|Vol 7, No.16, 19.4.01, p6
REGIONAL governments could be given a direct role in Union decision-making if plans being drawn up by MEPs get the go-ahead.
Euro MPs say it is a dangerous anomaly that the Union's more powerful regional authorities, such as the influential German Länder, have very little say in what gets decided at the EU level.
And they argue this situation will seem even more absurd after enlargement when more small countries join the bloc.
"I am not from Bavaria or Catalonia, or from Scotland, but if I were I would find it odd indeed that the Maltese should be represented in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament and the Commission," said French centre-right MEP Alain Lamassoure.
"I would find it strange that all the rest of them are represented and that I should not be represented at these various levels."
Lamassoure is currently drafting a report for the Parliament on clarifying the division of powers between the Union and member states, one of several the assembly is drawing up as part of its contribution on the Future of Europe debate which was launched in the wake of the troubled Nice summit.
In an early draft of his paper, Lamassoure suggests that powerful regional authorities could be given a special 'partners of the Union' status that would increase their access to EU decision making.
They could, for example, be offered the right to establish direct contacts with the Commission and the right to refer questions to the Court of Justice.
"Basically, in the same way as the status of 'European Citizen' enjoyed by individuals does not replace, but complements national citizenship, 'Euro-authority' status would give an additional dimension to regions or cities which the member states themselves wish to single out," he said.
Currently Europe's regional authorities are consulted on EU lawmaking through the Committee of the Regions, a consultative body which examines proposals only after they have been put forward and has little influence.
At a meeting of Parliament's constitutional affairs committee last week other MEPs welcomed Lamassoure's idea.
Belgian Green Monica Frassoni said the problem with the Committee of the Regions as it stood was that it was a "hotchpotch" of different regional bodies all represented equally despite huge differences in their power.
UK Liberal Andrew Duff stressed that only regions with law-making powers, such as the German Länder or the Scottish national assembly, rather than those with just administrative functions, should be included.
Regional governments could be given a direct role in Union decision-making if plans being drawn up by MEPs get the go-ahead. Euro MPs say it is a dangerous anomaly that the Union's more powerful regional authorities, such as the influential German Länder, have very little say in what gets decided at the EU level.
|Politics and International Relations