News from Parliaments

Please find here the latest news.

Commissioner Navracsics in the Hungarian National Assembly

Mr Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport attended the meeting of the Committee on European Affairs of the Hungarian National Assembly on 10 December 2018 where he exchanged views with the members of the Committee.

Commissioner Navracsics has already paid several visits to the Hungarian National Assembly and therefore had his seventh appearance on the meeting of the Committee on European Affairs since the taking up of his duties. He praised the intensity of dialogue between the Hungarian National Assembly and the European Commission. Mr Navracsics presented the actual issues belonging to his portfolio and also touched upon the Commission Work Programme 2019. The Commissioner added that all proposals that should be adopted prior to the European Parliament elections in May have already been put forward. He reminded that the two most important questions of 2019 are the Brexit and the new Multi-Annual Financial Framework. In terms of the Horizon2020 and the Erasmus+ programmes, he stressed that these domains would most probably have even better financial capacities from 2021, as for instance the latter’s budget is supposed to be raised to 30 billion euros. He also underlined that interconnectivity and cooperation between European universities is to be strengthened as well as the foreign language knowledge promoted. In addition, the Commissioner shared his reflections on the recent success of DiscoverEU and Creative Europe Programme initiatives.

Finally Mr Richárd Hörcsik, Chairman of the Committee expressed his thanks for the regular dialogue between the Hungarian National Assembly and Commissioner Navracsics.

Source: The Hungarian National Assembly

Romanian Chamber of Deputies: Visit of the Ambassador of the Republic of Northern Macedonia

The Chairman of the European Affairs Committee of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, Mr Angel Tîlvăr received the visit of the Ambassador of the Republic of Northern Macedonia in Romania, H.E. Gabriel Atanasov, on 19th February 2019 at the Palace of the Parliament.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr Angel Tîlvăr submitted congratulations to the Macedonian diplomat for the ratification of the Prespa Agreement, which puts the European course of the Republic of Northern Macedonia in a new, favourable context, Romania expressing its willingness to provide technical expertise in the accession process of the Republic of Northern Macedonia to the EU.

At the same time, in the context of the priority given by the Presidency of the Council of the European Union to the enlargement policy, had been expressed the hope that these recent developments will serve as a model for the whole region, contributing to the stability and the future of the European Western Balkans.

At the end of the discussion, the Romanian official stressed the need to enhance the interparliamentary cooperation in the field of European affairs, as well as to identify ways of cooperation in the field of education and culture, in the context of the situation of minorities, which constitutes a European link between the two states and play a valuable role in bilateral relations.

Source: Romanian Chamber of Deputies

French Senat political opinion on Siemens/Alstom merger

The European affairs committee of the French Senat has published a political opinion to support the proposed merger between Alstom and Siemens.

The opinion can be read here

Source: French Senat

Mixed reaction to the 2019 European Commission Work Programme

On 1 February 2019, the German Bundestag discussed the 2019 European Commission Work Programme at its plenary sitting. The Chairman of the Committee on European Union Affairs, Gunther Krichbaum, described the Commission’s actions as remarkable. He praised Commission President Jean- Claude Juncker for allowing the organisation to become more political, and for providing it with more structure. In reaction to calls for less Europe, he emphasised: “Crises don’t occur because we have too much Europe. We have had crisis situations because we have not had enough Europe.” Several Members pointed out that progress cannot be made quickly enough on EU initiatives, particularly in the fields of migration, protection of the EU’s external borders and tax policy, due to national interests. Others maintained that bolstering Europe’s social pillars, sustainability and tax justice have not been pursued by the Commission with sufficient urgency. Referring to the Investment Plan for Europe, a Member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) parliamentary group spoke of “fantasies of omnipotence from a free-floating political caste”. The planned reduction in the size of the Commission as laid out in the Lisbon Treaty was the subject of as much controversy as the issue of structuring the future Multiannual Financial Framework. In reference to the report from the Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and Doing Less More Efficiently established by Commission President Juncker, it was suggested that the Bundestag may wish to deliberate whether the model assessment grid for subsidiarity and proportionality put forward in the report could be useful in achieving mutual understanding between the national parliaments.

