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News from Parliaments

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EU Commissioner Öttinger visits Austrian Parliament to debate future of Multiannual Financial Frame

On his Multi Annual Framework tour Commissioner Günther Öttinger, responsible for the EU Budget and Human Resources, on 12 February visited the Austrian Parliament. He met the President of the National Council and held an exchange of views with the members of the competent committees of the Federal and the National Councils.
The debate focused on the impact of Brexit on the EU’s future budget after the expiry of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) at the end of 2020. Oettinger presented the EC’s priorities aiming at closing the gap in the budget caused by the loss of the United Kingdom as net contributor. On the one hand the gap might be covered 50% by restructuring and eventually by cutting in some areas, and on the other hand 50% by increasing the member states’ contributions.

budget increases. In addition, the Union is planning to focus more on tasks with added value for Europe, such as migration, external border control or research. In return the EC is considering reducing expenditure on agriculture and cohesion.

The delegates expressed their different points of view– including using the savings potential within the administration, but also with regard to the cohesion and agriculture funds - except in the case of rural development, simplifying EU funding programs, or deploring the lack of efficiency in EU development aid. Some MPs underlined the fact that subsidies to member states should depend on their solidarity and on their commitment to fulfill the refugee quotas, some underlined that on the long run an increase of the budget would be necessary.

For further information, see the press release.

Source: The Parliament of Austria

2nd IPEX Users Conference

On 2 March 2018, the Swedish Riksdag will host the 2nd edition of the IPEX Users Conference.

Aimed at further improving the quality of information and services provided by IPEX, the conference will bring together IPEX users from national parliaments/chambers and the permanent representatives of national parliaments to the EU, from Brussels.

The Conference will be opened by H.E. Mr. Urban Ahlin, Speaker of the Swedish Riksdag. Special guests and key-note speakers will be Mr. Marc Angel, Chair of the Committee on Foreign and European Affairs, Defence, Cooperation and Immigration of the Luxembourg Parliament and Mr. Jasenko Selimovic, Member of the European Parliament (ALDE/Sweden). 

A series of key-note speeches will introduce the workshops where the main areas of development for IPEX and interest of the participants will be discussed.

Additional information can be found here

Source: IPEX

Commissioner Oettinger visits the Hungarian National Assembly

Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner responsible for Budget and Human Resources held an exchange of views with the representatives of the Committee on European Affairs and the Committee on Budget during their meeting of 2 February 2018.

In his introductory speech, Commissioner Oettinger gave an overview about the main issues belonging to his portfolio. He put major emphasis on the possible budgetary consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal as the supposed financial gap subsequent to the Brexit would be €10bn-€11bn every year in the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). He pointed out that the gap might be covered by cutting the expenses as well as by raising the member states’ contributions. Mr. Oettinger also claimed that the new priorities of defence and security policy also require adequate additional sources He said that firstly the priorities should be laid down. It was also stressed that cohesion and agricultural policy might have to face certain cuts. He expressed his hope that an agreement would be reached on the next MFF by the summer of 2019.

The members of the Hungarian National Assembly welcomed the discussion on the MFF and reiterated Hungary would be ready to increase its contribution to the next MFF in order to fill the financial gap of Brexit and finance the new priorities. The MPs also made it clear that traditional policies like Cohesion Policy and Common Agricultural Policy should be preserved as these policies have a unique role to make Europe more united and competitive.

Source: The Hungarian National Assembly

Review of the European activity of the Polish Sejm in January 2018

Review of the European activity of the Polish Sejm in January 2018 has been published in the Biuletyn OIDE. It includes, among others, information on:

10 January 2018 plenary debate on the implementation of the Cohesion Policy operational programmes financed with the European Funds in 2014-2020,
• work of the Sejm EU Affairs Committee, with opinions adopted (opinion no. 29 sent in political dialogue),
• implementation of EU law by the Sejm,
• interparliamentary EU cooperation,
• summary of the January subsidiarity scrutiny in national parliaments, based on IPEX.

See the full text of the Biuletyn OIDE in English

Source: The Polish Sejm


On 24 January 2018 the Italian Senate Budget Committee issued a resolution on the package of legislative proposals for deepening the Economic and Monetary Union (COM(2017) 821, COM(2017) 822, COM(2017) 823, COM(2017) 824, COM(2017) 825, COM(2017) 827).

As a matter of principle, the decision to combine agreements and mechanisms established outside the EU into EU law is deemed to be beneficial, for it simplifies and rationalizes EU law and increases the operational efficiency of its institutions, as is the case with the proposal to convert the ESM Treaty into the European Monetary Fund. Doubts were expressed on the incorporation of some contents of the Fiscal Compact into EU law, which might generate confusion and duplication. The Committee advocates instead a review of the current budget rules, for instance by retaining margins of institutional discretion in interpreting and enforcing the common budgetary rules whilst strengthening the responsibility of single countries to adopt such rules and comply with them.

