Tag Archives: Committee of the Regions

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Document or Iniciative

Rules of procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee.

Summary

Article 303 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU) confers upon the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) the power to self-regulate. These rules of procedure establish the functioning and organisation of the EESC.

THE MEMBERS

In accordance with Article 300 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the Committee consists of representatives of organisations of employers and of the employed. It also includes representatives of civil society, notably in socio-economic, civic, professional and cultural areas.

Moreover, the members are proposed by the governments of the Member States and are appointed by the Council, for five years. Their number cannot exceed 350.

THE COMMITTEE’S CONSTITUENT WORKING BODIES

The bureau

It consists of:

  • the President and the two Vice-Presidents;
  • the three Group Presidents (Group I: employers; Group II: employees; Group III: various economic and social interests);
  • the six section Presidents;
  • a variable number of members, which cannot exceed the number of Member States.

The President is elected from among the members of the three Groups and the Vice-Presidents are elected from among the members of the two Groups to which the President does not belong. They are elected for a period of two years, in accordance with the principle of group rotation.

The Bureau’s chief tasks are as follows:

  • it lays down the organisation and working procedures of the Committee and has political responsibility for its general management;
  • together with the President of the Committee, it exercises the budgetary and financial powers provided for in the Financial Regulation and the Committee’s Articles of Procedure;
  • it lays down the Implementing Provisions of the Rules of Procedure, whose interpretation it clarifies;
  • every six months it examines, on the basis of a report drawn up for this purpose, the action taken on opinions delivered by the Committee.

The Presidency and the President

The Presidency (the President and the two Vice-Presidents) meets with the Group Presidents to prepare the work of the Bureau and the assembly.

The President, elected for two and a half years, directs the work of the Committee. He involves the Vice-Presidents in his activities on a permanent basis. He represents the Committee in its external relations. He reports to the Committee on action and measures taken on its behalf. After his election, he presents his work programme for his term of office at the plenary assembly and presents a review of achievements at the end of his term.

The specialised sections

The Committee comprises six specialised sections:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment;
  • Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion;
  • Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship;
  • External Relations;
  • Single Market, Production and Consumption;
  • Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society.

Other sections may be set up by the plenary assembly on a proposal from the Bureau, in the fields covered by the Treaties. Apart from the President, every member of the Committee must be a member of at least one specialised section and a maximum of two (with exceptions). The members of the sections are appointed by for two and a half years.

The task of the specialised sections is to draw up opinions or information reports on questions referred to them. They may set up from among their members a study group or drafting group or appoint a rapporteur working alone. The rapporteur is responsible for preparing opinions and monitoring action taken on opinions by the European institutions, once the opinion has been adopted in plenary session.

The subcommittees

For some subjects, especially those where different specialised section remits overlap, the Committee may set up ad hoc sub-committees. These subcommittees operate in the same way as the specialised sections and their draft opinions are submitted directly to the Committee for discussion.

The observatories, hearings, experts

The Committee may set up observatories when the nature, extent and specific character of the subject to be dealt with calls for particular flexibility in terms of the working methods, procedures and instruments to be used.

Likewise, if an issue under discussion is of sufficient importance, the various bodies and working units of the Committee may invite guest speakers from outside the Committee to a hearing.

Finally, the President may appoint experts to clarify technical questions posed by the activities.

The consultative commissions

The Committee has the option of setting up consultative commissions. These commissions are made up of members of the Committee and of delegates from areas of civil society that the Committee wishes to involve in its work.

Dialogue between the EU’s social and economic organisations and third countries

Because of its specific mission, the Committee may maintain structured relations with economic and social councils and similar institutions and with civil society organisations in the European Union and third countries. The Committee appoints the delegations responsible for maintaining these relations.

The groups and categories

The Committee is made up of three Groups representing respectively employers, employees and the various other economic and social components of organised civil society. The Groups elect their Presidents and Vice-Presidents. They participate in the preparation, organisation and coordination of the business of the Committee.

