

125

2012/C 277/13

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Proposal for a Regulation on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure and repealing Decision No 1364/2006/EC

137

2012/C 277/14

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on Horizon 2020 (the framework programme for research and innovation)

143

2012/C 277/15

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on Creative Europe

156

2012/C 277/16

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Union civil protection mechanism

164

2012/C 277/17

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Responsible Businesses Package

171

EN

 


I Resolutions, recommendations and opinions

RESOLUTIONS

Committee of the Regions

96th plenary session held on 18 and 19 July 2012

13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/1


Resolution on the ‘Priorities of the Committee of the Regions for 2013 in view of the Work Programme of the European Commission’

2012/C 277/01

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

having regard to the Commission Communication on the Commission Work Programme for 2012 ‘Delivering European Renewal’ (1),

having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2011 on the priorities of the Committee of the Regions for 2012 based on the legislative and work programme of the European Commission (2),

having regard to its resolution of 16 February 2012 to the European Spring Council 2012 on the Draft Treaty on stability, coordination and governance in the economic and monetary union (3),

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

whereas the Committee of the Regions wishes to outline its key positions regarding the Commission’s work programme for 2013,

The future of the Union

1.

is convinced that, while the European Union is faced with enormous challenges in addressing the ongoing financial, economic, social and political crisis, there is an urgent need for an ambitious European Commission 2013 work programme that would boost sustainable growth, job creation and quality of life in Europe and contribute to restore the citizens’ confidence in the European integration process;

2.

considers that recovery must rest on two equally important pillars of structural reforms: relaunching growth and ensuring budgetary discipline;

3.

supports deeper economic integration and better alignment of policy priorities, revenues and spending between all levels of government, while respecting the autonomy and powers of national, regional and local governments; based on the principles of subsidiarity and multi-level governance, rejects any implicit or explicit renationalisation or centralisation of policies;

4.

requests the European Commission to resist attempts to use inter-governmental agreements to bypass the democratic procedures of the Union, as agreed in the Treaties, without calling into question the enhanced cooperation provided for under the Lisbon Treaty;

5.

recalls the CoR position (4) that an early adoption of the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for the 2014-2020 period at the end of 2012 is an important signal that the EU is able to respond to global challenges with its own strategy for growth, jobs and competitiveness and a prerequisite for guaranteeing that cohesion policy will remain uninterrupted operational;

6.

reiterates that the EU budget is an investment budget, that proposals for financial cuts in programmes which are part of the EU growth agenda must be rejected and that the creation of new own resources is needed, in particular with a view of replacing national contributions to the EU budget;

7.

reiterates the determination of regional and local authorities to be involved in the simplification of EU funds and the revision of the Financial Regulation, in order to cut red tape, increase the leverage effect of public funds at EU, national and regional levels, as well as ensure transparency and accountability for the EU taxpayers;

8.

is of the view that the European Commission should present an analysis of the impact of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union on local and regional authorities and - in particular - on the question how the remit of local and regional fiscal autonomy is preserved;

9.

supports efforts to ensure budgetary discipline, in particular with regard to tackling high levels of public debt which are a serious threat to intergenerational solidarity, and notes that adequate capacity among local and regional authorities can at the same time ensure growth through appropriate investment via for example implementation of projects co-funded by European funds and public procurement;

10.

reiterates its call on the Commission to mainstream Article 9 TFEU on the promotion of high levels of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection and the fight against social exclusion in all its proposals; therefore urges the Commission to present balanced recommendations related to the European Semester and to bear these treaty obligations in mind in any legislation related to the economic and financial crisis;

11.

asks the Commission to cooperate with the Committee of the Regions in elaborating a European Administrative Procedures Act;

Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Semester

12.

emphasises that while the European Semester should contribute to economic growth, fiscal discipline and structural challenges, the European Commission and the Member States must also closely anticipate and monitor the impact of these measures on the autonomy of local and regional authorities;

13.

broadly welcomes the new Compact for Growth and Jobs as decided by the European Council of June 2012, and supports its call to ‘mobilise at every level of governance in the European Union all levers, instruments and policies’, to reach the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy (5);

14.

supports the European Commission’s efforts to improve the governance arrangements and in particular the partnership principle in the drawing-up, implementation and evaluation of the National Reform Programmes; however, calls on the European Commission to include an assessment of these aspects in each of the Country Specific Recommendations;

15.

recalls the need to include delivery-oriented structures such as territorial pacts in the National Reform Programmes (6); moreover, recognition and support should be given to initiatives that foster competitiveness and innovation at the local and regional level, such as the European Entrepreneurial Regions label;

16.

is looking forward to reinforcing its co-operation with the European Commission throughout the Europe 2020 policy cycle and requests to be involved in the preparation of the Annual Growth Survey;

17.

suggests that the European Commission provide regular updates on the implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives by particularly reporting on the involvement of local and regional authorities in their implementation;

18.

asks the European Commission to outline in 2013 in the context of the mid-term evaluation of the strategy how it wants to ensure a closer involvement of local and regional authorities in that respect;

19.

demands that any redirection of unused structural funds into a new growth agenda shall respect the principles of subsidiarity and involve local and regional authorities;

20.

encourages the European Commission to further address key challenges such as youth unemployment and employment for workers over the age of 55 years, and socially disadvantaged groups, taking into account the key role of local and regional authorities; invites in particular the European Commission to present a draft Council recommendation for a Youth Guarantee Regulation; calls for the inclusion of a concrete local and regional dimension in the National Job Plans;

21.

invites the Commission to ensure that the forthcoming Recommendation on child poverty and child well-being incorporates the suggestions outlined in the CoR’s Opinion on Child Poverty of February 2012 (CdR 333/2011), particularly the adoption of a comprehensive strategy against child poverty and social exclusion that includes national, regional and local levels as well as the setting-up of a monitoring framework based on sound indicators, also linked with the existing reporting mechanism under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CoR is convinced that in 2013 an evaluation of the impact of the crisis on child poverty based on specific reporting from Member States under the NRPs and the Europe 2020 strategy is needed;

EU budget

22.

recalls that in times of crisis and austerity the EU budget should lever as much public and private co-financing as possible at all levels of governance (7); regrets the lack of statistical data that would allow a robust evaluation of such leverage and multiplier effects;

23.

supports the European Commission’s intention to present a report on the quality of public spending (8) recommends a separation of current spending and investment in the budget deficit calculations so as to avoid investments with long-term net benefits being calculated as a negative;

24.

underlines that synergies can in particular be sought between the EU, national and sub-national budgets, provided that proper and effective coordination mechanisms are in place, such as interoperability between public administrations dealing with budgetary matters, harmonised public-finance accountancy rules and budget cycles and comparable budget structures, and invites the European Commission to issue a Green Paper to explore possible concrete measures in this area;

Single Market, SME and Industry

25.

calls on the European Commission to include a Single Market Act III in its 2013 Work programme, which should include all remaining policy initiatives from the Single Market Act on which action has not yet been taken and keep a balance among the economic, social and governance pillars with respect to the four fundamental freedoms;

26.

requests the Commission to give particular attention to further improving cross-border labour mobility safeguarding workers’ rights and calls for an improved system of recognition of qualifications in order to support the mobility of professionals;

27.

encourages the European Commission to withdraw its Proposal for a Council Regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action in the context of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services which has triggered the early-warning on subsidiarity by 12 national parliaments;

28.

underlines the important role of SMEs in economic regeneration and employment at the local and regional level; this can be further enhanced through the participation of SMEs, universities and local and regional authorities in EU research and innovation funding programmes;

29.

calls on the European Commission to enable easier access for SMEs to finance and to public procurement contracts as well as to further reduce administrative burden;

30.

expects the European Commission to involve the CoR in the review of the flagship initiative on Industrial Policy;

31.

supports the European Parliament request to the Commission to submit, by January 2013, a proposal for a directive, on the basis of Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to ensure access to basic payment services for all consumers legally residing in the Union;

32.

reiterates its call for a European agenda for social housing, which clarifies the competition rules applicable to social housing and empowers local and regional authorities to provide decent and affordable social housing, to promote social mix and to fight discrimination;

33.

asks the European Commission, after the withdrawal of a first draft regulation for the statute of European mutual societies, to rapidly present a revised draft proposal;

Energy

34.

urges a follow-up in 2013 of the Energy Roadmap 2050 to ensure that the local and regional authorities are enabled to bring their contribution to the promotion of decentralised sustainable energy, and energy infrastructure such as smart intergrids, as a key element of resource efficiency and the green economy; therefore calls on the European Commission to develop a comprehensive investment framework with a time horizon of 2030, so as to provide the required certainty for both market actors and local and regional authorities;

35.

calls on the European Commission to assess the options for an additional decentrally-managed financial instrument to stimulate the implementation of the Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) by regional and local authorities and, notably by Covenant of Mayors’ partners; also supports better bundling of financial support measures for energy efficiency and conservation in future EU funding programmes (9);

36.

asks the European Commission to take steps towards resolving connectivity problems between Member States and between regions in Member States; and to promote measures that facilitate the spread of micro-production of energy and its integration into the distribution grids;

37.

calls for access to loans from the European Investment Bank for investments in the areas of energy efficiency and renewables to be facilitated for small and medium sized businesses and local and regional authorities;

Regional Policy

38.

insists on the need to meet the target of early 2013 for the adoption of the legislative package on Cohesion policy 2014-2020 in order to allow local and regional authorities to start Structural Funds programmes on 1 January 2014;

39.

calls on EUROSTAT in conjunction with national statistical agencies to address the need for more timely comparable data on regional GDP;

40.

recalls the need to take the territorial dimension of EU policies into account in a more coherent and stringent manner; suggests that the European Commission include these elements in its future impact assessment activities and report on them regularly (10);

41.

invites the European Commission to extend the scheme of temporary posting of EU civil servants to the sub-national level (instead of focussing on the national level only) in order to improve knowledge within the European institutions of the practice of implementing EU legislation and projects at local and regional level;

Transport

42.

looks forward to the forthcoming proposal on the future of EU ports policy; asks that the proposal be subjected to a territorial impact assessment, and is ready to contribute to this exercise;

43.

points out the importance of sustainable urban mobility and suggests the promotion of electronic and smart ticketing across all modes of transport, including bus, rail, ferry, car sharing, bike sharing and road tolls, with the aim of encouraging better interoperability between systems and increasing the use of public transport;

Environment

44.

observes that the slowdown in improvements to air quality is, to a significant extent, due to a lack of ambition in EU source-based policy and an absence of national measures. Much of the burden and responsibility of solving air-quality problems has been placed on local and regional authorities (11); looks forward to proposals how to address these problems in the forthcoming review of the EU air quality legislation;

45.

expects that in this review the levels of ambition and timeframes of EU emissions (source-based) policy and emissions policy are aligned and that in particular the NEC directive (National Emissions Ceiling) is reinforced in order to reduce background concentrations; that standards for vehicles with regard to NO2/NOx and particulate matter are tightened and emissions from shipping, air traffic and agriculture are also tackled, while simplifying the indicators and criteria for measurement; it also calls for the integration of EU air quality policy with other policy areas, in particular transport, housing, industry, energy and climate;

46.

demands that the EU Adaptation Strategy for climate change include a section on specific adaptation action at regional and municipal level as well as guidelines and support for local and regional decision makers, the setting up of a working group on adaptation strategies in particularly vulnerable European regions, bringing together representatives of the CoR, DG Climate Action, the EEA, the JRC and local and regional networks and associations should also be explored;

Agriculture and maritime policy

47.

stresses the need for a targeted Communication on ‘A new EU quality scheme for local food products’ as local food systems support the local and regional economy by providing employment in agriculture and food production;

48.

would advocate greater flexibility on the part of the Commission in helping to overcome the deadlock between the European Parliament and the Council over the legal basis of the multi-annual plans for the fisheries sector, and trusts that the package of proposals on reforming the common fisheries policy will expand initiatives to promote decentralisation of fisheries policy and implementing measures that provide a response geared to the needs of coastal regions and regions bordering inland waterways and the challenges facing them;

49.

supports the development of the sea basin strategy approach as a integrated maritime policy tool but considers that these strategies, such as the strategy that will be adopted for the Atlantic Area in 2013, must include a stronger territorial dimension and learn from the lessons of the macro-regional strategy approach;

EU Citizenship

50.

calls for the local and regional dimension to be taken into account in initiatives to build upon and strengthen citizens’ rights and in efforts to restore citizens’ trust in the EU and its institutions, and insists on the need to involve children and young people given their ability to exercise citizenship rights and responsibilities; calls on the Commission to focus on this challenge in the activities planned in the framework of the European Year of Citizens 2013 to which the CoR intends to contribute;

51.

is committed to contributing to the follow-up of successful European Citizens’ Initiatives in cooperation with the other EU institutions;

Wider Europe and Europe in the World

52.

requests that the access of local and regional actors in the European neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries to the specific EU funds for this area be facilitated and supports the opening of existing programmes, including EGTC to partners in neighbourhood countries;

53.

reaffirms its intention to continue the positive cooperation with the European Commission in the context of the Local Administration Facility programme in order to improve local capacity building and promote knowledge of EU and its procedures in candidate and pre-candidate countries; invites the Commission to explore the possibility of expanding it to local governments in the ENP countries;

54.

trusts that its recommendations will be duly considered in the process of preparing the Commission work programme for 2013 and instructs the President of the Committee of the Regions to submit the present resolution to the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Parliament, the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU and the forthcoming Irish and Lithuanian Presidencies.

Brussels, 19 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


(1)  COM(2011)777 final.

(2)  CdR 361/2011 fin.

(3)  CdR 42/2012 fin.

(4)  CdR 318/2010, co-rapporteurs: Ms Mercedes Bresso and Mr Ramon Valcarcel Siso.

(5)  Conclusions of the European Council of 28/29 June 2012, page 7.

(6)  CdR 72/2011, rapporteur: Mr. Markku Markkula.

(7)  CdR 318/2010, co-rapporteurs: M Mercedes Bresso and Mr Ramon Valcarcel Siso.

(8)  See COM (2012)299, point 2.1.

(9)  CdR 85/2012, rapporteur Brian Meaney.

(10)  CdR 273/2011, rapporteur: M Luc Van den Brande.

(11)  CdR 329/2011, rapporteur Cor Lamers.


OPINIONS

Committee of the Regions

96th plenary session held on 18 and 19 July 2012

13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/6


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘The global approach to migration and mobility’

2012/C 277/02

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

underlines that respect for the human rights of migrants and solidarity with countries from which the majority of migratory flows originate must underpin all aspects of the Union's migration policy, including in relations with third countries, fully respecting the principles laid down in Article 21(1) of the Treaty on European Union;

believes that careful assessment is needed of all the causes of migration, including climate change, with a view to defining a proper legal framework for those fleeing their country of origin as a result of natural disaster or climate conditions that threaten their survival or physical safety;

believes that the global approach to migration requires multi-level governance in order to guarantee that it is managed at the level most appropriate to the circumstances, upholding the principle of subsidiarity, with a view to ensuring the greatest possible well-being for people both in countries of origin and in countries of destination;

calls in particular for regional and local authorities to be taken fully into account in the implementation of the global approach, building on existing decentralised cooperation projects and structured dialogues, such as ARLEM and CORLEAP.

Rapporteur

Nichi VENDOLA (IT/PES), President of the Puglia Region

Reference document

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility

COM(2011) 743 final

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General comments

1.

stresses the importance of the global approach as a reference framework for the European Union's action regarding the worldwide governance of migration and mobility, and as an instrument offering an overall view of migration policies, designed to make the European Union's external relations and development policy activities consistent with its immigration policies;

2.

welcomes the European Commission's initiative of presenting an updated version of the global approach which is more structured and centred on migrants and on respect for human rights in source, transit and destination countries alike;

3.

reaffirms the human right to leave any country, including one's own, and to return to that country (1), as the legal basis for any discussion of migration, and the need to promote migration by choice, regardless of the reasons underlying it or the specific requirements of the country of destination (2);

4.

underlines that respect for the human rights of migrants and solidarity with countries from which the majority of migratory flows originate must underpin all aspects of the Union's migration policy, including in relations with third countries, fully respecting the principles laid down in Article 21(1) of the Treaty on European Union;

5.

believes that effective protection of human rights must be guaranteed when establishing entry opportunities for third-country nationals and in policies on the reception and integration of migrants;

6.

stresses that readmission agreements and visa facilitation agreements, both of the Union and of the Member States, and all actions to combat irregular immigration, must fully respect human rights, in accordance, in particular, with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as consistently stated by the European Court of Human Rights;

7.

stresses that the need to contain migratory flows must never be allowed to take precedence over anybody's right to seek international protection in the Union, which must remain a place of refuge for people fleeing persecution or in need of protection;

8.

notes the risk that the economic crisis affecting most countries of the European Union may exacerbate the inherent tension between border control policies and respect for the human rights of migrants;

9.

believes that careful assessment is needed of all the causes of migration, including climate change (3), with a view to defining a proper legal framework for those fleeing their country of origin as a result of natural disaster or climate conditions that threaten their survival or physical safety (4);

10.

calls on the European Commission to publish the working paper on migration and climate change originally envisaged in its Communication on migration of 4 May 2011 (5);

11.

considers that in order to make the global approach effective it is necessary to strengthen coordination between the European Union and the national, regional and local levels, and with third countries;

12.

reiterates what the Committee of the Regions has previously stated, i.e. ‘local and regional authorities are first to be significantly affected by a common immigration policy. On the one hand, they are particularly affected by the difficulties of illegal immigration, while, on the other, they are responsible for providing immigrants with a range of services as part of the local integration process. For this reason they must be fully involved in the development of a European framework for legal immigration, in measures to combat illegal immigration and in development cooperation with countries of origin’ (6);

13.

welcomes the considerable progress made on making transfers of money by migrants to their countries of origin more transparent and secure and less costly, and supports the initiatives backed by the European Commission to channel remittances of funds from migrants towards productive investment;

14.

is pleased that the global approach stresses the role which third-country nationals living outside their countries can play both in development policies and in the regulation of migratory flows, promoting support measures on departure and integration measures in the countries of destination;

The role of regional and local authorities in the implementation of the global approach

15.

believes that the global approach to migration requires multi-level governance in order to guarantee that it is managed at the level most appropriate to the circumstances, upholding the principle of subsidiarity, with a view to ensuring the greatest possible well-being for people both in countries of origin and in countries of destination;

16.

considers that regional and local authorities are key actors in the global approach, as both promoters and implementers of social and employment policies, reception and integration policies, and the management of irregular immigration, and also as organisers of in-depth dialogue and varied forms of cooperation with countries of origin and transit (7);

17.

notes that regional and local authorities already promote dialogue initiatives with their counterparts in third countries, many of which are countries of origin and transit for migrants, and promote decentralised cooperation projects;

18.

believes that ARLEM – the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly – and CORLEAP – the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership – should be seen as ideal fora for dialogue with the regional authorities of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe on immigration and development policies;

19.

believes that the greatest possible compatibility should be sought between Member States' bilateral initiatives and the existing regional and bilateral dialogues, which are viewed as an instrument of the Union's external policy in the field of immigration, and that one way of ensuring this is through full recognition of the dialogue initiatives promoted by regional and local authorities;

20.

urges the institutions to see regional and local authorities as leading players in the global approach, in accordance with their competences in the national context, by means of instruments which allocate Union funds to them, without the intervention of central government authorities, and in accordance with the existing differences within the various Member States;

21.

urges the Commission to promote innovative projects to help match employment supply and demand, using regional and local authorities as intermediaries, given their competences in this sector in many Member States, with a view to creating an effective instrument for tackling the skills shortage in certain segments of the labour market;

22.

wishes regional and local authorities also to be involved in the updating of the EU immigration portal, thereby ensuring that it offers relevant information for immigrants regarding regions, cities and municipalities of destination;

The relationship between immigration policies and development cooperation policies

23.

stresses the importance of ensuring that the Union's migration and development policy and its external immigration and asylum policy are mutually consistent at all times. In particular, the Union's and the Member States' actions in third countries should always be based primarily on the principles of solidarity and co-development, in order to tackle the underlying causes of migration and to defeat poverty, paying particular attention to the mobilisation of domestic resources in those countries, as well as support for strengthening institutions and improving governance and the rule of law, which are key to fostering economic and social change;

24.

urges the Commission to distribute resources to developing countries, on the basis of development cooperation principles, priorities and strategies, while also taking account of the ‘more for more’ principle;

25.

believes that the principle of reciprocity must dovetail with development cooperation principles, particularly in the context of mobility partnerships and the common agenda on migration and mobility (8);

26.

considers that when implementing the global approach, adequate protection must be provided for all vulnerable groups, in particular unaccompanied minors, both by guiding actions properly in third countries and by offering appropriate forms of reception and social integration in Member States, while also fostering the dissemination of the good practices of many regional and local authorities in the Member States; also asks the European Commission to effectively implement the measures contained in the action plan on unaccompanied minors;

27.

calls for a bona fide gender-based approach with a view to enhancing the specific role played by women in migration and in the social integration of the whole family group in host countries;

28.

points out that the Union's immigration policy could contradict its development cooperation policies, since it seeks to attract talent from third countries in pursuit of the economic and demographic development objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy;

29.

questions whether the brain drain caused by the policy of selective migration can be contained by means of circular migration, since it is not yet at all clear how effective it will be and what real impact it will have;

30.

believes also that circular migration may be not be compatible with the objective of integrating migrants and that integration strategies should therefore be drawn up which are specifically aimed at these workers, so that they can integrate effectively despite the fact that their stay in the European Union is not intended to be long-lasting (9);

31.

believes that the recognition of diplomas and qualifications under harmonised conditions is crucial in terms of preventing ‘brain waste’, ensuring the proper integration of migrants and their reintegration into the country of origin in the case of circular migration;

32.

calls on the European Commission to back measures to support States in the process of simplifying the recognition of diplomas and qualifications, and to promote informal recognition of skills, with a view to facilitating the movement of third-country workers within the European labour market;

33.

trusts that requests for third-country cooperation in containing migratory flows will never lead to the denial of each person's human right to leave a country, including their own, particularly when third countries are asked to control emigration on the basis of the laws of the State of destination;

34.

believes that there must be greater investment in development cooperation projects aimed at the education and health sectors, directly involving universities and promoting the mobility of researchers and all academic staff;

35.

supports the petition submitted to the European Parliament for the adoption of a Euro-Mediterranean Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci programme, as a specific instrument for reciprocal mobility between students from each shore of the Mediterranean;

36.

wishes the mobility of young people, and of students in particular, to be effectively promoted, including by simplifying the issuing of visas, cutting red tape and allocating sufficient financial resources;

37.

believes that the Erasmus for all programme should be fostered and supported, as well as the existing good practices in exchanges amongst young people, such as the Eurodissey programme promoted by the Assembly of European Regions;

38.

considers that more analysis is needed of the migratory pressures caused by economic imbalances, with a view to devising effective responses; these should include schemes which also guarantee mobility for unskilled workers, for whom there is still a great demand in certain Member States, which cannot be tackled solely by means of circular migration;

39.

believes that third-country nationals living outside their countries should also be involved in pre-departure measures, making use of existing websites directly managed by immigrants' associations, which provide ad hoc information in a language understood by potential migrants;

40.

welcomes the enhancement of pre-departure measures, which require more investment, involving NGOs already operating in the countries of origin of migrants and the local and regional authorities involved in procedures for the reception and integration of migrants and their families;

Combating irregular immigration

41.

welcomes the Union's commitment to combating irregular immigration, and in particular the smuggling and trafficking of human beings and measures against employers of irregular workers;

42.

stresses the importance of an approach to combating irregular immigration which considers that migrants may be possible victims of illegal human trafficking and must therefore be protected;

43.

urges the European Commission to continue initiatives to analyse and combat undeclared employment, which is a scourge for the entire Union's economy and provides an incentive for the entry of irregular migrants, who may then be exploited in the labour market or used as a tool of criminal networks;

44.

notes that considerable financial resources have also been invested in measures to combat irregular immigration, not least the border-control operations carried out by the Frontex agency;

45.

stresses the need to respect human rights, particularly the principle of non-refoulement, at every stage in border control, and the related obligation for the EU institutions – in particular the European Parliament – to closely monitor Frontex's activities;

46.

believes that there should be similar checks on international cooperation directly managed by Frontex, which has the power to conclude international agreements of a technical nature with third countries: the content of these should be more transparent and their scope precisely stipulated;

47.

considers it necessary to carry out careful cost/benefit assessments of all existing instruments in order to compare their efficiency, including the costs of repatriation procedures (detention and forced removal) and the amount of resources spent by States on voluntary repatriation compared to forced repatriation;

48.

believes that insufficient flexibility in national legislation should not mean that foreign nationals residing legally become irregular and increase the number of ‘overstayers’;

49.

believes that the European Union institutions and the Member States should give serious consideration to the possibility of entry into the European Union to seek work, as expressly mentioned in Article 79(5) TFEU;

50.

considers that providing regular entry channels is a key instrument for combating irregular immigration and reducing the number of ‘overstayers’, as well as ensuring a degree of solidarity in relations with countries of origin of migratory flows;

51.

urges the institutions to incorporate the readmission strategy in the global approach, in order to ensure that the strategy is underpinned by development cooperation principles and does not become a separate or conflicting aspect;

52.

believes that readmission agreements must be subject to periodic assessments, particularly with regard to the obligation for transit countries to re-admit not just their own nationals but also foreigners who have passed through their country on the way to the Union. These people could find themselves left in no-man's-land, exacerbating the situation in transit countries and putting them at serious risk of human rights violations;

External dimension of asylum

53.

considers that strengthening third countries' asylum systems must not be seen as a way to avoid recognising the right to international protection in the EU;

54.

welcomes the fact that, in regional protection programmes, the Union has acted in conjunction with the UNHCR, although the protection provided by the Union is greater than that recognised by the Geneva Convention on Refugees, since it also includes subsidiary protection and protection against treatment violating the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

55.

considers that the Union's action must never be aimed at preventing asylum seekers from leaving a country in order to seek protection in an EU Member State;

56.

believes that the Dublin II regulation must be revised, particularly in view of the clear criticism from the Court of Justice of the European Union, in order to guarantee effective solidarity between the Member States, while fully respecting human rights, including the right to family reunification;

57.

calls on the Commission to include clauses to protect asylum seekers and refugees in mobility partnerships;

58.

urges the institutions, together with the Member States, to make the sea search and rescue system more effective, in particular by improving coordination and setting common criteria for identifying the most appropriate safe location for rescued migrants to disembark;

Final considerations

59.

calls on the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament to keep open the debate on the four pillars of the global approach, so that all potential stakeholders can be fully involved in its implementation;

60.

calls in particular for regional and local authorities to be taken fully into account in the implementation of the global approach, building on existing decentralised cooperation projects and structured dialogues, such as ARLEM and CORLEAP;

61.

calls on the European Commission to continue its analysis of the causes and characteristics of migration worldwide, with a view to devising effective strategies for dealing with it which are based on solidarity with third countries;

62.

deplores policies which criminalise migrants and welcomes measures to combat the criminal networks to which they fall victim;

63.

calls for a policy to combat irregular immigration which is not based solely on border controls and the interception of migrants on departure, but also on effective legal entry opportunities which are also open to less-skilled workers, taking into account the specificities of the individual Member States.

Brussels, 18 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


(1)  Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 2(2) of Protocol 4 to the ECHR; Article 12(2) of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(2)  Resolution of the European Parliament P6_TA(2006)0319 on Development and Migration adopted on 6 July 2006.

(3)  CoR Opinion ENVE-V-008 on The role of regional and local authorities in promoting the sustainable management of water, 30 June–1 July 2011, point 14; ARLEM SUDEV opinion on The link between desertification and climate change in the Mediterranean, 31 January 2012.

(4)  http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e4a5096.html.

(5)  Communication on migration, COM(2011) 248, p. 21.

(6)  Opinion CONST-IV-017 on A Common immigration policy for Europe, adopted at the plenary session of 26-27 November 2008, rapporteur: Mr Jostmeier.

(7)  CoR opinion CONST-IV-017 on A Common immigration policy for Europe, 26-27 November 2008, point 5.

(8)  The Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (COM(2011) 290) is based entirely on this approach.

(9)  Draft CoR opinion on The renewed EU agenda for integration, point 60; draft CIVEX opinion on The right to family reunification, rapporteur: Mr Soave, point 11.


