Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
The Local Councils' Association is empowered to represent all Local Councils in international affairs and since its inception has always taken an active role in international or regional organisations. Since Malta is an active member of the Council of Europe, the Association is a member of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, which is a consultative body of the Council of Europe. The Maltese Delegation is composed of five members and is led by Mr. Michael Cohen, President of the Association. Dr. Ian Micallef, Councillor at the Gzira Local Council and Vice-President of the Association serves as President of the Chamber of Local Authorities.
For further information about the activities of the Congress, please visit the Congress's web site:
Committee of the Regions
When Malta became a member of the European Union, on 1st May 2004, the Association assumed its membership in the 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.
For more information about the Committee of the Regions, please visit the Committee's web site: