News from Parliaments

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Finnish Parliament: Acceptability of decision-making in economic policy best implemented through national parliaments

The Grand Committee of the Finnish Parliament emphasises that the democratic acceptability of decision-making and the citizens’ support in matters related to Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) are most directly realised through national parliaments. EU-level arrangements are not able to replace any of the decision-making of national parliaments in the fields of economic and financial policy.

On Wednesday, 28 November, the Grand Committee approved the statements on EU regulation proposals regarding the establishment of a Reform Support Programme and a European Investment Stabilisation Function, agreeing with the Government’s position.

Reform Support Programme

The Reform Support Programme, proposed by the European Commission and amounting to a total of EUR 22.18 billion, aims to strengthen the enforcement of country-specific recommendations issued in connection with the steering period by offering monetary incentives for the implementation of structural reforms and adding resources for the technical assistance of structural reforms. The programme would include a Reform Delivery Tool, a Technical Support Instrument and a Convergence Facility designed for EU countries outside the euro.

The Grand Committee has a positive approach to the proposal’s objectives of supporting the structural reforms of EU member states by means of cohesion politics and strengthening the functionality of the European steering period.
However, according to the committee, structural reforms can be supported in a more meaningful and efficient manner than the proposed means by improving the conditionality of cohesion funding and the effectiveness of the use of the funds as well as by directing cohesion funds to promote the healthy adjustment of economic structures.

According to the Grand Committee, a centralised steering model like the one proposed would transfer some of the power of economic policy away from national political decision-making to the European Commission. The committee finds that such a shift in authority could potentially weaken the functioning of the democratic system of responsibility in decision-making related to financial policy.

Comprehensive, national-level political discussion must be enabled on structural reforms in the future as well, and their implementation must enable even multiple corrective measures to ensure the best possible end result. In that case, the member state also bears the responsibility in the most direct manner, should they neglect to reform their economic structures.

The Grand Committee finds that the proposals on the Reform Delivery Tool and the Convergence Facility should be rejected in their proposed form. If the objective is to advance their negotiations, the regulations must be adjusted so that the primary goals and measures of the proposals are clearly related to the goals of cohesion policy and the funding is more clearly connected to the compensation of actual costs created by the measures.

The statement of the committee was approved with 20 in favour and 3 against.

Investment Stabilisation Function

The Commission proposes the establishment of a EUR 30-billion Investment Stabilisation Function to supplement the national financial policies of member states. The objective of the proposal is securing the level of public investments in a member state targeted by an extensive asymmetrical shock. The scope of the function would cover the member states included in the eurozone and participating in the Exchange Rate Mechanism ERM II. Countries with high and rising unemployment rates would be entitled to support in the form of a loan paid from the stabilisation function. The function would also include interest subsidy funded from outside of the EU budget with fees collected from the member states through a separate convention.

The Grand Committee has a positive approach to the objectives set for the stabilisation function, including the promotion of financial, social and regional sense of community and reducing the pro-cyclicality of financial politics.

However, the committee finds the proposed function unnecessary and the proposal problematic. The primary clients of the stabilisation function would be member states with such weakened economy that their access to market-based funding has been hindered. In such a situation, taking out a loan and increasing the recovery of financial policy are not the primary challenge for the country; reinstituting the trust of the market should be the first priority.

According to the Grand Committee, EMU should be developed so that the member states retain the authority in financial and economic policy and the relations of responsibility are not obscured. Should the proposal be approved in its proposed form, it would change the relations of authority between the member states and the Commission by giving the Commission the type of power that might have financial consequences throughout the member states. The committee also finds the legal basis related to the proposed cohesion policy problematic.

According to the Grand Committee, the objective of the negotiations concerning the stabilisation function should be rejecting the Commission’s proposal and the related convention.

Source: The Finnish Parliament

Mr. Angel Tîlvâr , Chairman of Romanian Chamber of Deputies EAC, at LX COSAC

The Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, Mr Angel Tîlvâr participated at the sessions of the LX COSAC meeting.

