Shaping EU Policy from Below

Shaping EU Policy from Below

EU Democracy and the Committee of the Regions

New Horizons in European Politics series

Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau

This book looks at the way in which the Committee of the Regions (CoR) can influence EU policy making from below, despite its relatively weak position in the decision-making process. Bringing together theoretical arguments about the central role of the formation of judgment in addition to the more conventionally emphasized expression of will, with an up-to-date account of the CoR's institutional development and activities, Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau make a strong case not to overlook the significance of the Committee's contribution to EU-level democracy.

Chapter 2: The Committee of the Regions: competing interpretations

Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy


The Committee of the Regions (CoR) was established in 1992 by the Treaty of the European Union (TEU), under the pressure of the European Commission, some member states with strong regions and the main inter-regional associations amid divergent hopes and expectations. From its inception, the CoR was caught between two potentially conflicting visions: on the one hand, it was seen as a representative chamber of regional interests and minority nationalisms; on the other, it was seen as consultative committee of regional and local experts. Although clearly a committee of regional and local authorities, the CoR was also meant to channel the more differentiated interests of regional and local civil societies. The events leading to the creation of the CoR have been already recounted (Warleigh 1999), but they have been interpreted in different ways. They have been described by some as an attempt on the part of the Commission and the subnational authorities of the European Union to create direct links with one another that could bypass the ‘gate-keeping’ powers of the national governments (Hooghe and Marks 1996, Jeffery 2000).

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