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News from Parliaments

Please find here the latest news.

IPEX and COSAC to move closer

29/11/2017
In the Conclusions of the LVIII COSAC, which took place in Tallinn, 27 and 28 November, national politicians are encouraging "the COSAC Secretariat and the IPEX Board to cooperate towards increasing the interconnection between the COSAC website and the IPEX platform" and to look for ways of a future integration of the two.

This development comes as a result of a letter sent by Mr. Toomas Vitsut, Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, to the IPEX Board, which in its reply declared the disponiblity to integrate the COSAC website into the IPEX platform.

During the two-day meeting, five topics of actuality were debated by national delegations, representatives of European institutions and other key-note speakers  - The Future of the European Union; Bringing European Union closer to its citizens – what are the best practices of the national parliaments? ; Digital Single Market – current developments of e-services; State of play – building an effective and sustainable Security Union and The external dimension of migration – preventing and combating irregular migration.

Meeting documents and other materials are available here and here

Source: IPEX

COSAC: Politicians of national parliaments consider cooperation the guarantee of the security of the European Union

29/11/2017
At the discussion in Tallinn today, the politicians of the parliaments of the European Union Member States and the European Parliament found that it was necessary to cooperate in ensuring security and preventing illegal migration.

The European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King mentioned the establishment of a common security union, prevention of terrorism and radicalisation, cyber security and the fight against cyber crime, and combating organised crime and money laundering as the main issues in that field.

King said that all those challenges required strong willingness to cooperate and exchange of information between the Member States. For example, the travel information and biometric data of people should be better available to police and border guard officers. At the same time he stressed that that did not mean loss of privacy, and the measures to increase security had to respect the fundamental freedoms.

In King’s opinion, Member States have made progress in preventing terrorism, but no doubt there is still a lot to do. “We cannot achieve zero risk in our fight against the terrorist threat, but together we can considerably reduce the risk,” he said.

King also pointed out the radicalisation taking place online. “As much of this horrible radicalising propaganda is carried online, we are working with big Internet platforms to try and get better at spotting and taking down this material or, if possible, to stop it going up in the first place,” King said.

Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Marianne Mikko said that the debate of the panel on security had testified that the European Union had reached a common understanding of the importance of cyber security. “Hopefully the delegates of national parliaments will take home the message from Tallinn that, fighting against the cyber threat as a united front, we will be unbreakable,” Mikko said.

Deputy Director General for Migration of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission Simon Mordue underlined that, thanks to common efforts, the number of migrants arriving into the European Union had decreased and the external border was better protected, but the cooperation had to be continued even more intensively. In his words, Europe needs a single and efficient asylum system. It is also necessary to increase the financial support to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex and its role.

Chairman of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives of Malta Edward Zammit Lewis pointed out that, to mitigate the migration and refugee crisis, it was necessary to cooperate with third countries and to conclude agreements on return.

Chair of the Grand Committee of the Parliament of Finland Anne-Mari Virolainen compared the migration and refugee crisis to a flood where dams are only temporary. In her words, Europe needs far-reaching solutions. For that, the root causes of the migration and refugee crisis must be tackled. “The European Union is only 14 kilometres away from the coast of Africa, and thus it is our common interest that stability and welfare would reign in African countries,” Virolainen said.

Jaak Madison, who moderated the debate, said that an efficient migration policy included activities within the European Union as well as contributing to third countries. At the same time, in his words, the moderate number of returns of persons who do not need protection continues to be a problem.

At the COSAC plenary meeting, the Estonian delegation included the Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Toomas Vitsut, and members Monika Haukanõmm, Marianne Mikko, Kalle Palling, Jaak Madison, Tiina Kangro and Oudekki Loone.

Source: The Estonian Riigikogu

COSAC: Representatives of parliaments discussed the impact of Brexit on the future of the EU

29/11/2017
Representatives of the national parliaments of the European Union member states and the European Parliament discussed the future of the European Union, the role of parliaments, and the issues relating to the digital sphere today in Tallinn. The debate focused on the impact of Brexit on the future of the EU.

Opening the meeting, President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Eiki Nestor said that the open world had to defend its openness. “In an open society, public authority has to be open as well,” Nestor added. “We will fare the best when we find a functioning format of continuous cooperation between representative democracy and non-governmental organisations.”

