Structured dialogue with the EU Commission
Strasbourg (F), 10 May 2004
The AER addressed today the following letter to the Irish Presidency of the European Union and to the National Representatives within the European Council:
“The Assembly of European Regions (AER), representing approximately 250 regions from 30 European countries and 12 interregional associations, welcomes the amendments to the draft Constitutional Treaty as proposed by Mr Bertie AHERN, President of the European Council and Prime Minister of Ireland [CIG 73/04; Presidency note “IGC 2003: Meeting of Focal Points (Dublin 4 May 2004) working document”, Brussels, 29 April 2004].
In particular, we welcome the willingness of the Irish Presidency and the Intergovernmental Conference to continue improving the draft Constitutional Treaty and to not restrict itself merely to institutional questions.
In this respect, the AER would urge you to further amend the draft provisions relating to the Union’s Common Commercial Policy (Article III-217) and to include therein the exemption currently existing under the Nice Treaty (Article 133- § 6), according to which international agreements in the fields of cultural, audiovisual, education, health and social services fall within the shared competence of the Union and the Member States and shall be negotiated by common accord of the Member States and concluded jointly.
Such an amendment would respect the division of competences between the Union and its members, as outlined under Articles 12, 13 and 16 of Part I of the draft Constitutional Treaty. According to these provisions, health, education and culture are primarily areas for Union supporting action. Social policy is an area of shared competence, where primary competence rests with the Member States and the Union takes supporting or complementary action.
Moreover, this amendment proposal would be in line with the opinions voiced during the currently ongoing debate on Services of General Interest in Europe, where emphasis is placed on the primary competence of Member States and their regions to freely organise, provide, commission and finance these services. Indeed, the amendment to draft Article III-6 proposed by the Irish Presidency expressly acknowledges this primary national and regional responsibility.”
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