13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/12


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum’

2012/C 277/03

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS,

points to the capital importance of asylum as a human right, but also as an achievement of civilisation, enshrined in international legal documents such as the Geneva Convention, the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and in the legislation of all the Member States bar none, the cornerstone of the asylum system being the principle of non-refoulement;

points out that with reference to Article 80 TFEU, solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibility together form the institutional concepts governing the whole range of European policies which, in the context of the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ), cover the movement of persons, in this case, the management and crossing of external borders, asylum and international protection and immigration. This article provides an adequate legal basis for European legislative measures aimed at increasing solidarity and encouraging the fair sharing of responsibilities;

points out that the current situation shows that in matters of asylum, practical solidarity is needed between the EU and the Member States and expresses its conviction that it will not be possible to achieve a common and high level of international protection for those seeking international protection or entitled to it unless mechanisms are in place that take account of the major disparities between the individual Member States, in terms both of the number of third-country nationals they receive on their soil and of the financial, technical and other options available for managing these migratory flows;

underlines the local and regional dimension of solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibilities in terms of political asylum, and points out that local authorities play a major role in informing their citizens and that they can help raise awareness regarding questions of asylum and international protection, thereby positively influencing the way the local community receives and accepts incomers;

Rapporteur

Theodoros GKOTSOPOULOS (EL/PES), Municipal Councillor, Pallini, Attica

Reference

Communication from the Commission on enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum – An EU agenda for better responsibility-sharing and more mutual trust

COM(2011) 835 final

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS,

General comments

1.

points out that mixed migration flows are a feature of everyday life in all the EU Member States where they are currently making the headlines, mainly because of the political upheavals in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, but also because of the broader political situation in areas such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, or Iraq and Iran, which is prompting fresh displacements of people towards Europe. These migration flows are placing a burden to differing degrees on the EU's external borders and, as a consequence, on the asylum facilities of some Member States, thereby generating humanitarian challenges;

2.

emphasises that the acute economic crisis affecting the EU's Mediterranean countries in particular, which are receiving a disproportionate number of asylum seekers, and their subsequent inability to manage this issue as effectively as is needed, are negative factors in terms of taking the situation in hand and are worsening an already bleak situation;

3.

deems it necessary to draw up a meaningful common European migration and asylum policy, in accordance with the provisions of the Stockholm programme. It should be anchored in an integrated approach, based partly on the effective management of legal immigration and combating illegal immigration, but also and above all on strengthening asylum systems;

4.

points to the capital importance of asylum as a human right, but also as an achievement of civilisation, enshrined in international legal documents such as the Geneva Convention, the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and in the legislation of all the Member States bar none, the cornerstone of the asylum system being the principle of non-refoulement;

5.

refers to the rights associated with the right to asylum, i.e. the right to dignity, the prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment, the protection to be given in the event of removal or expulsion, separation or extradition and the right to effective remedy and fair judgment, together with the right to family reunification;

6.

recognises that progress has been made in establishing a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) but believes that it is necessary to repeat the call made by the Stockholm programme for this to be completed by 2012 and to call on the Member States, the Council and the European Parliament to demonstrate the political commitment needed to conclude negotiations on reviewing the directives governing reception conditions and asylum procedures, together with the reform of the Dublin Regulation and the Eurodac system;

7.

stresses that it is intended that the CEAS be guided in its action by the practical defence of the rights of individuals who need international protection and not just by the desire for security in the narrow sense of the term or to safeguard national sovereignty;

8.

wishes to affirm that a truly common asylum system is based on uniform rights and procedures across the whole of the EU, in order to eliminate the risk of major disparities in the way such cases are handled, and therefore approves of the efforts being made to amend existing legislation with a view to moving towards the introduction of common rules rather than minimum standards;

9.

points to the recent rulings by the courts in Strasbourg and Luxembourg (1) which, more than anything else, highlight (a) the major shortcomings in existing legal arrangements and more specifically, the Dublin Regulation and (b) the loopholes which, in the current tense climate, seriously threaten the protection of the rights of those seeking international protection and which stem from differences in the political, legal and practical approaches pursued by the various Member States. These rulings underline the need to establish a common European asylum system in due and proper form and, as part of this undertaking, to strengthen the Dublin Regulation with provisions that address the causes of the crises and thereby ensure that the shortcomings inherent in the individual Member States' systems do not have damaging effects, either on the systems as a whole, or on the protection of human rights;

10.

feels that, faced with the scale of migration, major changes must be made to EU asylum policy and that the need to implement effective policies and methods is becoming urgent;

11.

points out that with reference to Article 80 TFEU, solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibility together form the institutional concepts governing the whole range of European policies which, in the context of the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ), cover the movement of persons, in this case, the management and crossing of external borders, asylum and international protection and immigration. This article provides an adequate legal basis for European legislative measures aimed at increasing solidarity and encouraging the fair sharing of responsibilities;

12.

recognises that solidarity is closely linked to responsibility and encourages all Member States to put their own house in order by honouring and enforcing the commitments they have made at international and EU levels. Nevertheless, the Committee emphasises that a narrow concept of responsibility must not be set up as a prerequisite for solidarity in legal or practical terms; there are cases in which a practical show of solidarity can be useful in helping to ensure compliance with commitments;

13.

points out that the current situation shows that in matters of asylum, practical solidarity, as set out in Article 80 TFUE, is needed between the EU and the Member States and expresses its conviction that it will not be possible to achieve a common and high level of international protection for those seeking international protection or entitled to it unless mechanisms are in place that take account of the major disparities between the individual Member States, in terms both of the number of third-country nationals they receive on their soil - whether they be economic migrants or applicants for international protection – and of the financial, technical and other options available for managing these migratory flows;

14.

notes that the Commission communication provides an analytical description of the current situation and lists the tools available for enhancing solidarity, but nevertheless laments the absence of proposals for positive measures to encourage solidarity and make it easier to share responsibilities;

15.

welcomes the Council initiative to establish a ‘common framework for solidarity towards Member States facing particular pressures on their asylum systems, including through mixed migration flows’ (2);

16.

nevertheless emphasises that positive measures to encourage solidarity and shared responsibilities would mean stricter observance of human rights and the concepts of justice, fairness, cooperation and political involvement. These provisions would need to comply with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

17.

points out in this respect that it is not possible to consider the European Commission's communication entirely in terms of complying with the subsidiarity principle, insofar as it essentially describes the way in which the existing instruments and EU legislation can help enhance solidarity. However, to the extent that it refers to possible future initiatives, relating, for example, to programmes for relocating recognised refugees, or regulations for jointly considering asylum requests where there are grounds for believing that they would have repercussions on matters which had hitherto been closely linked with questions of Member States' national sovereignty (such as considering asylum applications or the reception of asylum seekers) and which could have broader political, legal or financial implications, the Committee calls on the European Commission to pay the due and necessary attention to their drafting;

18.

points out that the concept of solidarity also has an external component which, in this case, relates to the solidarity between the EU and other regions of the world affected by humanitarian crises and which, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), take in the overwhelming majority of refugees and those seeking international protection. It is therefore essential for Member States to work with third countries on development cooperation in an attempt to create better economic and social conditions and to consolidate peace. However, support for third-country asylum systems cannot be considered as a means of avoiding granting the right to international protection within the EU or of transferring procedures outside its borders, but must be seen simply as a tool for improving economic and social conditions in third countries;

19.

calls on the relevant institutions and the EU Member States to do more to actively urge the countries bordering the EU to meet the obligations they assume both under international law and vis-à-vis the EU and the Member States, particularly relating to countries that have reached readmission agreements with the EU;

The role of local and regional authorities

20.

emphasises the local and regional dimension of solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibilities in terms of political asylum. Local and regional authorities situated close to the EU's external borders particularly find themselves on the front line as regards implementing European asylum legislation and the CEAS. The same applies to municipal authorities and major conurbations, which record a constant increase in flows of refugees and asylum seekers. Local and regional authorities play an important role in the reception of asylum seekers, refugees and beneficiaries of international protection and, in some Member States, are responsible for initial contacts with the new arrivals;

21.

underlines that, despite the well-established role they play, local and regional authorities are not included at all in the concepts of solidarity and the sharing of responsibilities, which at present apply only to the Member States. Furthermore, programming and discussions at political level only take account of the financial impact on Member States and not the repercussions for social cohesion felt at local and regional levels when receiving third country nationals, whereas it is the regional authorities that are called upon in the first instance to deal with the issue;

22.

consequently plans to directly draft positions and proposals calling for local and regional authorities to be able to be actively involved in the arrangements for relocating refugees and in operating the mechanisms for delivering help, support and solidarity for people seeking the right to asylum or who have been granted it; indeed, in some Member States, legislative measures have already been adopted which recognise this type of responsibility for regional governments;

23.

points out that local authorities play a major role in informing their citizens and that, with their long and remarkable history of cooperation with NGOs and civil society organisations they can help raise awareness regarding questions of asylum and international protection, thereby positively influencing the way the local community receives and accepts incomers;

Better shared responsibilities and governance for asylum

24.

stresses the need to thoroughly overhaul the Dublin Regulation, within the framework of the European Commission's 2008 proposal (3). To date, merely the fact of implementing the criterion of the first point of entry in the Union has helped to increase tensions in certain Member States' asylum systems and means that implementing this regulation is simply a matter of geographic location, which makes a mockery of the concept of solidarity. The Committee therefore urges Member States, the Council and the European Parliament to draw up a new procedure for crisis management and examine some positive solidarity measures likely to mitigate the harmful consequences these arrangements have so far had;

25.

recalls that in a previous opinion (4), it had welcomed the European Commission's proposal that transfers of those seeking international protection under the terms of the revised Dublin Regulation should be temporarily suspended when a Member State is faced with a particularly urgent situation which might place an increased burden on its reception facilities or asylum infrastructure. However, it completely understands the difficulty involved in gaining acceptance for and implementing such a measure and appreciates the relevance of the counter-proposal advocating the creation of an early warning and assessment mechanism that would cover all operational aspects of the Member States' asylum systems;

26.

given the comments above, considers it appropriate to emphasise that the effectiveness of this proposed early warning and assessment mechanism will depend to a large extent on the availability of reliable and up-to-date information, sound cooperation between the Member States and the EU's ability to make good any shortcomings and rectify as quickly as possible any potential problems flagged up. Moreover, the Committee draws attention to the invaluable help that might be provided by organisations such as the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and national refugee councils, together with other NGOs and, above all, local and regional authorities;

27.

believes that the proposal to extend the voluntary relocation of recognised refugees, using the pilot programme operated in Malta as a model, is a positive step towards enhancing solidarity. The Committee therefore calls on the European Commission and the Member States to consider the possibility that such relocation might become mandatory under certain circumstances (for example, when requested by the Member State in question, or when a conclusion to this effect has been reached previously in the context of the early warning mechanism and the European Asylum Support Office has given its opinion on the matter, or even when the persons in question agree to the measure). It calls on the European Commission and the Member States to seriously consider whether those seeking international protection might also be the subject of relocation and, accordingly, calls on the European Commission to review the legal, economic and technical study that has been carried out (5);

28.

notes that practical and legal difficulties have been observed with regard to relocation due to the lack of a system for the mutual recognition of international protection decisions; for this reason calls on the European Commission to consider the necessary measures to address the situation;

29.

agrees with the UNHCR's proposal for establishing a ‘formula’ for ensuring that a relocation system works and takes account of aspects such as the GDP of the country concerned, its surface area, its natural and other resources, its population, reception facilities, the total number of arrivals requesting asylum and its resettlement commitments, to list just a few criteria (6);

30.

welcomes the recent decision of the European Parliament leading to the conclusion of the common European resettlement programme, which it feels will help enhance the external dimension of solidarity, and calls on Member States to honour the commitments they have entered into as part of the UNHCR's programmes in the meantime;

31.

welcomes the prospect of a joint examination of asylum applications involving as many Member States as possible, the EASO and possibly the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, whilst nevertheless pointing out that this must be done in compliance with the principle that those requesting international protection must be examined individually. The Committee therefore calls on the European Commission to carry out a legal, economic and technical study and to inform it of the findings;

32.

also considers that Directive 2001/55/EC, which provides for a specific and exceptional solidarity measure to give temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and to ensure a balance of efforts between Member States, is of the utmost importance, even though it has not been implemented to date. The Committee therefore considers it appropriate to revise the Directive so that it is easier to determine, on the basis of objective and quantitative criteria, that a mass influx of displaced persons is actually taking place, and to consider, moreover, whether the system might be triggered by a request to this effect from one or several regions;

33.

welcomes the fact that Directive 2003/109/EC concerning the status of long-term residents has been amended so that it also covers beneficiaries of international protection. In practice, this extension will mean that after a five-year residence period and subject to certain conditions, recognised refugees will be able to settle in a Member State other than that which first conferred international protection. Although this does not, strictly speaking, constitute a solidarity measure, this decision could conceivably help to reduce pressure and improve integration. The Committee accordingly calls on Member States to swiftly transpose amending directive 2011/51/EU (7) into their national legislation;

Cooperation on the ground

34.

notes that practical cooperation is a basic pillar of the CEAS and welcomes the substantial contribution made by EU bodies, one of the foremost of which is the EASO, and also Frontex, which helps to deal with certain practical situations of an exceptional nature, for example in the cases of Malta and Greece, whilst pointing out that the actions of these specialised bodies must be accompanied by guarantees for maintaining the rights of those seeking international protection;

35.

believes that it is particularly important to avoid practices that result in making it impossible to exercise the right to apply for asylum. The Committee consequently calls on Frontex to focus more clearly on respect for human rights when undertaking the tasks conferred on it in terms of protecting the EU's external borders. It considers that a first step has been taken in this direction with the recent amendment of the regulation establishing Frontex, which makes it compulsory for this body to draw up a fundamental rights strategy, set up an advisory forum and create a post with responsibility for fundamental rights (8). In this respect, it recognises the role likely to be played by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which has already looked into the human rights situation at the EU's external borders (9), and encourages it to broaden its investigations in this area and to allow Frontex and the EASO to benefit from its advice and know-how;

36.

underlines the need to enhance the EASO's operational capabilities in order to render it more effective in assisting local and regional authorities with its immediate support, expertise and technical know-how and calls for a closer involvement of LRAs in the EASO's consultative forum; welcomes the European Commission's stated intention to assess the effects of the EASO's activities in 2013 and expresses its desire to be involved in this initiative;

37.

deems education to be of supreme importance as a more specific practical cooperation measure on the part of the EASO and insists on the possibility of greater practical harmonisation that will finalise and comprehensively implement the European asylum curriculum. With this in mind, the Committee proposes that the EASO create training programmes that could be useful for officials in local and regional administrations when they are involved in receiving those seeking international protection;

Economic and financial solidarity

38.

recognises that the EU has created a range of useful instruments over the past few years, the foremost of which is the European Refugee Fund, which enables Member States to implement European asylum policy more effectively;

39.

welcomes the proposed simplification in the architecture of the European funding mechanisms for asylum and migration through the proposal to create a Fund for migration and asylum, which will have a budget of EUR 3,87 billion for the integrated management of migratory flows and will cover various aspects of the common asylum and migration policy over the period 2014-2020. The Committee hopes that this development will go hand in hand with a streamlining of procedures;

40.

stresses the need for sufficient funding to be allocated to measures to enhance solidarity, which could involve supporting the efforts agreed for improving the basic conditions of asylum systems when necessary, giving practical assistance to Member States and regions under exceptional pressure or implementing relocation or resettlement programmes;

41.

emphasises that it is essential that the funding allocated to asylum and international protection match the EU's international commitments so that a due and proper balance may be created between expenditure on security and border management and spending on areas such as reception conditions for asylum seekers, which are areas in which local and regional authorities can provide significant added value;

42.

urges the European Commission and the Member States to do their utmost to fully implement the principle of partnership on which the operation of the Fund is based, so as to guarantee that all local and regional stakeholders are involved in identifying funding priorities and assessing the initiatives undertaken; this implementation should adhere to the implementing framework laid down in Chapter IV of the proposed regulation laying down general provisions on the Asylum and Migration Fund (COM(2011) 752 final);

43.

therefore calls on each Member State to make provision for representatives from their local and regional authorities to be involved in the political dialogue for establishing the Fund's annual priorities (10).

Brussels, 18 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


(1)  In the case M.S.S v Belgium and Greece, judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 21 January 2011 and in the case N. S. v the UK Secretary of State for the Home Department and others, judgment of the European Court of Justice on 21 December 2011 on the joined cases C-411/10 and C-493/10 regarding references for a preliminary ruling.

(2)  3151st Justice and Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 8 March 2012.

(3)  COM(2008) 820 final.

(4)  CdR 90/2009, The future Common European Asylum System II.

(5)  Study on the feasibility of establishing a mechanism for the relocation of beneficiaries of international protection, point 27, JLS/2009/ERFX/PR/1005 – 70092056:

http://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/doc_centre/asylum/docs/final_report_relocation_of_refugees.pdf.

(6)  The challenges of mixed migration, access to protection and responsibility-sharing in the EU – UNHCR non-paper, paragraph 28: http://www.unhcr.org/4a44dd756.html.

(7)  OJ L 132, 19.5.2001, p. 1.

(8)  Regulation (EU) 1168/2011, OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 1.

(9)  Report on Coping with a fundamental rights emergency – The situation of persons crossing the Greek land border in an irregular manner.

(10)  Article 13 of the proposal for a regulation laying down general provisions on the Asylum and Migration Fund, COM(2011) 752 final.


13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/18


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘Future cities: Environmentally and socially sustainable cities’

2012/C 277/04

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

supports the call for holistic strategies for sustainable urban development and for horizontal and vertical cooperation in a participatory governance system that takes account of the diversity of cities and the importance of social innovation and future-oriented planning;

underlines the need to counter the widening economic and social divisions in our society with investment in education for everyone from early childhood onwards, inclusive labour market measures, lifelong learning, an active integration policy and pay that is fair, meets people’s needs and is equal for women and men;

highlights the importance of catering to needs that are vital for society – i.e. providing access to housing, crèches, kindergartens, areas where children can play safely and develop – and which can help remove the barriers to people starting or extending a family;

emphasises the challenges posed by climate change and the need to cut back energy consumption by means of energy recovery processes and improved energy efficiency, interconnected systems, the expansion of green-field sites and open spaces, new construction methods and resource-neutral, health-promoting and safe forms of transport;

highlights the importance of culture and creativity, not only for economic growth, but also for generating a good quality of life, practical democracy, peace and mutual respect;

stresses the fundamental importance of public participation in shaping policies;

deems the European institutions’ various efforts to support cities to be necessary and calls for a clear signal to be sent out in the next funding period to the effect that cities are to be supported through a strong urban dimension, flexibility in resource deployment and a central role for local authorities in the implementation of cohesion policy;

welcomes the further development of sustainable funding instruments in structural policy which constitute creative, stable funding mechanisms.

Rapporteur

Hella DUNGER-LÖPER (DE/PES), Plenipotentiary of the Land of Berlin for Federal and European Affairs

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

Background and reason for drawing up an opinion

1.

appreciates the fact that the Danish presidency of the EU has referred this subject to the Committee for an opinion and also that the presidency played an active part in the 5th Summit of the Regions and Cities, held in Copenhagen on 22 and 23 March 2012, the topic of which was ‘The European urban fabric in the 21st century’, thus expressing recognition of the contribution that cities and regions make to European integration and their key role in achieving the Europe 2020 strategy goals;

2.

is interested to note the European Commission’s report on Cities of Tomorrow: Challenges, visions, ways forward (October 2011) and shares the view set out therein that the city of tomorrow will be ‘a place of advanced social progress with a high degree of social cohesion, socially balanced housing as well as social, health and “education for all” Services’, ‘a platform for democracy, cultural dialogue and diversity’, ‘a place of green, ecological or environmental regeneration’ and ‘a place of attraction and an engine of economic growth’;

3.

shares the concern expressed in the above-mentioned report about the future of cities, in terms of potential threats from demographic change, negative growth and the weakening links between economic growth, employment and social progress. Further potential threats are to be seen in growing income disparities, increasing social polarisation and segregation and the rising number of ‘dropouts from society’, as well as in urban sprawl and the increasing pressure on urban ecosystems;

4.

stresses that the European Union as a whole can only achieve the Europe 2020 strategy goals if cities, in their capacity as a locus of social and economic innovation, are in a position to contribute fully to smart, inclusive and sustainable growth and to economic, social and territorial cohesion;

5.

therefore welcomes the recommendations of the Cities of tomorrow report that cities be strengthened by promoting sustainable local structures to create a resilient, inclusive economy, by making use of the potential offered by different generations and socio-economic, cultural and ethnic diversity and by combating social exclusion and poverty through: improvements to housing; a holistic approach to environmental and energy policy strategies; the creation and upkeep of attractive open public spaces; support for sustainable, inclusive and health-promoting transport systems; and the promotion of balanced territorial development;

6.

supports the call for holistic strategies for sustainable urban development and for horizontal and vertical cooperation in a participatory governance system that includes all levels of government and policy areas and takes account of the diversity of cities and the importance of social innovation and future-oriented planning;

7.

refers to the Committee of the Regions’ Copenhagen Declaration of 23 March 2012, which called for greener, more socially inclusive and more economically competitive cities, urging the EU institutions to embed the Europe 2020 strategy locally, provide adequate financial resources for a cross-cutting urban policy, give greater priority to territorial cooperation between European cities and give cities and regions a bigger role in shaping European policies, undertake more efforts to promote decentralisation in EU Member States and provide cities and regions with more financial leeway;

8.

points out that its opinion on The role of urban regeneration in the future of urban development in Europe of 10 June 2010 advocated strengthening the urban dimension of all European Union policy areas;

Comments

9.

notes that cities have always reflected the social conditions of the time. The shape of the cities of the future and the quality of life they provide will be hallmarked by economic and social decisions and developments at all levels of political and economic responsibility;

10.

points out that the importance of cities for the European Union goes far beyond economic and demographic aspects. Beautiful, smart, energy- and resource-efficient, green and inclusive cities provide a basis for people in our society to live together in harmony with mutual support;

11.

highlights that cities are closely and inextricably linked with their surrounding areas through social and economic ties, and for this reason too have an important role to play in balanced territorial development;

12.

stresses in this connection that the rigid distinction hitherto drawn between cities and their surrounding areas will no longer be suitable for dealing with the issues that will crop up in the future and must give way to an approach to interaction based on functionality and interdependence;

13.

underlines the fact that European cities, in comparison to other cities across the world, are hallmarked by democratic self-determination, strong civil society, social integration, effective interaction between what is private and what is public, an assurance of freedom and emancipation and a highly developed urban planning culture;

14.

has noticed that de-industrialisation and globalisation have meant that key foundations for social and economic integration have disappeared. In both prosperous and poorer areas, new strategies are being deployed to reinforce social cohesion, which until now, at least, have barely managed to stem the trend towards increasing segmentation of society. Instead, social divisions and segregation are on the increase in many places, despite the afore-mentioned efforts to the contrary, and they pose a major challenge for people living together in urban areas;

15.

points out that it is urgent that we counter the widening economic and social divisions in our society with investment in education for everyone from early childhood onwards, inclusive labour market measures, lifelong learning, an active integration policy and pay that is fair, meets people’s needs and is equal for women and men; points out that economic development and the creation of more jobs in cities are crucial in this respect;

16.

is concerned to note that these problems have been exacerbated in some big cities, resulting in violent protests. They also express many people’s distrust of the political establishment;

17.

points out the local impact of demographic change and an ageing population, which is creating new demands on social infrastructures and public areas. The growing phenomenon of poverty in old age is creating a need for sustainable social security systems and services which are accessible, sensitive to cultural differences and affordable;

18.

stresses in this connection that Europe, despite today’s drastically high levels of youth unemployment, will in the coming decades depend on young immigrants to generate economic growth and to cushion the impact of the aging population on social security and health systems. Open, attractive cities are necessary to encourage immigration. Nevertheless, in cities immigrants and ethnic minorities have until now often suffered significant discrimination in access to education, employment, housing and medical care. Effective local integration strategies are therefore a necessary integral part of any forward-looking migration policy;

19.

highlights the importance of catering to needs that are vital for society – i.e. providing access to housing, crèches, kindergartens, areas where children can play safely and develop – and which can help remove the barriers to people starting or extending a family. That is why any measures that contribute to a positive population growth should be supported;

20.

emphasises the challenges posed by climate change and the need to cut back energy consumption by means of energy recovery processes and improved energy efficiency, interconnected systems, the expansion of green-field sites and open spaces, new construction methods and resource-neutral, health-promoting and safe forms of transport;

21.

highlights the importance of culture and creativity, not only for economic growth, but also for generating a good quality of life, practical democracy, peace and mutual respect. Urban culture also covers the preservation of urban architecture and planning concepts, good quality public spaces accessible to everyone and consideration of local and regional features;

22.

stresses the fundamental importance of public participation in shaping policies, so as to win people’s trust and strengthen social cohesion; this participation of citizens is only possible if cities’ administrations are open and transparent about the principles underlying their decisions and policies;

23.

deems the European institutions’ various efforts to support cities through programmes and initiatives to be necessary, since local authorities which do not have adequate financial resources of their own are dependent on such support;

24.

is concerned to note that despite the declarations of intent contained in the Leipzig Charter, and the associated political process, Member States’ commitment to urban policy in the last few years has waned rather than waxed. This is illustrated by the fact that to date it has scarcely been possible to give priority to urban policy issues in relevant policy areas such as employment, the environment, education and science, and housing. This problem is also reflected in reduced budgets for urban policy programmes. EU level resources should be identified and deployed as quickly as possible to allow cities to respond flexibly to these different problems;

25.

is concerned at the fact that local authorities’ budget allocations are catastrophically low in most Member States and that, given national budgetary priorities, this is not going to improve unless the Member States change tack on this issue;

26.

sees that, given the current acute social, economic and environmental threats, efforts to date have been woefully inadequate for shaping European cities in such a way as to put them in good stead for future, so that they are competitive, beautiful, smart, energy- and resource-efficient, green, inclusive places where social innovation flourishes, thus able to make a full contribution to strengthening the social, economic and territorial cohesion of the European Union and to implementing the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy;

Policy Challenges

General

27.

assumes, given the social challenges faced today, that there is general interest at all political levels in cities being robust and underpinned by democratic self-determination, providing a solid foundation for European society. Strong, responsive and effective local democracy can make a decisive contribution to restoring people’s confidence in the institutions of representative democracy at all levels;

28.

reiterates its call for an approach to social development which does more than measure gross domestic product (GDP), but takes public concerns and needs seriously and does more to involve the public in the planning of programmes and measures;

29.

expects elected representatives to be confident and bold in taking the lead at all political levels, working to ensure that people can live together in peace and solidarity. Smart, inclusive and sustainable growth can only develop out of peace and real solidarity which stretches across borders. This means having a culture which actively welcomes immigrants, entailing measures to promote intercultural responsibility in public administrations and institutions. It also means ensuring that a clear commitment is made to the protection of refugees and others who, because of their origins, beliefs, sexual orientation, membership of a certain social group or political persuasion, suffer political persecution and discrimination;

30.

stresses the importance of integrated local strategies for a coordinated, efficient use of resources and calls for all relevant sectoral policies to be brought into play here. Constructive, self-evident cooperation between all political levels and departments is important for showing the public that institutions know how to handle the trust placed in them responsibly and are sensitive to local needs;

31.

calls on decision-makers at all levels to strive to secure healthy, sustainable mobility within and between cities. Public transport should be encouraged, making it accessible to the whole population; also calls on them to continue to develop cities in line with the traditional European urban model by integrating different uses, density and (urban and architectural) quality;

32.

advocates renewed efforts to consolidate knowledge about technical, social, economic and environmental aspects of urban development. This has to explicitly include the importance of virtual forums for life and work in cities and the regions;

33.

underlines the significance of partnerships between cities, European city networks such as EUROCITIES, and transnational inter-municipal cooperation projects under the URBACT, INTERREG and EGTC programmes, designed to improve urban development policy know-how and approaches; it also stresses the need to ensure that this exchange of knowledge bears fruit and helps shape policies, especially on the Structural Funds, but also in other relevant areas such as services of general interest, transport and environmental protection;

To the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament

34.

calls for cities and regions to be involved in the European Union’s multi-level structures as a matter of course in all policy areas where decisions made at EU level affect sub-national authorities’ power to act;

35.

urges the European institutions to make a clear commitment to making cities stronger, reflected in the priorities of the upcoming EU budget;

36.

underlines its call for structural support policies which continue to allow local authorities enough leeway to adopt a multi-fund, integrated approach geared to local priorities, which is based on investment and social initiatives and meets local needs. So that it is also actually possible for local authorities to implement Structural Fund policy, expenditure on administration and monitoring activities should be pruned;

37.

emphasises the importance of cohesion policy as a key instrument for consolidating social, economic and territorial cohesion, and calls for a clear signal to be sent out in the next funding period to the effect that cities are to be supported through a strong urban dimension, flexibility in resource deployment and a central role for local authorities in implementation. Given the major importance of cities for social, economic and territorial cohesion, such support must go far beyond the minimum quota of 5 % proposed to date;

38.

stresses the calls made by the Committee of the Regions in its opinion on the Commission proposal on the ERDF, particularly as regards the possibility of resource deployment being ‘flexible and used without giving preference to certain types of area or discriminating against them’, so that rural and peri-urban regions are not prevented from benefiting from the ERDF. The various types of priority area into which ERDF resources will be channelled should be determined as part of a partnership-based planning process, and not be determined beforehand. The delegation of tasks to cities under the ‘integrated territorial investment’ instrument defined in Article 99 of the Common Provisions Regulation should be viewed as optional and not made mandatory;

39.

welcomes the further development of sustainable funding instruments in structural policy which, over and above public subsidies, constitute creative, stable funding mechanisms;

40.

calls for cities and regions to play a major role in further developing the EU’s immigration and integration policy, taking account of the key importance of local administration for integration;

To the Member States

41.

urges Member States to impart new dynamism to their urban policy endeavours and also to incorporate policy areas other than spatial planning into these initiatives. Sustainable urban development depends on supportive framework conditions, especially in employment, social, educational and environmental policy;

42.

urges a livelier debate on actions to be taken in and with cities. Cooperation between cities and urban agglomerations is vital for ensuring cohesion and sustainable development.