  • The Employers’ Group (Group I) has members from private and public sectors of industry, small businesses, chambers of commerce, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance, transport and agriculture.
  • The employees’ group (Group II) has members from national trade union organisations, both at the level of confederations and that of sectoral federations.
  • The group including the other components of civil society (Group III) consists of members of farmers’ organisations, consumers’ organisations, small businesses, the crafts sector, liberal professions and NGOs in the field of social protection and environmental protection.

Members of the three groups of the Committee may, on a voluntary basis, form categories representing the various economic and social components of organised civil society in the European Union.

PROCEDURE OF THE COMMITTEE

Consultation of the Committee

The Committee produces opinions requested by the Council, the Commission or the European Parliament.

The Committee may also deliver opinions on its own initiative, information reports or resolutions on any question pertaining to the tasks assigned to the European Union.

Furthermore, the Committee’s opinions set out its position on the issue referred to it. They are generally accompanied by concrete proposals. In its opinions, the Committee defends the interests of civil society in particular, which it represents at European level.

Work of the specialised sections

When an opinion or information report is to be produced, the Bureau designates the specialised section that is to be responsible for preparing the work in question.

The rapporteur, assisted where appropriate by one or more co-rapporteurs and an expert, studies the question referred, collect the views expressed and, on this basis, compile the draft opinion, which is sent to the specialised section for discussion and approval by voting.

Proceedings of the plenary sessions

The Committee meets in plenary assembly during the different sessions (ten sessions each year as a rule). The Committee’s plenary assembly adopts its opinions on the basis of the opinions of the specialised sections and sends them to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament.

The draft agenda is drawn up by the Bureau on a proposal from the Presidency in collaboration with the Group Presidents. It is sent to all Committee members and to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. It is submitted for approval by the assembly before the opening of the relevant session.

Opinions adopted by the Committee and minutes of Committee sessions are sent to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. They are published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Regardless of the legal basis for consultation (mandatory or optional referral) the Committee’s opinions are a legally necessary component in the Council’s final decisions.

FINAL PROVISIONS

Methods of voting

Except where otherwise provided, adoption of the texts and decisions of the Committee and its constituent bodies shall be by a majority of the votes. Voting is by open ballot, by recorded vote, or by secret ballot.

The urgency procedure

Where the urgency results from a deadline for the submission of its opinion imposed on the Committee, the urgency procedure may be applied. The President may, immediately and without consulting the Bureau beforehand, take all requisite steps to enable the Committee to carry out its work. He informs the members of the Bureau of the steps which he takes.

Publication and distribution of Committee texts

The Committee publishes its opinions in the Official Journal of the European Union. Likewise, the names of the members of the Committee, its Bureau and its specialised sections are published in the Official Journal.

The Secretary-General of the Committee is responsible for taking the measures necessary to guarantee the public’s right of access to the corresponding documents. Any citizen of the European Union may write to the Committee in one of the official languages and receive a reply written in the same language

Plenary sessions and meetings of the specialised sections are public. Moreover, the members of the European institutions may attend and address meetings of the Committee and its.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Dialogue with associations of regional and local authorities

Dialogue with associations of regional and local authorities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Dialogue with associations of regional and local authorities

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Management of regional policy

Dialogue with associations of regional and local authorities

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 19 December 2003 – Dialogue with associations of regional and local authorities on the formulation of European Union policy [COM(2003) 811 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Since enlargement, the European Union now comprises some 250 regions and 1000 regional and local authorities. The Commission is establishing systematic dialogue with the European and national associations representing them. This more political and more structured dialogue will complement the other forms of consultation provided for in the Nice Treaty (Articles 137 to 139) establishing the European Community and in the specific Commission communication of December 2002 [COM(2002) 704 final]. Its aim is to involve local and regional actors, responsible for implementing Community policies, so that account will be taken of their opinions as far upstream as possible in the decision-making process.

When will this systematic dialogue take place?

