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News from Parliaments

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Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas: our objective is the EU’s internal unity and responsible external action

On 10 October 2017, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, had a Brussels-based meeting with Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament. They discussed the future of the EU, cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries, and the most important aspects of energy, economy and security policy.

“Currently the EU is facing serious challenges. Our fundamental interest lies in further strengthening of the European project, unity within the EU, and effective and responsible action in external relations. We are committed to the strengthening of the European defence in full coherence with NATO. We have also decided to join permanent structured cooperation (PESCO). Cyber security is particularly relevant in this context, and we support all initiatives in this area. Importantly, the EU recognises the threat posed by disinformation to Member States and Europe as a whole,” said Mr Pranckietis.

The Speaker of the Seimas noted the need for keeping unity and continuing support for reform processes in the Eastern Partnership countries. Apart from this, he and Antonio Tajani discussed the Marshall Plan for Ukraine drawn up by Lithuania.

The Speaker of the Seimas also highlighted the security issue related to the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus. He called on the President of the European Parliament to promote solidarity among EU Member States on the issue and to very clearly and unanimously require full compliance with international nuclear safety and environmental standards. Viktoras Pranckietis noted that Lithuania’s position on electricity generated by unsafe power plants had been enshrined in law. He also underlined the incompatibility of Nord Stream 2 with EU legal rules and principles of the Energy Union.

Further discussion involved the issues related to the future EU financial framework and Lithuania’s priorities.

During his visit to Brussels, the Speaker of the Seimas also met with Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission. Mr Pranckietis’ agenda includes the meetings with David McAllister, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament; Christine Defraigne, Chairman of the Senate of the Kingdom of Belgium; Siegfried Bracke, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Kingdom of Belgium; and Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas

Commissioner Bulc visits the Cyprus House of Representatives

The Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and the Committee on Transport, Communications and Works of the Cyprus House of Representatives had a joint meeting with the EU Commissioner on Transport Mrs. Violeta Bulc on the 10th October 2017. During the meeting, Mrs. Bulc briefly presented the state of play with regard to the matters falling within her competence such as the reduction of CO2 emissions, the digital challenges, innovation and investment in the transport sector and road safety, followed by an exchange of views on the above issues as well as issues of special interest to Cyprus.

Source: The Cyprus House of Representatives

Commissioners Bulc and King visit the Hungarian National Assembly

Violeta Bulc, Commissioner responsible for Mobility and Transport and Julian King, Commissioner for Security Union held exchange of views with the representatives of the Committee on European Affairs and the Committee on Economics on their meetings of 21 and 23 September 2017 respectively.

In her exposé, Commissioner Bulc presented the key objectives of the Mobility Package focusing on digitalisation, decarbonisation as well as the reduction of the negative impacts of air pollution. She highlighted that in the upcoming years, priorities should ensure the increase of the Single Market’s efficiency and a higher level of interconnectivity. Concerning the application of the Mobility Package, three elements have been stressed: more flexibility and no more illegal cabotage; the abolition of the so-called letterbox companies and the “nomadic drivers” phenomenon by providing better working conditions. In addition, road safety remains of paramount importance. It was also emphasised that more proposals are to come with the common goal of decreasing the administrative burdens in the road transport sector. Finally, she encouraged Member States to share their point of views on these topics in order to give new impetus to the ongoing discussions. The members of the Hungarian National Assembly welcomed the discussion on the Mobility Package and pointed out, in particular, to the need of proportionate regulations providing adequate balance between the freedom to provide services and social protection of drivers.
In his introductory speech, Commissioner King gave an overview about the main issues belonging to his portfolio. With regard to terrorism, he accentuated that tackling conflicts and preventing its escalation in Europe are both in the interest and responsibility of EU Member States. In this aspect, the member of the European Commission underlined the necessity of the efficiency and availability of information-sharing between the authorities concerned. He also touched upon the engagements concerning security and border control measures. In this regard the Commissioner welcomed the approach of Hungary to the implementation of the so-called Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive. In his overview he pointed out that Europe is facing a number of new challenges like cyber-crimes and cyber-attacks which urge collective intervention. Concerning the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, he stressed that further cooperation in the area of security will undoubtedly be in the interest of both sides and constitutes advantages for Europe. The members of the Committee on European Affairs made remarks concerning the possible link between the threats of illegal migration and the brutal terrorist attacks carried out in several Member States.