Brussels, 19 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


III Preparatory acts

COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

96th plenary session held on 18 and 19 July 2012

13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/23


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘EU financial instruments in home affairs’

2012/C 277/05

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

welcomes the step to achieve a genuine area of freedom, security and justice through budgetary proposals recognising the importance of providing the necessary resources for the immigration, asylum and security budget;

affirms the importance of the proposed changes for Local and Regional Authorities (LRA), having a direct impact on their duties and on the everyday life of people living in the European Union;

stresses the importance of responding to security concerns, arising from an increased global mobility, within the context of the universal protection of fundamental rights and freedoms;

welcomes the focus on flexibility and achieving results, highlighting that this requires good planning as well as participation and ownership and by all stakeholders. Therefore stresses the need to involve LRAs as well as other stakeholders such as specialised international organisations, civil society and the beneficiaries themselves from the planning stage, since they often implement the programmes and projects;

believes that access to funding is vastly improved through the proposed reforms. However, it encourages further development of mechanisms to distribute information on funding opportunities. In larger countries, LRAs could be used to organise regional and local consultations to allow participation of those organisations and stakeholders which operate further away from the main cities.

Rapporteur

Samuel AZZOPARDI (MT/EPP) Mayor of Victoria, Gozo

Reference documents

 

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Building an open and secure Europe: the home affairs budget for 2014-2020

COM(2011) 749 final

 

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council – establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa

COM(2011) 750 final

 

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council – establishing the Asylum and Migration Fund

COM(2011) 751 final

 

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council – laying down general provisions on the Asylum and Migration Fund and on the instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management

COM(2011) 752 final

 

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council – establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management

COM(2011) 753 final

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General assessment

1.

welcomes the step to achieve a genuine area of freedom, security and justice through budgetary proposals recognising the importance of providing the necessary resources for the immigration, asylum and security budget (1);

2.

supports the simplification of the existing instruments, merging them into 2 funds;

3.

affirms the importance of the proposed changes for Local and Regional Authorities (LRA), having a direct impact on their duties and on the everyday life of people living in the European Union;

4.

stresses the importance of responding to security concerns, arising from an increased global mobility, within the context of the universal protection of fundamental rights and freedoms;

5.

underlines that this can be achieved through the implementation of coherent instruments in the field of freedom, security and justice based on respect for human rights, solidarity and responsibility with particular attention given to gender equality and non-discrimination (2);

6.

believes that a balance is needed between the security and border related parts of the expenditure, and expenditure in areas such as integration of migrants and reception conditions for asylum seekers;

7.

supports the creation of a needs-based budget that helps to develop synergies between EU financial instruments, notably between the structural funds and funds in the area of home affairs. The Union budget should attribute adequate resources to the area of home affairs, both through the structural funds and through specialised instruments within the area of freedom, security and justice;

8.

points out that the repeal of Council Decision 2007/125/JHA, which takes away the possibility of making complementary use of other Union and Community instruments, significantly restricts the desired flexibility in the use of financial instruments and threatens the seamless continuation of cross-border regional projects in the field of internal security that have previously been funded via ERDF-based objective 3 support; therefore advocates retaining complementarity between Community instruments;

9.

points out that a certain degree of flexibility is needed in the operation of the budget and financial instruments, making a genuine midterm revision possible in accordance with the political priorities identified, whilst stressing that such flexibility must be developed to co-exist with the fair allocation of resources;

10.

welcomes an immigration policy starting in countries of origin and taking account of European labour market needs and demographic change, leading to a system which is beneficial to all parties, including countries of origin so often benefiting from remittances from the EU (3);

11.

emphasises the necessity for strong cooperation at EU level to achieve better coordination between Members States on managing the Union’s external borders, as well as moving towards a Common European Asylum System;

12.

stresses the need for transparency in the use of the budget with proposals, projects and results achieved visible and easily accessible to and understandable for the ordinary citizen;

On the programming and managing of Funds

13.

welcomes the focus on flexibility and achieving results, highlighting that this requires good planning as well as participation and ownership and by all stakeholders. Therefore stresses the need to involve LRAs as well as other stakeholders such as specialised international organisations, civil society and the beneficiaries themselves from the planning stage, since they often implement the programmes and projects;

14.

highlights the need for independent monitoring and evaluation to ensure efficient use of funds and strong management by implementing organisations. This may be an incentive for improving institutional performance. Qualitative as well as quantitative indicators must be selected in a participatory way by all stakeholders. The Committee points out that certain qualitative indicators can be efficient and cost effective. The Committee also calls for a strengthened European Commission and Parliament oversight of the Funds to help bring about the independent element of monitoring and evaluation;

Access to funding

15.

believes that access to funding is vastly improved through the proposed reforms. However, it encourages further development of mechanisms to distribute information on funding opportunities. In larger countries, LRAs could be used to organise regional and local consultations to allow participation of those organisations and stakeholders which operate further away from the main cities;

Allocation of resources

16.

points out that with the positive aspects of simplification and flexibility, the proposed reforms also bring uncertainty regarding allocation of resources between different sectors and thematic issues. It therefore stresses the importance for funds to be allocated on a needs-basis through a thorough needs-analysis with prioritisation following a rights-based approach. This can be achieved through mechanisms and safeguards put in place to ensure efficient prioritisation, including LRA and other stakeholders’ participation when drawing up national strategies;

17.

highlights the need to distribute funds evenly according to institutional capacity and project proposals and not to focus the funds on just a few recipients;

18.

in case of insufficient funds, believes that funds aimed at protecting people’s fundamental rights and freedoms, including those dealing with basic living standards, gender specific issues and the right to asylum, should be prioritised, together with resources for capacity building of LRAs to manage migration flows;

Obligation of stakeholder participation

19.

stresses the importance of a participatory approach in achieving effective results, and supports proposals that oblige the Member States to organise partnerships with all public authorities concerned and with relevant stakeholders, including civil society and international organisations, for the development, implementation and monitoring of the national programmes;

20.

therefore it urges that partnership of stakeholders is strengthened and made mandatory. It points out that currently, the principle in the Draft Regulation laying down the general provisions (4) might not bring about participation in a sufficiently binding manner. Whilst coordination mechanisms are bound, in other areas there is a lot of discretion as to whether a meaningful partnership will actually take place or not;

21.

suggests that it may not be appropriate to nominate a single Responsible Authority for all actions supported by the funds, despite the simplification that this may bring with it. Transparency and the checks and balances must be in place to ensure fairness in decisions. It is concerned that there may be legal issues that do not allow a delegated authority to work under the supervision of the national Responsible Authority and therefore suggests that regulations should be flexible enough to cater for all national rules in place in the EU and must not force the Member States to change their constitutional structures if the objectives can just as well be achieved in a partnership approach;

Common European Asylum System

22.

welcomes steps towards a ‘Common European Asylum System’ whilst stressing that it must aim to achieve the standards of those with better systems and structures and not lead to a general reduction in quality in line with those with less strong systems;

23.

would like to see greater clarity as to whether EASO will only use the funds directly allocated to it or whether it will also be able to access the Home Affairs Funds;

Reception and integration of persons with international protection and third-country nationals

24.

notes with approval the acknowledgment of the importance of LRAs in the reception and asylum systems as well as in the integration of third-country nationals and legal migrants;

25.

praises the idea of focusing on the most vulnerable, including victims of trafficking;

26.

highlights that integration must focus on long-term sustainable actions, keeping in mind that integration is a two-way process where actions can be targeted towards host and migrant communities;

27.

suggests that the Home Affairs Funds should also support actions recommended by the European Commission, recognising the multilevel governance approach in the 2nd European Agenda for Integration (5);

28.

points out that administrative detention practices around the EU have been under scrutiny by the ECHR and human rights authorities and stresses that funding of projects linked to detaining people must ensure that such detention is in line with EU law and ECHR decisions;

29.

stresses that family members benefitting from international protection in different Member States should be allowed to live together and benefit from protection in the same Member State;

Responsibility sharing and intra-EU relocation

30.

emphasises that Europe's border regions must receive more adequate support with regards to asylum and migration, especially in times of particular difficulty (6);

31.

stresses that criteria and mechanisms for relocation must be of a non-discriminatory nature and focus on the most vulnerable, whilst also keeping in mind EU labour market considerations, particularly for persons currently stuck in areas where access to the labour market is limited. They should not focus on prioritising those highly skilled and already integrated into the host society;

32.

points out that LRAs are in good position to participate in establishing such mechanisms (7);

33.

is of the view that solidarity in supporting burdened countries should be conditional on human rights records and respect for EU reception standards, thus providing incentives for improvement;

EU resettlement programme

34.

welcomes the establishing of an EU resettlement programme and encourages the creation of a clear framework to be developed by a partnership between EASO, UNHCR and NGOs, keeping in mind the best practices in other parts of the world. The EU should lead by example, seeking to identify and provide protection to those most forgotten by the international community;

35.

highlights the need for incentives and information on benefits to increase the number of places pledged by Member States for resettlement;

36.

stresses the need to maintain a clear distinction between resettlement from third countries and intra-EU relocation, as well as the number of persons allocated for these two programmes;

Assisted voluntary return

37.

reaffirms that programmes should, as a matter of principle, be operated on a purely voluntary basis and in line with the goals of development cooperation, resulting in the long-term social integration of the people concerned (8). Return must be viable and ensure that no new migration project is initiated (9). This could be achieved through partnerships with a specialised international organisation such as IOM;

38.

points out that successful return strategies cannot be sufficiently measured with the purely quantitative indicator of the number of returnees. The indicator could be chosen as the number of returnees in relation to the number of cases and taking into account long-term quality factors;

Internal security strategy

39.

highlights its own indispensable involvement in the process of improving Europe's internal security together with the need for capacity building of LRAs;

40.

stresses that ISF funding must keep in mind the necessity to invest in further research and to carry out innovations and sharing of expertise in fields such as cyber security, forensics, the protection of vital infrastructure and urban security and that the European Commission promotes this in line with the increased need to address ever more specific and complex problems;

41.

reaffirms the importance of LRA involvement for police and security cooperation which can occur through training, sharing of best practices and prevention programmes as well as through the development of common tools and IT systems as well as better communication;

Fight against terrorism and organised crime

42.

recommends that current local and regional authority networks are strengthened and used in each Member State, or if the need arises new ones are set up, to facilitate the exchange of good practice in relation to social integration, professional learning and understanding of violent extremism growing out of local districts and neighbourhoods. This could support the work undertaken through the recently created European anti-radicalisation network;

43.

suggests that funding under the ISF includes public consultation at a local level in Member States and reaching out to those who feel disconnected from society. This can help to establish a multifaceted understanding of local experiences and concepts of terrorism and motivations towards extremism;

44.

highlights the importance of increased scrutiny of bank and business practices to identify and target the finances of terrorism and organised crime through money laundering and coupling of criminal activities with businesses with a legitimate aim;

45.

equally recalls the importance of the confiscation of criminal assets, which is indubitably an important avenue for combating any kind of crime right across the board, and therefore welcomes the fact that the European Commission has proposed legislation to strengthen the EU legal framework on confiscation (10);

46.

points out that whilst public-private partnerships could have positive impacts, privatisation of security should be avoided;

Border Control and Rescue

47.

emphasises the need to fund border control adequately (11). Simultaneously considers that, in view of tackling irregular migration, it is questionable whether investing heavily on border control is the most effective and efficient way to bring about long term and meaningful change;

48.

highlights the need for independent monitoring of border actions by an organisation such as UNHCR to ensure that fundamental human rights, including gender sensitivity, are being respected;

49.

stresses that consideration for human lives should take precedence over all other issues and calls for more collaboration and sharing of responsibilities amongst Member States of rescued people to provide incentives to rescue. It feels that automatic responsibility sharing could help save more lives at sea;

Responding to emergencies

50.

welcomes changes aimed at increasing the speed of response to emergency situations;

51.

urges the Commission to commit itself to the planning and development of cross-border operations that involve the active participation of border regions. This would enable regions to pool their experience in civil protection and provide a solid operational base on which to build a European emergency response force;

52.

calls on the Commission to take on a role of increased direct management in emergency situations to maintain a level of over-sight and help with cross-border coordination;

53.

encourages Member States to set up multi-disciplinary teams for rapid emergency response, especially when the emergency situation has elements such as mixed flows of migration where expertise in asylum law and human rights are essential;

54.

points out that some emergencies may be longer term situations and that funds for emergencies must be available as long as the emergency lasts;

External aspects of migration management

55.

welcomes a more coherent approach to the internal and external aspects of migration management and internal security, pointing out that cooperation and dialogue with third countries are necessary to both deal with irregular immigration and focus on legal migration;

56.

points out that local and regional authorities that are closest to or have the strongest links with third countries can provide the vital links for EU cooperation with those countries, making a substantial contribution to improving relations and living conditions in cities and regions of origin and transit (12). Through its cooperation with local and regional authorities in enlargement and neighbourhood countries (e.g. Working Groups and Joint Consultative Committees, CORLEAP, ARLEM), the CoR is well placed to promote the objectives of the funds beyond the EU borders;

57.

does not see a clear line between development and non-development activities with regards to third countries and calls for coherence and coordination between aid and development funded projects and home affairs projects, driven through a spirit of solidarity and responsibility sharing with third countries;

58.

calls for safeguards to prevent Members States from pursuing their own national interests through the external aspect of the Home Affairs Funds as well as for mechanisms to ensure transparency in bilateral cooperation between Member States and third countries.

II.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

COM(2011) 750 final

Regulation on establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa

Amendment 1

Article 3

Amend paragraph 2(b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

supporting borders management, to ensure, on one hand, a high level of protection of external borders and, on the other hand, the smooth crossing of the external borders in conformity with the Schengen acquis

(b)

supporting borders management, to ensure, on one hand, a high level of protection of external borders and, on the other hand, the smooth crossing of the external borders in conformity with the Schengen acquis

The achievement of this objective shall be measured against indicators such as, inter alia, the development of equipment for border control and the apprehensions of irregular third-country nationals at the external border in correspondence with the risk of the relevant section of the external border.

The achievement of this objective shall be measured against indicators such as, inter alia, the development of equipment for border control the apprehensions of irregular third-country nationals at the external border in correspondence with the risk of the relevant section of the external border.

Reason

See point 5. Those dealing with mixed flows of migration need a level of knowledge of the right to asylum in order to fulfil this right.

Amendment 2

Article 3

Insert paragraph 2(c)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 48.

Amendment 3

Article 3

Amend paragraph 3(f)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(f)

reinforcing the co-operation between Member States operating in third countries as regards the flows of third-country nationals into the territory of Member States, as well as the co-operation with third countries in this regard.

(f)

reinforcing the co-operation between Member States operating in third countries as regards the flows of third-country nationals into the territory of Member States, as well as the co-operation with third countries in this regard.

Reason

See point 55.

Amendment 4

Article 3

Insert paragraph 3(g)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 47.

Amendment 5

Article 4

Insert paragraph 1(f)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 48.

Amendment 6

Article 4

Insert paragraph 1(g)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See points 47 and 48.

Amendment 7

Article 4

Insert paragraph 1(h)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 5.

Amendment 8

Article 9

Amend paragraph 2(b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

supporting and expanding the existing capacity at national level in the management of the external borders, bearing in mind inter alia new technology, developments and/or standards in relation to the management of migration flows;

(b)

supporting and expanding the existing capacity at national level in the management of the external borders, bearing in mind inter alia new technology, developments and/or standards in relation to the management of migration flows

Reason

See point 5.

Amendment 9

Article 13

Amend paragraph 2(g)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(g)

to boost the capacity of European networks to promote, support and further develop Union policies and objectives;

(g)

to boost the capacity of European networks to promote, support and further develop Union policies and objectives;

Reason

See Points 3 and 55.

COM(2011) 751 final

Regulation on establishing the Asylum and Migration Fund

Amendment 1

Article 3

Amend paragraph 2(c)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

to enhance fair and effective return strategies in the Member States with emphasis on sustainability of return and effective readmission in the countries of origin;

(c)

to enhance fair and effective return strategies in the Member States with emphasis on sustainability of return and effective readmission in the countries of origin;

The achievement of this objective shall be measured by indicators, inter alia, the number of returnees.

The achievement of this objective shall be measured by indicators, inter alia, the number of returnees

Reason

See point 37.

Amendment 2

Article 5

Amend paragraph 1(e)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(e)

information for local communities as well as training for the staff of local authorities, who will be interacting with those being received;

(e)

information for local communities as well as training for the staff of local authorities, who will be interacting with those being received;

Reason

Civil society actors often implement integration projects.

Amendment 3

Article 5

Insert paragraph 1 (g)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 28.

Amendment 4

Article 6

Amend paragraph (b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

actions directly contributing to the evaluation of asylum policies, such as national impact assessments, surveys amongst target groups, the development of indicators and benchmarking.

(b)

actions directly contributing to the evaluation of asylum policies, such as national impact assessments, surveys amongst target groups, the development of indicators and benchmarking.

Reason

See point 13.

Amendment 5

Article 7

Insert paragraph (h)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 30.

Amendment 6

Article 8

Amend paragraph (a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

information packages and awareness-raising campaigns, including via user friendly communication and information technology and websites;

(a)

information packages awareness-raising campaigns, including via user friendly communication and information technology and websites;

Reason

See point 25.

Amendment 7

Article 9

Amend paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   Within the specific objective defined in point (b) of Article 3(2), eligible actions shall take place in the framework of consistent strategies, implemented by non-governmental organisations, local and/or regional authorities and specifically designed for the integration, at the local and/or regional level, as appropriate, of persons referred to in points (a) to (g) of Article 4(1). In this context, eligible actions shall in particular include the following:

1.   Within the specific objective defined in point (b) of Article 3(2), eligible actions shall take place in the framework of consistent strategies, implemented by non-governmental organisations, local and/or regional authorities and specifically designed for the integration, at the local and/or regional level, as appropriate, of persons referred to in points (a) to (g) of Article 4(1). In this context, eligible actions shall in particular include the following:

Reason

See point 25.

Amendment 8

Article 9

Amend paragraph 1(a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

setting up and developing such integration strategies, including needs analysis, the improvement of indicators and evaluation;

(a)

setting up and developing such integration strategies, including needs analysis, the improvement of indicators and evaluation;

Reason

See points 18 and 23.

Amendment 9

Article 9

Insert paragraph 1(i)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 26.

Amendment 10

Article 9

Insert paragraph 1(j)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 26.

Amendment 11

Article 10

Insert paragraph (f)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See points 46 and 54.

Amendment 12

Article 11

Amend paragraph (a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

establishment and improvement of accommodation infrastructure or services and reception or detention conditions;

(a)

establishment and improvement of accommodation infrastructure or services and reception or detention conditions

Reason

See point 27.

Amendment 13

Article 12

Amend paragraph (b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

assisted voluntary return measures, including medical examinations and assistance, travel arrangements, financial contributions, pre- and post-return counselling and assistance;

(b)

assisted voluntary return measures, including medical examinations and assistance, travel arrangements, financial contributions, pre- and post-return counselling and assistance;

Reason

See points 36 and 37.

Amendment 14

Article 13

Amend paragraph (a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

actions to promote and reinforce the operational cooperation between the return services of Member States, including as regards cooperation with consular authorities and immigration services of third countries;

(a)

actions to promote and reinforce the operational cooperation between the return services of Member States, including as regards cooperation with consular authorities and immigration services of third countries;

Reason

See point 36.

Amendment 15

Article 17

Amend paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

4.   The following vulnerable groups of refugees shall in any event be included in the common Union resettlement priorities and qualify for the lump sum provided for in paragraph 2:

women and children at risk,

unaccompanied minors,

persons having medical needs that can be addressed only through resettlement,

persons in need of emergency resettlement or urgent resettlement for legal or physical protection needs.

4.   The following vulnerable groups of refugees shall in any event be included in the common Union resettlement priorities and qualify for the lump sum provided for in paragraph 2:

women and children at risk,

unaccompanied minors,

persons having medical needs that can be addressed only through resettlement,

persons in need of emergency resettlement or urgent resettlement for legal or physical protection needs.

Reason

See point 33. Prioritising persons with psychological needs is a good practice used by UNHCR and others.

Amendment 16

Article 18

Insert paragraph 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

   

Reason

See point 32.

Amendment 17

Article 18

Insert paragraph 6

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

   

Reason

See point 30.

Amendment 18

Article 19

Amend paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   In order to allocate the amount indicated in point (c) of Article 15(1), by 31 May 2017 the Commission shall assess the needs of Member States as regards their asylum and reception systems, their situation concerning migration flows in the period 2014 to 2016 and the expected developments.

1.   In order to allocate the amount indicated in point (c) of Article 15(1), by 31 May 2017 the Commission shall assess the needs of Member States as regards their asylum and reception systems, their situation concerning migration flows in the period 2014 to 2016 and the expected developments.

Reason

Situations in the migration field can change overnight and the system should be flexible enough to cope with these changes.

Amendment 19

Article 22

Amend paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   The Fund shall provide financial assistance to address urgent and specific needs in the event of an emergency situation.

1.   The Fund shall provide financial assistance to address urgent and specific needs in the event of an emergency situation.

Reason

See point 53.

Amendment 20

Article 23

Amend paragraph 2(a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

to serve as an Union advisory council for migration and asylum through coordination and cooperation at both national and Union level with representatives of Member States, academia, civil society, think-tanks and other Union/international entities;

(a)

to serve as an Union advisory council for migration and asylum through coordination and cooperation at both national and Union level with representatives of Member States, academia, civil society, think-tanks and other Union/international entities;

Reason

See point 15.

Amendment 21

Article 23

Amend paragraph 5(c)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

National Contact Points designated by the Member States, each one comprising of at least three experts who collectively have expertise in the area of asylum and migration, covering aspects of policymaking, law, research and statistics, and who shall co-ordinate and provide the national contributions to the activities referred to in Article 19(1) in order to have contributions from all relevant stakeholders;

(c)

National Contact Points designated by the Member States, each one comprising of at least three experts who collectively have expertise in the area of asylum and migration, covering aspects of policymaking, law, research and statistics, and who shall co-ordinate and provide the national contributions to the activities referred to in Article 19(1) in order to have contributions from all relevant stakeholders;

Reason

See point 13. This would help increase transparency of the mechanisms.

COM(2011) 752 final

Regulation on laying down general provisions on the Asylum and Migration Fund and on the instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management

Amendment 1

Article 4

Amend

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Actions financed by the Specific Regulations shall comply with applicable Union and national law.

Actions financed by the Specific Regulations shall comply with applicable Union and national Law.

Reason

ECHR case law is part of EU but at times, the outcomes of such decisions are not put into practice by Member States. It is helpful to highlight their importance.

Amendment 2

Article 8

Insert paragraph 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

   

Reason

See point 53.

Amendment 3

Article 12

Amend paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   Each Member State shall organise, in accordance with its national rules and practices, a partnership with the authorities and bodies concerned to develop and implement national programmes.

1.   Each Member State shall organise, in accordance with its national rules and practices, a partnership with the authorities and bodies concerned to develop and implement national programmes.

Such authorities and bodies shall include the competent regional, local, urban and other public authorities, and, where appropriate, international organisations and bodies representing civil society, such as non-governmental organisations or social partners.

Such authorities and bodies shall include the competent regional, local, urban and other public authorities, and, international organisations and bodies representing civil society, such as non-governmental organisations or social partners.

Reason

The word ‘relevant’ as opposed to ‘where appropriate’ removes an element of discretion which could lead to a lack of clarity. Target group contribution is a corner-stone in EU programming.

Amendment 4

Article 12

Amend paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

4.   Each Member State shall set up a monitoring committee to support the implementation of national programmes.

4.   Each Member State shall set up a monitoring committee to support the implementation of national programmes.

Reason

See point 13. This would lead to increased transparency and avoid possible conflicts of interest.

Amendment 5

Article 12

Amend paragraph 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

5.   The Commission may participate in the work of the monitoring committee in an advisory capacity.

5.   The Commission participate in the work of the monitoring committee in an advisory capacity.

Reason

Commission participation is very important and should not be made discretionary.

Amendment 6

Article 14

Insert paragraph 5(g)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See points 18 and 19.

Amendment 7

Article 20

Amend paragraph 2(c)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

expenditure relating to evaluations of actions or projects;

(c)

expenditure relating to evaluations of actions or projects;

Reason

See points 18 and 19. Relevant stakeholders are in a good position to judge the performance of a project.

Amendment 8

Article 23

Amend paragraph 1(b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

an accredited Responsible Authority: a public sector body of the Member State, which shall be solely responsible for the proper management and control of the national programme and shall handle all communication with the Commission;

(b)

an accredited Responsible Authority: a public sector body of the Member State, which shall be solely responsible for the proper management and control of the national programme and shall handle all communication with the Commission;

Reason

See points 18 and 19.

Amendment 9

Article 25

Insert paragraph 5(d)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See points 18 and 19. Relevant stakeholders are in a good position to judge the performance of a project.

Amendment 10

Article 48

Amend paragraph 1(b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(b)

informing potential beneficiaries about funding opportunities under the national programmes;

(b)

informing potential beneficiaries about funding opportunities under the national programmes;

Reason

See point 14.

Amendment 11

Article 50

Insert paragraph 7

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

   

Reason

See points 18 and 19.

Amendment 12

Article 51

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

2.   Member States shall ensure that procedures are in place to produce and collect the data necessary for evaluations, including data related to common and programme specific indicators.

2.   Member States shall ensure that procedures are in place to produce and collect the data necessary for evaluations, including data related to common and programme specific indicators.

Reason

See point 13.

Amendment 13

Article 55

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   The Commission shall be assisted by the common Committee ‘Asylum, Migration and Security’ established by this Regulation. That Committee shall be a Committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.

1.   The Commission shall be assisted by the common Committee ‘Asylum, Migration and Security’ established by this Regulation . That Committee shall be a Committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.

Reason

See points 18 and 19.

COM(2011) 753 final

Regulation on establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management

Amendment 1

Article 3

Amend paragraph 2(a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

preventing and combating cross-border, serious and organised crime including terrorism, and reinforcing coordination and cooperation between law enforcement authorities of Member States and with relevant third-countries.

(a)

preventing and combating cross-border, serious and organised crime including terrorism, and reinforcing coordination and cooperation between law enforcement authorities of Member States and with relevant third-countries.

Reason

See point 41 and 55.

Amendment 2

Article 3

Amend paragraph 3(a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

measures (methodologies, tools, structures) strengthening Member States' capability to prevent and combat cross-border, serious and organised crime including terrorism, in particular through public-private partnerships, the exchange of information and best practices, access to data, interoperable technologies, comparable statistics, applied criminology, public communication and awareness raising.

(a)

measures (methodologies, tools, structures) strengthening Member States' capability to prevent and combat cross-border, serious and organised crime including terrorism, in particular through public-private partnerships, the exchange of information and best practices, access to data interoperable technologies, comparable statistics, applied criminology, public communication and awareness raising.

Reason

See points 38, 39, 40, 41, 43 and 44.

Amendment 3

Article 4

Amend paragraph 1(a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

actions improving police cooperation and coordination between law enforcement authorities, including joint investigation teams and any other form of cross-border joint operation, the access to and exchange of information and interoperable technologies;

(a)

actions improving police cooperation and coordination between law enforcement authorities, including joint investigation teams and any other form of cross-border joint operation, the access to and exchange of information and interoperable technologies;

Reason

See points 38 and 40.

Amendment 4

Article 4

Insert paragraph 1(h)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

;

Reason

See point 42.

Amendment 5

Article 4

Insert paragraph 1(i)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 41.

Amendment 6

Article 6

Amend paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   The national programme to be prepared under the Instrument and the one to be prepared under Regulation (EU) No XXX/2012 establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa shall be drawn up jointly by Member States and proposed to the Commission as one single national programme for the Fund, in accordance with Article 14 of Regulation (EU) No XXX/2012 [Horizontal Regulation].

1.   The national programme to be prepared under the Instrument and the one to be prepared under Regulation (EU) No XXX/2012 establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa shall be drawn up jointly by Member States and proposed to the Commission as one single national programme for the Fund, in accordance with Article 14 of Regulation (EU) No XXX/2012 [Horizontal Regulation].

Reason

See points 18 and 19.

Amendment 7

Article 14a

Insert new point

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

   

   

Reason

Until now, support for cross-border policing measures could come either from the ISEC programme (Commission programme for the Prevention of and Fight against Crime) or from Objective 3 support (ERDF funded) (complementarity principle – Article 11 of Council Decision 2007/125/JHA). While action under ISEC was centrally funded by the EU, management of Objective 3 funding was decentralised. Under Article 14 of the draft ISF Regulation, the Council Decision from 2007 will be repealed in the forthcoming financial period, which means that the principle of complementarity between Community instruments will also be repealed and it will no longer be possible to choose between the ISF and Objective 3 support. However, the advantages of flexibility in using different support instruments ought not to be lost. Insofar as repealing complementarity is intended to avoid duplicating support, this can be dealt with quite adequately in the process of implementation. We therefore suggest that the complementarity principle and the safeguard clause in Article 11(3) ISEC should be set out in a new Article 14a of the ISF Regulation.

Brussels, 18 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


(1)  CdR 201/2009, point 1.

(2)  CdR 201/2009, points 8 and 9.

(3)  CdR 170/2010, point 43.

(4)  COM(2011) 752 final.

(5)  Commission Communication: European Agenda for the integration of third-country nationals – COM(2011) 455 final.

(6)  CdR 170/2010, point 41 and 42.

(7)  CdR 201/2009, point 92.

(8)  CdR 170/2010, point 48.

(9)  CdR 201/2009, point 87.

(10)  COM(2012) 85 final.

(11)  CdR 210/2008, point 30.

(12)  CdR 201/2009, points 76 and 77.


