Commission confesses it is too ‘complex and obscure’

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Series Details Vol.7, No.30, 26.7.01, p1-2
Publication Date 26/07/2001
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Date: 26/07/01

By David Cronin

Regional authorities should be consulted in a more systematic way about EU policies as part of a drive to make the Union less "complex and obscure", Commission head Romano Prodi said yesterday (25 July).

During their last weekly meeting before the summer break, the 20 commissioners endorsed the long-promised White Paper on European 'governance', which commits them to devising a blueprint for involving local authorities in the EU decision-making process by mid-2002.

The paper forms part of the Commission's response to issues arising from Ireland's rejection of the Nice Treaty, the public protests at recent EU and G8 summits, and planning for December's Laeken summit, which is due to produce a declaration on Europe's future.

Prodi said that the existing EU institution providing a platform for members of local government - the Committee of the Regions - needed to work better. "What we need is a body that really represents regional authorities," he said.

The paper also states that a concerted effort has to be made to simplify the 80,000 pages of EU legislation currently on the statute books. In future, laws would have to contain "more succinct, focused texts" and there should be a greater emphasis on non-legislative instruments, such as those enabling industries to regulate themselves.

EU policy-makers will have to define the division of powers and responsibilities among its institutions with greater clarity and to make the Union work more efficiently. "There is a tendency for everything to be pushed up to the level of prime ministers. That produces a sort of bottleneck."

Speaking to journalists, the former Italian prime minister declined to say if he felt excessive force was used by police during last weekend's G8 summit in Genoa. But he acknowledged that there was a sense of isolation between the leaders of industrialised nations and the thousands of protestors who thronged the city.

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