News from Parliaments

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The European Affairs Committee of the French Senate adopted on 29 January 2020 a Political Opinion concerning the use of the French language in European institutions, which was sent to the European Commission in the context of the political dialogue

The European Affairs Committee of the French Senate adopted on 29 January 2020 a Political Opinion concerning the use of the French language in European institutions, which was sent to the European Commission in the context of the political dialogue.


Source: French Senate

Priorities of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU were discussed in a Joint Meeting of Committees of the Hellenic Parliament

The priorities of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU were discussed in a Joint Meeting of Committees of the Hellenic Parliament.

Members of the Special Standing Committee on European Affairs and the Standing Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs were briefed today in the frame of a joint meeting, by the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Greece, Mr. Aleksandar Sunko, on the priorities of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In his introductory remarks, the Hellenic Parliament’s first Vice-President and Chairman of the Standing Committee on European Affairs, Mr. Nikitas Kaklamanis, referred to the importance of cultural diplomacy, on the occasion of official opening of the photo exhibition "The Beauties of Croatia", hosted for ten days at the first peristyle of the Hellenic Parliament. Mr. Kaklamanis noted that culture, at the total of its manifestations, reminds us of our common origin and our common purpose. Commenting on the priorities of the Croatian Presidency, he noted that Croatia is presenting an up-to-date program, aspiring to offer effective solutions, also responding to the multifaceted challenges of the time.

Starting with the motto 'A strong Europe in a world of challenges', Mr Sunko emphasized that the Croatian Presidency focuses on sustainable development, digital technology, transport connectivity, energy and culture; it moreover pursues a comprehensive approach to the issues of migration and the rule of law, also looking forward to strengthening the European Union's role in the world, with an emphasis on the Western Balkans. It also brings to the forefront the demographic issue in all its dimensions. Moreover, the Croatian Ambassador restated the Croatian Presidency’s agenda items, namely, reaching an agreement on the Multi-annual Financial Framework for the period 2021-2027, the Brexit issue and the Conference on the Future of Europe preparation.

The meeting was opened with a video message from the President of the Committee on European Affairs of the Croatian Parliament, Mr Domagoj Ivan Milosevic, who stressed - inter alia - the importance of the contribution of national parliaments to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Source: Hellenic Parliament

Commissioner Hahn visting the Swedish Riksdag

The Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn, visited on Friday 24th the Swedish Riksdag to meet with members of the Committee on Finance and the Committee on European Union Affairs. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the multiannual financial framework that will be the topic of the extra EU-summit on Febuary 20th. Both parties was able to express their thoughts of the budget.

Source: Swedish Riksdag

German Bundestag opens political dialog on the observance of human rights in actual and potential candidate countries and calls for continued monitoring

Based on the drafts of the EU Annual Reports on Human Rights and Democracy in the World for 2016, 2017 and 2018 (Council documents 12714/17, 8987/18 and 8592/19 respectively) the German Bundestag at its 134th sitting, held on 12 December 2019, adopted the decision to renew its call to the European Union to continue monitoring the human rights situation in all actual and potential candidate countries with the utmost attention, to take account of the situation systematically and to press vigorously for observance of human rights.

Here you will find the German, English and French version of that decision.

Source: German Bundestag

European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas briefs the National Defense-Foreign Affairs and European Affairs Committees of the Hellenic Parliament

Today, January 16, 2020, the Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of promoting our European way of life, Mr Margaritis Schinas briefed the National Defense and Foreign Affairs and European Affairs Committees of the Hellenic Parliament on issues related to his portfolio.

In his introductory remarks, Mr Schinas stressed that Europe is entering a new, more ambitious and dynamic phase, preparing for transition to green economy, the total digital transformation of the State, society and economy, but also transition to cohesive societies of a Europe that protects and opens up opportunities and roadways to mobility, employment and security.

Referring to his agenda priorities for the next five years, Mr Schinas dwelled on the new European Pact on Migration and Asylum, internal security policies and measures towards all Europeans’ equal inclusion and integration into new mobility opportunities.
More specifically, regarding the migration - refugee issue management, the Greek Commissioner commented that although considerable progress has been made in the past, inability to review asylum legislation has been EU’s most emblematic failure.
Closing, he assured the Greek parliamentarians that the new Migration Pact will aim at a holistic approach to the issue, to ensure a common and strong management of external borders, an adequate burden-sharing mechanism in all Member States, but also a major returns program.