The dialogue will take place prior to the formal decision-making process on two separate occasions:

  • the presentation of the Commission’s work programme.
    The Commission is intending to organise an annual meeting at the highest political level between the Commission President and/or Vice-Presidents and the representatives of the associations of regional and local authorities. The dialogue will cover the guidelines for European Union action;
  • the launch of major policy initiatives with a significant territorial impact.
    These meetings with members of the Commission could be held annually if the timetable of initiatives justifies it.

The Commission will set the date of the meetings six weeks in advance and make the necessary documents available to the associations.

Dialogue will strengthen the Committee of the Regions’ role of intermediary

The Commission regards this new dialogue as an opportunity for establishing closer links between the Committee of the Regions and the regional and local authorities which it represents. Concluded in Brussels on 20 September 2001, the cooperation protocol on the cooperation arrangements between the Commission and the Committee of the Regions recognises the role of intermediary of the consultation body.

The Committee of the Regions is best placed to assist the Commission in identifying the participants in the dialogue. For each planned meeting it will provide an indicative list of European and national associations relevant for the topics considered. Lastly, the Commission decides on the participants. It reserves the right to invite other organisations of its choice.

The Committee of the Regions, in cooperation with the associations of regional and local authorities, will lay down the selection criteria for participating in the dialogue. The organisations involved will be representative of the various levels of regional and local authorities directly affected by the policies being discussed, able to demonstrate their experience and level of expertise, capable of delivering a jointly produced opinion and in a position to pass on to their members the Commission’s proposals and guidelines.

What is the justification for the systematic dialogue?

Ad hoc contacts exist already between the Commission and the local and regional authorities, both directly and through their associations. In response to the commitment given in the White Paper on European Governance, the Commission wishes to make this dialogue systematic. The following principles justify the need to involve the regional and local authorities in the formulation of European policies:

  • Openness
    Improved information and ownership of the Community’s policy position are needed. Since they are democratically elected and close to the ground, the regional and local authorities are well placed to provide the citizen with information.
  • Participation
    The White Paper on governance affirms the need for the European and national associations of regional and local authorities to be involved with due regard for the institutional architecture of the Union and the Member States’ internal organisation.
  • Coherence
    The Commission acknowledges the need for better assessment of the impact at regional and local level of Community policies in areas such as transport, energy and the environment. Analysing the impact of measures proposed at Community level will contribute to informing the different actors of the effects of these measures and guide them in their implementation tasks.
  • Effectiveness
    Some Community policies are implemented and/or have the greatest effect at regional and local level. Local government authorities are ideally placed therefore to assess the coherence and effectiveness of Community policies.

The other institutions and bodies of the Union

The other institutions and bodies of the Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The other institutions and bodies of the Union

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

The other institutions and bodies of the Union

The Treaty of Lisbon undertakes a vast institutional reform which mainly concerns the European Council, the Commission, the Council, the Parliament and the Court of Justice. To a lesser extent, the Treaty of Lisbon also makes a number of changes relating to the composition and functioning of the EU’s two advisory committees. It also awards the European Central Bank the status of institution.

THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE

The number of seats for Member States within the Committee is limited to 350. The distribution of these seats between Member States is no longer included in the Treaty of Lisbon, as was the case previously. As it is required to do henceforth for the distribution of seats in the Parliament, the Council unanimously adopts a decision laying down rules on the composition of the Committee. Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon extends the term of office of members of the Committee from 4 to 5 years, bringing it into line with that of members of the Commission and the Parliament. Consequently, the Committee chairman and officers will now be elected by their peers for two and a half years rather than for two years.

As part of its advisory role, the Economic and Social Committee may henceforth issue opinions following a referral from the European Parliament.

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

As with the European Economic and Social Committee, the number of seats within the Committee of the regions is limited to 350 and the distribution of seats by Member State must be the subject of a unanimous Council decision. The members of the Committee of the Regions are henceforth appointed for a term of five years, instead of four, while its chairman and officers are elected for two and a half years.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the advisory role of the Committee of the Regions by extending its area of activity. Civil protection, climate change, energy and services of general interest are therefore added to the list of fields in which the Committee is to be consulted. On the same basis as the Commission and the Council, the European Parliament is also authorised to seek an opinion from the Committee of the Regions.

