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News from Parliaments

Please find here the latest news.

President Juncker visits the Belgian Federal Parliament

On 21 February 2017 the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude JUNCKER, will visit the Belgian Federal Parliament.

His speech will be web streamed at 

Source: The Belgian Federal Parliament

Public hearings in the Belgian Federal Parliament on the future of Europe

On 31 January and 7 February 2017, public hearings on Europe’s future were organized in the Belgian Federal Parliament. The Brexit and its consequences, both for the EU and for Belgium, were also extensively discussed.

Mr Herman Van Rompuy (former President of the European Council), Mr Sven Biscop and Alexandre Mattelaer (Egmont Institute), Mr Jo Coelmont (Brigadier general), H.E. Mrs Alison Rose (Ambassador of the United Kingdom), Mr Hans Geeroms and Luc Dresse (National Bank of Belgium), Mr Olivier Joris (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium) and prof. Ferdi De Ville (University of Ghent) were received by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian House of Representatives. Several members of the Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs attended those meetings.

A report (in French and Dutch) will be soon available.

Source: The Belgian Federal Parliament

Finnish Grand Committee requires further clarification on the proposed directives reforming the corporate tax base


The Grand Committee of the Eduskunta requires that the Government provide further clarification on the proposals for directives establishing a common corporate tax base for the EU. If adopted, the directives would significantly affect the structure of Finnish corporate taxation, tax revenues and ultimately affect the core constitutional powers of the Eduskunta.

The so-called CCTB and CCCTB directive proposals contain proposals on the calculation of taxable profits and on the consolidation of tax bases of multinational groups (CCTB) as well as the apportionment of the tax base among companies’ home Member States (CCCTB).

The Committee requires that the Government acts to remove concerns about the conformity of the proposals with the subsidiarity and proportionality principles. The Government is obliged to ensure that the Eduskunta can influence Finland’s negotiation positions in their entirety before Finland signals its approval of the proposals. The Grand Committee considers that the apportionment formula for tax profits in the CCCTB directive proposal is not acceptable.

At its meeting on 21 December the Committee unanimously adopted the statements (SuVL 8/2016, SuVL 9/2016). The Grand Committee received statements on the draft directives from the Finance Committee. In addition, the subject is being scrutinised by the Commerce Committee, which will evaluate the proposals’ effects on business.

The objectives of the directives are acceptable

The common tax base would be obligatory for corporations that belong to a multinational group, the size of which exceeds a certain threshold. The common tax base would be optional for other companies.

In line with the Finance Committee’s view, the Grand Committee supports the general objectives of the directives, but considers that it cannot yet take a final position on the acceptability of the proposals.

Referring to the statement of the Finance Committee the Grand Committee considers that e.g. the effects of the compulsory nature of CCTB regime on Member States’ competence in corporate taxation as well as Member States’ future ability to use corporate taxation as a means of tax and economic policy need to be assessed during in further deliberations. Likewise, the rules on the tax base have to be examined in more detail, the effect of the rules on tax revenues and the impact of the proposal in Finland has to be clarified.

The Grand Committee considers that the proposed apportionment formula for tax revenues is not acceptable. As noted by the Finance Committee, the tax base apportionment formula in the CCCTB directive proposal deviates from the principles of international taxation that have been agreed within the framework of the OECD. According to the statement of the Finance Committee, the apportionment formula does not allocate tax revenues to those states where the real added value of the multinational group is generated. In its statement of reasons the Grand Committee insists that the effects of the apportionment formula on Finland’s tax revenue be assessed in the further deliberation of the proposal.

Reservations regarding subsidiarity are best resolved in the EU Council

The Grand Committee considers that the compatibility of certain provisions in the proposals with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality is dubious. The Committee does, however, not consider that initiating a subsidiarity procedure would be useful.

The Grand Committee in a previous statement (SuVM 1/2014 vp) explained why the subsidiarity procedure is a singularly ineffective means for parliaments to influence legislative outcomes. The Committee observes that Governments are obliged by treaty to insist on adherence to the subsidiarity principle in the Council and its working groups.

The Committee believes that the subsidiarity principle is not meant for dealing with details of proposals that in themselves pass the subsidiarity test. The Committee considers that the most effective way to have its reservations on details of the proposals resolved is by instructing the Government to argues these points in the Council. The Committee observes that the adoption of the proposals requires unanimity in the Council and thus they cannot be adopted without Finland’s consent.