Source: Hellenic Parliament

Belgian Federal Parliament meeting with ECA member Annemie Turtelboom

On Tuesday, 14 January 2020, the Federal Advisory Committee on EU Affairs of the Belgian Federal Parliament and the Finance Committee of the House of representatives organized a meeting with Mrs Annemie Turtelboom, member of the European Court of Auditors.
Mrs Turtelboom outlined the main tasks of the European Court of Auditors and amplified on its Annual Report 2018. She also discussed ECA Special reports on Asylum, relocation and return of migrants, on an EU-wide stress tests for banks, on the FEAD-Fund for European Aid to the most deprived and on Fighting fraud in EU spending.
During the subsequent exchange of views with the senators and representatives, a variety of topics were debated, such as the working methods of ECA, how to prevent fraud and reduce errors in the EU-budget, possible liquidity problems with which the EU budget may be confronted, the MFF, relations with other EU and international institutions and the impact of Brexit on the EU and national budgets.

Source: The Belgian Senate

French Senate Political Opinion concerning children deprived of all contact with their European parent

The European Affairs Committee of the French Senate adopted on 18 December 2019 a Political Opinion concerning children deprived of all contact with their European parent following a child abduction committed by a Japanese parent, which was sent to the European Commission in the context of the political dialogue.

The text of the Political Opinion can be found here (FR) and here (EN)

Source: The French Senate

EU Commissioner Kyriakides on official visit to Cyprus

The President of the House of Representatives, Mr Demetris Syllouris, received yesterday the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mrs Stella Kyriakides, on her first official visit to Cyprus.

Mrs Kyriakides briefly presented her responsibilities in the context of her mandate. Both sides expressed their willingness to further enhance cooperation and contacts between the House of Representatives and the Commissioner’s Office.

Mrs Kyriakides also emphasized the need for strengthening dialogue with the citizens and, in this context, Mr Syllouris made specific proposals to be considered and put into practice in the immediate future.

Source: The Cyprus House of Representatives

Belgium – Flemish Parliament adopts resolution on Brexit

In accordance with Declaration 51 by the Kingdom of Belgium on national parliaments, annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, the parliamentary assemblies of the Communities and the Regions act, in terms of the competences exercised by the Union, as components of the national parliamentary system or chambers of the national Parliament. For this reason, a reasoned opinion issued by one of those parliamentary assemblies has to be considered as a reasoned opinion of one of the chambers of the Belgian Parliament.

On 11 December 2019, the Flemish Parliament adopted a resolution on (post)Brexit, which was sent to the European Commission in the context of the political dialogue.

Flanders and the United Kingdom have and will maintain close historical, cultural, economic, political, diplomatic and academic ties. Around 30,000 British citizens live in Belgium and around 35,000 Flemish citizens reside in the United Kingdom.
Flanders regrets any form of Brexit, including a Brexit with an orderly withdrawal, but above all wishes to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Flanders, the EU-27 and the United Kingdom after Brexit will need clear agreements on the new mutual relationship, and all parties will benefit from an ambitious and comprehensive EU-UK partnership.
Flanders, due to its open and export driven economy within the EU-27, is likely to encounter the greatest difficulties because of Brexit: in this respect, Flanders is only preceded by Ireland and the Netherlands.
The Flemish Parliament calls upon the European Commission to quickly reach an ambitious and comprehensive post-Brexit EU-UK partnership, comprising amongst others these components:
- enabling Flemish-British trade by means of zero tariffs, an extensive customs cooperation, a guaranteed access for Flemish fishermen to British waters and as few as possible non-tariff trade barriers;
- clear and workable agreements to maintain the level playing field between the European Union and the United Kingdom;
- agreements for the cooperation with the United Kingdom on a wide variety of fields such as education, research, academic cooperation, safety, fishing, transport and energy.

More information on this resolution is available on the Flemish Parliament website (only in Dutch).

Source: Belgian Senate/Flemish Parliament

The Riigikogu received an overview of the Government’s European Union policy

On December 10, the Riigikogu heard Prime Minister Jüri Ratas’s report on the work of the Government in implementing European Union policies. In his speech, the Prime Minister focused on the climate neutrality challenge.

Ratas noted that an analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute Tallinn Centre had provided the knowledge that Estonia was capable of achieving the climate neutrality goal. This means that Estonia’s carbon emissions will have to be equal to carbon capture by 2050. The Prime Minister said that that goal could also be seen as a great opportunity. “An opportunity to save on natural resources, an opportunity to create new jobs and new technologies, as well as an opportunity to reduce dependence on certain energy carriers and the suppliers of such carriers,” Ratas said. He called on young technologists in Estonia to meet the challenge of the ‘green shift’.