The Committee points out that, while taking into account the due flexibility set forth under the Stability and Growth Pact, the proposal to incorporate the substance of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance into EU law does not mention the so-called investment clause, included in the Communication from the Commission of 13 January 2015. According to the Committee, by no means does such an omission appear to be justified and hopefully it can be amended, in light of the explicit safeguard put in place for investments of single countries when enforcing, as proposed by the Commission, the new budgetary instruments.

Lastly, in the Committee's opinion, the enforcement by the Commission of budgetary measures aimed at promoting innovative mechanisms on an EU level in terms of macroeconomic stabilization, support to structural reforms and stimulation of convergence programs, is positive, but it should be supported by a proposal for the creation of a specific mechanism to fund major European investment projects. Support to growth in the Euro area and the Union requires indeed a substantial increase in investments in Europe, both public and private, to top the modest figures stemming from the so-called ‘Juncker Plan’.

The text of the resolution in Italian and an English translation will soon be available on the IPEX website, together with a study on the EMU package proposals published by the Italian Senate Research Service.

Source: The Italian Senate

Franco-German joint resolution on the Elysee Treaty anniversary

On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty the German Bundestag and the Assemblée nationale adopted on 22 January 2018 the joint resolution “For a new Elysée Treaty – reinforcing the role of the Parliaments in Franco-German cooperation”. The parliaments underscore that the Treaty became a major milestone on the path of reconciliation between France and Germany. They also recall that Franco-German friendship is a foundation stone of European integration and inextricably linked with that process.

French, English and German versions of the joint resolution are available.

Source: Deutscher Bundestag

Lithuanian Committee on European Affairs: does the EU need a European Minister of Economy and Finance?

On 26 January 2018, the Seimas Committee on European Affairs discussed the Communication from the Commission on a European Minister of Economy and Finance.

The Communication lays down the potential functions of a European Minister of Economy and Finance and defines the institutional setting in which the Minister would operate. The Commission believes the Minister would be instrumental in shaping a coherent, efficient, transparent and democratically accountable economic policy of the EU and the euro area. Should a general consensus on the establishment of the position of a European Minister of Economy and Finance be reached by mid-2019, the position could be set up as part of the appointment of the next Commission.

In his State of the Union address on 13 September 2017, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, set out his views for a stronger economic and monetary union (EMU) when identifying the need for a position of a European Minister of Economy and Finance. In his address, the Minister’s position was tied with a drive for greater efficiency in the EU.

Having heard the information on the establishment of a European Minister of Economy and Finance presented by responsible institutions, the Committee on European Affairs took the view that completion of the baking union and strengthening of the European Stability Mechanism were currently a priority in an effort to enhance the EMU. Meanwhile, the goals set out in the Communication could be achieved through the existing EU institutional framework by prioritising the solutions of substance rather than form. The Committee maintained that the Commission’s proposal was problematic from the institutional point of view and might be deemed as arbitrarily distorting the balance of powers between the Council and the European Commission.

Office of the Committee on European Affairs, tel. +370 5 239 6592

Source: The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania

Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Committee on European Affairs: Europe might need to address a very complicated issue

On 17 January 2018, the Seimas Committee on European Affairs deliberated the Commission action on the rule of law in Poland.

In November 2015, the Commission became aware of an ongoing dispute in Poland concerning in particular the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal, as well as the shortening of the mandates of its current President and Vice-President. In order to solve the uncertainties, the European Commission asked Poland for clarification. During the exchange of correspondence between the Commission and Poland, Poland continued to reform its judiciary.

On 27 July 2016, the European Commission issued its first Recommendation regarding the rule of law in Poland thereby stating that the reform posed a systemic threat to the rule of law and recommended that the Polish authorities take appropriate action to remedy the current situation. On 21 December 2016 and 26 July 2017, the European Commission issued two more recommendations of a similar character.
In the light of the lack of improvements in Poland, on 20 December 2017, the European Commission proposed to the Council to adopt a decision under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union and to determine that there was a clear risk of a serious breach by Poland of the common values, in particular rule of law. The European Commission also referred the Polish Government to the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the provisions of the Law on the Ordinary Courts introducing a different retirement age for female judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years). Furthermore, on 20 December 2017, the Commission adopted the fourth rule-of-law recommendation setting out clearly the steps that the Polish authorities can take to remedy the current situation. If the Polish authorities implemented the recommended actions, the Commission was ready to reconsider its Reasoned Proposal.
H.E. Urszula Doroszewska, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Lithuania, took part in the Committee meeting and emphasised Poland’s adherence to the rule of law and stressed that Poland wished to strengthen the rule of law and not to violate. Moreover, the Ambassador informed that an updated position of Poland would be presented in the nearest future. Ms Doroszewska expressed hope that Lithuania would support this position.
Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Vilnius, another invitee to the meeting, noted that the European Commission was not willing to undertake any sanctions against a Member State but rather remained open to dialogue with Poland. He also pointed out that 95% of Poles support the EU; Polish citizens therefore hope that it would be possible to find a solution.