Source: The Finnish Parliament

Lithuanian Committee on Foreign Affairs: offering the prospect of EU membership to aspiring Eastern Partnership countries must remain on the political agenda of EU institutions and Member States

At its meeting of 7 December 2016, the Committee on Foreign Affairs discussed the 2016 Communication on EU Enlargement Policy published by the European Commission on 9 November 2016; the accompanying progress reports on the countries seeking EU membership (Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, and Turkey) and the position of the Ministry on Foreign Affairs on these matters.

The Committee adopted by consensus the opinion concerning the key aspects of the EU enlargement process. The opinion stressed that the Committee adhered to the provision established in the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy, which provided that a credible enlargement policy represented a strategic investment in Europe’s security and prosperity, and simultaneously contributed to democratic reforms in candidate countries. The Committee underlined that active EU’s policy must also be guided by the same principles and actively enforced in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, which consisted of the countries that linked their future with the Euro-Atlantic integration. The Committee called for continuing discussions on granting the EU perspective to the countries of the Eastern Partnership working towards EU membership and for constantly maintaining the issue on the agenda of EU institutions, parliaments and governments of Member States.
When assessing the progress reports of the countries seeking EU membership, the Committee expressed its view that Turkey was a key partner for the EU and a participant in the EU enlargement process; and that it was crucial to continue dialogue and cooperation with it. However, as a candidate country, Turkey had to comply with the fundamental standards related to the rule of law and respect for human rights and freedoms underpinning the existence of the EU itself and its external relations. The Committee welcomed the progress achieved by the western Balkan countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia, and called the countries to pool their efforts and political will for further reforms in the areas specified for each country by the European Commission. The Committee also underlined that the countries aspiring for EU membership had to consistently and to full extent coordinate the implementation of their foreign policies with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, in particular when decisions were made in response to the violations of EU fundamental values and principles, as was the case with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The Committee also welcomed Albania and Montenegro, which consistently aligned their foreign policies with the common EU policy. The Committee, however, believed that Serbia’s efforts in this regard were unsuccessful since its record of alignment with the EU positions was decreasing (with 59 % in 2016, compared to 65 % in 2015).

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas

Commissioners Navracsics and Jourová visit the Hungarian National Assembly

Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr Tibor Navracsics held the regular exchange of views with the Committee on European Affairs of the Hungarian National Assembly on 28 November 2016. Mr Navracsics presented the main priorities of the Commission Work Programme 2017 with focus on the new initiatives in the field of education and culture. Special emphasis was made on the results of the Education and Training Monitor as well as the so-called European Solidarity Corps, which would enable young people to voluntarily contribute to crisis situations across Europe. The Commissioner also briefed about the outcome of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council of 21 -22 November, including the resolution on the New Skills Agenda and the agreement on the European Year of Cultural Heritage (2018). The importance of the Erasmus+ programme was finally highlighted since it provides opportunity annually for around 4500 Hungarian students to study in Europe.

Commissioner responsible for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Ms Věra Jourová attended the meeting of the Committee on European Affairs on 5 December 2016. The open discussion focused on the Proposal on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in view of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting of 8-9 December. The Commissioner pointed out that the Treaty of Lisbon adopted by all Member States foresees the setting-up of the EPPO. Furthermore Ms Jourová underlined that the competence of the EPPO should also include VAT fraud with cross border character in order to protect the EU budget more efficiently. It was added that the EPPO would not implicate any harmonisation in the field of criminal procedure law and the operation of the national prosecution systems. The members of the Committee noted that the original EPPO proposal triggered the yellow-card procedure. During the discussion the Committee members agreed with the goal of the EPPO proposal, however expressed numerous reservations concerning the constitutionality and the real added-value of the EPPO.

Source: The Hungarian National Assembly

Public hearing of the German Bundestag’s Committee on the Affairs of the European Union on the European Fund for Strategic Investments

On 28 November 2016, the German Bundestag’s Committee on the Affairs of the European Union held a public hearing on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

One year after EFSI took up its work, experts took stock and reached a mostly positive initial assessment. The representative of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Marjut Santoni, emphasised that EFSI, as a market-oriented instrument, is helping to address the current weak investment in the EU. Demand has been stimulated, she said. Nicholas Jennett, also from the EIB, reported that in Greece EFSI is proving to be a very effective set of instruments and is greatly benefiting the country.

