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PE hearing on constitutional treaty : the associations of local and regional government support Constitution

The European associations representing local and regional government have expressed their support for the European Constitution and their commitment to promote it, at the hearing on the constitutional Treaty, in the European Parliament's Committee on constitutional affairs (25 November 2004).
Speaking on behalf of these associations (1), CEMR's first vice-president, Heinrich Hoffschulte, said that the constitutional treaty reflects the joint efforts of local and regional government to increase the involvement of these government in the work of the European union. "This is a means to bring the European Union closer to its citizens", he added.
Heinrich Hoffschulte also welcomed the fact that the constitutional Treaty reinforces the principle of subsidiarity as well as redefines it as an inclusive principle that involves all spheres of governance (local, regional, national and European). "We also underline the importance of the principle of proportionality for local and regional government, who need to have sufficient flexibility to address the needs of their areas and their citizens", he added.
The associations of local and regional government welcome the recognition of and emphasis on the access to services of general economic interest as provided for in national laws and practices, and the new legal base for these services, that aknowledges the primary competence of Member States to provide, commission and finance these services.
They also welcome the right for the Committee of the Regions to bring matters to the European Court of Justice on the basis of a breach of the principle of subsidiarity. However, they regret that the Committee of the Regions is not empowered to act similarly where the principle of proportionality has been breached.
Heinrich Hoffschulte ended his intervention pledging that the associations of local and regional government will work together with national governments and the European institutions to inform European citizens and to help them better understand the effects of the constitutional Treaty.
(1)Association of European Border Regions, Assembly of European Regions, EUROCITIES, Council of European Municipalities and Regions, Conference of the EuropeanRegional Legislative Parliaments, REGLEG)