Addressing the subject of the IV session – A transparent European Union closer to its citizens in light of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, Mr Angel Tîlvâr presented Romania’s position, stating that “our country remains committed towards a positive and pro-European approach and we will support, commonly and inclusively, the efforts of consolidating the European project”.

The debate gave to the Romanian official the opportunity to underline the idea that “we are ready to act, together with our European partners, in order to identify the best ways to reduce the economic and social divisions and disparities between Member States”.

“Unfortunately, the eurosceptic discourse gained ground in many European countries. Besides honest speeches, we need tangible results of the European action, countering the offer of movements and populist and extremist parties” said Mr Tîlvâr at the end of his speech.

Source: Romanian Chamber of Deputies

European Cultural Heritage - debate with national parliaments

Members will discuss cultural heritage and identity in the context of the European Year of cultural heritage, during an inter-parliamentary meeting on Monday.

On 19-20 November, Members of the Culture and Education Committee will meet Members of national parliaments as well as representatives of the Council of Europe and UNESCO and other stakeholders to discuss current and future legislative aspects of our common heritage, its benefits and challenges, as well as actions to protect and promote European cultural heritage.

Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and Elisabeth Kornfeind, Austrian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, for the Austrian Presidency of the Council, will also take part in the event.

On Monday, participants will take part in three different working sessions on Culture and identity; Preservation, Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage; and Cultural Heritage and Education. They will then discuss in a plenary session on Tuesday common challenges, good practices, opportunities and future actions in this field, in order to ensure the long-term legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH).

Prior to the debates, Petra Kammerevert (S&D, DE), Chair of Culture and Education Committee, said:

"Culture is the most effective way to reach a large number of EU citizens and obtain answers on the question of the future of Europe, whilst responding to a lack of identity within the European Union. In our conference today, we would like to discuss with our colleagues from national parliaments how we can make use of the positive drive from the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 for future policies. Raising awareness of the value and benefits of safeguarding cultural heritage must have a lasting influence on European and national cultural policies. A particular concern for me is the connection between cultural education and cultural heritage. It is imperative that there are greater efforts at international and national level to promote cultural education. If future generations fail to properly acknowledge in time the cultural value of any goods or services, they won't be able to preserve and to protect them for further generations."

2018 was declared the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH) and all EU member states and institutions have been organising events, conferences and meetings, and have been allocating funds to preserve and promote all forms of cultural heritage.

Further information can be found here

Source: The European Parliament

Annual IPEX national Correspondents meeting in Tallinn

On 22 and 23 November, the Estonian Parliament will host the annual IPEX national Correspondents meeting, in Tallinn.

On the first day of the meeting, the national Correspondents will undergo trainings on latest developments within the IPEX website. The second day will start with a plenary session and will continue with 3 workshops on topics related to the development of the IIPEX Work Programme 2017 - 2020: Enhancing the exchange of information between IPEX Correspondents, Promoting and supporting the work of IPEX Correspondents and on a Digital Strategy for IPEX.

More information and the meeting materials can be found here

The meeting will be web-streamed here

Source: IPEX

EP LIBE ICM on "Fundamental rights aspects of Roma inclusion and fighting anti-Gypsyism"

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, with the support of the Directorate for relations with National Parliaments, is organising an Interparliamentary Committee meeting (ICM) on "Fundamental rights aspects of Roma inclusion and fighting anti-Gypsyism". The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, 18 October 2018, from 14.30 to 18.00, in the European Parliament premises in Brussels.

The inter-parliamentary committee meeting aims to promote an exchange of views between European and national Parliamentarians on barriers to Roma inclusion and possibilities to overcome them. The meeting envisages the participation of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR), as well as presentations from NGOs, bringing the global and the non-institutional perspective into the discussions.

