Glossary Inforegio English
A coastal area is normally defined as a strip of land and sea, the
width of which depends on the nature of the environment and of human
activity related to aquatic resources. Taking into account these
two factors, the size of these areas may extend beyond the sea coast
to stretch far inland.
Under the terms of Article 130d of the EC Treaty, the Cohesion Fund
was set up in 1993 to provide financial help for projects in the
fields of environment and transport infrastructure. Finance from
the Fund goes only to the four poorer Community countries (Ireland,
Greece, Spain and Portugal), the aim being to reduce the disparities
between EU members' economies. In 1994, funding went to 51 projects.
From 1993 to 1999 the amount of financing available through the
Fund each year ranges between ECU 1.5 billion and 2.6 billion, adding
up to a total of ECU 15.1 billion.
Committee of the Regions :
The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the political assembly that provides local and regional authorities with a voice at the heart of the European Union.
Established in 1994, the CoR was set up to address two main issues. Firstly, about three quarters of EU legislation is implemented at local or regional level, so it makes sense for local and regional representatives to have a say in the development of new EU laws. Secondly, there were concerns that the public was being left behind as the EU steamed ahead. Involving the elected level of government closest to the citizens was one way of closing the gap.
The Treaties oblige the Commission and Council to consult the Committee of the Regions whenever new proposals are made in areas that have repercussions at regional or local level. The Maastricht Treaty set out 5 such areas - economic and social cohesion, trans-European infrastructure networks, health, education and culture. The Amsterdam Treaty added another five areas to the list - employment policy, social policy, the environment, vocational training and transport - which now covers much of the scope of the EU's activity.
Outside these areas, the Commission, Council and European Parliament have the option to consult the CoR on issues if they see important regional or local implications to a proposal. The CoR can also draw up an opinion on its own initiative, which enables it to put issues on the EU agenda.
There are three main principles at the heart of the Committee's work:
This principle, written into the Treaties at the same time as the creation of the CoR, means that decisions within the European Union should be taken at the closest practical level to the citizen. The European Union, therefore, should not take on tasks which are better suited to national, regional or local administrations.
All levels of government should aim to be 'close to the citizens', in particular by organising their work in a transparent fashion, so people know who is in charge of what and how to make their views heard.
Sound European governance means European, national, regional and local government working together - all four are indispensable and should be involved throughout the decision making process.
Under the Treaty establishing the European Community, it is
for the Commission to implement legislation at Community level (Article
202 of the EC Treaty, ex-Article 145). In practice, each legislative
instrument specifies the scope of the implementing powers granted
to the Commission and how the Commission is to use them. Frequently,
the instrument will also make provision for the Commission to be
assisted by a committee in accordance with a procedure known as
The committees which are forums for discussion, consist of representatives
from Member States and are chaired by the Commission. They enable
the Commission to establish a dialogue with national administrations
before adopting implementing measures. The Commission ensures that
they reflect as far as possible the situation in each country in
Procedures which govern relations between the Commission and the
committees are based on models set out in a Council Decision ("comitology"
Decision). The first "comitology" Decision dates back
to 13 July 1987. In order to take into account the changes in the
Treaty - and, in particular, Parliament's new position under the
codecision procedure - but also to reply to criticisms that the
Community system is too complex and too opaque, the 1987 Decision
has been replaced by the Council Decision of 28 June 1999.
The new Decision ensures that Parliament can keep a eye on the
implementation of legislative instruments adopted under the codesision
procedure. In cases where legislation comes under this procedure,
Parliament can express its disapproval of measures proposed by the
Commission or, where appropriate, by the Council, which, in Parliament's
opinion, go beyond the implementing powers provided for in the legislation.
The Decision clarifies the criteria to be applied to the choice
of committee and simplifies the operational procedures. Committees
base their opinions on the draft implementing measures prepared
by the Commission. The committees can be divided into the following
advisory committees: they give their opinions to the Commission
which must take the utmost account of them. This straightforward
procedure is generally used when the matters under discussion are
not very sensitive politically.
management committees: where the measures adopted by the Commission
are not consistent with the committee's opinion (delivered by qualified
majority), the Commission must communicate them to the Council which,
acting by a qualified majority, can take a different decision. This
procedure is used in particular for measures relating to the management
of the common agricultural policy, fisheries, and the main Community
regulatory committees: the Commission can only adopt implementing
measures if it obtains the approval by qualified majority of the
Member States meeting within the committee. In the absence of such
support, the proposed measure is referred back to the Council which
takes a decision by qualified majority. However, if the Council
does not take a decision, the Commission finally adopts the implementing
measure provided that the Council does not object by a qualified
majority. This procedure is used for measures relating to protection
of the health or safety of persons, animals and plants and measures
amending non-essential provisions of the basic legislative instruments.
