In their first plenary session in 2003, MEPs will consider a report calling for more involvement of regional and local authorities in EU decision-making.
The own-initiative report by Italian Socialist MEPGiorgio Napolitanoobserves a growing regionalisation and decentralisation in most of the Member States. It also points to the need to bring the EU closer to its citizens and to introduce greater participation upstream of European decision-making.
The report therefore makes the following proposals:
- introduce new methods of participation and acknowledge the key role to be played by regional and local authorities in preparation of decision-making, without calling into question the institutional balance (the report rejects giving the Committee of the Regions more power in legislative codecision procedures or transform it into an institutional Chamber of Regions);
- enshrine into the Treaties that the principle of subsidiarity does not simply govern relations between the EU and Member States' governments, but also other spheres of governance;
- incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into the acquis communautaire;
- explore the possibility of introducing 'tripartite contracts involving the three levels of power (EU, Member States and territorial authorities), as put forward in the White Paper on Governance;
- give the Committee of the Regions access to the Court of Justice in cases where there is presumption of a breach of the principle of subsidiarity;
- encourage transfrontier cooperation at all levels;
- ask the Convention to consider in a special plenary session the role of local and regional authorities.
The plenary session of the European Parliament takes place from 13-16 January. Other important issues on the agenda: several reports on railway policy, the report on the European Transport Policy White Paper, the election of the new ombudsman, the Work Programme of the Greek Presidency, and the Commission's Communication for the Spring Summit.