News from Parliaments

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Bundestag Approves Ratification of EU`s Own Resources System, but Constitutional Court Stops Ratification Process

14/04/2021
After an intensive discussion the Bundestag approved the German government’s draft law on the Council´s decision on the EU´s own resources system on 25 March 2021. While 478 MPs voted in favour of the decision, 95 MPs voted against it and 72 MPs abstained. The plenary decision was taken on the basis of a recommmendation of the Budget Committee. The full resolution can be found here. Overall, the German Bundestag welcomed the Commission´s proposals to adress the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g. the proposal on the EU´s own resources system.

However, one day after the decision of the Bundestag, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled in a so-called Hängebeschluss (hanging order) that the ratification law may not be signed by the Head of State until the Federal Constitutional Court has ruled on an emergency petition. The emergency petition and the constitutional complaint linked to it, were filed with the Constitutional Court by the Bündnis Bürgerwille (Alliance „Will of the Citizens“). According to the Alliance, which is supported by 2281 citizens, the EU recovery instrument NextGeneration EU (NGEU) paves the way for a permanent Fiscal Union. Furthermore, the Council decision violates the constitutional right of the Bundestag to decide on the budget by giving the Commission the right to decide which member state needs to repay its debts.

The Bundestag also adopted a decision in which it called for stronger reporting by the Federal Government on the NGEU on 25 March 2021. Besides the usual notification obligations in EU matters, the German federal government should report regularly, promptly and comprehensively on the NGEU to enable the Bundestag to make an informed judgment on the appropiate use of the funds. For example, the German government should provide the Bundestag with an overview of the income and expenditure of the NGEU, supplemented by an evaluation. A more detailed description of the reporting obligations that were demanded by the Bundestag can be found in the decision.

Source: German Bundestag

Finland’s Committee for the Future heard AI probably as the first parliamentary committee in the world

12/04/2021
The Committee for the Future is preparing a statement on EU's strategic foresight. As part of related hearings, the committee was probably the first committee in the world to hear artificial intelligence called GPT-3. For the meeting, committee experts had created two different “personalities" of artificial intelligence, Muskie and Saara.

“I think I am speaking on behalf of the whole committee that this was one of the most interesting meetings ever. Experiments with artificial intelligence will certainly continue", chairman of the committee Joakim Strand said after the meeting.

GTP-3 is artificial intelligence is not a debating system in itself but can produce and continue text seamlessly. GTP-3 applications generate, for example, sales letters, reports, explanations, and lines of dialogue. It is currently the most advanced system capable of human-like dialogue with 170 billion parameters in its neural network.

At the meeting, MPs first asked questions orally and then via chat. Committee experts wrote the questions for the AI on a shared screen. The answers were discussed, and further questions asked. The members of the committee asked the AI questions particularly related to the UN Agenda2030 on which the committee is currently preparing a report. The discussion focused, among other things, on the causes of poverty, unemployment, education, and the role of technology in poverty eradication and sustainable development. GPT-3 also highlighted Finland's opportunities in regional Talent Hubs.

The final discussion analysed the significance of technologies such as artificial intelligence as an opportunity and a threat. The aim has not been to come up with the best possible answers to problems, but to provide as illustrative examples as possible of how artificial intelligence handles problematic issues and how it responds to them.

The Committee for the Future wants to find our whether artificial intelligence could be used to provide views and information or in the creation of arguments and counterarguments in a similar way as human experts. In the near future, the committee plans to commission a report which would be entirely prepared by artificial intelligence. The committee outlined that these experiments must definitely be continued, and the committee will return to the issue already in its next meeting. A report will be prepared on the hearing of the AI and the committee will continue to exploit and test GTP-3 and other AI applications on other issues at a later stage.

Source: Finnish Parliament

French Senat: EAC has adopted a political opinion on online disinformation and attacks on electoral processes

09/04/2021
EAC has adopted a political opinion on online disinformation and attacks on electoral processes, available here (FR)  (EN)

Source: The French Senat

French Senat: EAC has adopted a political opinion on the rule of law in the European Union

09/04/2021
EAC has adopted a political opinion on the rule of law in the European Union, available here (FR) (EN) (DE) (PL)

Source: The French Senat

Belgian House of Representatives presents its European priorities

06/04/2021
The priorities of the Belgian House of Representatives in accordance with the Commission Work Programme 2021 are available. The list can be found here.

Source: The Belgian House of Representatives

Dutch Senate adopts its European priorities

31/03/2021
The European Work Programme 2021 of the Dutch Senate, the list of priorities selected from the Commission Work Programme 2021 (COM(2020)690), is available. The list was approved on 23 March 2021 and can be found here.

