News from Parliaments

Please find here the latest news.

Commissioner Várhelyi had exchange of views with the Hungarian National Assembly

01/12/2020
The Committee on European Affairs of the Hungarian National Assembly held an exchange of views via videoconference with Mr Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement on 30 November 2020. In his introductory address, Olivér Várhelyi paid particular attention to the 2020 Communication on EU enlargement policy of the European Commission. With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, he underlined that he is also responsible for crisis management with regard to the regions concerned by his portfolio. In the framework of several emergency assistance measures, the EU managed to mobilise a package over EUR 3,3 billion for the benefit of Western Balkans citizens and businesses and additionally EUR 1 billion  in favour of the Eastern Partnership countries. The   assistance is designed to help these nations easing the repercussions of the crisis as well as to diminish the negative impact of the pandemic on the healthcare systems. Regarding the accession process, he pointed out that the EU is more than ever committed to engage serious conversations with the Western-Balkan region with the objective of increasing cooperation and strengthening economic ties. The Commissioner has also said that the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans EUR 9 billion for economic convergence and the EUR 20 billion Western Balkans Guarantee facility is equivalent to the one-third of the whole regions’ GDP. As for the Southern Partnership, the Commissioner informed about a EUR 2,3 billion financial assistance and urged the renewal of the Barcelona Process. The members of the Committee on European Affairs had questions about EU-Turkey relations, minority rights in the concerned nations, current state of play of the accession negotiations with Serbia as well as the Armenian-Azeri conflict.
Finally, Mr. Várhelyi expressed his intention to maintain a continuous dialogue with the Hungarian National Assembly.

Source: The Hungarian National Assembly

Finland: Grand Committee approves the agreement on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework

30/11/2020
The Grand Committee adopted the Finnish Parliament’s position on the agreement between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 (MFF) reached on 10 November. In the MFF negotiations, Finland has emphasised the conclusions of the European Council meeting in July. Moreover, Finland sees that the most essential questions regarding the MFF should be treated as a package.
The Parliament does not have remarks on the Finnish Government position. The Grand Committee decided on the issue after voting.

The Parliamentary procedure was based on Government communication (UJ 44/2020 & U 45/2018). The Finance Committee provided a statement to the Grand Committee before the latter adopted the Finnish Parliament position.
Decisions regarding the Multiannual Financial Framework are part of a package EU leaders agreed on at the European Council meeting in July. During this autumn, the Grand Committee has discussed, e.g., the EU recovery instrument, the Rule of Law Mechanism and the EU’s own resources. Ultimately, the decision on own resources will need to be ratified in a plenary session of the Finnish Parliament.

For further information on the handling of the Multiannual Financial Framework and EU recovery instrument in the Finnish Parliament.

The Grand Committee discussed the Single Resolution Fund
Minister of Finance Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) briefed the Grand Committee on the meeting of the Eurogroup on 30 November. The current proposal would advance the introduction of a common backstop for the Single Resolution Fund (SRF) by two years to the beginning of 2022. Minister of Finance Vanhanen stated that Finland’s long-term goal has been to break the link between the banking sector and taxpayers. The common backstop to the SRF will facilitate borrowing by the Single Resolution Fund and will ultimately be covered by contributions from the banking sector.
The Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) is a key element of Europe’s banking union. SRM consists of an EU-level resolution authority, the Single Resolution Board, and Single Resolution Fund financed by the banking sector. Its purpose is to ensure an orderly resolution of failing banks with minimal cost to taxpayers and to the real economy.

After voting, the Grand Committee decided to agree with the Government position to support the advancement of the timetable regarding the common backstop to the SRF given that Finland’s conditions are met.

Source: The Finnish Parliament

Finland: The Grand Committee adopted Parliament’s position on the European Rule of Law Mechanism

20/11/2020
On 20 November, the Grand Committee discussed the European Rule of Law Mechanism which aims to protect EU budget and values. The Committee decided to adopt the Government position which supports the agreement on the mechanism reached between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. The mechanism would allow the suspension of budget payments to a member state violating the rule of law.

Source: Finnish Parliament

German Bundestag Adopts Opinion on Animal Welfare

22/10/2020
On 19 October 2020, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council adopted conclusions on the Commission´s “Farm to Fork“ strategy that was published in May 2020. The Farm to Fork strategy aims at making food systems fair, healthy, and environmentally-friendly and is one key element of the European Green Deal. One objective of the strategy is the improvement of animal welfare. To contribute to that goal the European Commission announced that it “will consider options for animal welfare labelling“ (COM/2020/0381). In its Conclusions, the Council invited the Commission to assess the impact of an EU regulatory framework for animal welfare labelling taking the national experiences of the Member States and the administrative costs into account (Council of the EU 12099/20).

On 03 July 2020, the German Bundestag, at the request of the CDU/CSU and SPD parliamentary groups, adopted an opinion on animal welfare. The Bundestag called upon the Federal Government to work towards the introduction of EU-wide binding labels on animal husbandry and origin during the German Council Presidency.

Source: German Bundestag

Mr. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-president of the European Commission, debates with members of Belgian parliamentary assemblies

19/10/2020
On October 12th 2020, the Belgian House of Representatives hosted an Interparliamentary Climate Dialogue. Representatives of the committees responsible for climate-related topics of the House of Representatives, the Flemish Parliament, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the German-speaking Community heard Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans on the European Commission’s Green Deal.

The Executive Vice-President gave a presentation and replied to questions.

For more information: please see (Dutch, French, German) (prov.)

