Conference of the Speakers of the EU Parliaments, Vienna 8-9 April 2019

The annual Conference of the Speakers of EU Parliaments (EUSC) took place in Vienna, on 8-9 April 2019. It was chaired by Mr Wolfgang Sobotka, Speaker of the National Council of Austria, and Mr. Ingo Appé, Speaker of the Federal Council of Austria.

The European Parliament was represented by its First Vice-President Mairead McGuinness who delivered a keynote speech at the opening session of the Conference. Mrs McGuinness pointed out the challenges that EU is currently facing and underlined the need to work closely in order to achieve a high turnout at the upcoming European elections. She referred to the fruitful cooperation between the European Parliament and the national Parliaments, which has been intensified and broadened during the last years.

The first session of the Conference was dedicated to "The European Union and its neighbours" and it was introduced by the Speaker of the Slovakian National Council, Mr Andrej Danko, the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, Mr. Nikos Voutsis, and the Speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Mr. Roberto Fico. The debate focused on the enlargement perspective of Western Balkan countries and on the Eastern Partnership, as well as the situation in Southern Mediterranean region.

The second session was dedicated to "the European Union ahead of the 2019 European Elections - further development of cooperation between national Parliaments and European Institutions". Keynote speakers were the President of the German Bundestag, Mr. Wolfgang Schäuble, the President of the Dutch Senate, Mrs. Ankie Broekers-Knol, the President of the French Senate, Mr. Gérard Larcher and the President of the Polish Sejm, Mr. Marek Kuchinski.

At the end of the meeting, the EUSC adopted its Conclusions on neighbourhood policy and enlargement, and on the European Elections, European values, democratic resilience and subsidiarity. The Conclusions, which reflected the common view, were adopted in formally consensual way. Finally, the EUSC gave a mandate to the Finnish Presidency to organise a working group to put forward proposals for a technical update of the 2008 Lisbon Guidelines for Interparliamentary Cooperation in the EU.

The next Conference of the Speakers of the EU Parliaments will be organised by the Finnish Presidency and will take place in Helsinki, in May 2020.

This Conference gathers Speakers of the Parliaments of the EU Member States and the President of the European Parliament. Speakers of Parliaments of candidate countries are also invited to participate as observers.

It is the body which de facto assumes the leading role in interparliamentary relations as defined in Article 9 of Protocol (No 1) on the Role of National Parliaments in the European Union of the Treaty of Lisbon, which reads "[t]he European Parliament and national Parliaments[...]together determine the organisation and promotion of effective and regular interparliamentary cooperation within the Union". The Conference meets each spring in the country that held the Council Presidency during the second semester of the previous year.

In April 2012, in Warsaw, the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments decided to establish the Interparliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy. In April 2013 in Nicosia, the Conference adopted the framework for the new Interparliamentary Conference on Article 13 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance.

The purpose of the Conference is to exchange opinions, information and experiences on topics related to the role of parliaments and the organisation of parliamentary functions. The Conference also aims to promote research activities and common action with respect to the forms and instruments of interparliamentary cooperation.

One of these instruments is the Interparliamentary EU information exchange (IPEX). It was created on the basis of recommendations and agreements by the Conference in Rome and the Hague, respectively in 2000 and 2004. The Conference lays down the objectives of IPEX.

The Conference is preceded by a preparatory meeting of the Secretaries General of the participating national Parliaments.