Source: The Dutch Senate

Belgian Federal Parliament: Exchange of views with Commissioner Šuica on the Conference on the Future of Europe On 16 March 2021, the Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs of the Belgian Federal Parliament had an exchange of views with Mrs Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography, on the Conference on the Future of Europe

17/03/2021
On 16 March 2021, the Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs of the Belgian Federal Parliament had an exchange of views with Mrs Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography, on the Conference on the Future of Europe.

On 10 March 2021, the Presidents of the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament signed a joint declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe. The aim of this Conference is to give European citizens a greater say in what the European Union should do and how it should do it. All citizens can participate in the Conference through a unique multilingual online platform, which will be officially launched on 9 May 2021. The Presidents of the three institutions have agreed that the work of the Conference should be completed by June 2022, leaving enough time for the current Commission to translate the wishes of citizens into European legislation and initiatives.

The exchange of views included the following points:

- The way the citizens will be selected;
- The choice of subjects;
- The danger that national and regional parliaments will be side-lined;
- The complicated governance structure;
- The short time frame in which the Conference must be completed;
- The establishment of guidelines so that the methodology for the debates is more or less the same in all member states;
- The danger that vulnerable groups will not be reached;
- The possibility of amending the Treaties if the European citizens so wish.

The recording of the meeting is available here: De Kamer/La Chambre - Video

Source: Belgian Federal Parliament

Finnish Parliament approves the Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe

08/03/2021
The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission are preparing a Conference on the Future of Europe bringing together especially young citizens and representatives of EU institutions.

Governance of the Conference have been agreed upon in a Joint Declaration. On Friday 5 March, the Grand Committee decided that the Joint Declaration is acceptable.

The Grand Committee considers it important to ensure institutional balance, equal representation and the participation of national parliaments in the work of the Conference. All national parliaments are represented in the plenary session of the conference and, through the COSAC Trio of Presidencies, also in the executive committee, which the Grand Committee welcomes.

The Grand Committee considers it important that the participation of delegations from national parliaments in plenary be carried out in a way that ensures adequate political representation and the influence of the political groups.

The committee recalls that the provisions of Articles 93, 96 and 97 of the Constitution on Finland's representation in European Union decision-making and on the formation of domestic positions on it also apply to the Conference on the Future of Europe, despite the participation of representatives elected from national parliaments.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is due to be launched as soon as possible after the signing of the Joint Declaration. A formal launch event could possibly take place on Europe Day on 9 May. The results of the conference are scheduled to be reported in spring 2022.

Source: Finnish Parliament

House of Representatives of Cyprus - Exchange of views with the EU Commissioner for Justice Mr Didier Reynders on the 2020 Rule of Law Report of the European Commission

04/03/2021
On the 3rd March 2021, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign and European Affairs, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Institutions, Merit and the Commissioner for Administration, the Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, as well as a member of all three committees of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus, had an exchange of views with the EU Commissioner for Justice Mr Didier Reynders on the 2020 Rule of Law Report of the European Commission, as well as the Chapter of the Report on the situation of the Rule of Law in Cyprus. Following the discussion on the relevant bills of law pending before the Cyprus Parliament, a useful exchange of views on the role of EU national Parliaments and the need for active participation of EU citizens in this respect, was held.

Source: House of Representatives of Cyprus

Exchange of views with Michel Barnier on the impact of Brexit on Belgium

24/02/2021
On 23 February 2021, the Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs had an exchange of views with Mr Michel Barnier, Special Adviser to the President of the European Commission, on the state of play of Brexit and its impact on Belgium.

In a few days' time, the European Parliament will approve the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which will end Mr Barnier's mandate to the European Commission. During the meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee, he looks back at the negotiations, where transparency was very important. However, he points out that the "separation" between the United Kingdom and the European Union is a lose-lose situation.

After elaborating on the various chapters of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, Mr Barnier recalls the three requirements that have always guided the negotiating team: peace in Ireland, safeguarding the single market and the will to continue to cooperate with the United Kingdom. These three elements remain important for the future.

During the exchange of views, members of the House and senators discussed, among other things, the following points:

-    The level playing field and competition;
-    The situation of Ireland and Northern Ireland;
-    The importance of human rights as common values;
-    Fisheries and its importance for Belgium;
-    The risk of tax evasion;
-    European defence;
-    The difficulties already arising for entrepreneurs and businesses when trading with the UK.

Source: The Belgian Federal Parliament
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