Source: The Hungarian National Assembly

Luxembourg Parliament on the future of the EU and the Eurozone

On 12 July 2017, the rapporteur and Chairman of the European and Foreign affairs Committee, M. Marc Angel presented a report on “the Future of the European Union and the Eurozone” (dossier 6944).

The report revisits among others the high number of exchanges of views held by the committee, for example with the Chairman of the Central Bank of Luxembourg or representatives of the civil society. One of the findings of the report is that the potential of the treaty of Lisbon has not been fully exhausted. In order not to further alienate European citizens, any Treaty changes, necessary for the implementation of the scenario 2, 4 and 5 of the White Paper on the Future of Europe, would be counterproductive in the near future.

The report, supported by a large number of Deputies, also calls for an increase of the output legitimacy, through the adoption of convincing public policies instead of concentrating on institutional issues. The institutional setting of the European Union is not perfect, however it is sufficient to adopt performant policies.

In conclusion, the report calls for:

- deepening of the European integration without treaty changes,

- defending a pluralist Europe and open internal borders,

- promoting the European policies, including a fair and social economy,

- enhancing the role of national Parliaments.

At the end of the debate, in which the Foreign Minister, Mr Jean Asselborn and the Finance Minister M. Pierre Gramegna intervened, the Members of Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution committing the Chamber of Deputies to improve the procedure concerning European Affairs:

- by cooperating more closely with the government in order to determine in advance the position of Luxembourg on all the European dossiers,

- by raising the number of actuality debates on European Affairs in plenary,

- by systematically organising exchanges of views on European affairs with representatives of the civil society

- by defining a number of priority files on which the Chamber has to adopt a position.

Source: Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies

Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas: we hope for the Commission’s strong support for the infrastructure projects carried out by Lithuania

On Monday, 3 July 2017, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, met with Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, who was paying an official working visit to Lithuania. The meeting focused on European security, the Eastern Partnership, and the EU’s Energy Union.

The Speaker of the Seimas highlighted the threats posed by the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant that is being constructed in Lithuania’s neighbourhood, the issue of funding further decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, and the importance of synchronisation of power systems with the European continental networks. The need for the Commission’s strong support on these issues was brought into focus during the meeting.

“Synchronisation with the continental Europe is currently among Lithuania’s top priorities in enhancing energy security. A resolute political decision has to be taken on the issue. We are equally looking forward to the Commission’s support in addressing the matter of funding of the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. Thus, the Commission’s strong backing for the infrastructure projects carried out by Lithuania is of vital importance,” Mr Pranckietis said.

When referring to the energy policy, it was noted that the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline fell short of the declared objectives of the European Energy Union.

The Speaker of the Seimas indicated that the Eastern Partnership was one of the priorities of the Lithuanian foreign policy. Thus, the meeting was heavily focused on Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Mr Pranckietis handed in the Seimas’ plans on Ukraine and Georgia to Mr Timmermans and expressed his hope that the Commission would make a considerable contribution in assisting the implementation of the necessary reforms in these countries.

The meeting was also attended by Gediminas Kirkilas, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and Chair of the Committee on European Affairs; Vytautas Bakas, Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defence; Juozas Bernatonis, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs; Virginijus Sinkevičius, Chair of the Committee on Economics, and Andrius Kubilius, Deputy Chair of the Committee on European Affairs.

Source: Lithuanian Seimas

Bundestag: European social policy under discussion

On 21 June 2017, the German Bundestag’s Committee on Affairs of the European Union held a public hearing on the European Commission’s Reflection Paper on the social dimension of Europe (COM(2017)206 final). An academic, a representative from the Stiftung Marktwirtschaft market economics foundation and the Director General of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) were also invited to the hearing, alongside trade union representatives. The experts’ evaluations of the Reflection Paper varied greatly. Some viewed European integration as linked with social purposes by necessity, while others were of the opinion that the Commission is claiming powers in a policy area for which it bears no responsibility. The BDA and Stiftung Marktwirtschaft expressed criticism that the Commission planned to tap into new legislative potential “through the backdoor” with the Reflection Paper and the European Pillar of Social Rights, and was thus flouting the principle of subsidiarity. They warned that instead of imposing further regulations, the potential inherent in a vibrant social partnership should be better used. The trade union representatives stressed that while the paper was to be welcomed in principle, it was not specific enough and was lacking binding legislative proposals. They condemned the “growing dominance of single market freedom over social regulations” and spoke in favour of the adoption of a social progress protocol into primary European legislation and the creation of a chamber for labour law at the European Court of Justice.