13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/43


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘EU financial instruments in justice and citizenship’

2012/C 277/06

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

considers that the proposed programmes are important instruments for supporting the implementation of EU policies in the fields of justice, rights and citizenship;

believes that the proposals comply with the principle of subsidiarity, owing to the significant cross-border dimension to the policy areas involved and the planned implementation of the European area of justice and rights, which require transnational cooperation mechanisms and networking opportunities for the professionals concerned, and typically cannot be achieved by Member States acting alone;

finds that the provisions contained in the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 could lead to the pursuit of actions with added value at European level, with the aim of extending the European area of justice and improving the promotion and protection of the rights of persons as enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

reiterates its commitment and willingness to supporting the area of freedom, security and justice and promoting European citizenship;

calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve local and regional authorities in implementing the programmes, particularly in developing the annual work programmes;

suggests that one representative of the Committee of the Regions may be involved in the advisory procedure.

Rapporteur

Mr VARACALLI (IT/ALDE) Mayor of Gerace

Reference documents

 

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing for the period 2014 to 2020 the Rights and Citizenship Programme

COM(2011) 758 final

 

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing for the period 2014 to 2020 the Justice Programme

COM(2011) 759 final

 

Proposal for a Council Regulation establishing for the period 2014-2020 the programme ‘Europe for Citizens’

COM(2011) 884 final

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General remarks

1.

considers that the proposed programmes are important instruments for supporting the implementation of EU policies in the fields of justice, rights and citizenship; together, these programmes intend to support activities carried out in the Member States with a view to raising awareness and understanding, supporting the implementation of Union law and policies in the Member States, promoting transnational cooperation and improving the knowledge and understanding of potential issues in the relevant policy areas with a view to ensuring evidence-based policy making and legislation. The Europe for Citizens programme, in particular, aims at promoting the development of a European citizenship;

2.

believes that the proposals comply with the principle of subsidiarity, owing to the significant cross-border dimension to the policy areas involved and the planned implementation of the European area of justice and rights, which require transnational cooperation mechanisms and networking opportunities for the professionals concerned, and typically cannot be achieved by Member States acting alone;

3.

considers that the proposals are also in line with the proportionality principle, having verified in particular that their form and content correspond to what is likely to be required in order to achieve the intended objectives, and that the total financial envelope for the three programmes appears sufficient for their effective implementation, given that this envelope has been maintained in line with that granted to the programmes currently in force for the same areas of action and that, inter alia, provision has been expressly made for upward revision in the event of accession of a new Member State;

4.

appreciates, with a view to the improvement of regulations, the impact assessments accompanying the proposals, which are deemed sufficiently justified and comprehensive, taking into account the fact that the Commission also consulted stakeholders during the preparatory phrase and the relevant results were fed into the impact assessment, and a similar consultation was held at various levels with local and regional authorities;

5.

finds that the provisions contained in the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 could lead to the pursuit of actions with added value at European level, with the aim of extending the European area of justice and improving the promotion and protection of the rights of persons as enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

6.

hopes that the programmes will continue to contribute to the gradual achievement of a better understanding of the EU by citizens, particularly by providing incentives for active civic involvement, and to significantly strengthen awareness;

7.

also hopes that the implementation of the Rights and Citizenship Programme (with regard to the specific objective of ‘[contributing] to enhancing the exercise of rights deriving from the citizenship of the Union’) and the Europe for Citizens Programme (with regard to the general objective of ‘… [enhancing] capacity for civic participation at the Union level’ and the specific objective of ‘[encouraging] democratic and civic participation of citizens at Union level, …’) can also help develop Europeans' awareness of the recent opportunity brought by Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on the citizens' initiative enabling them to make legislative proposals to the Commission on issues in which the EU is competent, with the possibility for such initiatives to be promoted or supported by organisations;

8.

reiterates its commitment and willingness to support the area of freedom, security and justice and promoting European citizenship;

9.

considers it necessary, with specific reference to the Rights and Citizenship Programme, regarding gender mainstreaming, to ensure the adequate and effective application of the points made in the proposal for a regulation in Recital 12 regarding the continuation and development of activities previously carried out on the basis of three programmes, in particular the programme to prevent and combat violence against children, young people and women and to protect victims and groups at risk (Daphne III programme), as well as the sections on ‘gender equality’ and ‘diversity and antidiscrimination’ of the EU Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (Progress), and in Article 4(b) (Specific objectives), with specific reference to non-discrimination on grounds of sex and the principle of equality between women and men;

10.

appreciates, in principle, the plans to replace the six operational programmes for 2007-2013 with two programmes, bearing in mind that the reduction could lead to leaner and more efficient management of the actions planned also with a view to the desirable improved focus in the distribution of funds and the avoidance of geographical imbalances identified among the current programmes by the Commission in the legislative financial statements appended to the proposals;

11.

calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve local and regional authorities in implementing the programmes, particularly in developing the annual work programmes;

12.

recommends, particularly as regards the planned and indeed timely possibility of private bodies benefiting from the proposed actions, that the Commission also aim to further refine the mechanisms for the preliminary verification of the quality of requests;

13.

stresses that local and regional authorities have a special interest in the issues dealt with in the area for freedom, security and justice, owing above all to the direct impact that these have on the everyday life of people living in the European Union and on the duties of local and regional authorities themselves, and the fact that these authorities have many key powers in policy fields falling within the area;

14.

emphasises that, for local and regional authorities, subsidiarity and proximity towards citizens and residents require a direct approach to the concerns and aspirations of these citizens, for whom local bodies often implement innovative, appropriate solutions;

15.

points out, with particular regard to the Europe for Citizens programme, that involvement in town twinning schemes, as expressly encouraged by the programme itself, has resulted in extremely valuable exchanges of experiences between communities in different geographical areas, strengthening experimentation with successful initiatives through which authorities have also put themselves forward as promoters and facilitators of citizenship;

16.

endorses the possibility set down in the three proposals that all public bodies, including local and regional authorities, could have access to the programmes; points out, however, that the application procedures should not be too costly, particularly with regard to the planned complementarity between the programmes themselves and the related and relevant possibility of using resources allocated to different programmes, provided that the financing covers different items of expenditure;

17.

supports the objectives set down in the programme, as it has expressed in previous opinions, and pledges its ongoing commitment to promoting and fostering their use in neighbouring countries through its cooperation bodies (working groups, joint consultative committees, CORLEAP, ARLEM) in line with the relevant cooperation agreements and in cooperation with the Commission;

18.

stresses the particular importance of creating a genuine area of freedom, security and justice for citizens in a world characterised by increasing mobility; welcomes, in line with the ongoing efforts by the Committee of the Regions to promote a system of multilevel protection of fundamental rights, the fact that the progress made towards this area of freedom, security and justice places citizens at the centre of the project;

19.

considers that the issues of security and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms must be brought together in a balanced way, by implementing coherent instruments in the field of freedom, security and justice: in this regard it cannot be denied that while Europe has a solid legal framework for the protection of human rights, in practice this must continue to be improved with a view to guaranteeing the effective exercise of these rights;

20.

welcomes the fact that the three programmes, while displaying objective differences, together contribute to raising public awareness of the European dimension of citizenship, as a means for involvement in the European integration process and contribution to European democracy;

21.

reiterates certain points made in its recent opinion on the new Multiannual Financial Framework post-2013, in which it underlined the significance of providing adequate resources to foster fundamental rights, democracy and citizens' participation in the effort to build European citizenship, and considered of paramount importance the emphasis given in the Europe for Citizens Programme to partnerships in support of EU level civil society, highlighting that the EU's security is closely linked to the furtherance of democracy, good governance and the rule of law in third countries, and that it is incumbent upon the Union to promote these values globally;

22.

stresses, as it has previously pointed out, that it would be helpful to support the various forms of territorial cooperation to implement projects and measures aimed at making European citizenship a reality and which could help reduce obstacles and red tape, including by disseminating the various best practices relating to cross-border services, for example in the areas of health and multilingualism;

23.

hopes that the actions taken in these fundamental areas can be taken into account as priorities for the annual work programmes, especially in relation to the Rights and Citizenship and Europe for Citizens programmes;

24.

acknowledges that merging the previous six programmes for Justice and Rights and Citizenship into two and restructuring the Europe for Citizens Programme could create more flexibility when it comes to setting priorities over the seven year programming period, reducing management costs at European level, lessening bureaucratic burdens for the beneficiaries and allowing for more cross-cutting projects that cover several objectives of the programmes;

25.

reiterates the position it has expressed in the past, particularly with regard to the issue of justice, that policies developed in the fields of justice and internal affairs should be coordinated and integrated with other Union policies (especially its economic and social and external policies), as improved coordination of these policies is bound to strengthen their overall effectiveness;

26.

agrees that promoting citizenship is a horizontal issue that must be taken into account in the European Union's other actions, which is why synergies with the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) are important in order to ensure that future EU citizens are informed about European citizenship and know their rights and responsibilities;

27.

hopes, therefore, that practical solutions will be implemented that allow for complementarity and synergies between the three proposed programmes and with other Union instruments, and invites the Commission to provide information on the means it intends to employ in order to guarantee these synergies and complementarity;

28.

is concerned that it will not be sufficiently possible for local and regional authorities to be effectively involved in devising the annual work programmes and evaluating at least two out of the three specific programmes: the process of building a citizens' Europe must go hand in hand with the concrete participation of local and regional authorities at every phase, as they represent vital institutional levels through which to guarantee more democratically legitimate decision-making;

29.

therefore calls for a guarantee that local and regional authorities, through the Committee of the Regions, will formally participate in the drafting of the annual programmes of activities for the Rights and Citizenship and Europe for Citizens programmes;

30.

furthermore, considers, with regard to the interim evaluation reports and the ex-post evaluation reports provided by the Commission for the Rights and Citizenship programme, that it should be able to express its own opinion, as is formally provided for with regard to the Europe for Citizens programme, and therefore calls for a specific provision in this connection to be included in the proposal on the Rights and Citizenship programme;

31.

requests that the measurement of the achievement of the specific objectives of the Rights and Citizenship programme also be contingent on the collection of qualitative and quantitative data on the respect, exercise and implementation of these rights, given that the reference to perception at European level is not an adequate measure in terms of results; also refers in this connection to the activities of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Institute for Gender Equality in drawing up corresponding indicators and comparative studies;

32.

supports the important role that the programme proposals should play through awareness raising and information activities for European citizens, particularly as regards wide-ranging access to information, which is increasingly important if they are to play an active part in the political process. The Committee has already highlighted this point, calling on its members to strive to ensure that access to information is effectively guaranteed in the Member States;

33.

believes, with regard to the Justice programme, that the planned continuation of exchanges of staff from national judicial systems, within the broader scope of the European justice network, will gradually strengthen mutual recognition of judicial systems and improve trust between them;

34.

strongly supports, therefore, the specific proposal to fund training activities for judicial staff as laid down in Article 6 of the proposal for the Justice programme, as such training and awareness are key elements in building a Europe of justice;

35.

recommends paying particular attention to this aspect in order to guarantee effective participation from all staff working within the judicial system, in the public and private sectors;

36.

considers that the training activities funded under the Rights and Citizenship Programme should include training in European citizenship for those planning to obtain the citizenship of a Member State, and for schoolchildren, supporting the principle of active citizenship of young people through education;

37.

is in favour of the funding support for the development of online training modules provided for in the programme proposal, which coincides with the CoR's call to promote measures aimed at citizenship training via the media and ICT;

38.

believes that the Justice programme and Rights and Citizenship programme are also a viable means of strengthening local and regional authorities' considerable potential in cross-border cooperation on issues relating to the area of freedom, security and justice;

39.

fully endorses, in principle, the more result-oriented approach chosen by the Commission for the programmes, focused on the use of indicators to measure the achievement of the programmes' objectives; highlights, however, that while a comprehensive list of indicators is contained in the Europe for Citizens proposal, the proposal for the Justice Programme, for example, only mentions a single indicator for each objective and hints to an undefined set of further indicators; suggests, therefore, a specification which is broader in general, preferably referring to qualitative parameters as well as quantitative ones;

40.

highlights that the proposal on the Europe for Citizens programme provides for a more flexible structure than the programme currently underway; it is therefore not necessary to allocate quotas in advance for individual actions that can be carried out under the new programme;

41.

points out, in this connection, that town twinning schemes, as well as continuing to benefit from the programme, could also have available a fixed quota set in advance, which in the current programme is equivalent to almost one third of the total budget and could be maintained at this level;

42.

therefore calls for a good part of the overall budget of the Europe for Citizens programme to be allocated to activities that take place in the context of town twinning, particularly given the recognised, important role that twinning plays in building strong and sustainable contacts between citizens, including those of third countries;

43.

reiterates that, as the Parliament and the Council have recently introduced the European Heritage Label as an instrument to enhance the shared cultural heritage of the Member States while respecting national and regional diversity, the Europe for Citizens programme could, in order to pursue its stated objectives, also tap into the potential of the sites that will receive this new label, in the same way that the European Cities of Culture promote European identity and citizenship.

II.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

RIGHTS AND CITIZENSHIP – COM(2011) 758 final

Amendment 1

Article 4(2)

Specific objectives

Text proposed by Commission

CoR amendment

2.   The indicators to measure the achievement of the objectives set out in paragraph 1 shall be, inter alia, the European perception of the respect, exercise and implementation of these rights and the number of complaints.

2.   The indicators to measure the achievement of the objectives set out in paragraph 1 shall be, inter alia, the respect, exercise and implementation of these rights and the number of complaints.

Reason

With a view to effectively measuring the achievement of the specific objectives of the programme, it seems clearer to refer to the collection of qualitative and quantitative data, given that the concept of ‘perception’ could be interpreted less clearly, in a way that does not sufficiently reflect the achievement of the objectives.

RIGHTS AND CITIZENSHIP – COM(2011) 758 final

Amendment 2

Article 9(1)

Committee procedure

Text proposed by Commission

CoR amendment

1.   The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation 182/2011.

1.   The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation 182/2011.

Reason

The adoption of the annual work programmes, through which the entire programme is implemented, should involve the participation of a representative of the Committee of the Regions, alongside the Committee comprising representatives of the Member States and assisting the Commission.

As this relates to the implementation of programmes in which local and regional authorities are strongly involved, their participation in devising the annual work programmes through the European institution (Committee of the Regions) representing them, will enable the programmes to be built from the ground up, in accordance with the wishes expressed by the European citizens.

Moreover, the participation of the Committee of the Regions in drawing up the annual programmes is in line with Committee's power, in the framework of the legislative procedure for the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, to formally issue this opinion.

RIGHTS AND CITIZENSHIP – COM(2011) 758 final

Amendment 3

Article 12(2)

Monitoring and evaluation

Text proposed by Commission

CoR amendment

2.   The Commission shall provide the European Parliament and the Council with:

(a)

an interim evaluation report, by mid-2018 at the latest;

(b)

an ex-post evaluation report.

2.   The Commission shall provide the European Parliament the Council with:

(a)

an interim evaluation report, by mid-2018 at the latest;

(b)

an ex-post evaluation report.

Reason

It is particularly important to validate the monitoring and evaluation process for the Rights and Citizenship and Europe for Citizens programmes: indeed, for the latter, it is expressly stated in Article 14(3) (Monitoring and evaluation) of the Commission proposal that the Commission shall provide an interim evaluation report and an ex-post evaluation report not only to the European Parliament and the Council but also to the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

Therefore, there are no valid reasons to maintain the provision of Article 12(2) of the proposal on the Rights and Citizenship programme which does not include the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions among the recipients of the interim evaluation report and an ex-post evaluation report. The amendment duly incorporates these two bodies.

JUSTICE – COM(2011) 759 final

Amendment 1

Article 7

Participation

Text proposed by Commission

CoR amendment

1.   Access to the Programme shall be open to all public and/or private bodies and entities legally established in:

a)

the Member States;

b)

EFTA countries which are party to the EEA Agreement, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the EEA Agreement;

c)

accession countries, candidate countries and potential candidates, in accordance with the general principles and the general terms and conditions laid down in the framework agreements concluded with them on their participation in Union programmes;

d)

Denmark, on the basis of an international agreement.

2.   Public and/or private bodies and entities legally established in other third countries, notably countries where the European Neighbourhood Policy applies, may be associated to actions of the Programme, if this serves the purpose of these actions.

1.   Access to the Programme shall be open to all public and/or private bodies and entities legally established in:

a)

the Member States;

b)

EFTA countries which are party to the EEA Agreement, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the EEA Agreement;

c)

accession countries, candidate countries and potential candidates, in accordance with the general principles and the general terms and conditions laid down in the framework agreements concluded with them on their participation in Union programmes;

d)

Denmark, on the basis of an international agreement.

2.   Public and/or private bodies and entities legally established in other third countries, notably countries where the European Neighbourhood Policy applies, may be associated to actions of the Programme, if this serves the purpose of these actions.

Reason

Points 1 and 2 include in the list of potential beneficiaries of the programme entities which are not clearly defined; as both paragraphs refer to public and/or private bodies, the addition of ‘entities’ seems superfluous and should therefore be removed (1).

EUROPE FOR CITIZENS – COM(2011) 884 final

Amendment 1

Article 9(1)

Committee

Text proposed by Commission

CoR amendment

1.   The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation 182/2011.

1.   The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation 182/2011.

Reason

The adoption of the annual work programmes, through which the entire programme is implemented, should involve the participation of a representative of the Committee of the Regions, alongside the Committee comprising representatives of the Member States and assisting the Commission.

As this relates to the implementation of programmes in which local and regional authorities are strongly involved, their participation in devising the annual work programmes through the European institution (Committee of the Regions) representing them, will enable the programmes to be built from the ground up, in accordance with the wishes expressed by the European citizens.

Brussels, 18 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


(1)  Translator's note: this amendment does not concern the English version of the text, in which the word ‘entities’ is not repeated.


13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/51


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘A mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions’

2012/C 277/07

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

welcomes the Commission's attempts to streamline and simplify greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting requirements but requests amendments to the Commission's proposal to provide a spatial/regional context for greenhouse gas emissions and projections and low carbon development plans (PLCDs);

requests that all the data/methodologies used be publicly available and not privately owned, that they be transparent and therefore replicable, and set by a body such as the EEA to avoid problems of multiplicity and to facilitate policy in a multi-level governance policy setting;

calls for the spatial impact on emissions to be a material consideration in the wider policies, programmes, funding allocations and projects of the Commission;

refers the Commission to the initiatives of the Covenant of Mayors, ClimAct Regions, carbonn and the EUCO2 80/50 as examples of international excellence of work undertaken at a regional level to reduce CO2 emissions;

recommends harmonising the projections of Member States to provide a set of consistent projections, including reporting on the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency;

reiterates its call at COP 17 in Durban, as well as at previous UNFCCC conferences, for the recognition of climate mitigation and adaptation actions at the local and regional level.

Rapporteur

Neil SWANNICK (UK/PES), Member of Manchester City Council

Reference document

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union level relevant to climate change

COM(2011) 789 final

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

1.   Introduction

1.1   The proposal for a regulation (hereafter ‘the proposal’) ‘on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union level relevant to climate change’ has been developed largely as a consequence of the Cancun Agreement and partly due to Decision No 406/2009/EC and Directive 2009/29/EC. The legal basis for the proposal is set within the context of Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, hereon ‘The Treaty’.

1.2   A combination of ‘Decision 406/2009/EC, Directive 2009/29/EC and “The Treaty” ’, hereon the ‘regional framework’, provide a greater requirement for regional involvement in the context of mitigation than ‘the proposal’ currently affords. The CoR requests amendments to ‘the proposal’ to provide a spatial/regional context for:

GhG emissions; and

Projections and low carbon development plans (PLCD);

and that all the data/methodologies used be:

publicly available and not privately owned;

transparent and therefore replicable; and

set by a body such as the EEA to avoid problems of multiplicity

to facilitate policy in a multi-level governance policy setting.

The CoR requests that provision be made for ‘consumption emissions’ within the PLCD, i.e. emissions associated with imported goods and services. Furthermore, PLCDs should recognise any unintended or deliberate consequences of policy that leads to ‘exporting’ emissions outside of the Member State. This is often referred to as ‘carbon leakage’, a good example of this is the relocation of heavy industry overseas. Carbon leakage should be considered within the PLCDs with the actions taken to avoid it clearly stated. This is important to establish Europe’s true role in global emissions reductions.

Furthermore, the spatial impact on emissions should be a material consideration in the wider policies, programmes, funding allocations and projects of the Commission.

The CoR reiterates its call at COP 17 in Durban, as well as at previous UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) conferences, for the recognition of climate mitigation and adaptation actions at the local and regional level.

1.3   The Committee of the Regions shares the Commission's assessment that since the objectives of the proposed Regulation, in the context of the UNFCCC commitments, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore by reason of scale and effects be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union; and that in accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Regulation does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve those objectives.

2.   General comments

2.1   The CoR welcomes:

the proposal and the stakeholder consultation and impact assessment that preceded it;

the inclusion of projections and mitigation actions being presented alongside inventory data;

the commitment to harmonise international and EC monitoring and reporting and facilitating the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism. However, we expect the EC to utilise commitments within the ‘regional framework’ to extend the proposal;

attempts to streamline and simplify the monitoring and reporting requirements in the proposal;

coherence between GhG (greenhouse gas) and local air emissions estimation;

the EU Clearinghouse Mechanism and hopes that it will provide a useful tool for national, regional and local policy makers acting on climate policy;

the extension in consideration to other impacts of aviation on global warming.

2.2   Financial issues

The delivery of climate change policy often results in competition between funds allocated to mitigation against those for adaptation. Therefore the CoR is concerned that:

the explicit mentioning in ‘the proposal’ of adaptation as a local issue without an explicit mentioning of mitigation as a local issue will, in the long term, hinder the effectiveness of mitigation policy;

there is no guidance regarding the true expansion in scope that the proposal brings to Member States. This is needed to help avoid overspends on the practitioners that will ultimately deliver many of these amendments in the proposal;

there is no allocation to the regions of at least 30 % of revenues generated from auctioning of allowances. This is required to help implement Europe’s 2020 targets on renewable energies and energy efficiency;

the administrative, technical and financial burden of additional monitoring and reporting requirements are likely to extend to the regions, so they should be proportionate;

a pursuit of marginal incremental improvements to data sets should be avoided if it displaces the implementation of mitigation or adaptation policy.

2.3   Emissions inventory and data

An emissions inventory tells us where we were, or are, in terms of our emissions. Its purpose should be to inform stakeholders of the current situation regarding mitigation policy.

Therefore:

the usefulness of an inventory is greatly boosted by a PLCD with a near-, medium- and long-term outlook;

the emissions data that will result from ‘the proposal’ is central to understanding the strategic direction, priorities and performance of the European Union, its Member States and regions;

however, to maximise use, the data should be presented alongside the core economic and social performance data used regularly by decision makers.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has an important role to play in the development and application of consistent methodologies, and supporting Member States in the production of inventories.

The emissions data and its quality should be the direct responsibility of the central statistical and data service of the European Union. This should include a robust, transparent and accountable central process to verify the accuracy/certainty of nationally provided datasets and PLCDs.

The following cumulative total emissions release, since 1990, should be provided by each Member State:

those emissions that arise within the Member State (sources);

those that have been offset by land use change; and

those that are offset pursuant to Article 5 of Decision 406/2009/EC.

These figures are of great importance, complementing the absolute target of 20 %, to keeping global warming below 2 °C.

2.4   Policy implementation

The CoR wants a stated, quantified, spatial/regional element to the PLCDs because:

the spatial element provides for better monitoring of progress and evidence than generic presentations at a national level provide;

the regions are closer to the citizens, than Member States, making them able to communicate information on climate-related issues to the public, which is one of the goals of the monitoring and reporting mechanism.

Regional authorities are a key source of expertise who have presented their work at UNFCCC conferences. They should be involved from the outset in the formation of actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change so that maximum use is made of their expertise and experience in dealing with the impacts, and causes, of climate change - that hit hardest at the local level.

We refer the EC to the initiatives of the Covenant of Mayors, ClimAct Regions, carbonn, ICLEI and the EUCO2 80/50 as examples of international excellence of work undertaken at a regional level to reduce CO2 emissions.

It is in line with the ‘regional framework’.

It sends a clear political message in this direction.

The impact, in terms of an emissions reduction, of national policy, will vary between regions within a Member State and should be understood.

Action needs to be taken closer to the source of emissions, so if data is provided that can be used locally it is more likely to be acted upon.

Considering Articles 191 and 192 of ‘The Treaty’ it would be proportionate to do so.

Regions will contribute differing levels of emissions reduction depending on their economic make-up and infrastructure. These levels of emissions reduction will vary between regions both within Member States and wider Europe.

Despite being close to the policy implementation these authorities are not consistently consulted by Member States on climate-related issues.

Meeting the mitigation challenge is not a top-down process.

In addition, technical and financial assistance provided to developing countries undertaken by regional authorities in decentralised cooperation programmes needs to be acknowledged.

2.5   Adaptation

Adaptation strategies are not compulsory at present so introducing reporting obligations in the field of adaptation (Article 16) may appear incongruous – although this clearly does not mean it should not be done.

The CoR repeats its call for a representative of local and regional authorities in bodies such as the new Adaptation Committee. We refer to the Mexico City Pact of 2010 and the Adaptation Charter signed in Durban in December 2011.

2.6   Low carbon development plans and projections: Transparency and data ownership

National, regional and local authorities need tools, measures, instructions and guidelines from the EC/EEA to:

develop PLCDs;

set-up monitoring mechanisms;

timely cost effective access to data;

avoid commoditisation and proliferation of data and collection tools;

ensure consistency between PLCDs;

strengthen data quality, reliability and confidence;

meet obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, the Cancun Agreements and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

We ask the EEA to produce mainstreamed and transparent local and regional data sets alongside national inventories and mitigation statistics, that is: searchable online, with filters to Member State, regional and sub-regional level results, by sector, to enable comparative analysis, normalisation and scrutiny against socioeconomic data.

2.7   Aviation and marine emissions

The references to treating Civil Aviation emissions and Marine emissions reporting are unclear. This is because:

the CoR understands that this is due to a misunderstanding of ‘1.A.3.A civil aviation’, the intention is to consider as zero private (rather than commercial) aircraft i.e. largely light aircraft and helicopters that largely use small private airfields. This should be stated clearly;

no methodology is provided for marine emissions from maritime craft using European ports so the proposal should explicitly state that the EC is waiting for legislation before it forms a methodology.

3.   Conclusion

The CoR is concerned over the lack of regional focus in the proposal. The CoR contends this is a missed opportunity that will hinder the delivery of mitigation policy. The CoR believes the proposal will be a step forward with the inclusion of an explicit regional focus. The focus on PLCDs is welcomed.

II.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Article 1 – Subject matter

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(e)

reporting CO2 emissions from maritime transport;

(e)

(f)

monitoring and reporting the use of revenues generated by auctioning allowances under Article 3d(1), (2) or 10(1) of Directive 2003/87/EC, pursuant to Articles 3d(4) and 10(3) of that Directive;

(f)

monitoring and reporting the use of revenues generated by auctioning allowances under Article 3d(1), (2) or 10(1) of Directive 2003/87/EC, pursuant to Articles 3d(4) and 10(3) of that Directive;

(g)

monitoring and reporting on the actions taken by Member States to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change;

(g)

monitoring and reporting on the actions taken by Member States to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change;

(h)

evaluating progress by the Member States towards meeting their obligations under Decision No 406/2009/EC;

(h)

evaluating progress by the Member States, towards meeting their obligations under Decision No 406/2009/EC;

(i)

gathering information and data necessary to support future Union climate change policy formulation and assessment.

(i)

gathering information and data necessary to support future Union climate change policy formulation and assessment

Reason

A mechanism for reporting marine emissions is not provided, it is our understanding that a mechanism will be provided should a new legislation require it.

As the proposals will largely be delivered at the local/regional scale the proposal should make more specific reference to it.

Amendment 2

Article 2 – Scope

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

An explicit mentioning of the regional level is required for mitigation as well as adaptation.

Amendment 3

Article 3 – Definitions

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(13)

‘national system for policies and measures and projections’ means a system of institutional, legal and procedural arrangements established within a Member State for reporting policies and measures and for preparing and reporting projections of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks as required by Article 13 of this Regulation;

(13)

‘national system for policies and measures and projections’ means a system of institutional, legal and procedural arrangements established within a Member State for reporting policies and measures and for preparing and reporting projections of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, as required by Article 13 of this Regulation;

Reason

There needs to be consistency between how policies, measures and projections are considered in each Member State.

Amendment 4

Article 4 – Low-carbon development strategies

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

2.   Member States shall submit to the Commission their low-carbon development strategy one year after the entry into force of this Regulation or in accordance with any timetable agreed internationally in the context of the UNFCCC process.

2.   Member States shall submit to the Commission their low-carbon development strategy one year after the entry into force of this Regulation or in accordance with any timetable agreed internationally in the context of the UNFCCC process.

3.   The Commission and the Member States shall make available to the public forthwith their respective low-carbon development strategies and any updates thereof.

3.   The Commission and the Member States shall make available to the public forthwith their respective low-carbon development strategies any updates thereof.

Reason

The spatial element needs to be afforded in these plans to show that appropriate thought and understanding has been applied to the plans, this is partly because without a spatial element implementation will be hard to deliver ‘on the ground’.

Understanding how these projections/low carbon development calculations have been derived is key to policy analysis and transparency.

Amendment 5

Article 5 – National inventory systems

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   Member States shall establish, operate and seek to continuously improve national inventory systems to estimate anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases listed in Annex I to this Regulation and to ensure the timeliness, transparency, accuracy, consistency, comparability and completeness of their greenhouse gas inventories.