Source: German Bundestag

The Belgian Federal Parliament receives a delegation from the Swedish Riksdag

On February 5th, 2019, the Belgian Federal Parliament received a delegation from the Swedish Riksdag, led by its Speaker, Mr. Andreas Norlén. During a meeting, views were exchanged between members of the delegation and members of the Belgian Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs on the future of the European Union and the role of the national parliaments therein.

Source: the Belgian House of Representatives and the Belgian Senate

Italian Chamber of Deputies newsletter on EU affairs

The February issue of Camer@UE, the Italian Chamber of Deputies newsletter on EU affairs, is online.

Source: The Italian Chamber of Deputies

Dutch House of Representatives presents priorities

The priorities of the Dutch House of Representatives in accordance with the Commission Work Programme 2019 (COM (2018) 800) are available. The list was approved on 22 January 2019. Interested parties can find the list with priorities here.

Source: The Dutch House of Representatives

Michel Barnier at the Assembleia da República

The Portuguese parliament Assembleia da República will hold a hearing about the Brexit with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier tomorrow, 17th January, at 8:30 am (Lisbon time). This hearing can be followed live at this link

Source: The Portuguese Assembleia da República

Finnish Grand Committee: The EU’s financial frameworks should create European added value more efficiently

After a series of votes, the Grand Committee of Parliament approved a statement (SuVL 12/2018 vp) that provides the Government with instructions regarding the negotiations on the EU’s multiannual financial frameworks for 2021–2027. The statement was based on the opinions issued by the Finnish Parliament’s special committees. In its financial framework proposal, the European Commission sets out its views on how to distribute the EU’s financial resources between different political priorities in a way that supports the union’sobjectives. The proposal also contains measures on how to reform the system of own resources, i.e. the EU’s revenues.

The Commission’s proposal for the financial framework’s overall level is too high

The Grand Committee finds the Commission’s proposal for the overall level of Member States’ commitment of expenditure related to the financial frameworks (€1,161 billion or 1.14% of EU27’s GNI) too high. The final overall level should roughly be equal to the amount Member States are currently paying in relation to their GNI. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has large-scale budgetary implications that must be taken into account at the level of the financial framework. To achieve a balanced overall solution, negotiations must emhasise strict budgetary discipline and secure for Finland a reasonable and fair financial contribution that meets the requirements of jointly decided content-related goals.

Focus on the EU’s common set of values and respect for the rule of law

The Grand Committee agrees to reinforcing the EU’s common values through the financial framework. Every Member State and EU institution is responsible for defending the implementation of fundamental and human rights, the rule of law and democracy, thus promoting peace and the well-being of the citizens of Member States.

The Grand Committee finds that the proposed regulation to create conditionality between Member States receiving and using EU funds and respecting the rule of law is an important principle. The proposal contains a procedure for suspending, reducing or postponing funding if a Member State shows general shortcomings in enforcing the rule of law. However, the committee finds that several parts of the proposal should still be specified in order to make the procedure more transparent and to ensure equal and objective treatment of Member States. Respecting the rule of law is a key condition of sound financial management. For a net contributor like Finland, it is important to protect the EU’s financial interests.

The financial framework should focus on creating European added value

It is reasonable to readjust the allocation of expenditure under the EU’s financial framework to increase European added value. Financial frameworks should better meet the needs and challenges that transcend the boundaries of nation states, such as mitigating climate change and helping to respond to migration. Investments in policies such as external and internal security and the consolidation of stability through neighbourhood policy have a direct positive effect on Finland.

It is important to use financial frameworks to accelerate the EU’s digital development while also reinforcing cybersecurity. The Grand Committee welcomes the Commission’s aim to link traffic, energy and digitalisation together into a more efficient whole. The committee sees the framework’s focus on innovation, research, skills and investments as a positive development. The EU can only maintain its position in global competition by consistently growing its own human capital. In addition, funding should be directed at research and innovation that foster the transition to sustainable production and energy resources.

The EU must continue with its ambitious climate policy to deliver the commitments of the Paris Agreement and to secure a smooth transition to a modern and clean circular economy. The Grand Committee supports the Commission’s goal to allocate 25% of the EU’s spending to climate action.