In the Prime Minister’s words, the transition to climate neutrality should be technology-neutral and as market-based as possible. He confirmed that the whole Estonia was grateful to the people who had worked and were working in the oil shale industry in the East Viru county and that their contribution would not be forgotten. “The Government has made efforts to ensure that oil shale and the East Viru county would have a firm place in the new European Commission fund regarding a fair transition from fossil fuels to clean fuels,” Ratas said. He noted that Estonia needed to continually strengthen its energy security and supply security with the help of cross-border connections. Ratas said that the Estonia-Finland gas interconnection BalticConnector would be opened in Paldiski that week, and with it, the single market of the three countries would start functioning. He added that the construction of the Lithuania-Poland power line connection Harmony Link had begun in the previous week which was a very important project for synchronising the Baltic power systems with Europe. The Prime Minister noted that Rail Baltic was also a strategic connection with European centres and that, moreover, rail connection was a more environmentally friendly alternative to the polluting road transport of goods.

Ratas said that the Baltic states had sent a joint communication to their colleagues with a message that due to the volume of climate investments it was not right to reduce the overall volume of the long-term budget of the European Union or to reduce the funds that would enable the Baltic state to achieve these goals. The Prime Minister added that an impact assessment on the following steps would be completed in the following year, and then specific proposals would be made that needed to be realistic and feasible in order to really achieve climate neutrality in Europe.

In her report, Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Anneli Ott said that the new long-term budget of the European Union had to support an innovative, sustainable and future-oriented economic model, and the competitiveness of Europe on the global scale. Ott noted that, in the new period, Estonia was joining the group of regions in transition. She added that that would bring about a certain decrease in subsidies compared to the ending period, but Estonia’s annual per capita subsidies would remain the highest in the European Union over the following period, too.

The chairman of a committee said that agricultural subsidies continued to be one of the crucial topics for Estonia in the negotiations on the new budget framework. “We will need to persist in our efforts at every level to speed up the harmonisation of the direct payments because our farmers are competing with the farmers from other Member States in the same market. At the same time, we support creating a more flexible system that would take into account the particularities of each Member State in supporting their agriculture and rural life, and would ensure better preparedness for contingencies,” Ott assured. She admitted that the Union’s budget negotiations were different this time round: a large net contributor, the United Kingdom, was leaving, and the budget priorities and challenges had changed as well. In her words, internal security, education, young people, digitalisation, innovation and climate policy need larger support.

Ott noted that 31 January 2020 had currently been set as the date when the United Kingdom was due to leave the European Union. In her words, the goal is to maintain a close relationship, and well-rounded cooperation particularly in economy, foreign policy and security and defence with the UK. She noted that an intense period of negotiations over the terms and conditions of the future relations and a free trade agreement was ahead. “The United Kingdom will have elections in two days’ time and then we will have a clearer picture of what lays ahead. One thing is clear: Estonia’s main interest in the process of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union is that the leaving take place in a regular manner under an agreed withdrawal agreement that meets the interests of the parties,” Ott said.

During the debate, Raivo Tamm took the floor on behalf of the Faction Isamaa and said that the private sector played a great role in meeting the climate goals. It would need to make large investments into the energy and transport sector in cooperation with the European Union Member States. Tamm said that the mechanisms to support such green investments had to be made more simple and available.

When speaking on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, Ruuben Kaalep said that the membership of any international organisation had to strengthen Estonia’s national independence and sovereignty. In his words, it is important that Member States retain the right to make decisions for themselves in climate neutrality matters,

Enn Eesmaa who took the floor on behalf of the Centre Party Faction said that the European Parliament focusing on climate problems was only logical, and for the first time the European citizens had prioritised climate change in a Eurobarometer survey in as many as 11 countries. The global human rights situation is also one of the most burning issues, Eesmaa said.

When speaking on behalf of the Reform Party Faction, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said that the European Union was the world leader in climate policy and a pioneer in defending privacy, human rights and freedoms. In her words, the ageing population of the European Union was a challenge, and a model was needed that would encourage people to pursue happiness by saving up more and being active for longer, instead of consuming.

Riina Sikkut took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction and said that Estonia could and had to stand firmly for the enlargement of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership. In Sikkut’s words, Estonia had an experience of what it meant for a society to have a great cause and to move towards a European Union that ensured human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Soirce: Estonian Riigikogu
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