1.   Member States shall establish, operate and seek to continuously improve national inventory systems to estimate anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases listed in Annex I to this Regulation and to ensure the timeliness, transparency, accuracy, consistency, comparability and completeness of their greenhouse gas inventories.

2.   Member States shall ensure that their competent inventory authorities have access to, and that their national inventory system provides that their competent authorities shall have access to:

2.   Member States shall ensure that their competent inventory authorities have access to, and that their national inventory system provides that their competent authorities shall have access to:

(a)

data and methods reported for activities and installations under Directive 2003/87/EC for the purpose of preparing national greenhouse gas inventories to ensure consistency of the reported greenhouse gas emissions under the Union’s emissions trading scheme and in the national greenhouse gas inventories;

(a)

data and methods reported for activities and installations under Directive 2003/87/EC for the purpose of preparing national greenhouse gas inventories to ensure consistency of the reported greenhouse gas emissions under the Union’s emissions trading scheme and in the national greenhouse gas inventories;

(b)

data collected through the reporting systems on fluorinated gases in the various sectors, set up under Article 6(4) of Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 for the purpose of preparing national greenhouse gas inventories;

(b)

data collected through the reporting systems on fluorinated gases in the various sectors, set up under Article 6(4) of Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 for the purpose of preparing national greenhouse gas inventories;

(c)

emissions, underlying data and methodologies reported by facilities under Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 for the purpose of preparing national greenhouse gas inventories;

(c)

emissions, underlying data and methodologies reported by facilities under Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 for the purpose of preparing national greenhouse gas inventories;

(d)

data reported under Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008.

(d)

data reported under Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008.

3.   Member States shall ensure that their competent inventory authorities, and that their national inventory system provides that their competent inventory authorities:

3.   Member States shall ensure that their competent inventory authorities, and that their national inventory system provides that their competent inventory authorities:

(a)

make use of the reporting systems established under Article 6(4) of Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 to improve the estimation of fluorinated gases in the greenhouse gas inventories;

(a)

make use of the reporting systems established under Article 6(4) of Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 to improve the estimation of fluorinated gases in the greenhouse gas inventories;

(b)

are able to undertake the annual consistency checks referred to in points (l) and (m) of Article 7(1) of this Regulation;

(b)

are able to undertake the annual consistency checks referred to in points (l) and (m) of Article 7(1) of this Regulation;

 

   

Reason

The establishment and appropriate design of measures for reducing emissions and the need for their outcomes to be reflected in the greenhouse gas inventories are closely connected with awareness of information sources, models, methodological approaches, estimates, assumptions, etc. Some emission sources of the diffuse sectors and sinks fall within the remit of regional authorities. As a consequence, they need to be familiar with and participate in the national inventory system in order to improve and adapt the proposed mitigation policies at the regional level.

Amendment 6

Article 6 – Union inventory system

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(c)

an annual expert review of Member States’ greenhouse gas inventories.

(c)

an annual expert review of Member States’ greenhouse gas inventories.

 

Reason

The Member State inventories should be independently reviewed by a non commercial competent inventory authority that has not been involved in the formation of a national inventory in a given year. Ideally this should be a body internal to the EEA. The EC should also recognise its impacts on emissions of its own policies and programmes, so it can identify if it has a positive or negative effect.

Amendment 7

Article 7 – Greenhouse gas inventories

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

their anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases listed in Annex I to this Regulation and the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases referred to in Article 2(1) of Decision No 406/2009/EC for the year X-2. Without prejudice to the reporting of the greenhouse gases listed in Annex I to this Regulation, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from IPCC source category ‘1.A.3.A civil aviation’ shall be considered equal to zero for the purposes of Articles 3 and 7(1) of Decision No 406/2009/EC;

(a)

their anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases listed in Annex I to this Regulation and the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases referred to in Article 2(1) of Decision No 406/2009/EC for the year X-2. Without prejudice to the reporting of the greenhouse gases listed in Annex I to this Regulation, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from IPCC source category ‘1.A.3.A civil aviation’ shall be considered equal to zero for the purposes of Articles 3 and 7(1) of Decision No 406/2009/EC;

Reason

The category 1.A.3.A considers emissions from aircraft taking off and landing and the cruise component within a Member State. The emissions of light aircraft that depart from private airfields are potentially burdensome to include in the short term. However the fuel used by light aircraft is likely to be considered under bunker fuel emissions if they have utilised a commercial airport (making an inconsistency).

Amendment 8

Article 13 – National systems for policies, measures and projections

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

2.   They shall aim to ensure the timeliness, transparency, accuracy, consistency, comparability and completeness of the information reported on policies and measures and projections of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, as referred to in Articles 14 and 15 of this Regulation, including the use and application of data, methods and models, and the implementation of quality assurance and quality control activities and sensitivity analysis.

2.   They shall ensure the timeliness, transparency, accuracy, consistency, comparability and completeness of the information reported on policies and measures and projections of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, as referred to in Articles 14 and 15 of this Regulation, including the use and application of data, methods and models, and the implementation of quality assurance and quality control activities and sensitivity analysis.

Reason

There should be the opportunity to compare PLCDs between Member States. There should also be the ability to compare impacts on emissions on differing sectors in differing European areas. Therefore the data should be accessible to enable further analysis and trust in the strategies.

Amendment 9

Article 14 – Reporting on policies and measures

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   …

1.   …

(c)

information on national policies and measures, and on implementation of Union policies and measures that limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sources or enhance removals by sinks, presented on a sectoral basis for each greenhouse gas referred to in Annex I to this Regulation. This information shall make cross references with applicable national or Union policies, particularly those on air quality, and shall include:

(c)

information on national policies and measures, and on implementation of Union policies and measures that limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sources or enhance removals by sinks, t presented on a sectoral basis for each greenhouse gas referred to in Annex I to this Regulation. This information shall make cross references with applicable national or Union policies, particularly those on air quality, and shall include:

2.   Member States shall make available to the public, in electronic form, any assessment of the costs and effects of national policies and measures, and any information on the implementation of Union policies and measures that limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sources or enhance removals by sinks along with any technical reports that underpin these assessments. These should include descriptions of the models and methodological approaches used, definitions and underlying assumptions.

2.   Member States shall make available to the public, in electronic form, any assessment of the costs and effects of national policies and measures, and any information on the implementation of Union policies and measures that limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sources or enhance removals by sinks along with any technical reports that underpin these assessments. These should include descriptions of the models and methodological approaches used, definitions and underlying assumptions

Reason

The regional context needs to be explicit.

The calculations as well as the qualitative explanations are required.

Amendment 10

Article 15 – Reporting on projections

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   Member States shall report to the Commission by 15 March each year (‘year X’) national projections of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, organised by gas and by sector.

1.   Member States shall report to the Commission by 15 March each year (‘year X’) national projections of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, organised by gas and by sector

Reason

The regional context needs to be made explicit.

Amendment 11

Article 25 – Role of the European Environment Agency

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(d)

conducting the annual expert review;

(d)

conducting the annual expert review;

(h)

preparing estimates for data on projections not reported by the Member States;

(h)

preparing estimates for data, on projections not reported by the Member States;

(j)

disseminating information collected under this Regulation, including maintaining and updating a database on Member States’ mitigation policies and measures, and a clearinghouse on impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation to climate change.

(j)

disseminating information collected under this Regulation, including maintaining and updating a database on Member States’ mitigation policies and measures, and a clearinghouse on impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation to climate change;

 

 

 

 

 

Reason

The EEA is key to the success of Member State policy. This means that they should be the source of expertise and guidance over the likely trajectories of emissions. Cumulative emissions are key to atmospheric concentrations of GHGs and therefore future temperature rises. Emissions within Europe’s borders do not truly reflect the global emissions driven by Europe. Therefore an appreciation of ‘consumption emissions’ should be explicitly included.

Brussels, 19 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/61


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation on the programme for the environment and climate action (LIFE)’

2012/C 277/08

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

given the substantial challenges that exist in this field, would welcome a substantially greater increase in the programme’s budget, whilst recognising that the exact figure cannot be agreed until the Multi-annual Financial Framework negotiations are concluded;

supports the new approach of ‘Integrated Projects’, however requests that accessibility and involvement of stakeholders in integrated projects should be more encouraged; that marine environment, soil and noise as priority should be added as further primarily relevant areas of integrated projects; and that appropriate coordination mechanisms of LIFE with other EU funds in the Common Strategic Framework and with Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAFs) for financing Natura 2000 are put in place;

believes that the removal of VAT as eligible expenditure is liable to deter many potential applicants from developing a proposal and suggests that VAT is accepted as eligible costs if the beneficiaries can prove that VAT cannot be recovered;

recommends that the cost of permanent staff remain eligible, with the condition that it is proven and documented that the staff in question are formally seconded to the activities of the project, on a full- or part-time basis;

proposes that the upper rate co-financing rate should be extended to 85 % in less developed regions (as defined in the Structural Funds Regulations) and in the outermost regions;

requests that the LIFE programme shall also be open to Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU which are party to the ‘Overseas Association Decision’ (Council Decision 2001/822/EC), which are responsible for much of the EU’s biodiversity.

Rapporteur

Kay TWITCHEN (UK/NI), Member of Essex County Council

Reference document

Proposal for a regulation of the Council and the European Parliament on the establishment of Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE)

COM(2011) 874 final – 2011/0428 (COD)

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

A.    General remarks

1.

reiterates its view that the LIFE programme constitutes an important instrument in helping to fund local and regional environmental policies and projects with a European added value, and has helped mobilise efforts by local and regional authorities. It has also helped to create partnerships, thus strengthening cooperation structures and facilitating the exchange of experience and information at local and regional level;

2.

welcomes the intention to continue LIFE into the new funding period. Believes that this will ensure a more effective intervention, create synergies by coordinating EU and national activities, and increase the visibility of environmental and climate actions;

3.

shares the Commission’s view that environment and climate action should be an integral element of most EU policies. However the main EU funding instruments do not address all environmental and climate specific needs, hence the continuing need for a separate Programme for the Environment and Climate Action, building upon the achievements the LIFE+ Regulation (EC) No 614/2007 for the period 2007-13. Thus it complements the ‘mainstreaming’ approach to achieving environmental and climate objectives across the EU budget, through the financing of environment and climate projects not eligible for funding elsewhere;

4.

notes that evaluation of the existing LIFE programme has highlighted that its impact is limited by a lack of strategic focus. The new programme would therefore introduce a flexible top-down approach, and establish two discrete sub-programmes, covering Environment and Climate Action with clearly identified priorities;

5.

notes the importance in this regard of maintaining enough flexibility in the programme. Prioritisation must not result in excessive restrictions or overly prescriptive criteria. As in the current programme, the key yardstick should be the quality of the projects proposed;

6.

considers that the LIFE Regulation should make specific reference to the need to seek synergies between the different strands, e.g. to ensure that LIFE-funded climate projects have a beneficial effect on biodiversity, and that LIFE-funded environment projects be climate-proofed. Insofar as the Commission has indicated the potential synergies between the two sub-programmes and for projects to benefit multiple objectives, it will be important to ensure that this is achieved;

7.

reiterates its call (1) for the LIFE programme to continue to support communication and information projects, with an increased focus on awareness, including education for sustainable development and promoting projects which involve local and regional authorities. In this context, welcomes the proposed priority area of governance and information in each of the two sub-programmes;

8.

welcomes the proposal that, in order to ensure coherence of the two LIFE sub-programmes, they will be within the framework of one single Multi-annual Work Programme, with one single set of common implementing rules, one single call for proposals, and dealing with them together in the single LIFE Committee, and expresses concern that there should not be divergent procedures and priorities for different sub-programmes;

9.

welcomes that the European Commission has consulted extensively in developing this proposal and has taken into account many views expressed by stakeholders, and by the CoR (2);

B.    Indicators

10.

welcomes the emphasis given in Article 3 of the proposal to defining indicators for measuring the success of LIFE. Recommends the addition of indicators that measure and promote good governance and communication within every LIFE project. CoR has urged the LIFE programme to foster targeted - and thus more effective - ways of communication and capacity-building activities in each LIFE project;

C.    Sub-programme for Environment (LIFE Environment)

Priority area: Environment and resource efficiency

11.

notes that the proposal excludes in Article 10 market replication-orientated private sector innovation, since it will be covered by Horizon 2020. This allows for LIFE to focus on eco-innovation by local and regional authorities and on finding solutions that are most often best implemented through public–private partnerships. Therefore CoR welcomes the shift to public-sector innovation and the possibility of public-private partnerships;

Priority area: Biodiversity

12.

welcomes that, as requested by the CoR (3), the proposal in Article 11 allows for recurring activities provided that projects operate on the basis of exemplary procedures which can be applied to other regions and that they will be subject to standards for monitoring and communicating results to the public;

13.

believes that support via integrated projects for Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAFs) for financing Natura 2000 will be a key future element under the LIFE’s Biodiversity priority area. The CoR requests that, in keeping with the institutional framework of each Member State, regional authorities should be in charge of developing PAFs and takes note of the recent initiatives launched by the European Commission on financing Natura 2000 (4);

Priority area: Environment governance and information

14.

strongly welcomes that LIFE support for environment governance has been strengthened by making it a priority area in the proposed regulation (Article 12). The CoR believes that this will increase visibility of potential governance projects and that local and regional authorities will become important beneficiaries of this new priority area. The CoR has urged LIFE to contribute to the strengthening of local and regional authorities’ administrative capacities and to give an increased focus on awareness, including education for sustainable development and promoting projects which involve LRA and have significant impact at EU level (5);

15.

considers that this priority area should promote knowledge sharing on the implementation and enforcement of EU environmental law by supporting networks, training, and best practice sharing projects, in particular of local and regional authorities active in the field, at European level;

D.    Sub-programme for Climate Action (LIFE Climate)

16.

welcomes the creation of a new sub-programme on climate action, which can play a role in promoting low-carbon, resource-efficient and climate-proofed actions and investment. Welcomes this in view of the EU’s international commitments to reducing GHGs in the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and the future global climate agreement to be negotiated by 2015, as well as of the EU’s objectives under the Climate and Energy Package, the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy 2050 (6);

17.

notes however that the proposed budget is a rather small part of the overall LIFE programme (25 %). Thus LIFE Climate has a very limited potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gases. It should therefore promote multiple environmental benefits, such as natural areas, which are essential for ensuring good air quality and display considerable biodiversity (peatlands and forests) or contribute to the creation of green infrastructure, as an integrated approach to maintaining biodiversity and to keeping the repercussions of climate change in check;

18.

welcomes that the main focus of Integrated Projects will be on climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and action plans;

19.

welcomes the objectives listed under the priority area ‘climate governance and information’ (Article 16), and could see a clear role for the CoR in promoting awareness-raising on climate matters;

E.    Integrated Projects

20.

as indicated in its earlier opinion (7), welcomes the proposal for introducing long-duration ‘Integrated Projects’ on a large territorial scale (in particular regional, multi-regional or national), as a means of addressing a wide variety of issues through a strategic, structured relationship with other EU funding streams. The LIFE projects would continue to have an important catalytic value;

21.

believes that Integrated Projects will improve the implementation of environment and climate policy and their integration into other policies, in application of the principle of multi-level governance, by ensuring a coordinated mobilisation of other EU, national and private funds towards environmental or climate objectives. They will focus on the implementation of environmental and climate plans and strategies on a larger territorial scale than is normally the case in LIFE+;

22.

welcomes that the list of primarily relevant areas for Integrated Projects in Article 18 (d) to a large extent reflects previous recommendations of the CoR (water management, nature and biodiversity conservation, sustainable resource use and waste management). Believes however that marine environment, soil and noise should be added as further primarily relevant areas;

23.

expresses concern that the Integrated Projects may be complex to prepare and manage, especially given the range of deadlines, selection criteria, application procedures and formats, management conditions and reporting arrangements. This will be especially daunting for smaller local authorities, therefore welcomes the technical assistance envisaged in the proposal to help prepare and submit Integrated Projects;

24.

calls for appropriate coordination mechanisms of LIFE with other EU funds in the Common Strategic Framework, in particular within the partnership contracts as provided for by Article 14 of the draft regulation laying down general provisions as well as with the proposed new approach of Community-led local development and Local development strategies for all CSF Funds as provided for by Articles 28 and 29 of the draft regulation laying down general provisions;

25.

expects this new category of larger-scale LIFE projects to include the framework and guidance for development of individual LIFE projects and other projects, including a plan explaining how other EU, national, regional, local and private funding is combined to finance the activities proposed. In certain cases, these projects could be of a longer duration, during which individual related LIFE projects can be developed and implemented;

26.

at the same time, places value on traditional, smaller-scale projects that are accessible to smaller authorities less able to develop an Integrated Project. Accordingly, welcomes that these will still have a place in the new programme and requests that the global budgets allocated to them should not be reduced;

27.

recognises the need for an approximate geographical basis, but considers that this should not be a primary driver that could lead to funding being diverted from essential projects simply to achieve a notional national quota elsewhere. Welcomes the possibility to include neighbouring countries in these projects;

28.

believes that the involvement of stakeholders in integrated projects should be more encouraged;

F.    Simplification, programming and delegated acts

29.

recognises that the European Commission has sought to respond to the calls in an earlier opinion (8) for greater administrative simplification, including multi-annual programming and the greater use of IT tools. The use of flat rates and lump sums can reduce bureaucracy, and is welcomed. Is concerned however, that the commitment towards simplification is mainly expressed in the broadest of terms as an aspiration in recital 26;

30.

strongly welcomes the introduction of a ‘2 step’ approach for the selection of Integrated Projects, whereby potential applicants can provide a concept note to the Commission for pre-approval, meaning fewer resources are wasted by bidders who are unlikely to be successful. This also corresponds to a CoR recommendation. (9);

31.

welcomes multi-annual work programmes of at least two years’ duration as proposed in Article 24. Believes that these multi-annual work programmes can ensure that LIFE responds to EU priorities in a more strategic and political manner. It asks the Commission to involve local and regional authorities in drafting the work programmes so that they properly reflect practice on the ground;

32.

is however concerned that the possibility of mid-term revision of multi-annual programmes as provided for by Article 24 (3) could lead to unpredictability for beneficiaries. The extent of revision changes should therefore be minimal;

33.

recognises that in the current programme, the performance of national contact points has been variable and in some cases a weakness leading to under-utilisation of national allocations (the CoR has previously called for better training of the national contact points (10));

34.

insists that the examination procedure and the LIFE Committee (Article 29) should operate in a transparent and inclusive manner;

35.

notes that the draft regulation foresees delegated acts on the performance indicators applicable to the specific thematic priorities (Article 3), on the application of the criterion ‘being of Union interest’ (Article 19(1)) and on the application of criteria for the ‘application of geographical balance’ for integrated projects (Article 19(3)). The CoR has taken a critical stand on an increased use of comitology in environmental policy, as it lacks transparency in the EU decision-making and operational process for local and regional authorities (11). Therefore recommends that the European Commission undertakes appropriate consultations with local and regional authorities during its preparatory work for the delegated acts;

G.    Co-financing and eligible expenditure

36.

recognises that the European Commission has responded to the calls in an earlier opinion (12) for the maximum co-financing rate to be raised from the existing up to 50 % to up to 70 % (rising to up to 80 % for integrated and preparatory projects);

37.

proposes that the upper rate should be extended to 85 % in less developed regions (as defined in the Structural Funds Regulations (13)) and in the outermost regions. These regions are often vital in the objective of halting biodiversity loss;

38.

regrets that the European Commission did not respond to the calls in an earlier opinion (14) that local and regional authorities should continue to be able to count the cost of permanent staff as own resources. The exclusion of permanent staff cost would have fundamental negative impacts on the quality and feasibility of projects especially of smaller governmental and non-governmental organisations, who depend on continuity of permanent staff and their expertise, and whose staff members often work part-time in several projects at a time;

39.

believes that this, together with the removal of VAT as eligible expenditure, as proposed in Article 20, is liable to deter many potential applicants from developing a proposal. It recalls that in other EU funds VAT is accepted as eligible costs if the beneficiaries can prove that VAT cannot be recovered;

40.

notes however, the findings of a study that appear to demonstrate that the effect of the much higher co-financing rates proposed by the Commission will offset the removal of some elements of eligible funding for most projects. Is aware, moreover, that the question of staff time is the cause of much dispute between the Commission auditors and beneficiaries and leads to large sums being recovered by the Commission, sometimes long after the project has been completed;

41.

nevertheless, recommends that the cost of permanent staff remain eligible, with the condition that it is proven and documented that the staff in question are formally seconded to the activities of the project;

H.    Budget

42.

notes the proposed increase in budget for the LIFE programme from, EUR 2 100 m to EUR 3 600 m which although being a substantial increase for the Programme, remains comparatively modest at only 0,3 % of the overall EU budget;

43.

however given the substantial challenges that exist in this field, the CoR would welcome a substantially greater increase in this budget. Recognises that the exact figure cannot be agreed until the Multi-annual Financial Framework negotiations are concluded;

44.

although greater coherence and complementarity with other funding streams is welcomed, the financing of the LIFE programme should not impact on those funds (e.g. structural funds);

45.

welcomes that 50 % of the sub-programme Environment is to be devoted to biodiversity, thereby corresponding to a request from the CoR (15);

46.

welcomes the new provision in Article 17 that LIFE can be combined with innovative financial instruments. Considers this to be of particular relevance for the priority area Environment and Resource Efficiency. Reiterates that these tools should only be used in addition to, and not in place of, action grants;

I.    Subsidiarity

47.

reaffirms that environmental policy is an area where the exercise of competences is shared between the European Union and the Member States. Therefore, the subsidiarity principle applies. Believes however, that since the proposed regulation is essentially a continuation of the LIFE programme which has existed since 1992, there is no need for a thorough evaluation of its compliance with the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality. Subsidiarity and proportionality are reaffirmed in the recital 34 of the draft regulation;

48.

however:

a)

is broadly in favour of the Programme continuing to be centrally-managed, but considers it will be necessary to ensure that the delegation of tasks such as project selection and monitoring tasks to an Executive Agency does not diminish Member State involvement in the operation of the Programme, and that any transfer does not result in a loss of knowledge and expertise needed to process LIFE applications;

b)

recalls the important role that local and regional authorities have to play in implementing EU environmental legislation and climate strategies at the sub-national level, and in making innovations and best practices better known to the public.

II.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Recital 15

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (16) (hereinafter the ‘Roadmap 2050’) acknowledged that testing new approaches to climate change mitigation will remain essential for moving to a low-carbon economy. Adaptation to climate change, as a cross-cutting Union priority, will also need to be ensured. Moreover, governance promotion and awareness-raising is essential to deliver constructive results and to ensure stakeholders’ involvement. Therefore, the sub-programme for Climate Action should support efforts contributing to three specific priority areas: Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Adaptation and Climate Governance and Information. It should be possible for projects financed by the LIFE programme to contribute to the achievement of the specific objectives of more than one of those priority areas and to involve the participation of more than one Member State.

The Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (16) (hereinafter the ‘Roadmap 2050’) acknowledged that testing new approaches to climate change mitigation will remain essential for moving to a low-carbon economy. Adaptation to climate change, as a cross-cutting Union priority, will also need to be ensured. Moreover, governance promotion and awareness-raising is essential to deliver constructive results and to ensure stakeholders’ involvement. Therefore, the sub-programme for Climate Action should support efforts contributing to three specific priority areas: Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Adaptation and Climate Governance and Information. It should be possible for projects financed by the LIFE programme to contribute to the achievement of the specific objectives of more than one of those priority areas and to involve the participation of more than one Member State.

Reason

The LIFE Regulation should make specific reference to the need to seek synergies between environmental objectives, in particular between climate action and biodiversity. It is also important to emphasise the role of forest ecosystems since they can contribute to biodiversity and climate change mitigation and also increase carbon absorption capacity.

Amendment 2

Recital 26

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

With a view to simplifying the LIFE programme and reducing administrative burden for applicants and beneficiaries, more use should be made of flat rates and lump-sums, and funding should focus on more specific categories of costs. By way of compensation for ineligible costs and in order to maintain the effective level of support provided by the LIFE programme, the co-funding rates should be 70 % as a general rule and 80 % in specific cases.

With a view to simplifying the LIFE programme and reducing administrative burden for applicants and beneficiaries, more use should be made of flat rates and lump-sums, and funding should focus on more specific categories of costs. By way of compensation for ineligible costs and in order to maintain the effective level of support provided by the LIFE programme, the co-funding rates should be 70 % as a general rule and in .

Reason

The upper rate should be extended to 85 % in economically lagging or transition regions (as defined in the Structural Funds Regulations). These regions are often vital in the objective of halting biodiversity loss. As a general rule, the outermost regions benefit from a co-financing rate of 85 % under the main European funds. They should therefore also be able to benefit from the same co-financing rate under other EU programmes such as LIFE. It is also worth noting that the outermost regions are the greatest net contributors to biodiversity in the whole European Union, containing a large number of sites of Community importance within the Natura 2000 network.

Amendment 3

Recital 30

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

In order to secure the best possible use of Union funds and to ensure European added value, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission in respect of eligibility criteria for project selection, criteria for the application of geographical balance to ‘Integrated Projects’, and performance indicators applicable to specific thematic priorities. It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level. The Commission, when preparing and drawing up delegated acts, should ensure a simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to the European Parliament and to the Council.

In order to secure the best possible use of Union funds and to ensure European added value, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission in respect of eligibility criteria for project selection, criteria for the application of geographical balance to ‘Integrated Projects’, and performance indicators applicable to specific thematic priorities. It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level . The Commission, when preparing and drawing up delegated acts, should ensure a simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to the European Parliament and to the Council.

Reason

The CoR has taken a critical stand on an increased use of comitology in environmental policy, as it lacks in transparency in the EU decision-making and operational process for LRA.

Amendment 4

Article 5 - Participation of third countries in the LIFE programme

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The LIFE programme shall be open to the participation of the following countries:

The LIFE programme shall be open to the participation of the following countries:

(a)

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA)

(a)

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA)

(b)

candidate countries, potential candidates and acceding countries to the Union;

(b)

candidate countries, potential candidates and acceding countries to the Union;

(c)

countries to which the European Neighbourhood Policy applies;

(c)

countries to which the European Neighbourhood Policy applies;

(d)

countries which have become members of the European Environmental Agency in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 993/1999 of 29 April 1999 amending Regulation (EEC) No 1210/90 on the establishment of the European Environmental Agency and the European environment information and observation network.

(d)

countries which have become members of the European Environmental Agency in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 993/1999 of 29 April 1999 amending Regulation (EEC) No 1210/90 on the establishment of the European Environmental Agency and the European environment information and observation network.

 

Such participation shall be done in accordance with the conditions laid down in the respective bilateral or multilateral agreements establishing the general principles for their participation in Union programmes.

Such participation shall be done in accordance with the conditions laid down in the respective bilateral or multilateral agreements establishing the general principles for their participation in Union programmes.

Reason

The EU’s 21 Overseas Countries and Territories, along with France’s four Outermost Regions hold more endemic and threatened species in total than the countries of the EU-27. Five of the world’s 34 global biodiversity hotspots are located on EU OCTs. Island ecosystems cover only 5 % of the global land area, however they are known to host around one-third of the world’s threatened species. This biodiversity remains relatively unprotected, as the Birds and Habitats Directives do not apply. Funding to support conservation work is difficult to obtain, as these remote places are ineligible for many international funds (due to their association with the EU). Funding for projects in the OCTs could be taken from the national allocations of the four Member States (UK, Netherlands, France, Denmark) that have territories that are classified as OCTs, and so would have no implications for the funding available under the LIFE programme as a whole.

Amendment 5

Article 8 - Complementarity, paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

In accordance with their respective responsibilities, the Commission and the Member States shall ensure coordination between the LIFE programme and the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, in order to create synergies, particularly in thecontext of Integrated Projects referred to in Article 18 point (d), and to support the use of solutions, methods and approaches developed under the LIFE programme. At Union level, coordination shall take place within the Common Strategic Framework referred to in Article 10 of Regulation (EU) No…. (CSF Regulation).

In accordance with their respective responsibilities, the Commission and the Member States shall ensure coordination between the LIFE programme and the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, in order to create synergies, particularly in thecontext of Integrated Projects referred to in Article 18 point (d), and to support the use of solutions, methods and approaches developed under the LIFE programme. At Union level, coordination shall take place within the Common Strategic Framework referred to in Article 10 of Regulation (EU) No…. ( Regulation ).

Reason

Given the importance of LIFE to strategically contribute to the financing of Natura 2000, the CoR asks that the regulation explicitly requests the Member States to ensure coordination also through the establishment of Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAFs). Moreover, potential synergies could result from the coordination of LIFE Integrated Projects with the proposed new approach of Community-led local development and Local development strategies for all CSF Funds as provided for by Articles 28 and 29 of the draft regulation .

Moreover, the wording of the CSF draft Regulation is adjusted to match previous Committee of the Regions opinions (CdR 5/2012 rev. 1).

Amendment 6

Article 10 - Specific objectives for the priority area Environment and resource Efficiency, point (b)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

to support the application, development, testing and demonstration of integrated approaches for the implementation of plans and programmes pursuant to Union environmental policy and legislation, primarily in the areas of water, waste and air;

to support the application, development, testing and demonstration of integrated approaches for the implementation of plans and programmes pursuant to Union environmental policy and legislation, primarily in the areas of water, , waste, and air;

Reason

In many regions, tackling soil contamination is of outmost importance and is considered to be closely linked with water protection and waste prevention.