In the case of agriculture, the Grand Committee notes that the drastic cut in the funding of the common agriculture policy proposed by the Commission is not in the best interests of Finland. The proposed cut in the funding of agricultural development is not acceptable. The Grand Committee also finds the proposed cap for payments per farm problematic for Finland. The funding cap should be voluntary and the details of its implementation should be left to the Member States to decide.

The support schemes must secure the continuation of production and agriculture as a profitable and viable activity also in unfavourable production regions. The unstable situation of world trade, the increased frequency of extreme weather events caused by climate change and the growing risks in maintaining food security and security of supply must also be taken into account. The committee considers it important that negotiations on the common agricultural policy and financial framework reach a solution that supports the goals of the EU environmental and climate policy.

From the perspective of cohesion politics, it is critical that Finland secures both the basic funding and the special aid for northern sparsely populated regions (with eastern and northern Finland in mind) by ensuring the stability of subsidies and their correspondence to the funding in the current programming period.

By increasing Member States’ own funding, it is possible to strengthen their ownership and commitment to cohesion policy projects and to promote better appropriation of aid and responsible spending. In order to strengthen the social dimension and to promote employment, skills and participation, it is important to allocate resources to the implementation of the EU Social Pillar from the cohesion funds while respecting national competences.

The committee considers it reasonable to increase EU funding for managing migration through, for example, strengthening the Common European Asylum System. It is of particular importance to tackle the root causes of migration especially in Africa and the Middle East. The reform of the EU’s development funding should focus on the EU’s global commitments, particularly the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

A key priority must be to simplify the EU funding mechanisms and programmes while ensuring their consistency.

The EU’s system of own resources must be simple, fair and administratively efficient

The Grand Committee notes that the EU’s system of own resources should be as simple, transparent, fair and administratively efficient as possible. Potential changes to the system of own resources must not increase Finland’s burden of payment.

The Grand Committee is in favour of basing the own resources principally on GNI and traditional own resources, i.e. customs duties, during the next financial framework period. However, it is necessary for Finland to seek constructive alternatives for developing other sources of funding. In the longer term, a comprehensive assessment should be carried out to determine whether the EU’s own resources could be increasingly based on sources that promote the union’s policy objectives in a more efficient and direct way.

Source: The Finnish Parliament

Finnish Grand Committee: national parliaments should be more involved in EU decision-making in the union and at national level

On Friday 30 November, the Grand Committee of Parliament approved a statement regarding the Commission notice on strengthening the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in EU decision-making. The purpose of the principle of subsidiarity is to limit the EU’s use of its competences in situations where the Member States are able to function efficiently nationally, regionally or locally.

In its statement (SuVL 10/2018 vp), the Grand Committee largely welcomes the measures proposed by the Commission and considers that they introduce flexibility to the subsidiarity procedure. The committee notes that making the subsidiarity procedure more efficient is not in itself a sufficient response to the question of national parliaments’ role in legislation.

For a long time, Finland has estimated that the opportunity given to national parliaments to participate in monitoring compliance with the principle of subsidiarity is not an effective way of increasing the influence of national parliaments and their role in EU policies.
To start with, the opportunity to submit the Commission observations on proposals only afterwards is inefficient in situations where the legislative procedure has already entered the Council of the EU and the European Parliament.

The Grand Committee considers it necessary to extend the discussion to how national parliaments’ views regarding legislative content are integrated into the EU legislative process. Finland is actively pursuing a change in the procedure concerning the subsidiarity procedure: Observations made by national parliaments should be presented to the Council at working party level. Someone, preferably a representative of the national parliament that made the observation, should also be able to comment on them. This would allow incorporating parliaments’ observations in the actual legislative process.

The Grand Committee finds that the best way to acknowledge the national parliaments’ views at national level is to develop the cooperation between parliaments and the government. The committee notes that the majority of EU Member States could, according to their constitutions, reinforce parliamentary monitoring of their EU decision-making by national decisions if they chose to do so.

Source: The Finnish Parliament
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