The meeting will be webstreamed here

Source: The European Parliament

Young Parliamentarians Forum, 5th edition, Vienna, 23 November

EU40 is happy to announce that the next Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) will be taking place in Vienna on 23 November 2018. Upon invitation by (Austrian Young Chamber of Commerce) and in the context of the current Austrian Council Presidency, the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) is looking forward to exchanging ideas with young representatives of the vibrant Austrian economic landscape in Vienna on November 23rd , 2018.

In a Europe Union where unemployment is growing and economic experts forecast a drastic slowdown of growth rates, Austria would like to showcase itself and its economy to our young parliamentarians. Its geopolitical situation in the heart of Europe (between old and new Member States, between Southern and Northern Europe) and its economic agility make it an ideal business location. We are therefore looking forward to exchanging ideas with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (confirmed) and many other interesting young representatives of Austria’s flourishing economy. There will also be an opportunity to visit the Austrian Federal Chancellory, the Henkel factory in Vienna and other interesting sites in and around the city centre.
EU40, the network of young Members of the European Parliament, is a cross-party / cross-national platform, which believes in an approach towards European politics that is not merely based on party politics or national issues.

More information on EU40 can be found here. Please find the draft agenda here.

Source: European Parliament

EP Rapporteur Enrique Calvet Chambon informs the Austrian parliamentarians in Vienna about the Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions

Enrique Calvet Chambon, rapporteur and member of the European Parliament, visited Vienna on 14 September to meet with members of the Austrian National and Federal Council. The purpose of this meeting was to inform the representatives about the state of negotiations on the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions. The draft directive should be seen as a follow-up to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights proclaimed by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg, he said. Its overall objective, according to the Mr. Calvet Chambon, is to promote secure and reliable employment while maintaining the adaptability of the labour market and improving living and working conditions.

Mr. Calvet Chambon also explained that such a directive is necessary given the rise in atypical and precarious employment forms which affect predominantly young workers between 20 and 30 years old.

The aim of this directive is to introduce minimum standards and minimum rights, not to standardise labour law, clarified Enrique Calvet Chambon. The focus was on values such as the right to unemployment benefits, to a pension, to regular working hours and to collective agreements, but also the compatibility of work and private life, he noted. Regarding the duration of the probationary period, the maximum shall be six months.
Mr. Calvet Chambon recognised that Austria already has a high level of labour protection laws. The directive should create a minimum set of rights especially in countries where none currently exist.

The reactions of the parliamentarians were mixed. On the one hand, the ruling Austrian People’s Party expressed some concerns regarding the risks of too much bureaucracy due to the new information obligations as well as the risk of potential interferences in the national labour laws and the violation of the principle of subsidiarity.

On the other hand, the opposition Social Democratic Party of Austria supports the draft as an important element of the EU’s Social Pillar.

Referring to the different social systems, traditions and cultures in the member states, Mr. Calvet Chambon admits that the negotiations are difficult but that he was optimistic about finding a consensus in the European Parliament. In any case, the competent committee of the European Parliament will vote on 18 October 2018.

Source: The Austrian National and Federal Council

Michel Barnier visits the Romanian Chamber of Deputies

On 2nd October 2018, Mr Liviu Dragnea, the Speaker of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, met with Mr Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator of the European Union for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. In the context in which United Kingdom’s withdrawal will take place during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the discussion between the Chief Negotiator and the Speaker of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies took into account Romania’s contribution to the support of this process.

Key issues of the negotiation process, such as the rights of the citizens or the financial settlement, in respect of which the negotiation team of the Commission made considerable progress, represented the main issues of the meeting of the two officials. From this perspective, Mr Liviu Dragnea sent assurances regarding Romania’s support for an orderly and predictable process, in order to establish the basis for a close future relation between the EU and the United Kingdom.

Also, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies underlined the importance of a common approach for all 27 states, so that both parties find an advantageous solution, in accordance with the principles of the EU, but also in compliance with the lines set up by the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, Mr Michel Barnier expressed his trust towards the final result of negotiations, highlighting the fact that, until this moment, the parties agreed upon the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement regarding the rights of the citizens, financial settlement and the transition period, progress being recorder also in other aspects regarding the separation. In relation to the positioning of the parties on the governance of the Agreement and geographical indications, the Chief Negotiator said that these two issues would be agreed upon, most probably, at the end of the negotiation process.