Source: The Belgian House of Representatives

Portuguese Parliament EAC to hold MFF 2021-27 and Own Resources Decision hearing

08/10/2020
The European Affairs Committee of the Portuguese parliament Assembleia da República will hold a hearing with the European Parliament’s co-rapporteurs Margarida Marques and José Manuel Fernandes on the MFF 2021-27 and the Own Resources Decision. This hearing will take place on the 13th October, at 2:30 pm (Lisbon time) and can be followed live at the link

Source: The Portuguese Parliament

Finland: The Grand Committee adopted Parliament's position on the EU own resources system

01/10/2020
On 30 September, the Grand Committee agreed on behalf of Parliament with the Finnish government regarding the proposal for Council decision on the system of own resources of the European Union. The government proposed that Finland accepts the European Council president's draft decision as it is based on the conclusions of the European Council meeting in July.

Three dissensions were appended to the committee statement.

The draft Council decision would, for example, introduce a new national contribution based on non-recycled plastic packaging waste as a new revenue source and authorise the Commission to proceed with borrowing EUR 750 billion for the COVID-19 recovery instrument.

Source: Finnish Parliament

Europol’s work in times of COVID : the fight against extremism and future challenges

29/09/2020
MEPs and members of national parliaments will take stock of Europol activities in the midst of the pandemic, the fight against right-wing extremism and terrorism and its future role.

The seventh meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol (JPSG) will take place on 28-29 September 2020 in Brussels. The group will also look into the challenges related to Brexit that the EU police agency faces.

Europol Executive Director Ms Catherine De Bolle, Commissioner for Home Affairs Ms Ylva Johansson and Federal Minister of the Interior, Building and Community of Germany, Mr Horst Seehofer, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council, will present their views to MEPs and national parliamentarians.

On Monday, the JSPG will focus on Europol activities in the context of Covid-19 crisis, with participation of the European Data Protection Supervisor Mr Wojciech Wiewiórowski. There will also be a debate on the fight against right-wing extremism and terrorism, with among others representatives from the German police. On Tuesday, the discussions will focus on the future role of Europol and Brexit related challenges.

When: Monday, 28 September, from 14.00 to 18.30, and Tuesday 29 September, from to 10.00 to 12.00.

Where: European Parliament in Brussels, SPAAK 3C50, and remotely.

Background

The JPSG was established in 2016 and provides a joint forum for Members of national parliaments and the European Parliament to carry out the scrutiny and oversight of Europol’s activities, with particular attention given to questions related to the fundamental rights.

The meetings take place at least twice a year and are chaired together by the European Parliament and the country holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Due to COVID-19 pandemic the meeting of the 6th JPSG planned for 22-23 March 2020 in Zagreb had to be cancelled, however contributions were received in writing.

Polona TEDESKO
Press Officer
 
(+32) 2 28 40731 (BXL)
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Source: European Parliament

7th Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol (JPSG) meeting, remote from Brussels 28-29 September 2020

25/09/2020
The seventh meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol (JPSG) will take place on 28-29 September 2020 in Brussels and via remote participation due to the pandemic. The JPSG brings together Members of national parliaments and the European Parliament to fulfil the scrutiny and oversight on the activities of Europol including on fundamental rights.

The JPSG meets at least twice a year. It is Co-Chaired by the European Parliament and the country holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The agenda includes interventions by Europol Executive Director, Ms Catherine De Bolle and keynote speeches by Federal Minister of the Interior, Building and Community of Germany, Mr Horst Seehofer and the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ms Ylva Johansson. JPSG will hear also a presentation by the European Data Protection Supervisor, Mr Wojciech Wiewiórowski. High profile discussions include topics such as the Europol activities with a special focus on Covid-19 crisis, the Fight against right-wing extremism and terrorism and the future role of the Europol and the Brexit related challenges.

Source: The European Parliament

The handling of EU’s recovery package in the Finnish Parliament

10/09/2020
The European Council reached an agreement on the EU recovery package on 21 July. EU’s recovery package includes the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-27 and a recovery instrument called Next Generation EU or NGEU. The overall amount of commitments to the seven-year Financial Framework is EUR 1,074 billion. The total amount of the non-recurrent recovery instrument will be EUR 750 billion. EUR 360 billion of this will consist of loans and EUR 390 billion will be issued in the form of grants. The recovery instrument will remain in force until 2023.

Based on government communications, Parliamentary committees discussed the Finnish position on the recovery package before the European Council meeting. The Grand Committee formulated the Finnish position in the different phases of the negotiations. Before adopting the final position on 16 July, the Grand Committee received statements from the Constitutional Law Committee and Financial Committee.

What next?

Committees

Parliamentary committees continue to handle proposals for EU regulations based on government communications in advance of meetings of the Council and its working groups, until the Council of the European Union, European Parliament and European Commission have finalised the legislation in tripartite negotiations. The role of the sector committees is to provide contributions relating to their areas of competence to the Grand Committee, which formulates the Finnish position.

Once adopted, EU regulations will regulate the practical implication of the EU recovery package also on a national level.

Plenary sessions

Prime Minister Sanna Marin made an announcement to Parliament on the Multiannual Financial Framework and Next Generation EU recovery instrument in plenary session on 9 September. Prime Minister’s announcements are not sent to committee for consideration nor do they lead to any decision.

In the Grand Committee on the same day, Prime Minister Marin said that a government report on the national recovery plan will be submitted to the Parliament. The national plan will guide the use of European recovery funds in Finland.

The decision on the system of own resources must be ratified by the Parliament and will be handled in a plenary session as a government bill in due time.

Parliament and the EU

The Finnish Parliament plays a strong role in decision-making on EU matters, compared to many other member states. Parliament decides what position Finland should take in EU decision-making on matters that fall within Parliament's competence.

Source: The Finnish Parliament
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