Source: German Bundestag

Maltese Parliament: New Legislature

The 13th Legislature of the Maltese Parliament held its first Sitting last Saturday following the general election held in Malta on Saturday, 3 June 2017, in which the Labour Party (Partit Laburista) retained a parliamentary majority.

During the sitting, the House of Representatives unanimously agreed to elect Honourable Angelo FARRUGIA as Speaker, thus maintaining his post from the previous legislature. Honourable Claudette Buttigieg was elected as Deputy Speaker.

The Speaker then administered the parliamentary oath to each of the elected Members of Parliament, following which the latter officially assumed their seats in Parliament.

Source: Maltese Parliament

Cyprus House of Representatives conference on "The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Perspectives and Risks"

On 22 June 2017, the Cyprus House of Representatives organised a Conference entitled "The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Perspectives and Risks". Academics, scientists and researchers from Cyprus and Greece delivered speeches and presentations on the various topics of the Conference. The President of the House of Representatives, Mr. Demetris Syllouris, aimed to initiate a dialogue with relevant bodies and institutions, businesses, the scientific and academic community, the trade unions and civil society on this important issue. The President of the House of Representatives, Mr. Demetris Syllouris and the Academician, awarded with the Turing 2007 Award Dr. Joseph Sifakis, addressed the closing ceremony of the Conference.

Source: The Cyprus House of Representatives

Commissioner Stylianides visits Cyprus House of Representatives

The President of the House of Representatives, Mr. Demetris Syllouris, received on Friday, 16 June 2017, the Commissioner of the European Union (EU) for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Mr. Christos Stylianides. During their meeting, Messrs Syllouris and Stylianides exchanged views on current issues and challenges facing the EU, such as Brexit and the White Paper on the Future of Europe. Thereafter, Commissioner Stylianides briefed the Members of the Cyprus House of Representatives on issues related to his portfolio and on the White Paper on the Future of Europe.

Source: Cyprus House of Representatives

Lithuanian Seimas adopts a Resolution on the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union

With 101 votes in favour to none against and 3 abstentions, the Seimas adopted a Resolution on the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union. The Resolution underlines that the unity of Member States of the European Union (EU) in the negotiations with the United Kingdom (UK) provides the only adequate and necessary guarantee for ensuring the interests of the EU and its citizens and the indivisibility of the Union. In parallel, the Resolution takes note of the importance of the process of constructive negotiations and smooth withdrawal of the UK from the EU, which constitutes the basis for further development of relations.

The Resolution states that citizens’ interests and rights are particularly important during the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. For this reason, Lithuania urges the UK to ensure the protection and continuity of the rights of the Lithuanian nationals living, working, studying and building their lives in the UK, and assures that it would make every effort to adequately protect the rights of UK citizens in the EU and Lithuania.

The Resolution stresses that, notwithstanding its decision to leave the EU, the UK remains a strategic partner of the Republic of Lithuania. The expectation is expressed that the EU and the UK will continue maintaining close relations based on equivalent rights and obligations.

The Resolution conveys the thanks of the Seimas to the UK for its continuous and resolute support rendered to the Baltic States in consolidating democracy, strengthening their national security and economy, and striving for membership of the EU, NATO and other international organisations.

The Resolution emphasises that the obligations assumed by the UK during the EU membership must be fulfilled to avoid negative effects on the multi-annual EU budget and the financing of programmes important to Lithuania.

In its Resolution, the Seimas calls on the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek to maintain the closest possible cooperation on citizens’ rights, political and economic matters, and security and defence policies during the EU-UK negotiations. The abovementioned institutions are invited to regularly and comprehensively inform the Seimas of the progress of the negotiations between the EU and the UK and the results achieved.

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas
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