The Committee of the Regions also has new powers within the EU as a result of the possibility of bringing two types of action before the Court of Justice of the EU. On the one hand, the Committee becomes one of the guarantors of the principle of subsidiarity within the EU. It may bring an action before the Court of Justice seeking the annulment of an act deemed not to comply with the principle of subsidiarity (Article 8 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality). However, this right of referral is limited to acts for which the Committee has to be consulted. On the other hand, Article 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU authorises the Committee to bring an action before the Court of Justice of the EU for the purpose of protecting its own prerogatives. It therefore has legal means which henceforth enable it to ensure that the EU institutions respect its right to be consulted.

THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

The ECB is granted the status of EU institution on the same basis as the European Council, the Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors. It thereby becomes the only institution granted legal personality.

It is run by three main bodies:

  • the Governing Council of the ECB, which comprises the members of the Executive Board and the governors of the national central banks of the Euro zone countries. It is the main decision-making body and defines the monetary policy of the Euro zone;
  • the Executive Board, the six members of which are henceforth appointed by the European Council acting by a qualified majority in order to limit the risks of blocking;
  • the General Council, which comprises the members of the Executive Board and the governors of the central banks of all Member States.

The Treaty of Lisbon also clarifies the two principal missions of the ECB:

  • the ECB and the central banks of the EU Member States form the European System of Central Banks (ESCB). The main objective of the ESCB is to maintain price stability. It also contributes to the general economic policies of the Union;
  • the ECB and the central banks of Member States which have adopted the Euro make up the Eurosystem. In contrast with the ESCB, the Eurosystem defines and conducts the monetary policy of the Union. Until now, ‘Eurosystem’ was a term used informally by the ECB. It is henceforth fully recognised by the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Treaty of Lisbon finally reaffirms the independence of the ECB. This independence is guaranteed by the relatively long term of office of the members of the Executive Board (eight years) and by the prohibition banning the ECB and the national central banks from accepting instructions from the other EU institutions, governments of Member States or any other body.

SUMMARY TABLE

Articles Subject

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

282 to 284

Composition and prerogatives of the European Central Bank

301 to 304

Composition and prerogatives of the European Economic and Social Committee

305 to 307

Composition and prerogatives of the Committee of the Regions

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors' assets

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

Even with a court judgment obtained, recovering cross-border debts may be difficult for creditors in practice if no information on the debtors’ assets or whereabouts is available. Because of this, the European Commission has adopted a Green Paper launching a public consultation on how to improve the recovery of debts through possible measures such as registers and debtor declarations.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper of 6 March 2008 on the effective enforcement of judgments in the European Union: the transparency of debtors’ assets [COM(2008) 128 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The late and non-payment of debts is detrimental to business and customers alike, particularly when no information is available on the debtor’s assets or whereabouts. This is a particular cross-border issue in debt recovery and has the potential to affect the smooth running of the internal market. In launching a public consultation, the European Commission has outlined the problems of the current situation and possible solutions in this Green Paper. Interested parties can submit their comments by 30 September 2008.

State of play

The search for a debtor’s address and information on his financial situation is often the starting point for enforcement proceedings. At national level, most Member States mainly use two different systems for obtaining information, either:

  • systems of declaration of the debtor’s entire assets or at least a part of it to satisfy the claim;
  • search systems with specific information (registers).

In this Green Paper, the European Commission focuses more on a series of measures instead of one single European measure to allow the creditor to obtain reliable information on the debtor’s assets and whereabouts within a reasonable period of time. Possible measures include:

