Zürich (CH), 7 April 2004
“Member States, regions as well as municipalities must continue to define the provision of Services of General Interest and to determine their concrete application. The competences of the regions and municipalities guarantee a provision of services which meet regional and local realities. Moreover, the municipalities’ responsibility means a democratically legitimated field responsibility” stated Peter Straub, President of the Institutional Affairs Committee of the Assembly of European Regions (AER)*, at the conference organised on this issue by the AER in Zürich today.
Many areas of the work of regional authorities are affected by current initiatives at the European level to liberalise public services. There is concern amongst the regions that any moves towards enforced liberalisation of public services would limit their decision-making powers over their key areas of their work. Such a move would undermine the basic principles of democracy. Directly elected assemblies raise taxes and make decisions about how these funds should be used. The principle of subsidiarity needs to be reinforced, so that local and regional authorities can continue to make decisions about public services and remain accountable to the electorate for those services.
* Peter Straub is also President of the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg and President of the Committee of the Regions.
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