The CoR Opinion includes one on "the involvement of representatives of regional governments in the activities of the EU Council and the Committee of the Regions' participation in informal Councils" is first and foremost indicative of the determination of the regions and the Committee of the Regions to assert their role in an institutional system based on three components: the European Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission. "This is not a corporative request", stressed Claudio Martini (Italy, PES), the joint rapporteur for the Opinion, along with Franz Schausberger (Austria, EPP), "However, there is a need to accentuate the pivotal importance of a Europe allowing wide participation".The first debate on this issue got off to a start during the 23 February meeting in Uppsala, Sweden, of the Institutional Affairs Committee. It showed the scale of the ambition of the representatives of regional governments, an ambition that clearly forms part of an overall strategy on involving regional governments in the European decision-making process. This is also the trend of a draft Resolution that also came up for discussion in Sweden. The participants considered the outcome of the Inter-Governmental Conference in 2000 and the debate on the future of the European Union (rapporteur: Manfred Dammeyer, Germany, PES). The two issues reflect a resolve to strengthen and improve the arrangements for consulting with the Committee of the Regions, and, more generally, with the local EU regions and authorities. A third Opinion featured on the 2001 work programme considers the Committee of the Regions consultation process within the Community decision-making machinery.According to the CoR "this could lead to political recommendations likely to pave the way to inter-institutional agreements with other EU bodies, promoting a bigger role for the Committee of the Regions within the Community decision-making process". A round-table on "the constitutional process and the impact on infra-state authorities", a survey on "the European Constitution and the regional and local levels in Europe", a series of seminars seeking to pinpoint the various systems for sharing powers among the European, regional and local levels, and a research project on the regional and local dimension in creating new forms of governance in Europe: all these initiatives underscore the increasing seriousness of the debate on the status and role of regional levels of...

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