  • drawing up a manual of national enforcement laws and practices: at present, there is very little information on the different enforcement systems in the 27 European Union Member States. Such a manual could contain all sources of information on a person’s assets, which could be accessed in each country; contact addresses, costs, etc.
  • increasing the information available and improving access to registers: the main sources of information on the debtor are public registers, such as commercial or population registers. However, these vary from one Member State to the next. The Commission is asking whether to increase information available in and access to commercial registers and in what way access to existing population registers should be enhanced. Furthermore, access to social security and tax registers by enforcement authorities may be increased, while respecting rules of data protection and social and fiscal privacy.
  • exchange of information between enforcement authorities: currently, enforcement bodies are not able to directly access the (non-public) registers of other Member States which are open to national enforcement bodies. In addition, there are no international instruments dealing with the exchange of information between national enforcement bodies. In the absence of a Europe-wide register, enhancing cooperation between national enforcement authorities and direct exchange of information between them may a possible solution.
  • measures relating to the debtor’s declaration: enforcement bodies have in several Member States the option to question the debtor directly regarding his assets, whereas in some Member States the debtor’s declaration is made in the form of a testimony before the enforcement court. In some Member States, the debtor has to fill out mandatory forms, and in others a debtor’s declaration does not exist at all. The European Commission is considering introducing a European Assets declaration, obliging the debtors to disclose all assets in the European judicial area. In this way, the transparency of the debtor’s assets would not be limited by the territoriality of the enforcement proceedings.

European Training Foundation

European Training Foundation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Training Foundation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enlargement > The stabilisation and association process: the western balkans

European Training Foundation (ETF)

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 1339/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 establishing a European Training Foundation.

Summary

This regulation establishes the European Training Foundation (ETF), repealing Regulation (ECC) No 1360/90, which originally created it. The foundation operates within the European Union (EU) external relations policy sphere, aiming to promote the development of vocational education and training systems in the following partner countries:

  • the EU candidate countries (Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia);
  • the potential candidate countries in the western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia);
  • the southern Mediterranean, eastern European and southern Caucasus partner countries (Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Russia, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine);
  • other countries, as decided by the ETF governing board on the basis of specific criteria.

The foundation provides assistance to these countries in improving the skills and competences of their citizens. This consists of participating in the reform process to develop initial and continuing vocational education and training, as well as to facilitate access thereto. The ETF also assists in promoting mobility, cooperation between educational institutions and businesses, as well as exchanges of experience and information between Member States.

In promoting the development of vocational education and training systems in the partner countries, the foundation’s functions consist more specifically of:

  • providing information, policy analysis and advice on human capital development;
  • improving knowledge of labour market skills needs;
  • providing support in capacity building;
  • promoting exchanges of information and experience among donors as well as partner countries and the EU;
  • supporting the delivery of Community assistance and analysing the effectiveness thereof (if required by the Commission).

In pursuing its functions, the foundation is to collaborate with other relevant Community bodies, in particular with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), as well as with representatives of European social partners and relevant international organisations where appropriate.

The ETF is a non-profit making foundation that has legal personality. It is based in Turin, Italy.

Structure

The ETF governing board consists of one representative from each Member State, three representatives of the Commission, three experts appointed by the European Parliament and three representatives of the partner countries appointed by the Commission. Only the Member State and Commission representatives have a voting right, one vote each for the former and one shared for the latter. One of the Commission representatives chairs the board, convening it at least once a year. The term of office of the board is five years, renewable once.

The governing board is responsible for drawing up the annual estimate of expenditure and revenue as well as for adopting the annual work programme, draft establishment plan, definitive budget, annual activity report, rules of procedure and financial rules. It has the power to appoint and dismiss the director, as well as to prolong his/her term of office.

The director is appointed from a list of candidates put forward by the Commission for a term of five years. The term may be extended once for a maximum of three years. The director is the legal representative of the foundation and responsible for its administrative management. S/he is also responsible for preparing and organising the work of the governing board as well as for implementing its decisions. In addition, the director is to implement the annual work programme and the budget of the foundation.

The finances of the ETF consist principally of a subsidy from the general budget of the EU and of payments received for services rendered. The final accounts of the foundation, the annual activity reports and the rules of procedure are to be made public.

Background

Since its adoption, Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90 that established the ETF has been amended on several occasions. In light of additional amendments and for reasons of clarity, the regulation was repealed in order to be replaced by Regulation (EC) No 1339/2008.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1339/2008

20.1.2009

OJ L 354 of 31.12.2008