President Kersti Kaljulaid emphasised in her speech that there was value added in acting together. In her opinion, it is necessary to act together in financing research, increasing security, and in regional cohesion. She admitted that because of Brexit, the financial possibilities of the European Union would be smaller, and therefore it was necessary to focus on cross-border projects.

EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier assured that the partnership of the EU with the UK should not just focus on trade in the future, but would also involve education, security, relations with third countries and development aid. “There are a lot of things we can do together,” Barnier said. “We need to come up with a true partnership with the UK.”
In Barnier’s opinion, it is important that we not only dealt with the results of Brexit, but also learnt from this experience. According to him, it is necessary to think of the reasons why so many citizens have distanced themselves from the European Union and do not feel a part of it.

Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Toomas Vitsut, who chaired the session on the future of the EU, thinks that in the discussions on the future it is necessary to keep in mind that our decisions will have a significant impact on the coming generations. “Therefore we should not radically reform anything that is not broken,” Vitsut said. “It is necessary to keep the single market and the fundamental freedoms of the European Union in the focus, and it is also necessary to increase the social dimension.”

Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Monika Haukanõmm, who moderated the discussion at the session where bringing the European Union closer to its citizens was spoken about, said that it had been emphasised that the discussed documents should be made public before the ideas were formed into draft legislation. It is also necessary to use simple and clear language, so that people could understand it and have a personal relationship with the issue.

Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling, who moderated the session on digital issues, said that we should not accuse technology of developing too fast, but only ourselves for being too slow in taking it into use.

The meeting will continue tomorrow with the discussion on how to build an effective and sustainable Security Union. European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King will deliver a speech. Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Marianne Mikko will moderate the session.

Deputy Director General for Migration of the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission Simon Mordue together with Edward Zammit Lewis from the House of Representatives of Malta and Anne-Mari Virolainen from the Parliament of Finland will speak on how to prevent and fight against illegal migration. The discussion will be moderated by Jaak Madison. The Estonian delegation also includes Tiina Kangro and Oudekki Loone.

More materials here

Source: The Estonian Riigikogu

19th German Bundestag establishes committees

29/11/2017
On 24 September 2017, the 19th German Bundestag was elected. The Bundestag
has 707 Members, divided into six parliamentary groups and two independent
Members. At its 2nd sitting on 21st November 2017, the German Bundestag
passed a resolution to establish a Main Committee, a Petitions Committee and a
Committee for the Scrutiny of Elections, Immunity and the Rules of Procedure.
The Main Committee ensures the Parliament is able to work and is established
temporarily for the period up until the other standing committees are formed. The
remit of the Main Committee, which comprises 47 full and substitute members
each, is based on referrals from the Bundestag plenary. The Main Committee may
also request verbal communications on EU affairs from the (currently caretaker)
Federal Government pursuant to the Act on Cooperation between the Federal
Government and the German Bundestag concerning the European Union. It may
conduct hearings, but has no right to take up an issue on its own initiative.

Source: German Bundestag

COSAC: Representatives of national parliaments discuss the future of the EU in Tallinn

29/11/2017
On 27 and 28 November, representatives of the national parliaments of the European Union member states and representatives of the European Parliament meet in Tallinn, at Saku Arena, to discuss the issues relating to the future of the EU, the Digital Single Market, the external dimension of migration, security and the role of parliaments.

The Chair of the meeting, Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Toomas Vitsut believes that the key to unified Europe is common understanding of the solutions to the challenges faced by Europe. “It is important to share the conviction that everybody benefits when we act together, and to define the common perspective we want to reach,” Vitsut said before the meeting.

Altogether five sessions will be held during the two days of the Plenary Meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC). At the end of the meeting, it is planned to adopt the Contribution and the Conclusions. The text of these documents can be found at the web page parleu2017.ee.

The opening session today will focus on the future of the European Union. President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, Chairperson of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament Danuta Maria Hübner and the EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier, who will give an overview of the Brexit negotiation process, will be the keynote speakers.

Bringing Europe closer to its citizens will be the topic of the second session. Katrin Auel from Vienna Institute for Advanced Studies, Pieter Omtzigt from the House of Representatives of the Netherlands and Kristian Vigenin from the National Assembly of Bulgaria will share the best practices of parliaments.

The first day is ended by the discussion on the Digital Single Market and the development of e-services. The speakers of this session are Deputy Secretary General for Communications and State Information Systems at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia Siim Sikkut, Chairman of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag Gunther Krichbaum and President of the European Affairs Committee of the French Senate Jean Bizet.