The hearing focused on the following issues:
• Possibilities of regional and sectoral management, in order to counter imbalances in project financing;
• The additionality requirement in the allocation of funding;
• The risk of private investors being crowded out;
• The appropriateness of the market failure criterion for project financing;
• The creation of an EU-wide ombudsman for banks.

The experts took the view that it is too early for a fundamental evaluation of EFSI. They argued that the question of whether the projects financed by EFSI meet the criterion of sustainability can only be answered once the projects have been established over the long term.

A number of Members of the Bundestag underlined that an evaluation is urgently necessary before a meaningful discussion can take place about the Commission’s proposal for EFSI 2.0, published in September 2016. Several Members support the EFSI 2.0 aim of extending the duration of the investment fund beyond 2018 to 31 December 2020. Other changes associated with EFSI 2.0, such as the increase in the capital available, can only be assessed following a fundamental evaluation of EFSI, it was argued. One expert opposed the Commission’s plan to extend EFSI as premature, given that not all information on its effectiveness is yet available.

The Bundestag’s resolution of 21 May 2015, “Helping the European Fund for Strategic Investments to succeed”, is available here.

The statements submitted by the experts are available here.

Source: German Bundestag

Gediminas Kirkilas re-elected as Chair of the Seimas Committee on European Affairs

Gediminas Kirkilas from the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party Political Group was elected as Chair of the Seimas Committee on European Affairs. Mr Kirkilas held this office during the previous legislative period of the Seimas in 2012–2016.

Mr Kirkilas believes that “since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the influence of the European Parliament and, accordingly, the role of national parliaments in the EU decision-making have gained strength. The Seimas Committee on European Affairs usually adopts the majority of decisions by national consensus in the prevailing unique atmosphere of agreement on general interests of Lithuania.”

Mr Kirkilas is one of the most experienced Lithuanian politicians, especially in foreign and European policy matters. He is among the four Lithuanian politicians who have started the seventh consecutive term in office as Members of the Seimas.

Mr Kirkilas served as Prime Minister in 2006–2008, as Minister of National Defence in 2004–2006, and as Special Representative of the President of the Republic of Lithuania for the Matters Related to Transit Transportation by the Russian Federation to and from the Kaliningrad Region in 2002–2004. In 2003, he was granted the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He has been a Member of the Seimas since 1992.

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas

Italian Senate: reasoned Opinion on Reception Standards Directive Proposal

On 19 October 2016 the Italian Senate Constitutional affairs Committee issued a resolution on the directive proposal on standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (COM(2016) 465). The document includes a reasoned opinion lamenting a specific violation of the subsidiarity principle.

The opinion points out that the set of legislative documents (directives, regulations and recasts) presented by the European Commission do not seem to be consistent with the core principles on the management of migration flows: solidarity reception, asylum applicants redistribution and repatriation.

Specific qualifications are expressed on articles 17-bis, 19 and 15.

The text of the resolution in Italian and an English translation will soon be published on the IPEX website.

Source: The Italian Senate

Italian Senate: Resolution adopted on Endocrine Disruptors

On 19 October 2016 the Italian Senate Health Committee issued a resolution on endocrine disruptors. The document contains an opinion on the Communication on endocrine disruptors (COM(2016) 350) as well as on the draft Commission acts setting out scientific criteria for defining disruptors.

The Committee expressed a positive opinion with qualifications and the following conditions:
1) the definition of endocrine disruptors should include potential endocrine disruptors, so as to ensure a high level of protection for human health;
2) derogations to the ban of endocrine disruptors in plant protection products should be based on the concept of "negligible exposure".

The Resolution highlights that the effects of multiple exposure to several endocrine disruptors should also be considered.

The text of the resolution in Italian and an English translation will soon be published on the IPEX website.

Source: The Italian Senate

Italian Senate: Reasoned opinion on Dublin Regulation Proposal

On 5 October 2016 the Italian Senate Constitutional affairs Committee issued a resolution on the regulation proposal on the reform of the Dublin system (COM(2016) 270). The document includes a reasoned opinion lamenting a violation of the subsidiarity and proportionality principles.

Specific qualifications are expressed on articles 3, 10, 15, 34 and 35.

The text of the resolution in Italian is published on the IPEX website. A translation into English will soon be available.

Source: The Italian Senate
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