Amendment 7

Article 14 - Specific objectives for the priority area Climate Change Mitigation

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

In view of contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the priority area Climate Change Mitigation shall in particular have the following specific objectives:

In view of contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the priority area Climate Change Mitigation shall in particular have the following specific objectives:

(a)

to contribute to the implementation and development of Union policy and legislation on mitigation, including mainstreaming across policy areas, in particular by developing, testing and demonstrating policy or management approaches, best practices and solutions for climate change mitigation;

(a)

to contribute to the implementation and development of Union policy and legislation on mitigation, including mainstreaming across policy areas, in particular by developing, testing and demonstrating policy or management approaches, best practices and solutions for climate change mitigation;

(b)

to improve the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of effective mitigation actions and measures and to enhance the capacity to apply that knowledge in practice;

(b)

to improve the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of effective mitigation actions and measures and to enhance the capacity to apply that knowledge in practice;

(c)

to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated approaches, such as for mitigation strategies and action plans, at local, regional or national level;

(c)

to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated approaches, such as for mitigation strategies and action plans, at local, regional or national level;

(d)

to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative mitigation technologies, systems, methods and instruments that are suitable for being replicated, transferred or mainstreamed.

(d)

to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative mitigation technologies, systems, methods and instruments that are suitable for being replicated, transferred or mainstreamed.

 

Reason

It is important to ensure that climate measures do not have an adverse effect on biodiversity. But more to the point, since these climate measures are reiterated in the LIFE programme, it is important to ensure that they have a beneficial impact on biodiversity. It is vital to ensure consistency between the two major strands of the LIFE programme.

Amendment 8

Article 15 - Specific objectives for the priority area Climate Change Adaptation

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

In view of contributing to supporting efforts leading to increased resilience to climate change, the priority area Climate Change Adaptation shall in particular have the following specific objectives:

In view of contributing to supporting efforts leading to increased resilience to climate change, the priority area Climate Change Adaptation shall in particular have the following specific objectives:

(a)

to contribute to the development and implementation of Union policy and legislation on adaptation, including mainstreaming across policy areas, in particular by developing, testing and demonstrating policy or management approaches, best practices, and solutions, for climate change adaptation;

(a)

to contribute to the development and implementation of Union policy and legislation on adaptation, including mainstreaming across policy areas, in particular by developing, testing and demonstrating policy or management approaches, best practices, and solutions, for climate change adaptation;

(b)

to improve the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of effective adaptation actions and measures and to enhance the capacity to apply that knowledge in practice;

(b)

to improve the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of effective adaptation actions and measures and to enhance the capacity to apply that knowledge in practice;

(c)

to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated approaches, such as for adaptation strategies and action plans, at local, regional or national level;

(c)

to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated approaches, such as for adaptation strategies and action plans, at local, regional or national level;

(d)

to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative adaptation technologies, systems, methods and instruments that are suitable for being replicated, transferred or mainstreamed.

(d)

to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative adaptation technologies, systems, methods and instruments that are suitable for being replicated, transferred or mainstreamed.

 

Reason

It is important to ensure that climate measures do not have an adverse effect on biodiversity. But more to the point, since these climate measures are reiterated in the LIFE programme, it is important to ensure that they have a beneficial impact on biodiversity. It is vital to ensure consistency between the two major strands of the LIFE programme.

Amendment 9

Article 18 - Projects, point (d)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Action grants may finance the following projects:

….

d)

integrated projects primarily in the areas of nature, water, waste, air, and climate change mitigation and adaptation;

Action grants may finance the following projects:

….

d)

integrated projects primarily in the areas of nature, water, , waste, air, and climate change mitigation and adaptation;

Reason

The priority areas should include the marine environment, soil and noise management.

Amendment 10

Article 19 - Eligibility criteria for projects

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

1.   Projects referred to in Article 18 shall satisfy the following eligibility criteria:

1.   Projects referred to in Article 18 shall satisfy the following eligibility criteria:

(a)

being of Union interest by making a significant contribution to the achievement of one of the objectives of the LIFE programme set out in Article 3;

(a)

being of Union interest by making a significant contribution to the achievement of one of the objectives of the LIFE programme set out in Article 3;

(b)

ensuring a cost-effective approach and being technically and financially coherent;

(b)

ensuring a cost-effective approach and being technically and financially coherent;

(c)

being sound in the proposed implementation.

(c)

being sound in the proposed implementation.

The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 30 concerning the conditions for the application of the criterion referred to paragraph 1(a) in order to adapt that criterion to the specific priority areas defined in Articles 9 and 13.

The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 30 concerning the conditions for the application of the criterion referred to paragraph 1(a) in order to adapt that criterion to the specific priority areas defined in Articles 9 and 13.

2.   Where possible, projects financed by the LIFE programme shall promote synergies between different objectives and promote the use of green public procurement.

2.   rojects financed by the LIFE programme shall promote synergies between different objectives and promote the use of green public procurement.

3.   Integrated Projects referred to in Article 18 point (d) shall involve, where appropriate, stakeholders and promote, when possible, the coordination with and mobilisation of other Union funding sources.

3.   Integrated Projects referred to in Article 18 point (d) shall involve stakeholders and promote, when possible, the coordination with and mobilisation of other Union funding sources.

The Commission shall ensure geographical balance in line with the principles of solidarity and effort sharing in the award process for Integrated Projects. The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 30 concerning criteria for the application of geographical balance in each thematic area referred to in Article 18 point (d).

The Commission shall ensure geographical balance in line with the principles of solidarity and effort sharing in the award process for Integrated Projects. The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 30 concerning criteria for the application of geographical balance in each thematic area referred to in Article 18 point (d).

4.   The Commission shall have special regard to transnational projects where transnational cooperation is essential to guarantee environmental protection and climate objectives, and shall endeavour to ensure that at least 15 % of the budgetary resources dedicated to projects are allocated to transnational projects.

4.   The Commission shall have special regard to transnational projects where transnational cooperation is essential to guarantee environmental protection and climate objectives, and shall endeavour to ensure that at least 15 % of the budgetary resources dedicated to projects are allocated to transnational projects.

 

   

Reason

Wherever, and as much as possible, accessibility and involvement of stakeholders in integrated projects should be encouraged.

Whilst the efforts of the programme should be distributed across the EU, not least because environmental and climate issues often have transborder implications, nevertheless concepts of ‘national quotas’ are inappropriate and should not be considered ahead of the intrinsic merit of individual proposals.

We need to make sure that eligible integrated and multi-annual projects introduced at a future stage do not cut into the budgets of existing projects which have proven their worth. Furthermore, it is precisely this type of project which is easiest to use for local and regional authorities, which may not necessarily have the necessary resources to set up the type of integrated projects foreseen in the Commission’s proposal. Moreover, it is logical for LIFE-funded projects to promote the use of green public procurement.

Amendment 11

Article 20 - Co-financing rates and eligibility of costs for projects, paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

The maximum co-financing rate for the projects referred to in Article 18 shall be 70 % of eligible costs. By way of exception, the maximum co-financing rate for projects referred to in Article 18 points (d) and (f) shall be 80 % of eligible costs.

The maximum co-financing rate for the projects referred to in Article 18 shall be 70 % of eligible costs. By way of exception, the maximum co-financing rate for projects referred to in Article 18 points (d) and (f) shall be 80 % of eligible costs, .

Reason

The upper rate should be extended to 85 % in less developed regions (as defined in the Structural Funds Regulations). These regions are often vital in the objective of halting biodiversity loss. As a general rule, the outermost regions benefit from a co-financing rate of 85 % under the main European funds. They should therefore also be able to benefit from the same co-financing rate under other EU programmes such as LIFE. It is also worth noting that the outermost regions are the greatest net contributors to biodiversity in the whole European Union, containing a large number of sites of Community importance within the Natura 2000 network.

Amendment 12

Article 20 - Co-financing rates and eligibility of costs for projects, paragraph 2, first part on VAT

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

VAT shall not be considered an eligible cost for projects referred to in Article 18.

VAT be considered an eligible cost for projects referred to in Article 18:

Reason

The CoR believes that the removal of VAT as eligible expenditure is liable to deter many potential applicants from developing a proposal. It recalls that in other EU funds VAT is accepted as eligible costs if the beneficiaries can prove that VAT cannot be recovered.

Amendment 13

Article 20 - Co-financing rates and eligibility of costs for projects, paragraph 3(new)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

The CoR believes that the removal of staffing as eligible expenditure is liable to deter many potential applicants from developing a proposal. The above wording reinstates this eligibility as set out in the LIFE+ Regulation (EC) No 614/2007 published in the Official Journal L 309 of 20 November 2008 (see Article 5), whilst however taking account of payroll costs, and not simply to make it possible to take account of payroll costs, without setting precise criteria. Furthermore, the obligation to employ additional staff to carry out these projects is not realistic for small operators and would make them impossible to implement in many cases, especially since they often require specialised staff with expertise in the field. This is why it is suggested to restrict here this condition to the fact that the staff in question must be specifically seconded to the project benefiting from these funds.

In addition, it is clarified that civil servants may be seconded to projects on a full or part-time basis in order to ensure that there is no discrimination when it comes to calculating the cost of civil servants actually working for funded projects. Experience in implementing projects under previous editions of the LIFE programme shows that civil servants often have to be involved in their development in a part-time but vital capacity. Hence the need to recognise this cost as eligible for funding.

Brussels, 19 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


(1)  CdR 6/2011 fin (para 74).

(2)  Report Assessment of Territorial Impacts of the EU Life+ instrument, prepared by the Secretariat of the Committee of the Regions, May 2011; CdR 6/2011 fin.

(3)  CdR 6/2011(para 56).

(4)  Commission Staff Working Paper SEC(2011) 1573 final.

(5)  CdR 6/2011 fin, Report Assessment of Territorial Impacts of the EU Life+ instrument, prepared by the Secretariat of the Committee of the Regions, May 2011.

(6)  COM(2010) 2020 final and COM(2011) 112 final.

(7)  CdR 6/2011 fin (paras 6, 25, 65-69).

(8)  CdR 6/2011 fin (para 33, 37).

(9)  CdR6/2011 fin (para 38).

(10)  CdR 6/2011 fin (para 18).

(11)  CdR 25/2010 fin, CdR 159/2008 fin, CdR 47/2006 fin.

(12)  CdR 6/2011 fin (para 35).

(13)  COM(2011) 615 final; CdR 6/2011fin (para 15).

(14)  CdR 6/2011 fin (para 34).

(15)  CdR 6/2011 fin (paras 9, 14).

(16)  COM(2011) 112 final, 8.3.2011.


13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/74


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘The award of concessions contracts’

2012/C 277/09

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

notes that the current rules on concessions consist of case-law and national legislation. Given that some concessions may have an impact on the internal market, it would be desirable to clarify the rules and foster a single interpretation and a single approach. The Committee therefore believes it legitimate to consider a regulation in this area;

therefore considers it important that contracting authorities and Member States remain free to choose the instrument under which they wish to carry out their tasks. Licences, including operating licences issued in limited quantities, must remain outside the scope of the directive. This also applies to the simple financing of an activity, which is often linked to an obligation to repay the amounts received if they are not used for the purposes intended;

recommends that the arrangements for awarding concessions be further clarified. A balance needs to be struck between clarifying, for example, both the way in which the contract is published and its deadlines, on the one hand, and the leeway available to the contracting authorities regarding the criteria they wish to apply on the other. This clarity provides a point of reference for the contracting authorities and creates the desired uniformity in the way Member States apply the rules. The leeway demonstrates respect for the contracting authorities’ knowledge of their concessions and acknowledges the autonomy of the Member States. Contracting authorities should have ample scope for selecting socially-minded and sustainable criteria;

believes that this proposal must show due regard for the subsidiarity principle: local and regional authorities should remain free to choose whether they will carry out works and services themselves or outsource them to third parties. When local and regional authorities decide to sub-contract these tasks, they must be free to choose the appropriate legal instrument themselves: a licence, a public procurement contract or a concession.

Rapporteur

Henk KOOL (NL/PES), Alderman: member of the executive council of the city of The Hague

Reference document

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the award of concession contracts

COM(2011) 897 final

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

1.

notes that there is no uniform legal framework for concessions. Public works concessions are regulated by the European procurement directives. The law regarding concessions for services, however, is exempt from the EU procurement directives, while remaining subject to the principles of the Treaty on European Union. These principles are further developed in European Court of Justice case-law;

2.

is aware that the Member States are obliged to comply with the principles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (equal treatment, non-discrimination, transparency and proportionality) when awarding concessions, but notes that implementation of these vary. The proposal for a directive seeks to bring the rules on concessions for works and the rules on concessions for services within a single regulatory framework, so that there would be a single directive for the award of concessions at EU level. Given in particular the economic challenges currently facing the European Union, the European Commission attaches great importance to further developing the internal market, provided that the EU rules on concessions give contracting authorities sufficient leeway as regards implementation;

3.

observes that the legal basis for creating a legal framework for concessions can be found in Articles 53(1), 62 and 114 of the TFEU. These articles deal with the functioning of the internal market. The Committee notes in this connection that concessions for services should always also be considered in relation to the provision of services of general (economic) interest. The proposal for a directive does not take sufficient account here of the changes added in the Lisbon Treaty, and the Committee therefore calls for more extensive exclusions from the scope of the directive for these services;

4.

believes that this proposal must show due regard for the subsidiarity principle: local and regional authorities should remain free to choose whether they will carry out works and services themselves or outsource them to third parties. When local and regional authorities decide to sub-contract these tasks, they must be free to choose the appropriate legal instrument themselves: a licence, a public procurement contract or a concession;

5.

points out that concessions are inherently more complex and last for longer periods. The Committee has previously recommended that when rules concerning concession contracts are adopted, they should be flexible and simple (CdR 21/2010) and legal ambiguities must be prevented;

HAVING REGARD TO THE ABOVE: THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

6.

believes that it should be made clear in Article 1 of the directive or at least in the recitals that transfers of tasks and competences from one public entity to another do not fall within the scope of this directive. In addition, sectors that are already covered by sector-specific provisions of EU law or are deliberately unregulated by decision of the EU legislator should not be included;

7.

recognises that, above a certain value, concessions affect the internal market and could therefore be subject to EU legislation;

8.

notes that the current rules on concessions consist of case-law and national legislation. Given that some concessions may have an impact on the internal market, it would be desirable to clarify the rules and foster a single interpretation and a single approach. The Committee therefore believes it legitimate to consider a regulation in this area;

9.

notes that the implementation of concessions varies considerably, however, from one Member State to another. This is partly due to the other national instruments available to a Member State to regulate or authorise such activities. The impact of a directive could therefore also differ between Member States, and the Commission should therefore explicitly clarify and specify which types of contracts are regarded as concessions and which types of contractual relations fall within the scope of the directive;

10.

therefore considers it important that contracting authorities and Member States remain free to choose the instrument under which they wish to carry out their tasks. Licences, including operating licences issued in limited quantities, must remain outside the scope of the directive. This also applies to the simple financing of an activity, which is often linked to an obligation to repay the amounts received if they are not used for the purposes intended;

11.

expresses concern that the introduction of a procurement requirement for the use of national instruments of this type encroaches too much on Member States’ national autonomy. The Committee is therefore pleased to note from the Explanatory Memorandum that the European Commission believes that such public authority acts should not have the status of concession; however the Committee believes that an explicit exemption in an article is required for this purpose;

12.

believes that the directive should apply to concessions that affect the internal market. Concessions which, due to their low value, do not affect the internal market, should therefore be awarded directly without any prior call for competition;

13.

considers this distinction to be exceedingly important for SMEs. Contracting authorities would thus be able to implement an SME-friendly policy for concessions;

14.

expresses its concern at the regulation’s complexity. Contracting authorities find the current procurement directives unnecessarily complex. There are fears that this directive on concessions will make this a highly complex issue too. The Committee believes that concessions cannot be addressed in the same way as the rules set out in the European procurement directives and therefore calls on the Commission to ensure that the directive and any subsequent Commission communication remain simple;

15.

recommends that the arrangements for awarding concessions be further clarified. A balance needs to be struck between clarifying, for example, both the way in which the contract is published and its deadlines, on the one hand, and the leeway available to the contracting authorities regarding the criteria they wish to apply on the other. This clarity provides a point of reference for the contracting authorities and creates the desired uniformity in the way Member States apply the rules. The leeway demonstrates respect for the contracting authorities’ knowledge of their concessions and acknowledges the autonomy of the Member States. Contracting authorities should have ample scope for selecting socially-minded and sustainable criteria.

II.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Recital (5)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(5)

Certain coordination provisions should also be introduced for the award of works and services concessions awarded in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors given that national authorities may influence the behaviour of entities operating in those sectors and taking into account the closed nature of the markets in which they operate, due to the existence of special or exclusive rights granted by the Member States concerning the supply to, provision or operation of networks for providing the services concerned.

Reason

These sectors are already covered by specific legislation.

Amendment 2

Recital (6)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(6)

Concessions are contracts for pecuniary interest concluded between one or more economic operators and one or more contracting authorities or entities and having as their object the acquisition of works or services where the consideration consists, normally, in the right to exploit the works or services that are the subject of the contract. The execution of these works or services are subject to specific binding obligations defined by the contracting authority or entity which are legally enforceable. By contrast, certain State actssuch as authorisations or licences whereby the State or a public authority establishes the conditions for the exercise of an economic activity, should not qualify as concessions. The same applies to certain agreements having as their object the right of an economic operator to exploit certain public domains or resources, such as land lease contracts whereby the State or contracting authority or entity establishes only general conditions for their use without acquiring specific works or services.

(6)

Concessions are contracts for pecuniary interest concluded between one or more economic operators and one or more contracting authorities or entities and having as their object the acquisition of works or services where the consideration consists, normally, in the right to exploit the works or services that are the subject of the contract. he execution of these works or services are subject to specific defined by the contractingauthority or entity legally enforceable. By contrast, certain State acts such as authorisations or licences whereby the State or a public authority establishes the conditions for the exercise of an economic activity , should not qualify as concessions. The same applies to certain agreements having as their object the right of an economic operator to exploit certain public domains or resources, such as land lease contracts whereby the State or contracting authority or entity establishes only general conditions for their use without acquiring specific works or services.

Reason

The distinction between a licence, a limited-issue licence whereby the contracting authority issues an operating licence and a concession needs to be clarified.

A licence makes it possible to subject the performance of an activity to certain requirements. But a licence may also impose restrictions on the activities themselves. These are known as operating or limited-issue licences. These are generally used for reasons relating to public order, public health and/or safety and include operating licences for prostitution, hotels and restaurants, and casinos.

A concession contract shares certain features with this type of operating licence. The main difference is that where a concession contract is concerned, performance of the activity is essential to the contracting authority. Therefore, under a concession contract, performance of the activity is legally enforceable. If performance of the activity to which the operating right applies is legally enforceable, then performance ‘for pecuniary interest’ may be accepted. This criterion also applies to the definition of the contract.

It is important that contracting authorities and Member States remain free to choose the instrument by means of which they wish to carry out their tasks. Licences, operating licences and limited-issue licences should not fall within the scope of the directive. It is not desirable that an obligation for transparency or where relevant, for a call for tender, apply to the award of such licences. National and sub-national regulations should form the legal basis for determining to whom a licence is to be issued. Point 6 of the Explanatory Memorandum suggests that the European Commission shares this view.

The definition of a concession refers to the form of a contract, but these criteria are explained in purely functional terms. As a result, a licence may still be regarded as a concession. The difference between an (operating) licence and a concession should, therefore, be clarified in the Explanatory Memorandum and in the definition of concessions.

Concessions need to be carefully distinguished from government duties such as the issuing of permits and licences.

Amendment 3

Recital (9)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(9)

The notion of special or exclusive rights is central to the definition of the scope of this Directive, since entities which are neither contracting entities pursuant to Article 4 (1) (1) nor public undertakings are subject to its provisions only to the extent that they exercise one of the activities covered on the basis of such rights. It is therefore appropriate to clarify that rights which have been granted by means of a procedure based onobjective criteria, notably pursuant to Union legislation, and for which adequate publicity has been ensured do not constitute special or exclusive rights for the purposes of this Directive. This legislation should include Directive 98/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas (1), Directive 96/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 December 1996 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (2), Directive 97/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 1997 on common rules for the development of the internal market of Community postal services and the improvement of quality of service (3), Directive 94/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1994on the conditions for granting and using authorisations for the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons  (4) and Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007on public passenger transport services by rail and by road and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) Nos 1191/69 and 1107/70  (5). The increasingly diverse forms of public action made it necessary to define more clearly the notion of procurement itself. The Union rules on concessions refer to the acquisition of works or services for a consideration consisting in exploitation of those works or services. The notion of acquisition should be understood broadly in the sense of obtaining the benefits of the works or services in question not requiring in all cases a transfer of ownership to contracting authorities or contracting entities. Furthermore, the mere financing of an activity, which is frequently linked to the obligation to reimburse the amounts received where they are not used for the purposes intended, does not usually fall under this Directive.

(9)

The notion of special or exclusive rights is central to the definition of the scope of this Directive, since entities which are neither contracting entities pursuant to Article 4 (1) (1) nor public undertakings are subject to its provisions only to the extent that they exercise one of the activities covered on the basis of such rights. It is therefore appropriate to clarify that rights which have been granted by means of aprocedure based on objective criteria, notably pursuant to Union legislation, and for which adequate publicity has been ensured do not constitute special or exclusive rights for the purposes of this Directive. This legislation should include Directive 98/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas (1), Directive 96/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 December 1996 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (2), Directive 97/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 1997 on common rules for the development of the internal market of Community postal services and the improvement of quality of service (3), Directive 94/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1994on the conditions for granting and using authorisations for the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons  (4) and Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007on public passenger transport services by rail and by road and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) Nos 1191/69 and 1107/70  (5) The increasingly diverse forms of public action made it necessary to define more clearly the notion of procurement itself. The Union rules on concessions refer to the acquisition of works or services for a consideration consisting in exploitation of those works or services. The notion of acquisition should be understood broadly in the sense of obtaining the benefits of the works or services in question not requiring in all cases a transfer of ownership to contracting authorities or contracting entities. Furthermore, the mere financing of an activity, which is frequently linked to the obligation to reimburse the amounts received where they are not used for the purposes intended, does not usually fall under this Directive.

Reason

The amendment seeks to restate, without any possibility of misinterpretation, the fundamental concept already asserted in Recital 25 of Directive 2004/17/EC on procurement procedures in the utilities sector, which states as follows: Nor may rights granted by a Member State in any form, including by way of acts of concession, to a limited number of undertakings on the basis of objective, proportionate and non-discriminatory criteria that allow any interested party fulfilling those criteria to enjoy those rights be considered special or exclusive rights. We do not believe that this concept should be restricted to a list of EU acts, which might appear stringent, and therefore, to exclude the laws or regulations of individual Member States which nevertheless satisfy the same objective, proportionate and non-discriminatory criteria.

Amendment 4

Recital (10)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(10)

It has also proven necessary to clarify what should be understood as a single procurement, with the effect that the aggregate value of all concessions concludedfor the purpose of this procurement has to be taken into account with regard to the thresholds of this Directive, and that the procurement should be advertised as a whole, possibly split into lots. The concept of single procurement encompasses all supplies, works and services needed to carry out a particular project. Indications for the existence of one single project can for instance consist in overall prior planning and conception by the contracting authority, the fact that the different elements purchased fulfil a single economic and technical function or that they are otherwise logically interlinked.

Reason

The preparation and implementation of a concession may take years. When preparing the concession, the contracting authority is likely to seek out a variety of external advice. This advice, according to the definition, should be taken into account when evaluating the concession. This is illogical. Contracts that are different in nature or awarded to another party should not play any role in the evaluation of the concession. If these contracts are of a certain value, they should be awarded on the basis of the directive on public procurement and in accordance with that directive.

This position is in line with previous Committee opinions on the need not to group contracts together unnecessarily.

See Amendment 14.

Amendment 5

Recital (11)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(11)

To ensure a real opening up of the market and a fair balance in the application of concession award rules in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors it is necessary for the entities covered to be identified on a basis other than their legal status. It should be ensured, therefore, that the equal treatment of contracting entities operating in the public sector and those operating in the private sector is not prejudiced. It is also necessary to ensure, in keeping with Article 345 of the Treaty, that the rules governing the system of property ownership in Member States are not prejudiced.

(11)

To ensure a real opening up of the market and a fair balance in the application of concession award rules in the energy, transport and postal services sectors it is necessary for the entities covered to be identified on a basis other than their legal status. It should be ensured, therefore, that the equal treatment of contracting entities operating in the public sector and those operating in the private sector is not prejudiced. It is also necessary to ensure, in keeping with Article 345 of the Treaty, that the rules governing the system of property ownership in Member States are not prejudiced.

Reason

The wishes of the European Parliament regarding the water sector can be ascertained from its resolutions of 14 January 2004, 10 March 2004 and 31 May 2006. These resolutions indicate that the European Parliament is not pursuing liberalisation, but rather the approach of modernising the water sector, whereby economic principles must be reconciled with quality and environmental standards and the required efficiency. Additional rules in the form of horizontal arrangements are therefore not advisable.

Amendment 6

New Recital after Recital (13)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

Reason

Cooperation arrangements between local authorities (contractual or institutional task-sharing among municipalities) cannot fall within the scope of internal market legislation.

Amendment 7

Recital (20)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(20)

A review of so-called prioritary and non-prioritary services (‘A’ and ‘B’ services) by the Commission has shown that it is not justified to restrict the full application of procurement law to a limited group of services. As a result, this Directive should apply to a number of services (such as catering and water distribution services), which both showed a potential for cross-border trade.

Reason

The fundamental differentiation between prioritary and non-prioritary services, and thus the preference in procurement law for so-called ‘B’ services, must be maintained. Social and healthcare services have little or no impact on the single market and are, as a rule, provided locally. Water is a vital good. The approach to the water sector must therefore be particularly sensitive, taking environmental and health factors into account. In accordance with Article 17 of Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market, water services should be excluded from the scope of the concessions directive.

Amendment 8

Recital (22)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(22)

Given the importance of the cultural context and the sensitivity of these services, Member States should be given wide discretion to organise the choice of the service providers in the way they consider most appropriate. The rules of this Directive do not prevent Member States to apply specific quality criteria for the choice of service providers, such as the criteria set out in the voluntary European Quality Framework for Social Services of the European Union’s Social Protection Committee. Member States and/or public authorities remain freeto provide these services themselves or to organise social services in a way that does not entail the conclusion of concessions, for example through the mere financing of such services or by granting licences or authorisations to all economic operators meeting the conditions established beforehand by the contracting authority or contracting entity, without any limits or quotas, provided such system ensures sufficient advertising and complies with the principles of transparency and non-discrimination.

(22)

Given the importance of the cultural context and the sensitivity of these services, Member States should be given wide discretion to organise the choice of the service providers in the way they consider most appropriate. The rules of this Directive do not prevent Member States to apply specific quality criteria for the choice of service providers, such as the criteria set out in the voluntary European Quality Framework for Social Services of the European Union’s Social Protection Committee. Member States and/or public authorities remain freeto provide these services themselves or to organise social services in a way that does not entail the conclusion of concessions, for example through the mere financing of such services or by granting licences or authorisations to all economic operators meeting the conditions established beforehand by the contracting authority or contracting entity, provided such system ensures sufficient advertising and complies with the principles of transparency and non-discrimination.

Reason

The Committee proposes that this text be deleted.

There are a limited number of operating licences that regulate certain activities for which a call for tenders would not be desirable. These are activities that are not carried out for reasons of general interest or for the public authority in question, but are viewed by the authority as potentially dangerous and should therefore be regulated. They include, for example, licences for prostitution. Limited-issue operating licences should not, therefore, automatically be the subject of a transparent award procedure.

See also Amendment 4.

Amendment 9

Recital (25)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(25)

In order to ensure transparency and equal treatment, criteria for the award of concessions should always comply with some general standards. These should be disclosed in advance to all potential tenderers, be related to the subject matter of the contract and should not offer to the contracting authority or contracting entity an unrestricted freedom of choice. They should ensure the possibility of effective competition and be accompanied by requirements that allow the information provided by the tenderers to be effectively verified. In order to comply with these standards while improving legal certainty, Member States may provide for the use of the criterion of the most economically advantageous tender.

(25)

In order to ensure transparency and equal treatment, criteria for the award of concessions should always comply with some general standards. These should be disclosed in advance to all potential tenderers. They should ensure the possibility of effective competition and be accompanied by requirements that allow the information provided by the tenderers to be effectively verified. In order to comply with these standards while improving legal certainty, Member States may provide for the use of the criterion of the most economically advantageous tender.

Reason

See Amendments 23 and 28.

Amendment 10

Article 1, new paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 1

Subject-matter and scope

Article 1

Subject-matter and scope

 

3.   

Reason

The Committee considers that this directive should only apply to concessions affecting the internal market. Concessions with a value below European thresholds are of no ‘cross-border interest’ and the internal market is therefore not at stake. This additional text guarantees contracting authorities’ room for manoeuvre.

Amendment 11

Article 2, Paragraph 1, Point 7

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 2

Definitions

Article 2

Definitions

1.   For the purposes of this Directive the following definitions shall apply:

1.   For the purposes of this Directive the following definitions shall apply:

(7)

‘services concession’ means a contract for pecuniary interest concluded in writing between one or more economic operators and one or more contracting authorities or contracting entities and having as their object the provision of services other than those referred to in points 2 and 4 where the consideration for the services to be provided consists either solely in the right to exploit the services that are subject of the contract or in that right together with payment.

