The Committee of the Regions
The Treaty on the functioning of the EU (like the treaty establishing the European Community) officially acknowledges the regional diversity and the role played by regions in the governance of the European Union through the Committee of the Regions made up of representatives of regional and local bodies (Articles 305 to 307 TFEU). The 344 members of the Committee and an equal number of alternate members (with the same national distribution as the members of the EESC) [see section 4.2.3] are proposed by the governments of the Member States and appointed for five years by the Council, acting by qualified majority. It could be suggested that their election should be entrusted to the peoples of the regions themselves, simultaneously with the elections of the members of the European Parliament [see section 4.4].
The Committee of the Regions must be consulted by the Council or the Commission on matters relating notably to employment guidelines, legislation on social matters, environment, education, vocational training, culture, public health, European networks and the Structural Funds. It may be consulted in all other cases considered appropriate by one of the two institutions, in particular those which concern cross-border cooperation. It can also issue an own-initiative opinion when it considers that specific regional interests are at stake (Article 307 TFEU). The Committee of the Regions thus involves regional and local authorities in the decision-making process and expresses their views on all common policies concerning them. Yet again, these views could have a greater impact on these policies than they now have, if a way was found to make the decision-making organs to take them more seriously into consideration [see section 4.4].