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

Copyright : Parlamentsdirektion/Johannes Zinner - Austrian Parliament

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.

Lively interparliamentary debate on EU-UK relations after Brexit, the future of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy

© European Union 2019 – EP/phototgrapher Benoit BOURGEOIS

In keeping with its tradition of hosting colleagues from national Parliaments, the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)invited Members of EU national Parliaments to attend a half-day long interparliamentary committee meeting (ICM) on 2 April 2019 in the morning at the European Parliament in Brussels. The meeting was very well attended with 41MEPs and 25 MPs from 19 national Parliaments from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland (both Chambers), Portugal, Romania (both Chambers), Slovenia, Spain and the UK.

The meeting, which was the last AFET ICM in this legislature, focussed on three important aspect of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP):

Following the opening remarks of Mr David McAllister, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, an exchange of views was held on the future of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) including a debate on the last AFET annual report on the CFSP. The main items discussed were the challenges the EU faces nowadays, the positions of Members States towards qualified majority voting in the Council on CFSP and the EU's need to focus on displaying a stronger leadership in terms of foreign security policy. Moreover, the interventions also focused on topics as how illegal immigration affects the different EU Member States, the importance of keeping the UK close to CFSP in the future and on the EU-NATO cooperation.

The second panel of the ICM was organized on the EU's future relations with the UK after Brexit, with the participation of EU Chief Negotiator, Mr Michel Barnier. He stated: "I trust we can complete these Brexit negotiations in a positive way, in order for the EU to square up to the numerous challenges that are becoming even more serious for us: climate change, the economy, technological warfare, migration and European defence."

In the third panel the way forward for the European Neighbourhood Policy(ENP) and Enlargement Policy was debated with European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Mr Johannes Hahn. The main topic discussed were the EU accession of the Western Balkans in order to export stability and foster reforms. The Commissioner also emphasised the importance of the existence of rule of law at both international and national level.


International Women´s Day 2019: “Have faith and believe in yourself”

An Interparliamentary Committee Meeting on "Women's Power in Politics" celebrating International Women's Day 2019, took place on 7 March in the European Parliament in Brussels. The meeting brought together 22 Parliamentarians from 16 Member States, 1 Parliamentarian from Norway and 15 MEPs. Ms Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Chair of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality chaired the meeting. In his opening words EP President Antonio Tajani, called for the need for more women in power in politics, but also in businesses. It is a battle for dignity and respect that must be fought by all of us.''

The first-ever female President of the Republic of Croatia, Ms Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, issued the keynote speech calling women's rights one of her primary responsibilities. She told the audience she had to break countless glass ceilings often at personal cost. She considered the so-called cultural arguments as an excuse for not giving women rights unacceptable. Her conclusion was a message to all girls and women, saying, "Have faith and believe in yourself; in your values your strength, your knowledge and capabilities. Your determination will make all remaining obstacles fall."


Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy 7-8 March 2019

Family photo IPC for the CFSP/CSDP in Bucharest 7-8 March 2019 © ro2019eu

120 parliamentarians from the national parliaments from 27EU Member States and the European Parliament came together in Bucharest on 7and 8 March 2019 for the 14th Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy. Just a few months before the European elections, they discussed current foreign and security policy challenges, such as the security of the Black Sea region, the EU's relations with its eastern neighbours and the future of EU foreign policy after Brexit. The meeting took place in the context of the parliamentary dimension of the Romanian presidency of the Council and was organised jointly by the Romanian Parliament and the European Parliament.

Four workshops, each chaired by an MEP, took place on the following topics:

•  The future of CFSP/CSDP from a Brexit perspective
•  EU Strategy for the Danube Region
•  Cyber Security and Hybrid Warfare
•  Military mobility, a challenge to develop synergies between NATO and the EU

A "European Women's Deputy Declaration" was adopted by female parliamentarians in the margins of the IPC and presented in the plenary on the occasion of the International Women's Day on 8 March.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY WEEK 2019: A SUCCESS

European Parliamentary Week 2019 ©European Union-EP

In the context of the economic and budgetary policies scrutiny, the European Parliament together with the Romanian Presidency organised the European Parliamentary Week2019, on 18 and 19 February 2019, at the European Parliament in Brussels. The conference brought together 128 Parliamentarians from 27 Member States, 5 candidate countries and Norway and Switzerland to discuss economic, budgetary and social matters. Itconsisted of the European Semester Conference and the Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union. This was the eighth edition of this event and the last one for this legislature.

Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol (JPSG) on 24-25 February 2019

3rd meeting of the JPSG on Europol- Presentation of JPSG priorities by Presidential Troika 2018-2019 (© European Union – EP: Emilie GOMEZ)

The 4th Meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol (JPSG) took place on 24-25 February 2019, in Bucharest, Romania, in the framework of the parliamentary dimension of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Reporting on recent activities of Europol and of its Management Board featured high on the agenda of the meeting. These items were complemented by an address by Sir Julian King, Commissioner for the Security Union,  reporting from the European Data Protection Supervisor and by exchanges of views on the Europol Travel Intelligence Centre (ETIC) and the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).