News from Parliaments

Please find here the latest news.

The French Senate approves the EU-accession of Croatia

17/01/2013
French Senators unanimously authorized, on 15th january 2013, the President of the French Republic to ratify the EU-accession treaty with Croatia.

Debates in the Plenary are available (in French) at : http://www.senat.fr/seances/s201301/s20130115/s20130115006.html#par_628

Source: The French Senate

Official Visit of the President of the European Parliament to the Assembleia da República

09/01/2013
At the invitation of the President of the Assembleia da República, Maria de Assunção Esteves, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, will visit Portugal on 11 January 2013. After the greetings and the signature of the “Book of Honour”, a meeting will take place between the President of the Assembleia da República and the President of the European Parliament, as well as the presidents of the parliamentary groups and the Chairmen of the Parliamentary Committees on European Affairs and Foreign Affairs.


Source: Portuguese Assembleia da República

New Romanian Parliament after December 9 elections

09/01/2013
The legislative elections held in Romania on December 9, 2012 have resulted in a new composition of the two chambers of the Parliament. On December 19, the 412 newly elected members of the Chamber of Deputies had the first meeting convened in order to validate the mandates and to appoint their ruling bodies according to the statutes and the regulations in force for the entire four year term of the legislation: the Speaker, the members of the Standing Bureau, the chairpersons of the Standing Committees. The two chambers convened in a common sitting on December 21st, the date on which the Parliament approved the composition and the programme of the new Cabinet. Until the 15th of January, the Parliament will be in recess, the chambers will be meeting again after that date to debate and vote on the 2013 State annual budget.

One may find details on the political structure, as well as other technical and administrative details on the Chamber of Deputies at http://www.cdep.ro/pls/dic/site.page?id=698&idl=2.

Source: Romanian Chamber of Deputies

Polish Senate on the European Parliament’s right of inquiry

09/01/2013
On 11 December 2012, the European Union Affairs Committee of the Senate of the Republic of Poland adopted an opinion on the procedure of submitting the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament’s right of inquiry and repealing Decision 95/167/EC, Euratom, ECSC of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

The European Union Affairs Committee is of the opinion that the said proposal for a regulation - as a draft legislative act - is subject to subsidiarity check by the national parliaments. Therefore, the proposed regulation should be formally submitted by the European Parliament to the national parliaments, pursuant to Article 4, second paragraph of Protocol No 2, with a fixed date from which the eight-week deadline shall run. The opinion was sent to the European Parliament.

The text of the opinion in English:
http://www.senat.gov.pl/gfx/senat/userfiles/_public/k8/komisje/2012/ksue/zapis/046oa.pdf

Source: Polish Senate

Dutch Senate adopts European Work Programme 2013

19/12/2012
On the 11th of December 2012 the Dutch Senate has adopted its European Work Programme (EWP) for 2013. The EWP lists those proposals from the European Commission's Work Programme 2013 which the Senate will consider with priority upon publication. This year the Senate selected 24 EU-proposals.

European Work Programme: selection procedure and effects

Once the European Commission adopts its Work Programme, political parties in the Senate are asked to indicate which of the EU-proposals they would wish to mark as a priority. Each standing committee then votes on the proposed priorities within its remit. The selected proposals are compiled in a single list, the annual European Work Programme of the Senate, which is subsequently adopted by the Senate in a plenary session.

Upon publication of a selected European Commission proposals, it is put on the agenda of the relevant committee without delay. The committee in question determines the scrutiny procedure, which may include a subsidiarity check, political dialogue with the European institutions, or (written) consultations with the Dutch government.

In addition to the annual European Work Programme, all members have the opportunity to indicate on the basis of a weekly overview of new European proposals that they wish to have a proposal put on the committee's agenda for scrutiny.

For more details, see the related dossier.


Source: Dutch Senate

German Bundestag debates the Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived

13/12/2012
On Friday, December 14, 2012, the German Bundestag is expected to approve a Reasoned Opinion concerning the Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. The Committee responsible, the Committee on Labour and Social Affairs, suggested on Wednesday that subsidiarity concerns should be raised, stating that the legal basis cited by the Commission, in particular Article175 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, did not include competences for the area of poverty reduction. The Committee also expressed the view that the principle of proportionality had been infringed.

