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Coastal area:
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.

Cohesion Fund:
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:

  • Subsidiarity
    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.
  • Proximity
    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.
  • Partnership
    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.

Comitology:
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 "comitology".

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 question.

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 categories:

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 programmes.

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 procedure.

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.

Common transport policy:
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 still remain:

  • 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.

Community initiatives:
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).

Community Support Frameworks:
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.

Compensatory allowances:
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.

Coordinated 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 1994.
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 Committee;
  • 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.

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Development Programmes:
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.


 

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