(7)

‘services concession’ means a contract for pecuniary interest concluded in writing between one or more economic operators and one or more contracting authorities or contracting entities and having as their object the provision of services other than those referred to in points 2 and 4 where the consideration for the services to be provided consists either solely in the right to exploit the services that are subject of the contract or in that right together with payment.

 

Reason

The distinction between a licence, a limited-issue licence whereby the contracting authority issues an operating licence and a concession needs to be clarified.

A licence makes it possible to subject the performance of an activity to certain requirements. But a licence may also impose restrictions on the activities themselves. These are known as operating or limited-issue licences. These are generally used for reasons relating to public order, public health and/or safety and include operating licences for prostitution, hotels and restaurants, and casinos.

A concession contract shares certain features with this type of operating licence. The main difference is that where a concession contract is concerned, performance of the activity is essential to the contracting authority. Therefore, under a concession contract, performance of the activity is legally enforceable. If performance of the activity to which the operating right applies is legally enforceable, then performance ‘for pecuniary interest’ may be accepted. This criterion also applies to the definition of the contract.

It is important that contracting authorities and Member States remain free to choose the instrument by means of which they wish to carry out their tasks. Licences, operating licences and limited-issue licences should not fall within the scope of the directive. It is not desirable that an obligation for transparency or where relevant, for a call for tender, apply to the award of such licences. National and sub-national regulations should form the legal basis for determining to whom a licence is to be issued. Point 6 of the Explanatory Memorandum suggests that the European Commission shares this view.

The definition of a concession refers to the form of a contract, but these criteria are explained in purely functional terms. As a result, a licence may still be regarded as a concession. The difference between an (operating) licence and a concession should, therefore, be clarified in the Explanatory Memorandum and in the definition of concessions.

Amendment 12

Article 2, Paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 2

Definitions

2.   The right to exploit the works or services as referred to in points 2, 4 and 7 of the first paragraph shall impliy [sic] the transfer to the concessionaire of the substantial operating risk. The concessionaire shall be deemed to assume the substantial operating risk where it is not guaranteed to recoup the investments made or the costs incurred in operating the works or the services which are the subject-matter of the concession. […]

Article 2

Definitions

2.   The right to exploit the works or services as referred to in points 2, 4 and 7 of the first paragraph shall impliy [sic] the transfer to the concessionaire of the operating risk. The concessionaire shall be deemed to assume the operating risk where it is not guaranteed to recoup the investments made or the costs incurred in operating the works or the services which are the subject-matter of the concession. […]

Reason

The word ‘substantial’ in relation to operating risk should be deleted. Distinguishing, or defining, operating risk in relation to a public contract poses considerable problems at local level in practice. The definition of ‘substantial operating risk’ in the proposal for a directive goes far beyond Court of Justice case law, which does not set very strict requirements for financial risk. Even in a case of compulsory connection and use when supplying water (see points 72-76 of ruling C-206/08 of 10 September 2009, WAZV Gotha), the Court’s view is that this constitutes a service concession unaffected by public procurement law.

Amendment 13

Article 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 5

Thresholds

Article 5

Thresholds

1.   This Directive shall apply to the following concessions the value of which is equal to or greater than EUR 5 000 000:

1.   This Directive shall apply to the following concessions the value of which is equal to or greater than EUR 5 000 000:

a)

concessions concluded by contracting entities for the pursuit of one of the activities referred to in Annex III;

a)

concessions concluded by contracting entities for the pursuit of one of the activities referred to in Annex III;

b)

concessions concluded by contracting authorities.

b)

concessions concluded by contracting authorities.

 

 

a)

 

b)

2.   Services concessions the value of which is equal to or greater than EUR 2 500 000 but lower than EUR 5 000 000 other than social services and other specific services shall be subject to the obligation to publish a concession award notice in accordance with Articles 27 and 28.

2.   Services concessions the value of which is equal to or greater than EUR 2 500 000 but lower than EUR 5 000 000 other than social services and other specific services shall be subject to the obligation to publish a concession award notice in accordance with Articles 27 and 28.

 

Reason

Concessions can have a long lifespan because the entrepreneurs concerned must be able to recover their investments. In long-term concessions, the threshold of EUR 5 000 000 for the total value of the concession is very low. The annual amount that the concession earns for the entrepreneur is not, however, sufficient to affect the internal market. That is why this distinction needs to be made.

Amendment 14

Article 6, Paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 6

Methods for calculating the estimated value of concessions

Article 6

Methods for calculating the estimated value of concessions

2.   The estimated value of a concession shall be calculated as the value of an entirety of works or services, even if purchased through different contracts, where the contracts are part of one single project. Indications for the existence of one single project consist in overall prior planning and conception by the contracting authority or contracting entity, the fact that the different elements purchased fulfil a single economic and technical function or that they are otherwise logically interlinked.

2.   The estimated value of a concession shall be calculated entirety. .

Where the contracting authority or the contracting entity provides for prizes or payments to candidates or tenderers it shall take them into account when calculating the estimated value of the concession.

Where the contracting authority or the contracting entity provides for prizes or payments to candidates or tenderers it shall take them into account when calculating the estimated value of the concession.

Reason

See Amendment 8.

Amendment 15

Article 8, Paragraph 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 8

Exclusions applicable to concessions awarded by contracting authorities and contracting entities

Article 8

Exclusions applicable to concessions awarded by contracting authorities and contracting entities

5.   This Directive shall not apply to service concessions for:

5.   This Directive shall not apply to service concessions for:

(a)

the acquisition or rental, by whatever financial means, of land, existing buildings or other immovable property or concerning rights thereon; however financial service concessions awarded at the same time as, before or after the contract of acquisition or rental, in whatever form, shall be subject to this Directive;

(a)

the acquisition or rental, by whatever financial means, of land, existing buildings or other immovable property or concerning rights thereon; however financial service concessions awarded at the same time as, before or after the contract of acquisition or rental, in whatever form, shall be subject to this Directive;

(b)

the acquisition, development, production or co-production of programme material intended for broadcasting, defined as transmission and distribution using any form of electronic network, that are awarded by broadcasters, nor to concessions for broadcasting time, that are awarded to broadcasters;

(b)

the acquisition, development, production or co-production of programme material intended for broadcasting, defined as transmission and distribution using any form of electronic network, that are awarded by broadcasters, nor to concessions for broadcasting time, that are awarded to broadcasters;

(c)

arbitration and conciliation services;

(c)

arbitration and conciliation services;

(d)

financial services in connection with the issue, sale, purchase or transfer of securities or other financial instruments within the meaning of Directive 2004/39/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, central bank services and operations conducted with the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF);

(d)

financial services in connection with the issue, sale, purchase or transfer of securities or other financial instruments within the meaning of Directive 2004/39/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, central bank services and conducted with the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF)

(e)

employment contracts;

(e)

employment contracts;

(f)

Air transport services based on the grant of an operating licence within the meaning of Regulation (EC) 1008/2008 (6) of the European Parliament and of the Council (7);

(f)

Air transport services based on the grant of an operating licence within the meaning of Regulation (EC) 1008/2008 (6) of the European Parliament and of the Council (7);

(g)

Public passenger transport services within the meaning of Regulation (EC) 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council (8).

(g)

Public passenger transport services within the meaning of Regulation (EC) 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council (8).

 

 

The broadcasting referred to in point (b) of the first paragraph shall include any transmission and distribution using any form of electronic network.

The broadcasting referred to in point (b) of the first paragraph shall include any transmission and distribution using any form of electronic network.

Reason

Consistent with amendment 5 on recital 11.

Amendment 16

Article 15, paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

1.   A concession awarded by a contracting authority or a contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 to another legal person shall fall outside the scope of this Directive where the following cumulative conditions are fulfilled:

1.   A concession awarded by a contracting authority or a contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 to another legal person shall fall outside the scope of this Directive where the following cumulative conditions are fulfilled:

a)

such an authority or entity exercises over the legal person concerned a control which is similar to that which it exercises over its own departments

a)

such an authority or entity exercises over the legal person concerned a control which is similar to that which it exercises over its own departments

b)

at least 90 % of the activities of that legal person are carried out for the controlling contracting authority or entity or for other legal persons controlled by that contracting authority or entity

b)

at least % of the activities of that legal person n are carried out for the controlling contracting authority or entity or for other legal persons controlled by that contracting authority or entity

c)

there is no private participation in the controlled legal person

c)

there is no private participation in the controlled legal person

A contracting authority or a contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 shall be deemed to exercise over a legal person a control similar to that which it exercises over its own departments within the meaning of point (a) of the first subparagraph where it exercises a decisive influence over both strategic objectives and significant decisions of the controlled legal person.

A contracting authority or a contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 shall be deemed to exercise over a legal person a control similar to that which it exercises over its own departments within the meaning of point (a) of the first subparagraph where it exercises a decisive influence over both strategic objectives and significant decisions of the controlled legal person.

Amendment 17

Article 15, paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

2.   Paragraph 1 also applies where a controlled entity which is a contracting authority or contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 awards a concession to its controlling entity, or to another legal person controlled by the same contracting authority, provided that there is no private participation in the legal person being awarded the public concession.

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

2.   Paragraph 1 also applies where a controlled entity which is a contracting authority or contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 awards a concession to its controlling or to another legal person controlled by the same contracting authority, provided that there is no private participation in the legal person being awarded the public concession.

Reason

The reference should only be to ‘operative’ or ‘active’ private participation in the capital of the controlled legal person, where management decisions of that legal person could be influenced. This should allow purely capital investment in the legal person, such as silent partnerships, without affecting the exemption for in-house arrangements or horizontal cooperation between public entities. The European Commission itself makes this point itself in its communication of 5 February 2008 on public-private partnerships (PPPs). It is important to allow purely capital participation so that local authorities can guarantee provision of services at a reasonable price to the general public.

Amendment 18

Article 15, paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

3.   A contracting authority or a contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4, which does not exercise over a legal person control within the meaning of paragraph 1, may nevertheless award a concession without applying the provisions of the current Directive to a legal person which it controls jointly with other such contracting authorities or entities, where the following conditions are fulfilled:

3.   A contracting authority or a contracting entity as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4, which does not exercise over a legal person control within the meaning of paragraph 1, may nevertheless award a concession without applying the provisions of the current Directive to a legal person which it controls jointly with other such contracting authorities or entities, where the following conditions are fulfilled:

a)

the contracting authorities or entities as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 exercise jointly over the legal person a control which is similar to that which it exercises over its own departments;

a)

the contracting authorities or entities as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 exercise jointly over the legal person a control which is similar to that which it exercises over its own departments;

b)

at least 90 % of the activities of that legal person are carried out for the controlling contracting authorities or entities as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 or other legal persons controlled by the same contracting authority or entity;

b)

at least of the activities of that legal person are carried out for the controlling contracting authorities or entities as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 or other legal persons controlled by the same contracting authority or entity;

c)

there is no private participation in the controlled legal person.

c)

there is no private participation in the controlled legal person.

Reason

Consistent with amendment 16 on Article 15(1).

Amendment 19

Article 15, paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

4.   An agreement concluded between two or more contracting authorities or contracting entities as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 shall not be deemed to be a concession within the meaning of point 1 of paragraph 1 of Article 2 of this Directive, where the following cumulative conditions are fulfilled:

4.   An agreement concluded between two or more contracting authorities or contracting entities as referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 of Article 4 shall not be deemed to be a concession within the meaning of point 1 of paragraph 1 of Article 2 of this Directive, where the following cumulative conditions are fulfilled:

a)

the agreement establishes a genuine co-operation between the participating contracting authorities or entities aimed at carrying out jointly their public service tasks and involving mutual rights and obligations of the parties;

b)

the agreement is governed only by considerations relating to the public interest;

c)

the participating contracting authorities or entities shall do not perform on the open market more than 10 % in terms of turnover of the activities which are relevant in the context of the agreement;

c)

the participating contracting authorities the open market ;

d)

the agreement does not involve financial transfers between the participating contracting authorities or entities, other than those corresponding to the reimbursement of actual costs of the works, services or supplies;

d)

the agreement does not involve financial transfers between the participating contracting authorities or entities, other than those corresponding to the reimbursement of actual costs of the works, services or supplies;

e)

there is no private participation in any of the contracting authorities or entities involved.

e)

there is no private participation in any of the contracting authorities or entities involved.

Reason

Concession contracts between contracting authorities should (to ensure the responsible use of taxpayers’ money) be fully exempt from procurement rules, under the conditions mentioned in points c) to e).

Contracting authorities must also be allowed to work together in areas not related to direct public services. These might include cooperation on processes that facilitate and support their operations, such as ICT, housing, purchasing and catering.

Such cooperation between contracting authorities is not always based on an equal partnership. Larger public authorities sometimes carry out work on behalf of smaller ones and it is therefore desirable that one contracting authority should be able to implement a concession contract for another. The aim is to ensure the proper use of public funds.

The ECJ has not said that a maximum of 10 % of the contracting authorities’ turnover may come from the open market: the percentage of turnover must depend on the activity and on other relevant factors. It is important that not all forms of private participation should rule out the exemption: only active private participation – i.e. if the shareholder is a private company that operates on the market – should lead to public procurement being required.

Amendment 20

Article 15, paragraph 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

Article 15

Relations between public authorities

The absence of private participation referred to in paragraphs 1 to 4 shall be verified at the time of the award of the concession or of the conclusion of the agreement.

The exceptions provided for in this Article shall cease to apply from the moment any private participation takes place, with the effect that ongoing concessions need to be opened to competition through regular concession award procedures.

Reason

To meet the stated goals of simplification and streamlining of the law on concessions, complicated explanations should be avoided in the legal text, as they do not increase legal certainty and they go beyond the case law of the EU Court of Justice.

Amendment 21

Article 26, paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 26

Concession notices

Article 26

Concession notices

3   Contracting authorities and contracting entities wishing to award a concession for social and other specific services shall make known their intention of planned concession award through the publication of a prior information notice as soon as possible after the beginning of the budgetary year. Those notices shall contain the information set out in Annex XIII.

   

Reason

Social services have little or no impact on the single market and are, as a rule, provided locally. In this area, the proposed requirements to provide information impose a disproportionate burden on contracting authorities. In this area particularly, given that the main aim of the reform is to simplify procurement law, there should be no tightening of the rules.

Amendment 22

Article 35

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 35

Procedural guarantees

Article 35

Procedural guarantees

1.   Contracting authorities and contracting entities shall indicate in the contract notice, in the invitation to submit tenders or in the concession documents a description of the concession, the award criteria and the minimum requirements to be met. This information must allow to identify the nature and scope of the concession, enabling economic operators to decide whether they request to participate in the concession award procedure. The description, award criteria and minimum requirements shall not be changed in the course of the negotiations.

1.   Contracting authorities and contracting entities shall indicate in the contract notice, in the invitation to submit tenders or in the concession documents a description of the concession, the award criteria and the minimum requirements to be met. This information must allow to identify the nature and scope of the concession, enabling economic operators to decide whether they request to participate in the concession award procedure.

 

 

   

 

   

Reason

A contracting authority may, during the proceedings, need to make changes or adjustments to the concession in response to questions and comments from tenderers. Through negotiation or discussions, the contracting authority should endeavour to better match supply and demand. It must therefore be possible to partially change and add to the minimum requirements and the award sub-criteria in line with the new insights gained during negotiations or discussions. If this does not happen, this contracting procedure loses its value.

Currently, if a substantial change is made to the contract, the procedure must be suspended and a fresh call for tender made. The Committee therefore recommends establishing a simple method, enabling contracting authorities to amend their concession in the form of an official correction, together with a short extension of the deadline for submission of tenders.

Amendment 23

Article 36, Paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 36

Selection of and qualitative assessment of candidates

Article 36

Selection of and qualitative assessment of candidates

1.   Contracting authorities shall specify, in the concession notice the conditions for participation relating to:

1.   Contracting authorities shall specify, in the concession notice the conditions for participation relating to:

(a)

suitability to pursue the professional activity;

(a)

suitability to pursue the professional activity;

(b)

economic and financial standing;

(b)

economic and financial standing;

(c)

technical and professional ability.

(c)

technical and professional ability.

Contracting authorities shall limit any conditions for participation to those that are appropriate to ensure that a candidate or tenderer has the legal and financial capacities and the commercial and technical abilities to perform the concession to be awarded. All requirements shall be related and strictly proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract, taking into account the need to ensure genuine competition.

Contracting authorities shall limit any conditions for participation to those that are appropriate to ensure that a candidate or tenderer has the legal and financial capacities and the commercial and technical abilities to perform the concession to be awarded. requirements shall

Contracting authorities and contracting entities shall also indicate in the concession notice the reference or references to be submitted as proof of the economic operator’s capacities. The requirements in respect of those references shall be non-discriminatory and proportionate to the subject-matter of the concession.

Contracting authorities and contracting entities shall also indicate in the concession notice the reference or references to be submitted as proof of the economic operator’s capacities. The requirements in respect of those references shall be non-discriminatory and proportionate to the subject-matter of the concession.

Reason

See Amendments 2 and 28.

Amendment 24

Article 36, Paragraph 7

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 36

Selection of and qualitative assessment of candidates

7.   Member States may provide that contracting authorities or contracting entities exclude from participation in a concession award any economic operator if one of the following conditions is fulfilled:

Article 36

Selection of and qualitative assessment of candidates

7.    may provide that contracting authorities or contracting entities exclude from participation in a concession award any economic operator if one of the following conditions is fulfilled:

Reason

The Committee considers that this competence falls to the contracting authorities.

Amendment 25

Article 38, new paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 38

Time limits for submission of applications for the concession

Article 38

Time limits for submission of applications for the concession

 

   

Reason

There is not a great deal of interest in certain concessions. It is pointless conducting a complete procedure if only one party is interested. Furthermore, open discussions in this type of situation would lead to a more favourable outcome for the contracting authority.

Amendment 26

Article 39, paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 39

Concession award criteria

Article 39

Concession award criteria

5.   The award criteria shall be linked to the subject matter of the concession, and shall not confer an unrestricted freedom of choice on the contracting authority or the contracting entity.

   

Those criteria shall ensure effective competition and shall be accompanied by requirements which allow the information provided by the tenderers to be effectively verified. Contracting authorities and contracting entities shall verify effectively on the basis of the information and proof provided by the tenderers, whether the tenders meet the award criteria.

Reason

There is no need for this provision. It provides no added value and should, keeping in mind the intention to simplify, be deleted. Its substance is already enshrined in the general principles of primary law.

Amendment 27

Article 39, paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 39

Concession award criteria

4.   Member States may provide that contracting authorities and contracting entities shall base the award of concessions on the criterion of the most economically advantageous tender, in compliance with paragraph 2. Those criteria may include, in addition to price or costs, any of the following criteria

Article 39

Concession award criteria

4.   Member States may provide that contracting authorities and contracting entities shall base the award of concessions on the criterion of the most economically advantageous tender, in compliance with paragraph 2. Those criteria may include, in addition to price or costs, any of the following criteria

Reason

The Committee considers it desirable to retain the criterion of the lowest price. The current wording does not make it clear whether this is an option. Quality criteria can also be relevant to the ‘lowest price’ criterion, for instance in the form of minimum requirements. Contracting authorities must be able to make their own decisions here. Furthermore, contracting authorities are often obliged to achieve a cost-cutting target, which has to be taken into account when deciding on the award criterion.

Amendment 28

Article 39, paragraph 4, indent a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 39

Concession award criteria

Article 39

Concession award criteria

4.   …

4.   …

a)

quality, including technical merit, aesthetic and functional characteristics, accessibility, design for all users, environmental characteristics and innovative character.

a)

quality, including technical merit, aesthetic and functional characteristics, accessibility, design for all users, environmental characteristics and innovative character.

Reason

Some contracting authorities would like to be able to make their procurement and concessions meet social criteria. These are issues that cannot currently be taken into account in the assessment because they lack a sufficiently direct link to the contract. This is why a reference to them was added in the Directive on procurement. The Committee recommends that the directive on concessions indicate explicitly that setting social criteria is possible. Thus, contracting entities that wish to do so, will be able to establish such criteria. Point 29 of the Explanatory Memorandum refers to such social conditions, but they do not feature in the corresponding article.

See also Amendments 2 and 25.

Amendment 29

Article 40, paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 40

Life-cycle costing

Article 40

Life-cycle costing…

3.   Whenever a common methodology for the calculation of life-cycle costs is adopted as part of a legislative act of the Union, including by delegated acts pursuant to sector specific legislation, it shall be applied where life-cycle costing is included in the award criteria referred to in Article 39 paragraph (4).

   

A list of such legislative and delegated acts is set out in Annex II. The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 46 concerning the update of this list, when on the basis of the adoption of new legislation, repeal or modification of such legislation, such amendments prove necessary.

 

Reason

The fact that the Commission is encouraging contracting authorities to consider lifecycle costs when awarding concession contracts is to be welcomed. However, the above obligation goes too far by referring to a calculation methodology that lies in the future and has not yet been established. The establishment of a legal requirement to use a non-existent method must be rejected for reasons of unpredictability.

Amendment 30

Article 42, Paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Article 42

Modification of concessions during their term

4.   Where the value of a modification can be expressed in monetary terms, the modification shall not be considered to be substantial within the meaning of paragraph 1, where its value does not exceed the thresholds set out in Article 5 and where it is below 5 % of the price of the initial contract, provided that the modification does not alter the overall nature of the contract. Where several successive modifications are made, the value shall be assessed on the basis of the cumulative value of the successive modifications.

Article 42

Modification of concessions during their term

4.   Where the value of a modification can be expressed in monetary terms, the modification shall not be considered to be substantial within the meaning of paragraph 1, where its value does not exceed the thresholds set out in Article 5 and where it is below  % of the price of the initial contract, provided that the modification does not alter the overall nature of the contract. Where several successive modifications are made, the value shall be assessed on the basis of the cumulative value of the successive modifications.

Reason

The Committee suggests a higher rate for permissible changes. Account should be taken of the fact that concessions usually have a longer lifespan than public procurement contracts.

Amendment 31

Annex III, paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

ANNEX III

ACTIVITIES EXERCISED BY CONTRACTING ENTITIES AS REFERRED TO IN ART. 4

The provisions of this Directive governing concessions awarded by contracting entities shall apply to the following activities:

ANNEX III

ACTIVITIES EXERCISED BY CONTRACTING ENTITIES AS REFERRED TO IN ART. 4

The provisions of this Directive governing concessions awarded by contracting entities shall apply to the following activities:

3)

As far as water is concerned:

a)

the provision or operation of fixed networks intended to provide a service to the public in connection with the production, transport or distribution of drinking water;

b)

the supply of drinking water to such networks.

This Directive shall also apply to concessions awarded or organised by entities which pursue an activity referred to above and which are connected with one of the following:

a)

hydraulic engineering projects, irrigation or land drainage, provided that the volume of water to be used for the supply of drinking water represents more than 20 % of the total volume of water made available by such projects or irrigation or drainage installations, or

b)

the disposal or treatment of sewage.

The supply of drinking water to networks which provide a service to the public by a contracting entity referred to in paragraph 1 subparagraph 1 and paragraph 2 of Article 4 shall not be considered a relevant activity within the meaning of subparagraph 1 where all of the following conditions are met:

a)

the production of drinking water by the entity concerned takes place because its consumption is necessary for carrying out an activity other than those referred to in paragraphs 1 to 4 of this Annex;

b)

the supply to the public network depends only on the entity’s own consumption and has not exceeded 30 % of the entity’s total production of drinking water, on the basis of the average for the preceding three years, including the current year.

Reason

Consistent with amendments 1, 5 and 15.

Amendment 32

Annex IV, title

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

Reason

The Committee recommends that the procedures remain flexible and therefore suggests providing for the possibility of incorporating the information contained in the concession notice in the concession documents, instead of publishing a lengthy concession notice. Experience shows that these issues require explanations that would be more usefully included in the appended concession documents. Transparency would be guaranteed because the concession documents are forwarded in advance to all interested parties.

Brussels, 19 July 2012.

The President of the Committee of the Regions

Mercedes BRESSO


(1)  OJ L 204, 21.7.1998, p. 1.

(2)  OJ L 27, 30.1.1997, p. 20.

(3)  OJ L 15, 21.1.1998, p. 14.

(4)  OJ L 164, 30.6.1994, p. 3.

(5)  OJ L 315, 3.12.2007, p. 1.

(6)  Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September 2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community.

(7)  OJ L 293, 31.10.2008, p. 3.

(8)  OJ L 315, 3.12.2007.


13.9.2012   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 277/96


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation on European territorial cooperation’

2012/C 277/10

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

welcomes a dedicated Regulation to ETC, as it provides an important contribution to the territorial cohesion objective, as well as its increased budget allocation; furthermore, the CoR urges that EU funds be allocated by cooperation programmes and not by Member States;

notes that, due to its multilateral nature, ETC cannot be managed using partnership agreements. It should therefore be explicitly excluded from the scope of that instrument;

regrets that the new Regulation is not adapted to small projects, and asks the European Commission to grant exemptions to small cross-border programmes and operations, in particular for those under EUR 35 000;

thinks that thematic concentration should not be applied automatically to ETC, as it fears that if ETC were to be narrowly focused solely on the core EU 2020 priorities, it would be incapable of fulfilling its distinct and unique role; therefore, recommends that the number of thematic objectives be increased from 4 to 5, and that the list of investment priorities be extended; therefore, calls for the thematic objectives to be extended to other topics, such as tourism, climate-friendly maritime transport, culture or the impact of demographic change;

feels that the CoR should play an active role in promoting ETC and in identifying and overcoming obstacles to its implementation;

calls for the cofinancing level to be set at 85 % for less developed regions as it stands in the current General Regulation No 1083/2006;

agrees with the exemption granted to outermost regions in terms of cofinancing rates and funding, and calls for special conditions for areas which were external borders of the Community on 30 April 2004 and on 31 December 2006;

calls for strengthening the coordination mechanisms between all the Funds and territorial cooperation programmes; emphasises also the need to better coordinate ETC with external financial programmes of the EU and clarify the rules concerning the participation of third countries in ETC programmes;

emphasises the crucial role of EGTCs to strengthen territorial cooperation, and urges Member States to remove barriers that are discouraging the setting up or the functioning of EGTCs.

