- Policy committee, Bilbao, 23-24 April 1998 -


The National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria joins the Council of European Municipalities and Regions

More than one hundred local and regional elected representatives, members of CEMR's Policy Committee, met in Bilbao on 23-24 April 1998 under the presidency of Mr Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, President of the Auvergne region, who paid special homage to Mr Karamanlis, recently passed away, who enabled "the entry of Greece in the European Union".

The debates in Bilbao mainly focused on enlargement, subsidiarity and employment.

1. Enlargement

Among the initiatives being considered by CEMR is the organisation, on 1st October 1998 in Vienna, of a "summit" between the presidents of the associations of local and regional authorities of the EU applicant countries and CEMR's Executive Bureau, thus providing an opportunity for the points of view of all the partners to be raised and to determine joint strategies on behalf of local and regional authorities and their European organisation.

Confirming the increased prominence of CEMR's presence in Central and Eastern Europe, the Policy Committee members unanimously approved the membership of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria, which becomes the seventh organised representative association of CEMR in this part of the continent (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and Poland).

2. Subsidiarity

Believing it necessary that "the local and regional authorities prepare themselves for the next negotiations in view of the revision of the Treaty which, if not already scheduled, is essential", President Giscard d'Estaing opened a first debate on the new prospects for the cities and regions within the new European landscape.

This debate, which will be enlarged to the other local and regional authority organisations and which will benefit from the expertise of a reflection group made up of leading figures from the world of local and regional authorities, ought to result, according to President Giscard d'Estaing, in an "outline of the territorial organisation of the European Union".

3. Employment

A large part of the Policy Committee's activities focused on local and regional strategies for employment.

Opened by Allan Larsson, Director General for employment, industrial relations and social affairs (DG V), and Josu Jon Imaz, member of the European Parliament, the debates allowed numerous local and regional elected representatives to exchange their points of view and to present innovative experiences carried out within their constituencies, including those from: Bilbao, Oulu, Vienna, Alberic, Enschede, Swansea, Karlstad, Jihlava; experiences which enriched the exchanges, to which Marjorie Jouen, member of the European Commission's "Forward Study Unit", made a notable contribution.

Underlining that "the local and regional initiatives, which lead to concrete results, must be supported and highlighted", Mr Michael Häupl, Mayor and Governor of Vienna, CEMR rapporteur on employment, announced that the working group on these issues was to continue its work in order to finalise "within an operational perspective" the document for reflection.

CEMR's Policy Committee also adopted the draft programme of the Congress of European Twinned Towns which will bring together 800 representatives of towns and territorial authorities on 12-14 November 1998 in Ferrara (Italy).