The Chief Negotiator, Mr Michel Barnier also met with the Chairman of the European Affairs Committee,  Deputy Angel Tîlvâr, together with the members of the joint Committees on European Affairs and Foreign Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Talks hovered over the ongoing process of negotiation on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, as Romania will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first semester of 2019, as well as from the perspective of respecting the rights of European citizens from the United Kingdom.

Mr Tîlvâr underlined the fact that because in the United Kingdom there is an important Romanian community, the Romanian Parliament is concerned with their situation and follows closely the ways in which the provisions of the Agreements will be implemented. Continuing the dialogue, Mr Angel Tîlvâr summarised the positions which the United Kingdom had over time, expressing his concern on this issue, which arouses lively debates with only six months before the end of negotiations. At the same time, the deputy also underlined the need for the negotiation to set generally applicably rules. Noting that the United Kingdom and the EU are on different positions regarding the rights of the European citizens after Brexit, the Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies wished to know Mr Barnier’s opinion regarding the future of negotiations with the United Kingdom from the perspective of Romanian citizens, post-Brexit.

Michel Barnier stated that it was convened to keep the rights of European citizens until the end of year 2020. European citizens legally residing in the United Kingdom and their families will continue to benefit from the rights conferred by the European law, on the basis of obtaining a new status (settled status). Regarding the emigration system in the United Kingdom after January 1st 2021, Mr Barnier stated that the principles of reciprocity and non-discrimination must be the fundamental pillars of EU-United Kingdom relation, post-Brexit. “The British want to negotiate based on categories of citizens, country, meaning they want to handpick. We will not accept this discrimination and I urge you to stand beside us, to have a single voice, it is important to be united” concluded the Chief Negotiator of the EU for Brexit, addressing Romanian officials present at the discussions.

Source: The Romanian Chamber of Deputies

Third meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol

The third meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) brings together members of EU national parliaments and MEPs to scrutinise and monitor the activities of Europol.

The meeting will take place on 24-25 September in the European Parliament. Participants will discuss Europol's contribution to the fight against financial crime, asset recovery and money laundering and the 2019-2021 Multiannual Programming Document. Protection of fundamental rights, in particular data privacy, in Europol’s activities is also a subject of interest.

Commissioner Julian King will deliver a key note speech.

Prior to the meeting, Claude Moraes, Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, and Angela Lueger, Chair of the Committee on International Affairs of the Austrian National Council, will hold a press conference at 14.45 in the press conference room in Brussels (PHS 0A50 Anna Politkovskaya room).

You can follow the press conference live here

Background information

The JPSG meets at least twice a year. In the first half of the year, the JPSG meets in the Parliament of the country holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and in the second semester, the meeting is held in the European Parliament.

Further information

Draft programme and background documents

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

EP Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments event page

Disclaimer: this is an informal message intended to help journalists covering the work of the European Parliament. It is neither an official press release nor a comprehensive record of proceedings.


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Italian Senate, reform of the rules of procedure regarding the scrutiny of EU documents

The reform of the Italian Senate rules of procedure adopted in December 2017 entered into force with the first session of the current Legislature, in 2018.

According to the new rules, the EU Policies Committee has exclusive jurisdiction on subsidiarity and proportionality assessment. It may also place a parliamentary scrutiny reserve on the proposal under consideration.

EU legislative proposals, as well as non-legislative measures and documents of the European Union, are also referred to the Committee having jurisdiction over the subject matter. The competent Committee may adopt policy recommendations to the Government in the form of a resolution, which is also notified to the EU institutions within the framework of the political dialogue.

More details can be found on the Italian Senate page in the IPEX website, which has been updated accordingly.

Source: The Italian Senato della Repubblica
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