On Tuesday, the meeting continues with an overview of building of an effective and sustainable Security Union, which will be given by European Commissioner for Security Union Julian King.

Deputy Director General for Migration of the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission Simon Mordue together with Edward Zammit Lewis from the House of Representatives of Malta and Anne-Mari Virolainen from the Parliament of Finland will try to explain how to prevent and fight against illegal migration.

The COSAC Plenary Meeting will be opened by President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor. The meeting will be chaired by Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Toomas Vitsut. The sessions will be moderated by members of the European Union Affairs Committee Monika Haukanõmm, Kalle Palling, Marianne Mikko and Jaak Madison. The Estonian delegation also includes Tiina Kangro and Oudekki Loone.

The meeting will be streamed live on the web page parleu2017.ee, where you can also find the programme of the meeting. Photo and video materials will be made available as soon as possible on the Riigikogu Flickr account and in YouTube. We will share the thoughts of the participants of the conference through the social media on Facebook and on the Riigikogu Twitter account.

Members of the press who wish to cover the meeting are asked to accredit themselves on the web page.

Source: Estonian Riigikogu

Seimas of Republic of Lithuania, Committee on European Affairs: proposals on the funding of European political parties should be treated with caution

21/11/2017
On 8 November 2017, the Seimas Committee on European Affairs debated on the European Commission Proposal for a regulation on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations.

Members of the Committee welcomed the efforts of the European Commission to enhance the European aspect of political debates and the aspirations for proper distribution and use of limited EU budgetary resources.

However, the Committee noticed that a part of proposals by the European Commission could be in prejudice to small European political parties or small European political foundations and therefore could be seen as undemocratic.

In its opinion on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations back on 2 April 2014, the Committee on European Affairs had advocated for a strict control of gifts and contributions of natural and legal persons to European political parties and European political foundations and the necessity to ensure that such parties or foundations should not be permitted to receive support or gifts from neither citizens of third countries who cannot participate in the elections to the European Parliament nor the authorities of such countries. Strictly following its position, the Committee, in its meeting on 8 November 2017, proposed the introduction of measures to ensure the transparency of the own resources of European political parties. The Committee expressed its concern that EU budgetary resources could be used to fund campaigns against the EU and the values that the Union is built on.

On 13 September 2017, the European Commission presented a Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No. 1141/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council of 22 October 2014 on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations. The aim of this Proposal is to increase the transparency and democratic legitimacy of funding of European political parties and foundations, to enforce the Regulation more effectively and close the loopholes in order to prevent misuse and ensure the recovery of funding.

Source: The Seimas of Republic of Lithuania

Lithuanian Seimas Committee on European Affairs launched debate on the next EU multiannual financial framework

07/11/2017
On 2 November 2017, the Seimas Committee on European Affairs met with Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, during his visit to Lithuania. The meeting focused on the next EU multiannual financial framework (MFF). This was also an item for discussion between the European Commissioner and the Speaker of the Seimas, the Prime Minister and representatives of the Government. The meeting with the Committee on European Affairs highlighted matters of utmost importance for Lithuania, namely, the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP, the future of the common agricultural policy and the funding of strategically important infrastructure projects.

Members of the Committee enquired about the future of EU finances, and more specifically: about the ways to meet the growing EU needs with the available EU budget capacity, find additional resources for the EU budget, and ensure the sustainability of the next EU budget and the effect of the proposed changes to the economic and monetary union on non-euro area Member States.

During the meeting with the Committee, Mr Oettinger repeatedly stressed that the future EU budget had to be targeted at the creation of added value. This required not only ensuring proper funding of existing and new policies, but also thorough analysis of budget expenditure, i.e. seeking budget efficiency. In response to the question from the Committee on the European Commission’s expectations for Lithuania, the Commissioner replied that responsible and efficient management of EU resources should be a priority for Lithuania and other EU Member States.

The meeting discussed the necessity to continue the funding from the next MFF for projects of highest significance for Lithuania, including the Kaliningrad Transit Scheme, Rail Baltica, and the synchronisation of the Lithuanian power system with the continental European network. The effect of the BREXIT on the EU budget was also touched upon in the meeting. Mr Oettinger emphasised that the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP should be first and foremost treated in the light of ensuring safety rather than as merely an economic issue. The European Commissioner believed that the next MFF should include a separate line for the successful completion of the project.