It also provides the criteria which, depending on the matter under
discussion, will guide the legislative authority in its choice of
committee procedure for the item of legislation; this is meant to
facilitate the adoption of the legislation under the codecision
In implementing the Strcutural Funds regulations, the Commission
shall be assisted by four committees:
(a) the Committee on the Development and Conversion of Regions;
(b) the Committee pursuant to Article 147 of the Treaty;
(c) the Committee on Agricultural Structures and Rural Development;
(d) the Committee on Structures for Fisheries and Aquaculture.
The aim of the common transport policy is to lay down common rules
applicable to international transport to or from the territory of
the Member States or passing across the territory of one or more
of them (Articles 70 to 80 of the EC Treaty). It is also concerned
with laying down the conditions under which non-resident carriers
may operate services within a Member State; and lastly, it covers
measures to improve transport safety.
With the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, decisions
are now taken under the codecision procedure (Article 251 of the
EC Treaty), after the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee
of the Regions have been consulted. However, some special cases
- measures that are liable to have a major impact on living standards,
employment and the operation of transport facilities are adopted
by the Council acting unanimously, after consulting the European
Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee;
- in the case of specific measures relating to sea and air transport,
the Council decides what procedure to apply in each individual
instance, acting by a qualified majority.
These are aid or action programmes set up to complement Structural
Fund operations in specific problem areas. Community initiatives
are drawn up by the Commission and coordinated and implemented under
national control. They absorb 5.35% of the budget of the Structural
Funds. Each Initiative is financed by only one Fund.
- Interreg III promotes cross-border, transnational and interregional
cooperation, i.e. the creation of partnerships across borders
to encourage the balanced development of multi-regional areas
(financed by the ERDF).
- Urban II concentrates its support on innovative strategies to
regenerate cities and declining urban areas (financed by the ERDF).
- Leader+ aims to bring together those active in rural societies
and economies to look at new local strategies for sustainable
development (financed by the EAGGF Guidance Section).
- Equal seeks to eliminate the factors leading to inequalities
and discrimination in the labour market (financed by the ESF).
The Community support frameworks (CSFs) coordinate EU regional activities,
occasionally involving the four Structural Funds (ERDF, ESF, EAGGF,
FIFG) and the EIB. In each case, however, the projects must be incorporated
into plans already developed by national authorities, regional authorities
and their economic partners.
This form of aid is intended for farmers and is designed to compensate
for the handicap of difficult physical and climatic conditions.
These allowances are the main EAGGF instruments specifically targeted
at the mountain and Arctic areas. With a view to encouraging extensive
farming, the livestock headage premium has been replaced by a premium
per hectare. The premium is 200 euros and can even be greater provided
that the national ceilings are respected. This adjustment - which
is optional- is for the national authorities to decide. A compensatory
allowance may also be paid for sustainable forest management. This
aid can amount to as much as 120 euros per hectare.
strategy for employment:
The Treaty of Amsterdam introduces the concept of a coordinated
strategy for employment which follows on from the integrated strategy
for employment launched at the Essen European Council in December
At Essen the European Council asked the Member States to draw up
multiannual programmes for employment (MAPs) and provide the Commission
with reports on their implementation. These reports describe the
main measures taken by the governments to apply their multiannual
programmes over the last twelve months, assess the impact of these
measures on employment - in certain cases - and announce major changes
or new initiatives in this field.
The "Essen strategy" was refined by the European Council
in Madrid (December 1995) and Dublin (December 1996), on both occasions
on the basis of a joint report by the Commission and the Council
summarising the reports on the implementation of the MAPs. At Florence
(June 1996) and Amsterdam (June 1997), the European Council received
a more succinct interim joint report.
With the Treaty of Amsterdam, a new title on employment has been
written into the EC Treaty, introducing the concepts of a coordinated
strategy and guidelines for employment. In practical terms, there
will be two main innovations:
- the Council draws up guidelines for employment each year that
are compatible with the broad lines of economic policy; it does
so acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission
and after consulting the European Parliament, the Economic and
Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the Employment
- the Council can also make recommendations to the Member States
in the light of its annual review of their employment policies,
acting by a qualified majority on a recommendation from the Commission.
The Amsterdam European Council decided that the relevant provisions
of the new title on employment should be put into effect immediately
and they have been applied since June 1997.
Each Member State concludes an agreement with the European Commission
known as an Operational Programme (OP) or Single Programming Document
(SPD). These agreements cover several years and are designed to
be put into practice by the national and regional authorities designated
by the Member States. These authorities also select the specific
projects for financing. However, the European Commission works together
with the responsible authorities on the programmes' Monitoring Committees.