The text of the draft Reasoned Opinion is available in German. Translations into English and French will be published soon in the related dossier.

Source: German Bundestag

Belgian Parliament on the Westerwelle Report

13/12/2012
On 27 November 2012, the Foreign Committees of the Belgian Senate and House of Representatives and the latter’s Advisory Committee on European Affairs heard the Federal minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Reynders, on the Westerwelle Report.

Mr. Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs, states that the group on the future of the European Union met, at the initiative of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Guido Westerwelle, the Foreign Ministers of 11 Member States, namely Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Italy (the six founder countries), as well as Austria, Denmark, Spain, Poland and Portugal.

One can of course always ask whether it is useful to start the discussion with a small group rather than working with all Member States of the European Union, but this is an informal group which tried to put forward a number of ideas with a view to re-launching European integration.

This report reflects the personal views of the participants and not the positions of their governments.

It reflects, however, a shared ambition to strengthen European federalism, while setting out a set of proposals for the short term (without modification of the Treaties), as well as for the long term (possibly with the drafting of a new Treaty).

The "Westerwelle" report identifies avenues for deepening economic and monetary union, which is obviously a priority task and will be a major theme of the European Council in December 2012.

The report welcomes the progress already made (sixpack, Fiscal compact) and requests that the work still in progress (two pack, implementation of the Fiscal Compact) should be completed rapidly.

It also proposes to move ahead in parallel in two directions:
- provide the European institutions with practical skills to oversee budgets and enable the implementation of budgetary policies in the Member States so that they meet their commitments in terms of deficit reduction and debt;
-develop solidarity mechanisms. The report recalls in this regard the support of some members of the group for pooling of risks associated with sovereign debt (issue of European bonds).

The Minister stressed that the two dimensions are important. Budgetary discipline and accountability on the one hand, and solidarity, on the other hand, are two sides of the same coin. It is a question of balance.

The strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union is a goal shared by all. That is sometimes not the case when it comes to strengthening other areas of European action. Thus, discussions have taken place about the need to strengthen the common defence policy and external relations.

According to the report, the European Union must first strengthen the coherence of its foreign policy. The revision in 2013 of the functioning of the European External Action Service is an opportunity to do so. The European Commission should also be able to play an important role at the international level, alongside the other states.

In addition, the report clearly indicates that the new powers at European level must go hand in hand with a guarantee of democratic control, whether through the European Parliament or national parliaments.

The report has already been presented to:
-the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament,
-the President of the European Council and the President of the Commission,
-Foreign Ministers who did not participate in the exercise, on the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council of 15 October 2012.
The Foreign Minister of Croatia was also associated with the discussion.

Group members urged the Presidents of the European Council and of the Commission, as well as the President of the European Central Bank and the President of the Eurogroup to collaborate more with the President of the European Parliament.
Cooperation between the European Parliament and national parliaments also needs to be strengthened.

The Minister states that the "Westerwelle" group intends to pursue its work. A conference will be held in Brussels on 28 November to continue the reflection. Foreign ministers of the Member States were invited, as were representatives of the European Parliament and national parliaments.

Several developments may be considered on the basis of the existing treaties, but the group is convinced that after the European elections in 2014, a new Convention should be created in order to prepare a new Treaty.

The Minister concludes by emphasising that the group has taken the initiative in order to participate in the current debate on the future of the European Union. This report is not a static document, but provides a basis for discussion that tries to go beyond the current contingencies and give a perspective to the European project. It also aims to raise awareness among the European institutions and national parliaments.

House of Lords on European Banking Union

12/12/2012
House of Lords Committee publishes report on European Banking Union: Key issues and challenges

In a report published on 12 December 2012 the Committee warn that the banking union poses a significant threat to the single market, and stress that the European Central Bank (ECB) must be held accountable to national parliaments for its new powers. Voting rules in the ECB and the European Banking Authority must ensure that the rights of non-eurozone countries are protected.