Having heard the positions, the Committee on European Affairs discussed the unprecedented situation that Europe was facing. Members of the Committee were convinced that every Member State of the EU had its sovereign right to improve its legal system in line with the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Members of the Committee hope that the European Commission and Poland will exploit all the opportunities for dialogue to find solutions. The Committee decided to revisit this important issue in the future.

Source: The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania

EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides visits Austrian Parliament

On 18 January 2018 Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management visited the Austrian parliament. It was the first visit of an EU-Commissioner since the constituent sitting of the Austrian National Council on 9 November 2017. Stylianides met the new President of the National Council Wolfgang Sobotka, who was elected on 20 December 2017, for a first exchange of views.

Sobotka emphasized that Austria is committed to solidarity in the international protection of disaster victims and pointed out Austria's extensive expertise in aid missions abroad and, more recently, in Albania and Slovenia, underlining the voluntary system in this context. Stylianides and Sobotka debated particularly the present proposal of the European Commission. It was clear for both sides that civil protection will become more and more important against the backdrop of climate change. Sobotka welcomed the EU’s efforts to further improve the efficiency of European civil protection, but referring to the respective proposal of the European Commission he emphasized his skepticism about the tendencies of centralization as the proposal may transform the successful solidarity system of the individual states into a centrally controlled mechanism. Stylianides, on the other hand, asserted that neither centralization nor inflation of the bureaucracy was planned, but that maximum efficiency was sought. The European civil protection system has a supporting role and will only be active on request, especially if national resources are insufficient.

The meeting with the President was followed by an exchange of views with members of the EU-committees of the National and Federal Council. The EU Standing Sub-Committee of the Austrian National Council in the new legislative term was established on 9 November 2018. It will have its first meeting in February to discuss the priorities of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second semester of 2018 with the Federal Minister for EU affairs.

For further information, see the press release.

Source: The Austrian Parliament

EU Affairs Committee of the Polish Sejm on the EC New Initiatives 2018

On 25 January 2018 the European Union Affairs Committee of the Polish Sejm (EUAC) examined the European Commission Work Programme 2018 (COM(2017) 650) together with the position of the government and adopted opinion no. 29. On 29 January the opinion was sent within political dialogue to the Presidents of the EC, the EP and the Council.

The text of the EUAC opinion no. 29 is available in English, and more information on the Committee debate can be found in the EDL-S database.

The EUAC formulated the following remarks concerning individual selected initiatives set out in the European Commission Work Programme 2018:
- Multiannual Financial Framework – the EUAC points to the necessity to ensure that all arrangements are made in compliance with the principle of solidarity and non-discrimination of Member States;
- Strengthening the social dimension of the EU – the EUAC calls for proposed legislative acts in this area not to restrict the functioning of the single market and in particular not to decrease competitiveness of companies from Central and Eastern Europe;
- Completing the Digital Single Market – the EUAC takes note of the engagement of the European Commission in this area and considers that further work should be intensive so that the Digital Single Market materialises in the nearest possible future;
- Completing the Energy Union; Future of EU energy and climate policy – the EUAC considers that work on the Energy Union should ensure striking a balance between the area of energy security and the area of energy efficiency. The Committee also draws attention to the necessity of taking into account the rights of Member States to decide on their own energy mix, respecting the fundamental competences of Member States to take action to ensure electric power energy supply security without discriminating coal sources that form the basis of Polish energy security, and taking into account the importance of the Polish energy sector for further durable and sustainable development of Poland and maintaining its competitiveness;
- Delivering on the Trade for All Strategy - the EUAC supports the development of trade with third countries, on condition, however, of taking into account the agricultural sector and other sensitive sectors and ensuring that arrangements under new trade agreements treat fairly the economic interests of all Member States;
- “Europe on the Move” package, “Connecting Europe” initiative and the European Fund for Strategic Investments – the EUAC draws attention to the necessity of taking into account the issue of transport infrastructure in Central European countries, the necessity to develop modern rail passenger transport based on high-speed rail along the North-South axis, support for the European road investment project Via Carpathia and the necessity to include these infrastructure investment projects in the Multiannual Financial Framework;
- Completing the Security Union – the EUAC considers essential that Member States should retain the freedom to shape their own industrial policy in the area of defence;
- Delivering on the EU Agenda on Migration – the EUAC considers it is important to conduct a consistent policy aimed at eliminating illegal and irregular migration and to achieve full protection of the borders of the European Union. At the same time the Committee consistently expresses its opposition to the introduction of an automatic mechanism of refugee relocation;
- More efficiency and consistency in implementing the Common Foreign Policy – the EUAC considers it is important to maintain the sanctions imposed on Russia in connection with the annexation of Crimea;
- Doing less more efficiently – the EUAC considers it is necessary to develop solutions in the area “A Union of Democratic Change” that will strengthen the role of national parliaments, and to indicate how such solutions should be implemented.

Source: The Polish Sejm
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