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News from Parliaments

Please find here the latest news.

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

Lithuanian Seimas calls on the EU to develop an ambitious vision of the Eastern Partnership

Having regard to the aggressive Russian foreign policy, which aims at disrupting the European security architecture and is responsible for the creeping occupation of Georgia, the continuing aggression in Ukraine, which has already claimed over 10,000 lives, the information warfare being waged against democracies, and the interference with electoral processes in sovereign states in the Euro-Atlantic area, which poses an increasing threat, the Seimas urged the Western world at this time of particular threats to not only maintain unity, but also focus on supporting and enhancing the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.

The Seimas Resolution on the Need to Renew Commitment to Support Democracy was adopted by 85 votes in favour with 2 against and 5 abstentions.

The Resolution invites to jointly seek comprehensive political, security and financial support of the European Union (EU) and the USA for the political and economic reforms taking place in Ukraine and for the democratic opposition forces of Belarus and Russia.

The Seimas urged the EU to shape an ambitious vision of the Eastern Partnership based on the prospects of full EU membership of the most advanced countries of the Eastern Partnership, bearing in mind that the success of the reforms provided for in the association agreements of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova will also largely depend on the European Union’s political engagement and increased financial incentives.

The Resolution calls on the Government to increase the amount of funds and intellectual resources allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for development cooperation, in particular for democratic development initiatives in Eastern Europe and other priority regions.

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, speaks on the energy challenges: Lithuania went through a revolution

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, delivered a speech at the Seimas sitting. He spoke of the EU Energy Union, one of the 10 priorities of the current European Commission.

“In the 21st century, independence is not about being self-sufficient, but about ensuring secure flows from diverse sources, sustaining vibrant competition, and building solid solidarity among neighbours in case of disruption. That is how you reach energy independence in a globalised economy,” Šefčovič stressed. In his opinion, Lithuania has gone through no less than a revolution in this respect.

Vice-President of the European Commission was pleased that, although until the beginning of 2015 the Baltic region was an energy island entirely dependent on a single gas supplier, with the construction of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port city of Klaipėda, Lithuanians can now choose from where and from whom they want to import. “Suddenly, Lithuania is not a pure energy importer but it can actually trade gas with its neighbours, therefore boosting competition in their markets as well,” underlined the Vice-President, adding that Lithuania has recently reached similar achievements in the field of electricity.

In his speech, the Vice-President of the European Commission stressed the importance of connecting the network of the Baltic States to the continental European network. “The connection of the Baltic countries to continental Europe is also important in view of the future likely synchronisation of your electricity network with that of the continental Europe. I know that Lithuanians (like other Baltic nations) are European at heart. It’s time your electricity follows the same European electricity heartbeat,” Mr Šefčovič said.

He also drew attention of the audience to the uncompleted tasks, such as improving energy efficiency, especially in heating and transport sectors. Mr Šefčovič noted the importance of National Climate and Energy Plans and urged Member States to complete them as soon as possible.

At his meeting with Vice-President Šefčovič prior to the sitting, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, discussed the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, nuclear safety in the context of construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, the synchronisation with the continental European network, and other energy security issues relevant to Lithuania.

“Upon its accession to the EU, Lithuania made a commitment to close the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. It is an exceptionally expensive innovative long-term decommissioning project of an unprecedented scale. It is a genuine technological and financial challenge for Lithuania. We believe that a safe and efficient decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP is also an objective of common interest for the EU as a whole. We are concerned about the Ignalina programme in the context of Brexit: continued full EU funding for 2017–2020 is vital for the uninterrupted progress of the decommissioning operations. Support for the programme, which was pledged under the Accession Treaty, should be seamlessly continued,” said the Speaker of the Seimas and presented to Mr Šefčovič a decontaminated item from the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.

Subsequent to the adoption of the Energy Union Framework Strategy in 2015, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič has launched a series of visits to EU Member States, where he presents the Energy Union’s opportunities for Europe.

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas

Lithuanian Seimas on CAP after 2020

Having taken into consideration the complicated situation in the Lithuanian agricultural sector and rural areas and large emigration flows, the Seimas underlined the need to ensure adequate funding for the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020 in view of the future challenges and targets to be attained in the agricultural sector and rural areas. This was stressed in the Resolution on the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union after 2020, which the Seimas adopted by 65 votes in favour, with no votes against and 7 abstentions.

Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, maintains that Lithuania is currently being discriminated against, since its farmers have been receiving lower payments. That is why it is crucial to put the focus on the situation in Lithuania when negotiating on the Common Agricultural Policy and the terms and conditions for farmers.

“The payments system should ensure fair and equal terms of competition for all EU farmers,” the Speaker of the Seimas says. He points out that the size of direct payments that does not distort competition and does not discriminate against the Lithuanian farmers and the rural population should be kept as a priority for Lithuania in negotiations for the future financial period of 2021–2027.

“The current situation in the Lithuanian agricultural sector and rural areas is difficult, which is why we have to negotiate better conditions for our farmers to ensure that the CAP funds for rural development substantially contribute to maintaining and enhancing the viability of rural regions,” Mr Pranckietis says.

The adopted Resolution contains proposals on reinforcing risk management instruments and improving market regulation measures by assessing the possibility of introducing a third pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy dedicated to risk management and concurrently maintaining a market-oriented CAP.

The document also points out to the need to simplify the Common Agricultural Policy and ensure its flexible implementation across EU Member States.

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas
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