The Convener of The Highland Council Councillor Sandy Park has been appointed by the Prime Minister to serve on a prestigious European committee.
From the end of January next year, he will serve for five years as an alternate member of the EU Committee of the Regions, the political assembly that provides the regional and local levels of government with a voice in the development of E.U.legislation and policy initiatives.
A letter from Chris Bryant, Minister for Europe, said: “I am pleased to inform you that the Prime Minister has formally confirmed your nomination and I would like to offer you my congratulations. I look forward to working with you and I hope that you will find your work in the Committee of the Regions a rewarding experience.”
Councillor Park is one of eight Scottish representatives on the Committee of the Regions. He was nominated to serve on the Committee by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities as their Independent representative.
Councillor Park is delighted with his appointment. He said: “I am greatly looking forward to this new challenge of representing Scotland on this influential European forum. The European dimension, including funding, is so important to the prosperity of our area.”
He will attend a meeting in Cardiff early in the new year to establish which of the six commissions run by the CoR he will serve on.
From Auldearn, Councillor Park has been a councillor for 14 years. Before being elected Convener of The Highland Council in May 2007, he had served as Provost of Nairn for eight years; chairman of Highland Opportunity for 10 years; chairman of the Council’s Planning, Development, Tourism and Europe Committee for six years; and chairman of Nairnshire Planning for eight years.
Note: Established in 1994, the Committee of the Regions has 344 members from the 27 EU countries, and its work is organised in 6 different commissions. They examine proposals, debate and discuss in order to write official opinions on key issues. It is With the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty, the role of the CoR will be strengthened along the entire legislative process. The new treaty obliges the European Commission to consult with local and regional authorities and their associations across the EU as early as the pre-legislative phase, and the CoR, in its role as the voice of local and regional authorities at the EU level, is heavily involved right from this early stage.
Once the legislative proposal has been made by the Commission, consultation of the CoR is again obligatory if the proposal concerns one of the many policy areas that directly affect local and regional authorities. The Maastricht Treaty set out five such areas - economic and social cohesion, trans-European infrastructure networks, health, education and culture, while the Amsterdam Treaty added another five - employment policy, social policy, the environment, vocational training and transport. The Lisbon Treaty has extended the scope of the CoR's involvement even further, adding civil protection, climate change, energy and services of general interest to the list of policy areas where the CoR must be consulted.