Mr Oettinger was of the opinion that the development of the next MFF should preserve the balance between the existing policies and new challenges. According to the European Commissioner, cohesion policy has to be sustained.
In conclusion, Mr Oettinger invited insights and proposals on the next MFF to be submitted as soon as possible. Only timely input by Member States will give sufficient time to carefully examine and evaluate the proposals.

The next MFF is to become the top item on the EU agenda next year, with the major focus on its negotiations. The European Commission is going to issue a proposal for the next MFF in May 2018, which is later than initially planned. Therefore, little time will be left for negotiations and adoption. This delay is for the most part related to BREXIT, while the course of negotiations can be further impeded by the elections to the European Parliament in 2019.

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

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas

European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis presented the European Commission Work Programme 2018 to the Committees on European Affairs and on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania

06/11/2017
At the joint meeting between the Committee on European Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on 27 October 2017, European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis presented the European Commission Work Programme 2018 (hereinafter referred to as the Work Programme), which will be forwarded to the Committees of the Seimas for deliberation. The deliberation on the Work Programme by the Seimas and the identification of priorities of the Seimas on the grounds of the Work Programme enables the committees of the Seimas to voice their opinion on key items of EU agenda throughout the year.

The Commissioner pointed out that the Work Programme contains not only the main initiatives to be submitted next year but also actions and initiatives being proposed now in view of the future of the EU-27 by 2025 and beyond.

The most fundamental short term priorities include completion of the circular economy and the Energy Union, strengthening of the internal market, and balanced and progressive trade policy. Long-term initiatives on delivering beyond 2025 encompass a Future Multiannual Financial Framework, a Reflection Paper on a sustainable European future, as well as proposals for the creation of a European Minister of Economy and Finance and EU’s system of own resources.

Every year, the European Commission adopts a Work Programme which sets out its key initiatives for the year ahead.

Presentation of a Work Programme of the European Commission to the Seimas Committee on European Affairs and the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs constitutes one of the stages of identification of priorities of the Seimas on the grounds of a Commission Work Programme. The European Commission Work Programme 2018 will be further deliberated on by the committees of the Seimas whereby the committees will define the main matters within their remit, thus undertaking to actively participate in drafting positions of the Republic of Lithuania accordingly. On the grounds of the conclusions of the specialised committees of the Seimas, the Committees on European Affairs and on Foreign Affairs will endorse the priorities of the Seimas. With a view to working constructively on the most relevant matters to Lithuania, the priorities of the Seimas will be communicated to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, and to the European institutions.

Source: The Lithuanian Seimas

EP: ICM DEVE and AFET of foreign policy and development

24/10/2017
On 21 November 2017, the European Parliament will host a full day of Interparliamentary Committee Meetings dedicated to foreign policy and development.

In the morning, the EP Committee on Development and Cooperation organises a meeting with national Parliaments on the implementation of the European Consensus on Development and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable developments goals.

In the afternoon, the committee on Foreign Affairs organises a meeting with national Parliaments dedicated to the EU accession process of the Western Balkans, which will be addressed by the European Commissioner Johannes HAHN and will count as well with the participation of lead parliamentarians of the Western Balkans. The idea is to animate a forum for parliamentary dialogue on the reform process in the Western Balkans and on EU enlargement

Further information can be found here

Source: The European Parliament

Commissioner Vella visits Cyprus House of Representatives

19/10/2017
The Acting President of the House of Representatives, Mr. Adamos Adamou, received on Monday, 16th October 2017, the Commissioner of the European Union (EU) for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr. Karmenu Vella. During their meeting, Messrs. Adamou and Vella exchanged views on current EU matters falling within the competence of the Commissioner.

Thereafter, Commissioner Vella had a joint meeting with the Standing Committee
on Foreign and European Affairs, the Standing Committee on the Environment and
the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, during which he briefed the Members of the Cyprus House of Representatives on the Shift to the Circular Economy, the Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy, and Fisheries
issues related to Cyprus. The Commissioner’s briefing was followed by an exchange of views on the aforementioned subjects as well as issues raised by the Members of the House of Representatives concerning specialized fisheries issues in the Mediterranean Sea, the management of waste in Cyprus as well as the environmental aspects of development projects in Cyprus.

Source: Cyprus House of Representatives
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