The main recommendations of the report include:
•Banking supervision should be overseen by the European Central Bank. But this will place massive power in the hands of one organisation. It is vital that the ECB is held properly accountable both to the European Parliament and National Parliaments for the powers that it holds.
•The Committee are not convinced that an effective banking union can be created within the existing constraints of the European Treaties. EU leaders need to decide if treaty change is a price they are willing to pay to create a viable banking union.
•For banking union to be effective it will require a coherent three-pronged approach including a Single Supervisory Mechanism, a common resolution mechanism and a common deposit insurance scheme. The Committee regret that political pressure from Germany has led to the latter two elements being kicked into the long grass.
•There must be effective equality in decision-making within the ECB between eurozone and non-eurozone countries who participate in the banking union. Arrangements need to be devised that are satisfactory to non-eurozone countries who wish to take part.

The Parliamentary Exchange and Dialogue Project

04/12/2012
“The Tolerance Symposium”, the fourth activity of the “Parliamentary Exchange and Dialogue” project organized by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) and the European Union, was held on 26th-27th November 2012 in Vienna, Austria.

The Parliamentary Exchange and Dialogue is a joint project organized by the GNAT and the EU aimed at maximising the role of the GNAT in the process of the EU membership negotiations by promoting dialogue among the MPs in Turkey and the EU member states. The Project covers alongside parliamentarians also political parties represented in the European Parliament and the national parliaments of the EU member states and parliamentary staff.

The Project aims to contribute to a better knowledge and understanding between Turkey and the EU, to the establishment of better structured political channels for civil society participation in Turkey’s political life, to raise awareness on the opportunities and challenges on the way to Turkey’s accession to the EU.

Among the 80 participants of the Tolerance Symposium there were 23 MPs from Turkey and the EU, along with political party and civil society representatives, academicians, journalists and parliamentary staff. They discussed topics such as “Strategies for Promoting Tolerance and Mutual Understanding”; “Building Bridges upon Common Values between Turkey and the EU”; “Combatting Barriers to Intercultural Dialogue”; “Role of Media in Promoting Tolerance in Turkey and the EU”.

The next activity of the Project, the Terrorism Symposium, will be organized in Antalya, Turkey on 14th-15th February 2013.

The official web site, Twitter and Facebook accounts of the Project are the following: http://pecs.tbmm.gov.tr, https://twitter.com/pexdproject and http://www.facebook.com/pexdproject

Italian Parliament approves new Act on EU participation

28/11/2012
The Italian Parliament approved a new Act on the Italian participation to the EU.

On 27 November the Italian Chamber approved unanimously (in third lecture) the bill for a new Act on the Italian participation to the EU. The bill had already been approved by the Senate in second lecture on 2 October.

The Act – which will replace the current Act n. 11/2005 - lays down the general legal framework for:
- the cooperation between the Parliament and Government in the EU affairs;
- the coordination of the Government action at EU level (by enhancing the role of the Interministerial Committee for EU Affairs - CIAE);
-the relations between the State and the regions (including the regional assemblies) in the the EU decision-making;
-the implementation of EU legislation in Italy (which will be ensured by 2 Annual Acts: the EU delegation Act and the EU ACT);
- the management of the infringments and State-aid cases.

The Act enhances significantly the role of the Italian Parliament in scrutinizing the Government action at EU level. To this end it binds the Goverment to transmit to the Chambers:
- explanatory memorandum and impact assessment on the draft EU legislation and consultation documents (also with reference to the subsidiarity checks)
- draft agreements in the field of economic and fiscal policy;
- the notes and the report prepared by the Italian Permanent Represention to the EU on draft legislation, Council meetings (including COREPER and WG), negotiations, trialogues and any other relavant EU affairs.

In addition, the Government has to report to the Chambers before and after the European Council (as it is already provided in the current legislation) and, if requested, before and after the Council meetings.

The Government has to comply with the indications of the Chambers or explain why it could not comply due to the development of the negotiations.

Read more (in Italian)
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