Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Governance and citizenship

Better regulation - 18.11.2015

Three proposals for improved EU law-making
“The majority of European legislation is implemented on the ground by regions, cities and municipalities, it is logical to strengthen the EU Commission expert groups with their participation enabling input of our hands-on experience.” This is one of the messages delivered by CEMR spokesperson on public services and Vienna City Councillor, Elisabeth Vitouch, at a conference on better regulation organised by the Committee of the Regions and the Flemish Parliament, on 17 November.

Three proposals were put forward to advance the Commission’s aspirations for greater clarity and openness in its decision-making processes:

1. More transparency is urgently needed in the composition the Commission expert groups

Commission services often lack the necessary expertise and unique insight when assessing the implementation of EU policies. Therefore the involvement of those who can provide this input via Commission expert groups is important. However, following recent decisions on the choice of expert group members, the Commission has provided no additional information on participants’ backgrounds, affiliation or possible vested interests. We therefore support the EU Ombudsman that insists the need of more transparency in the decision on the make-up of its expert groups.

2. European institutions should not confuse towns and regions with big corporate lobby groups

The commitment of the European Parliament and Commission to improving transparency in EU decision-making through the use of a lobby register is a positive step. However we believe that towns and regions, working through their national and European associations, can help the EU to design and deliver policies that reflect the needs of our communities. Therefore, they should not be treated in the same way as commercial lobbyists and we reiterate our call that the exemption for local governments and their associations to sign the EU lobby register, be restored.  

3. EU legislation’s territorial impact should be systematically assessed

Today 60% of a mayor’s political agenda is influenced by European legislation. Despite this direct impact on citizens’ daily lives, European legislation is too often difficult to implement in our territories, due to the resulting costs or potential administrative burdens. New legislation must be fully adapted to the needs of our towns and regions, so as to avoid disproportionate costs of implementation. Therefore EU institutions should systematically consult local and regional governments and their representatives associations throughout the policy cycle, where relevant. 
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