Rapporteur

Mr Petr OSVALD (CZ/PES), Member of Plzeň City Council

Reference document

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal

COM(2011) 611 final – 2011/0273 (COD)

I.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General remarks

1.

welcomes a dedicated European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) regulation, which will take account of the specific aim, aspects and status of territorial cooperation as the second objective of cohesion policy; this separate regulation highlights ETC's contribution to furthering the new Treaty objective of territorial cohesion and to achieving the objectives of cohesion policy in general; it also boosts the importance of ETC in terms of its focus on cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation;

2.

agrees that the role of European Territorial Cooperation is all the more important since the challenges faced by Member States and regions increasingly cut across national/regional boundaries and require joint, cooperative action at the appropriate territorial level. It can thus also provide an important contribution to fostering the new Treaty objective of territorial cohesion;

3.

supports, in principle, the Commission's proposals to align territorial cooperation with the Europe 2020 strategy, while noting that there must be sufficient flexibility to respond appropriately to local needs; therefore welcomes the fact that ETC's three elements (cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation) have been retained in all regions of Europe. Cooperation in projects and structures across borders is already making a real contribution to European integration. The CoR also welcomes the increased involvement of third countries;

4.

takes the view that cross-border cooperation should continue to play a key role within European Territorial Cooperation and therefore endorses in principle the proposal for the distribution of allocations between the different types of ETC;

5.

points out that the regulation is too demanding, complicated and detailed, especially for small cross-border cooperation programmes, and this may prevent the implementation of small but often very effective operations. The Committee asks the European Commission, therefore, to consider whether these programmes must necessarily be subject to all the provisions of the regulation. If maximum effectiveness is to be achieved, the same demands cannot be made on both small and large programmes and operations;

6.

endorses the current method of defining regions for cross-border cooperation, and calls for the area of eligibility for cross-border cooperation (strand A) to be extended to allow functional cross-border relations to be taken into account for inclusion in the scope of the programme. In this connection, decisions on linking functionally complementary regions that are particularly important in achieving the objectives should not have to wait until the programme approval procedure; also endorses the greater opportunities provided for carrying out multilateral projects in areas in which multilateral cooperation programmes will not be implemented;

7.

stresses the key role of ETC in developing transnational cooperation, especially for promoting the integrated territorial development of coherent areas, and in supporting macroregional strategy development projects; welcomes the fact that the established transnational cooperation areas (strand B) will in principle be maintained and that the EU's macro-regional strategies will not lead to new cooperation areas being created or to areas being excluded from transnational cooperation. The Committee also in principle welcomes the support for the development and implementation of macro-regional strategies in the context of transnational cooperation;

8.

highlights the potential of interregional cooperation, especially through its leverage effect in the use of Structural Funds; views support for interregional cooperation (strand C) as an excellent tool for encouraging exchanges of experience and cooperation between local and regional authorities regarding cohesion policy, and urges that the results of these exchanges be drawn on more effectively for local and regional development strategies (capitalisation);

The ETC aim and thematic concentration

9.

notes, however, that the main aims of European Territorial Cooperation should be to:

address through cooperation the problems of all regions concerned,

serve as an effective mechanism for sharing good practice and learning,

ensure that a solution to a specific problem is made more effective through economies of scale and the achievement of a critical mass,

improve governance through coordination of sector policies, actions and investments on a cross-border and transnational scale,

contribute to safety, stability and mutually beneficial relationships,

and, where necessary, help to support growth, employment and eco-system-based management,

as set out in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal for a regulation;

10.

thinks, therefore, that European Territorial Cooperation should help to create a sense of belonging to Europe and being connected, to remove prejudices and to develop the regions concerned. Accordingly, the Committee thinks that thematic concentration must not be applied automatically to ETC and that the level and potential of individual regions must be taken into account: there should be no attempt to apply the one-size-fits-all principle (i.e. the same priorities for all). On the contrary, a place-based approach should be taken. The Committee of the Regions fears that if ETC and, especially, cross-border cooperation were to be narrowly focused solely on the core EU 2020 priorities and thematic objectives, it would be incapable of fulfilling its distinct and unique role and would simply become a variation of core cohesion policy, but with a different form of distribution;

11.

urges that demographic change and its impact on services of general interest and sustainable regional development be included as separate themes for ETC. Priority should be given to new forms of urban-rural partnership as a basis for territorial cohesion at regional level (in line with the Territorial Agenda 2020). Important themes such as tourism, climate-friendly maritime transport and culture are also missing;

12.

believes that, when it comes to cross-border cooperation, it is vital to define the developmental potential of each cross-border area in terms of the present level of the regions in question. European Territorial Cooperation – and especially cross-border cooperation – should not be geared primarily to achieving the EU 2020 strategy, but above all to creating the conditions for its broadest possible – i.e. pan-European – implementation. It should therefore be possible for cross-border cooperation programmes, in particular, to chose several thematic objectives and not be restricted by orientations defined for them in advance;

13.

notes that sustainable territorial cohesion can only be achieved if people in the regions can be drawn in and involved. It should therefore be made possible for ETC programmes to continue to support civil-society and cultural measures (such as specific exchange projects), of which very successful examples can be found in existing programmes. The Committee therefore calls for the thematic objectives to be extended accordingly;

14.

welcomes the Commission's proposal to ensure continuity in the transnational cooperation strand but is nonetheless critical of its intention to restrict the additional investment priority under transnational cooperation to the implementation of macro-regional and sea-basin strategies. Given the numerous challenges currently facing the regions, and existing deficiencies, other regions, sub-regions and functional areas also need appropriate investment priorities;

15.

agrees that interregional cooperation should aim to reinforce the effectiveness of cohesion policy by encouraging exchange of experience between regions and by harnessing the results of this exchange under the Growth and Jobs objective. The Committee feels that this exchange of experience should be broad-based and that its role should not be limited to complementing FP7;

16.

feels that the Committee should play an active role in promoting ETC and in identifying and overcoming obstacles to its implementation so as to optimise synergies with the other strands of cohesion policy;

Funding allocations and level of cofinancing

17.

welcomes the proposed increase in allocations for ETC;

18.

does not think it makes sense for the proposed 75 % level of cofinancing for operational programmes within the European Territorial Cooperation objective, set in the general regulation, to be lower than the level of cofinancing for less developed regions under the Growth and Jobs objective. This lower level of cofinancing may make ETC programmes in these less developed regions unappealing. The Committee of the Regions sees no foundation for this difference and calls for the cofinancing level to be set at 85 % for both objectives; neither does it see any foundation for the cofinancing rate that is to be applied to the extra allocation for interregional cooperation in the outermost regions to stand at 50 %, and calls for it to be set at 85 %;

19.

points out that co-financing does not always come from the programme partners, Member States or other public bodies, but may also come from beneficiaries. It is therefore not possible to impose a blanket requirement on participating Member States to provide the co-financing necessary to implement the cooperation programme. The commitment provided for in the Commission's proposal should therefore be deleted;

20.

thinks that, in order to maintain the quality of cooperation, the general regulation needs to retain the present conditions for the level of cofinancing established by Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (general regulation), where the relevant paragraphs read as follows: (Article 53(3)): ‘For operational programmes under the European territorial cooperation objective in which at least one participant belongs to a Member State whose average GDP per capita for the period 2001 to 2003 was below 85 % of the EU-25 average during the same period, the contribution from the ERDF shall not be higher than 85 % of the eligible expenditure. For all other operational programmes, the contribution from the ERDF shall not be higher than 75 % of the eligible expenditure co-financed by the ERDF.’ (Article 53(4)): ‘The contribution from the Funds at the priority axis level shall not be subject to the ceilings set out in paragraph 3 and in Annex III. However, it shall be fixed so as to ensure compliance with the maximum amount of contribution from the Funds and the maximum contribution rate per Fund fixed at the level of the operational programme;’

21.

does not consider it appropriate to set the maximum cofinancing rate at the level of each priority, as set out in the general regulation. It should be possible to adjust the level of cofinancing within the various priority axes in order to give beneficiaries an incentive to meet certain strategic priorities. It would be good for each programme to lay down the level of cofinancing for each measure according to its type, with not all measures receiving the maximum degree of support;

22.

agrees that cooperation programmes involving outermost regions should receive at least 150 % of the ERDF support they received in 2007–2013 and that, in addition, EUR 50 million should be allocated from resources for interregional cooperation for the cooperation of outermost regions.

23.

calls for special conditions to be set for areas which were external borders of the Community on 30 April 2004 and on 31 December 2006 and which ceased to be so on the day after that date, as is the case in the current programming period according to Article 52 of the general regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006). Seven years of support cannot be considered long enough to eliminate the problems in these areas. The Committee of the Regions points out that increased support for former EU border areas will not only serve to raise the economic level of the regions in question, but also has a notable impact on creating a sense of belonging to Europe and being connected and on removing prejudices;

Programme planning

24.

is critical of the fact that the requirements set out in Article 7(2)(a) would significantly increase programme planning costs compared with the current period, with no discernable added value;

25.

notes that, due to its multilateral nature, ETC cannot be managed using partnership agreements. It should therefore be explicitly excluded from the scope of that instrument;

26.

deems it extremely important to draft a directive for applying, in practical terms, the state aid rules to ETC programmes, and calls for private operators, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to be included as possible beneficiaries of cross-border and transnational cooperation measures, where there is agreement among all the Member States concerned by the programme in question;

27.

calls for greater attention to be paid to the wide differences across Europe in administrative structures at local and regional level when defining the target groups for ETC programmes. The aim must be to take better account of the diversity of organisational structures among public stakeholders in the regions of the Member States. In particular, public bodies should not be excluded from participation for having a private organisational structure,

Monitoring and evaluation

28.

notes that both the scope and the frequency of reporting obligations have been increased, and calls for them to be kept to a minimum. The Committee therefore opposes the proposal to bring the deadline for the annual implementation report forward from 30 June to 30 April of the following year. The need to coordinate several programme partners – speaking several languages – entails higher costs and therefore more time;

29.

welcomes the establishment of common output and result indicators in order to achieve objectives more effectively and focus more closely on impact, and to enable cross-programme evaluation. However, the indicators proposed in the annex to the ETC Regulation are in many cases inappropriate to specific ETC requirements and are not able to describe or measure the quality of ETC. The Committee therefore calls for the catalogue of indicators to be revised to allow ETC-specific results to be depicted appropriately;

30.

in principle welcomes the limiting of technical assistance to 6 % of the total amount but not less than EUR 1,5 million, but feels that the requirement to shift all information-sharing to electronic data exchange systems by 31 December 2014, using technical assistance, is problematic;

Management, control and accreditation

31.

advocates basically retaining the management structures established in the 2007-2013 period for implementing the operational programmes, maintaining general continuity of structures, and assigning tasks and competences more clearly to the various bodies implementing the programmes;

32.

welcomes the possibility of combining the functions of the managing and certifying authorities (Article 113 of the Common Provisions Regulation), but opposes the requirement to combine them in ETC (Article 22 of the ETC Regulation) and emphatically rejects the proposed accreditation of managing authorities and controllers;

Coordination of funds

33.

welcomes the endeavour to improve coordination between European Territorial Cooperation programmes and other cohesion policy instruments; to this end, the yield on Community financing of cooperation projects must be increased by disseminating the results of these projects, seeking to multiply their impact and avoiding duplication of measures which are already tried and tested;

34.

points out that if a mechanism is to emerge for ensuring coordination between funds and other instruments, it is vital to have coordination between these funds and instruments at EU level and at implementation level in the Member States. It is important to introduce identical and coordinated procedures, the same management, monitoring of controls, cost eligibility, methods of reporting indicators, and so on. It would also be very useful to ensure coordination between individual countries, since European Territorial Cohesion programmes involve ever more countries. Particular attention must be paid to coordination with external financial instruments. Accordingly, the Committee of the Regions asks the Commission to establish a methodology for the coordination of programmes;

35.

points out that Article 10 of the proposal for a regulation on the European Social Fund COM(2011) 607 final addresses transnational cooperation, which covers the same period as the ETC regulation, but has no connection with the latter regulation. However, it is precisely coordination between European Territorial Cooperation funded from the ERDF and that funded from the ESF that the Committee of the Regions deems the most important, since the right combination of activities from these two funds can achieve the necessary synergies. Activities generally carried out in connection with the ESF are likely to be highly effective in cross-border cooperation, in particular, since there is usually a similarity between border areas of neighbouring countries in terms of labour market, social problems and so on. Activities that correspond thematically to the ESF are a very important part of all European Territorial Cooperation programmes and the Committee of the Regions therefore calls on the Commission to devote the appropriate attention to their coordination. If there is no improvement in coordination, it should at least be made possible to fund ETC activities that are thematically related to the ESF from the ERDF;

36.

thinks it would be very useful to coordinate the new Connecting Europe Facility with European Territorial Cooperation programmes, since this new instrument should cover cross-border and international relations;

Involvement of third countries

37.

considers it very important to ensure coordination between European Territorial Cooperation programmes and instruments for providing EU financial aid to third countries. A system should be established in these programmes themselves through which they would be coordinated with individual European Territorial Cooperation programmes so that there are no obstacles to entities from third countries being involved in joint projects. This system should, among other things, ensure conformity of procedures, cost eligibility etc. between ETC programmes in Member States and pre-accession and neighbourhood programmes. It should also ensure that third countries provide access, administration and allocation of sufficient financing from pre-accession or neighbourhood programmes for ETC programmes;

38.

agrees that it is necessary to clarify the applicable rules concerning financial management, programming, monitoring, evaluation and control regarding the participation of third countries in transnational and interregional cooperation programmes and also that those rules should be established in the relevant cooperation programme and/or the relevant financial agreement between the Commission, each of the third countries and the Member State hosting the managing authority of the relevant cooperation programme. However, the Committee of the Regions points out the need to ensure that any problems or tardiness of the third country do not lead to a delay in transnational and interregional programmes that would threaten their entire implementation;

Role of EGTCs

39.

emphasises the role of the EGTC as a vital tool for strengthening territorial cooperation. Thus calls again for the amended EGTC regulation, which has no particular implications for the EU budget, to be immediately adopted without waiting for adoption of the entire legislative package on post-2013 cohesion policy. Also urges Member States to remove all administrative barriers that either discourage the establishment of an EGTC or discriminate against the EGTC option – especially as regards taxation and staff recruitment – compared to other legal instruments;

40.

points out that although the Member States should be encouraged to confer the task of managing authorities on EGTCs, the European Commission should put forward standard mechanisms for clarifying the provisions in Article 25(3) of this proposal for a regulation, which obliges the Member State where the EGTC is registered or where the lead beneficiary is located to repay amounts unduly paid to beneficiaries from other countries. This obligation on countries where an EGTC is registered or where the lead beneficiary is located may make them much less willing to transfer their powers for managing programmes to the EGTC, since they may be liable for something over which they have no real influence. For this reason, the Committee of the Regions thinks that it should be confirmed that an authority in the Member State of the beneficiary of an amount unduly paid may be mandated by an authority in the Member State where the EGTC is registered for the recovery of the amount; alternatively, the conditions in force in the current programming period should be applied, where the responsibility is borne by the Member State in which the beneficiary that is required to return amounts unduly paid is located;

Other remarks

41.

welcomes the introduction of a flat-rate for workers as a very good step that will considerably simplify matters for beneficiaries. This flat-rate for workers should also be the same for all countries in an operation, since they are doing the same work. Control methods and cost eligibility should also be unified. However, the Committee is opposed to restricting this flat rate to a maximum of 15 % of all costs, as territorial cooperation is by nature very labour intensive and 15 % is far below the current average percentage for staff costs;

42.

attaches great importance to the following issues: environmental protection, resource efficiency, climate change mitigation and adaptation, risk prevention and risk management in the selection of operations, the prevention of any discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and the promotion of equal opportunities between the sexes. Nevertheless the Committee does not think it appropriate to require a description of their application in every programme. These stipulations in the regulation could greatly complicate and paralyse small cross-border cooperation programmes, in particular. The Committee of the Regions therefore recommends that they should not be applied across the board, but only for the priorities and kinds of operation where this makes sense and is relevant, since it could lead to a mandatory – but also meaningless and illogical – justifying of operations that have nothing to do with such issues;

43.

considers it important that beneficiaries cooperate in the development, implementation, staffing and financing of operations. However, with regard to smaller projects in particular, in other words, projects allocated less than EUR 35 000 from the ERDF, the obligation to meet the four criteria for cooperation can hamper their development and implementation; therefore believes that it is not appropriate for such projects to be required to meet this condition; proposes that these smaller projects be required, as has been the case to date, to meet at least two of the four criteria;

Proposals

44.

in view of the emphasis placed on coordination, effectiveness, removing disparities and comprehensiveness, proposes that a new initiative be launched for the new programming period to support cross-border coordination of thematic and development strategies (transport, energy, labour market, environmental protection, science and research, etc.) and the creation of integrated approaches. In this way, cross-border insufficiencies and development potential, as well as an integrated approach to addressing these, could be identified. It would be expedient to involve both public and private entities and financial resources from various sources in addressing these clearly identified problem areas and in exploiting the identified development potential. It would appear very useful to use the potential of EGTCs and Euroregions for this instrument. Sufficient funds should be allocated for this initiative within ETC to ensure its effectiveness.

II.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Article 3(1)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Geographical coverage

Geographical coverage

1.   For cross-border cooperation, the regions to be supported shall be the NUTS level 3 regions of the Union along all internal and external land borders other than those covered by programmes under the external financial instruments of the Union, and all NUTS level 3 regions of the Union along maritime borders separated by a maximum of 150 km, without prejudice to potential adjustments needed to ensure the coherence and continuity of cooperation programme areas established for the 2007-2013 programming period.

1.   For cross-border cooperation, the regions to be supported shall be the NUTS level 3 regions of the Union along all internal and external land borders other than those covered by programmes under the external financial instruments of the Union, and all NUTS level 3 regions of the Union along maritime borders separated by a maximum of  km, without prejudice to potential adjustments needed to ensure the coherence and continuity of cooperation programme areas established for the 2007-2013 programming period.

The Commission shall adopt the list of cross-border areas to receive support, broken down by cooperation programme, by means of implementing acts. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 30(2).

The Commission shall adopt the list of cross-border areas to receive support, broken down by cooperation programme, by means of implementing acts. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 30(2).

That list shall also specify those NUTS level 3 regions in the Union taken into account for the ERDF allocation to cross-border cooperation on all internal and those external borders covered by the external financial instruments of the Union, such as ENI pursuant to Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 [the ENI Regulation] and IPA pursuant to Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 the IPA Regulation].

That list shall also specify those NUTS level 3 regions in the Union taken into account for the ERDF allocation to cross-border cooperation on all internal and those external borders covered by the external financial instruments of the Union, such as ENI pursuant to Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 [the ENI Regulation] and IPA pursuant to Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 the IPA Regulation].

When submitting draft cross-border cooperation programmes, Member States may request that additional NUTS level 3 regions adjacent to those listed in the decision referred to in the second subparagraph are added to a given cross-border area and shall give reasons for the request.

When submitting draft cross-border cooperation programmes, Member States may request that additional NUTS level 3 regions adjacent to those listed in the decision referred to in the second subparagraph are added to a given cross-border area

[…]

[…]

Reason

Concerning the distance of 300 km (instead of 150), it has been shown in practice that the grounds for the existence of maritime cross-border cooperation do not depend directly on proximity, but on the mutual relations between the two countries. Moreover, present-day means of communication and transport make distance less important.

Furthermore, concerning the NUTS level, the French regions, for instance, are generally in favour of keeping the areas as they are set out in the current programming period. However, given how these areas vary greatly, they feel that some flexibility is needed in defining the geographical scope of projects. Specifically, enhanced cooperation should be promoted within transnational NUTS level 2 areas (without altering their boundaries) and the geographical coverage of certain cross-border programmes should be extended beyond NUTS level 3 (to NUTS level 2 where justified, without undermining the concentration of funding in areas immediately adjacent to borders). The French regions also call on the Commission to consider the new areas of enhanced cooperation that are the euroregions.

Amendment 2

Article 4(3)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Resources for European territorial cooperation

Resources for European territorial cooperation

3.   The Commission shall adopt a single decision setting out the list of all cooperation programmes and indicating the amounts of the total ERDF support per programme and of the 2014 allocation per programme by means of implementing acts. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 30(2).

3.   The Commission shall adopt a single decision setting out the list of all cooperation programmes and indicating the amounts of the total ERDF support per programme and of the 2014 allocation per programme by means of implementing acts. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 30(2).

Population in the areas referred to in the 3rd sub-paragraph of Article 3(1) and the first sub-paragraph of Article (3)(3) shall be used as the criterion for the annual breakdown by Member State.

Population in the areas referred to in the 3rd sub-paragraph of Article 3(1) and the first sub-paragraph of Article (3)(3) shall be used as the criterion for the breakdown by

[…]

[…]

Reason

We would strongly urge that EU funds be allocated by cooperation programme. Continuing the current system of breaking down funding by Member State (leaving it up to them to distribute the total cooperation allocation between their various regions) entails the following two risks: imbalanced national allocations for a given area, and the persistence of the fair return rationale, whereby individual Member States, against the spirit of cooperation, see fit to recoup funding at least equal to the share of funds that they have allocated to that area.

Amendment 3

Article 4(7)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Resources for European territorial cooperation

7.   In 2015 and 2016, the annual contribution from the ERDF to the programmes under ENI and IPA for which no programme has been submitted to the Commission by 30 June under the cross-border and sea-basin programmes under ENI and IPA shall be allocated to the internal cross-border cooperation programmes under paragraph 1(a) in which the Member State concerned participates.

Resources for European territorial cooperation

7.   In 2015 and 2016, the annual contribution from the ERDF to the programmes under ENI and IPA for which no programme has been submitted to the Commission by 30 June under the cross-border and sea-basin programmes under ENI and IPA shall be allocated to the cross-border cooperation programmes under paragraph 1(a) in which the Member State concerned participates.

Reason

According to the Commission's proposal, and unlike the current period, if the deadline for submitting programmes is not met, the unused ERDF resources can only be allocated to internal cross-border cooperation programmes in which the Member State concerned participates. As this may penalise certain regions if they are unable to meet the deadlines – even if they are not responsible for the failure – it is proposed to keep the current arrangements in place.

Amendment 4

Article 5

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Thematic concentration

The thematic objectives referred to in Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 [the CPR] shall be concentrated as follows:

a)

up to 4 thematic objectives shall be selected for each cross-border cooperation programme;

b)

up to 4 thematic objectives shall be selected for each transnational cooperation programme;

c)

all thematic objectives may be selected for interregional cooperation programmes pursuant to Article 2(3)(a).

Thematic concentration

The thematic objectives referred to in Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 [the CPR] shall be concentrated as follows:

a)

up to thematic objectives shall be selected for each cross-border cooperation programme;

b)

up to thematic objectives shall be selected for each transnational cooperation programme;

c)

all thematic objectives may be selected for interregional cooperation programmes pursuant to Article 2(3)(a).

Reason

The purpose of cross-border cooperation is to help mitigate the disadvantages arising from the peripheral location of border regions and to resolve the consequent problems, by establishing and supporting cross-border cooperation in all spheres of life (integration of cross-border areas). Support is given to both cooperation intended to resolve problems through joint efforts and cooperation aimed at promoting integration in various spheres. For border regions it is therefore crucial to maintain a wide range of activities eligible for support, reflecting the many spheres of cross-border cooperation.

The same grounds as for cross-border cooperation apply to transnational cooperation. It is crucial to keep the scope for cooperation as broad as possible for every type of cooperation.

Amendment 5

Article 6(a)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Investment priorities

Investment priorities

[…]

[…]

(a)

under cross-border cooperation:

(a)

under cross-border cooperation:

(i)

integrating cross-border labour markets, including cross-border mobility, joint local employment initiatives and joint training (within the thematic objective of promoting employment and supporting labour mobility);

(i)

integrating cross-border labour markets, including cross-border mobility, joint local employment initiatives and joint training (within the thematic objective of promoting employment and supporting labour mobility);

(ii)

promoting gender equality and equal opportunities across borders, as well as promoting social inclusion across borders (within the thematic objective of promoting social inclusion and combating poverty);

(ii)

promoting gender equality and equal opportunities across borders, as well as promoting social inclusion across borders (within the thematic objective of promoting social inclusion and combating poverty);

(iii)

developing and implementing joint education and training schemes (within the thematic objective of investing in skills, education and lifelong learning);

(iii)

developing and implementing joint education and training schemes (within the thematic objective of investing in skills, education and lifelong learning);

(iv)

promoting legal and administrative cooperation and cooperation between citizens and institutions (within the thematic objective of enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration);

(iv)

promoting legal and administrative cooperation and cooperation between citizens and institutions (within the thematic objective of enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration);

 

 

(vi)

 

(vii)

 

(viii)

Reason

See point 9 of the ‘Policy Recommendation’.

Amendment 6

Article 6(b)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

(b)

under transnational cooperation: development and implementation of macro-regional and sea-basin strategies (within the thematic objective of enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration).

(b)

under transnational cooperation: development and implementation of macro-regional and sea-basin strategies (within the thematic objective of enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration).

Reason

See point 14 of the ‘Policy Recommendation’.

Amendment 7

Article 6 new paragraph c)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

 

Reason

See point 11 of the ‘Policy Recommendation’.

Amendment 8

Article 7(2)(c)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Content of cooperation programmes

Content of cooperation programmes

[…]

[…]

(c)

the contribution to the integrated strategy for territorial development set out in the partnership contract including;

(c)

the contribution to the integrated strategy for territorial development set out in the partnership contract including:

(i)

the mechanisms that ensure coordination between the Funds, the EAFRD, the EMFF and other Union and national funding instruments and with the European Investment Bank (EIB);

(i)

the mechanisms that ensure coordination between the Funds, the EAFRD, the EMFF and other Union and national funding instruments and with the European Investment Bank (EIB);

(ii)

where appropriate, a planned integrated approach to the territorial development of urban, rural, coastal areas and areas with particular territorial features, in particular the implementation arrangements for Articles 28 and 29 of Regulation (EU) No./2012 [CPR];

(ii)

where appropriate, a planned integrated approach to the territorial development of urban, rural, coastal areas and areas with particular territorial features, in particular the implementation arrangements for Articles 28 and 29 of Regulation (EU) No./2012 [CPR];

(iii)

where appropriate, the list of cities where integrated actions for sustainable urban development will be implemented; the indicative annual allocation of the ERDF support for these actions, including the resources delegated to cities for management under Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No./2012 [ERDF];

(iii)

where appropriate, the list of cities where integrated actions for sustainable urban development will be implemented; the indicative annual allocation of the ERDF support for these actions, including the resources delegated to cities for management under Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No./2012 [ERDF];

(iv)

the identification of the areas in which community-led local development will be implemented;

(iv)

the identification of the areas in which community-led local development will be implemented;

(v)

where appropriate, the contribution of the planned interventions towards macro regional strategies and sea basin strategies;

(v)

where appropriate, the contribution of the planned interventions towards macro regional strategies and sea basin strategies;

Reason

The Committee of the Regions considers that setting out information in the programme document on the specific types of support for regional development as described in Article 7(2)(c) is only relevant and should only be mandatory in cases where these mechanisms will be actively applied in an operational programme, or where there is another reason to include a description in the programme document. For this reason it should not be mandatory for ETC programmes to describe these spheres. They should be required to do so only in cases where it is relevant and appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Danish presidency's compromise proposal on the general regulation for Objective 1 programmes (Article 87(2)).

Amendment 9

Article 7(2) (g) (iv)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

(iv)

the procedure for setting up the joint secretariat;

(iv)

the procedure for setting up the joint secretariat;

Reason

Setting up intermediary bodies has shown itself to be extremely effective in a wide range of programmes. Hence the Committee of the Regions' call for this procedure to be retained in an area in which it has proved its worth.

Amendment 10

Article 11(2)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Selection of operations

Selection of operations

[…]

[…]

2.   Operations selected under cross-border and transnational cooperation shall involve beneficiaries from at least two participating countries, at least one of which shall be from a Member State. An operation may be implemented in a single country, provided that it is for the benefit of the programme area.

2.   Operations selected under cross-border cooperation shall involve beneficiaries from at least two participating countries, at least one of which shall be from a Member State. An operation may be implemented in a single country, provided that it is for the benefit of the programme area.

Operations concerning interregional cooperation under Article 2(3)(a) and (b) shall involve beneficiaries from at least three countries, at least two of which shall be Member States.

Operations concerning interregional cooperation under Article 2(3)(a) and (b) shall involve beneficiaries from at least three countries, at least two of which shall be Member States.

 

Reason

Under the Commission proposal, transnational cooperation works on similar terms to cross-border cooperation, i.e. beneficiaries may be from two countries only, and it would be possible for operations to be implemented in just one country. We believe that this definition of cooperation would not reflect its transnational dimension and that it is the rules for interregional cooperation mentioned in the article that should apply here.

Furthermore, a number of current transnational cooperation programmes are designed specifically for the outermost regions. Requiring the involvement of three countries in these programmes would complicate matters considerably.

Amendment 11

Article 11 (4)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Beneficiaries shall cooperate in the development, implementation, staffing and financing of operations.

Beneficiaries shall cooperate in the development, implementation, staffing and financing of operations.

Reason

The criteria for establishing the cross-border nature of a project should be made less harsh, especially for smaller projects, which account for a large number of high-quality projects that make an undeniable contribution to the development of cross-border relations but which nevertheless struggle to meet all four criteria.

Amendment 12

Article 15

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Indicators for the European territorial cooperation goal

Indicators for the European territorial cooperation goal

Common indicators, as set out in the Annex to this Regulation, shall be used where relevant and in accordance with Article 24(3) of Regulation (EU) No./2012 [CPR]. Their baselines shall be set at zero and cumulative targets shall be fixed for 2022.

Common indicators, as set out in the Annex to this Regulation, shall be used where relevant and in accordance with Article 24(3) of Regulation (EU) No./2012 [CPR]. Their baselines shall be set at zero and cumulative targets shall be fixed for 2022.

[…]

[…]

Reason

The common indicators listed in the Annex should be considered as examples only. In each case it must be determined whether the indicator is relevant to the programme, the objective and the priority. Dealing with the issue of indicators through such a general provision will not ensure the efficacy of either the programme or operations. Moreover, the indicators given in the Annex anticipate the priorities and types of operation for all the programmes.

Amendment 13

Article 16

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Technical assistance

The amount of the ERDF allocated to technical assistance shall be limited to 6 % of the total amount allocated to a cooperation programmes, but shall not be less than EUR 1 500 000.

Technical assistance

The amount of the ERDF allocated to technical assistance shall be limited to 6 % of the total amount allocated to a cooperation programmes, but shall not be less than EUR 1 500 000.

Reason

While the four pan-European territorial cooperation projects (ESPON, INTERACT, INTERREG IV C and URBACT) certainly have lower costs than investment projects, the share of administrative costs is greater due to the nature of the activities (studies, expertise, exchange of best practices).

Amendment 14

Article 18

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Staff costs of an operation may be calculated as a flat rate of up to 15 % of the direct costs other than the staff costs of that operation.

Staff costs of an operation may be calculated as a flat rate of up to of the direct costs other than the staff costs of that operation.

Reason

See point 41 of the ‘Policy Recommendation’.

Amendment 15

Article 19 new paragraph (4)

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Eligibility of operations in cooperation programmes depending on location

Eligibility of operations in cooperation programmes depending on location

 

[…]

 

   

Reason

While current regulations allow for the ‘rules on flexibility’ to be used in the context of cross-border cooperation programmes, Member States (or managing authorities and national authorities) have rarely made use of this option when developing programmes. This complicates the implementation of projects in a multilateral regional framework such as the Euroregions.

Amendment 16

Article 26

Amend as follows:

Commission text

CoR amendment

Use of the euro

Use of the euro

By way of derogation from Article 123 of Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 [CPR], expenditure incurred in a currency other than the euro shall be converted into euro by the beneficiaries in the month during which expenditure was incurred.

By way of derogation from Article 123 of Regulation (EU) No […]/2012 [CPR], expenditure incurred in a currency other than the euro shall be converted into euro by the beneficiaries in the month during which expenditure .

The conversion shall be verified by the managing authority or by the controller in the Member State or third country in which the beneficiary is located.

The conversion shall be verified by the managing authority or by the controller in the Member State or third country in which the beneficiary is located.

Reason

In the Committee's view, the period chosen to convert non-euro expenditure into euros should be the same period during which the expenditure is presented for inspection (unless the exchange rate valid during the month in question is used), in accordance with Article 114(4)(a) of the general regulation. This may be a technical point, but the Committee regards as misconceived the current provision for conversion based on the exchange rate valid during the month when expenditure was incurred and thinks