The European Union created the Committee of the Regions to represent Regions of Europe as the layer of EU government administration directly below the nation-state level. The Committee has its headquarters in Brussels.
Reasons for this include:
Some nation states which have historically had a strong centralized administration have transferred political power to the regions. Examples of this include the devolution of power in Britain (the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 1998) and the current negotiations in France concerning increased autonomy for Corsica. Some other states have traditionally had strong regions, such as the Federal Republic of Germany; yet others have been structured on the basis of national and municipal government with little in between.
Regional and local authorities elect delegates to the Committee of the Regions. The Committee is a consultative body, and is asked for its opinion by the Council or the Commission on new policies and legislation in the following areas:
On certain issues it works in partnership with the Economic and Social Committee.
The desire of the German Länder however has been frustrated by other member states, which are opposed to direct involvement by the regions in EU decision-making. The German Länder successfully lobbied the German government (which has in turn lobbied the European Council) for the 2004 IGC to deal with the division of powers between the EU, national and regional levels of government.
Strengthening economic competition between communities further supports the creation of authentic regions within the EU and almost all EU member states recently have or currently are re-organizing their administration to create competitive EU regions. Often these regions better reflect culture and identity and a sense of common interests.
Outside the EU institutions, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions CEMR-CCRE is the largest organisation of local and regional government in Europe; its members are national associations of towns, municipalities and regions from over 35 countries. Together these associations represent some 100,000 local and regional authorities.
CEMR works to promote a united Europe that is based on local and regional self government and democracy. To achieve this goal it endeavours to shape the future of Europe by enhancing the local and regional contribution, to influence European law and policy, to exchange experience at local and regional level and to cooperate with partners in other parts of the world.
The idea for a representation of regions within the administration of the European Union relates to some regions' long history as autonomous regions. Examples include Flanders as an autonomous region of Belgium, the Basque Country, which lies in both north-eastern Spain and south-west France, Catalonia which lies in eastern Spain and south-east France, Scotland and Wales in the United Kingdom. Indeed, historically and culturally the UK is made up of four separate countries (consisting of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales). For example, Scotland is seen by many in the UK as a non-sovereign nation within the UK state, having historically kept its own legal, education, cultural and religious institutions, and even more so today with its own legislature having power over most aspects of Scottish life. All of these regions have growing or well established nationalistic sentiments (see Flemish Movement, Basque nationalism, Catalan nationalism, Welsh self-government, Scottish independence).