With the Jean Monnet Dialogue, the European Parliament strengthens the ability of political leaders to develop true inter-party dialogue and to build the consensus necessary for generating a democratic parliamentary culture and trust.
The Dialogue complements traditional capacity-building programmes and contributes to institutional reform processes. It also provides a platform for political group leaders to seek consensus on national priority policies.
The Jean Monnet Dialogues often take place in this symbolic Maison Jean Monnet in Bazoches, but not exclusively.
The methodology has been also successfully applied in support of the parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia.
Following the elections to the European Parliament in 2019, the European Parliament, under its new composition, continues its support in the form of Jean Monnet Dialogues to these two countries while extending this instrument to other priority countries in the EU Neighbourhood.
Since then, several dialogues have been held in different locations, addressing issues ranging from the status of opposition, the reform of the committee structure, the to the creation of an anti-corruption court, and resulted in consensus agreements that have been implemented in the Verkhovna Rada.
On 3 July 2015, the European Parliament signed a memorandum of understanding with the Verkhovna Rada and committed to provide comprehensive parliamentary support to the Ukrainian parliament.
The memorandum was initially signed by European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Groysman for an 18-month period. This was later extended by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy. Work was directed by lead-MEP Elmar Brok through 2018.
Following the memorandum of understanding, both institutions focused on implementing the "Report and Roadmap on Internal Reform and Capacity-Building for the Verkhovna Rada". This report had been launched during the European parliament's "Ukraine Week" in February 2016 and adopted by the Rada in March 2016.
To encourage the Rada to proceed further with the reforms outlined in the report, the European Parliament offered the Rada's political leadership a facilitated inter-party dialogue: the Jean Monnet Dialogue for peace and democracy.
The first dialogue with the parliament's Speaker, Prime Minister and faction leaders was launched on 27 October 2016 at the Jean Monnet House in France.
Following a positive outcome, three more high-level dialogues were organised, led by former European Parliament President Pat Cox and Elmar Brok, lead Member for Ukraine's democracy support.
These were held on 18-20 April 2017 inKiev, on 23-24 November 2017 in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, on 25-26 March 2018 at the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe in Lausanne, on 11-13 October 2018 again in Bazoches and the last Dialogue before the legislative elections in Ukraine, on 5-7 May 2019 in Lausanne.
After July 2019 elections in Ukraine, the newly elected Rada committed to re-engage in the Jean Monnet process, which resulted in an organisation of a first Jean Monnet Dialogue under the new composition ofthe Rada. This Jean Monnet Dialogue took place on 28-30 November 2019 at the historical Maison Jean Monnet in Bazoches.
The first Jean Monnet Dialogue for the Verkhovna Rada, led by former European Parliament President Pat Cox, took place on 27-29 October 2016 with the participation of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy, and seven leaders of parliamentary political factions.
The topics for the first Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Verkhovna Rada included:
Following the successful launch of the Jean Monnet Dialogue in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne in October 2016, a second Dialogue, led by former European Parliament President Pat Cox and Lead Member for Ukraine, MEP Elmar Brok, was held in Irpin, Kiev, on 18 and 19 April 2017.
During this second Jean Monnet Dialogue, the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and faction and group leaders demonstrated their growing familiarity with mediation and dialogue methodology, including tailored rules of engagement.
Participants succeeded in reaching an agreement on all points, including an initial discussion on a highly sensitive issue: defining the status, responsibilities and role of opposition.
Extending the institutional cooperation
During the second Dialogue, a letter from European Parliament President Antonio Tajani was handed over to Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy to confirm the extension of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions.
The original Memorandum of Understanding had been signed by former European Parliament President Martin Schulz and former Rada Speaker Volodymyr Groysman.
The document provides a political framework for the European Parliament's support for the Verkhovna Rada's reform process.
The third Jean Monnet Dialogue with the political leaders of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada was again held at the Jean Monnet House in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne.
Led by the former President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, the major achievements of this Jean Monnet Dialogue included:
Following the progress in Ukraine's implementation of commitments made through the Jean Monnet Dialogue process, a fourth Dialogue with the Verkhovna Rada was held on 25-27 March 2018.
By this time, the work of the European Parliament and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine had received international recognition, including by the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe. The foundation offered another discreet setting for the dialogue, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The fourth Jean Monnet Dialogue, facilitated by former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox and MEP Elmar Brok, Parliament's lead Member for Ukraine, facilitated discussions on broad topics that were difficult to address within the Rada's usual, busy schedule.
The conclusions signed at the end of the fourth Jean Monnet Dialogue by the speaker and parliamentary party leaders recorded the topics on which consensus had been reached. These included electoral reform, the High Anti-Corruption Court and further reform of the committee structure and competences.
A law establishing the High Anti-Corruption Court, a recommendation of the Venice Commission, was eventually adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in June 2018. The law fulfils one of the conditions for continued cooperation between Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund.
The Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ukraine foreseen for the Spring 2019 set the background for the discussions on the improvement of the parliamentary working methods and beyond during the fifth Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Verkhovna Rada, which was held on 11-13 October 2018 again at the historical House of Jean Monnetin Bazoches.
The Dialogue led by Mr Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, and Elmar Brok, Lead Member for democracy support activities for Ukraine, resulted in a focused debate and consensus on the reform of the Committee structure, reducing number of legislative initiatives, rights and responsibilities of the opposition, and introduction of single electronic card for Members of the Parliament.
Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy together with all faction and group leaders reached also a general consensus to continue the Jean Monnet Dialogue process beyond the elections.
In spite of the uncertainty related to the results of the Presidential elections preceding the organisation of the next round of the Jean Monnet Dialogue and the anticipated impact of these elections on the Parliamentary elections scheduled for July 2019, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Andriy Parubiy with the leaders of all political factions and parties agreed to meet again in the format of the Jean Monnet Dialogue.
The sixth Jean Monnet Dialogue, hosted by the Fondation Jean Monnet in Lausanne, Switzerland on 5-6 May 2019, was also the last meeting under the 8th Convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Co-chaired by former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox, and the Rada's Speaker, Andriy Parubiy. All participants underlined the importance of leaving a legacy of the Jean Monnet Dialogue process for the next Convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Among the topics tackled during this Jean Monnet Dialogue, all participants openly engaged in discussions over the reform of the Verkhovna Rada, rights and responsibilities of the opposition, who was for the first time participating in the Dialogue, and the electoral law and immunity of deputies of the Verkhovna Rada.
Following the July 2019 Parliamentary elections in Ukraine, the 7th Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Verkhovna Rada was at the same time the first Dialogue under its new Convocation.
Under the chairmanship of former President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, and new Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Dmytro Razumkov, the Jean Monnet Dialogue took place on 28-30 November 2019 at the symbolic Maison Jean Monnet in Bazoches.
Participants to this Jean Monnet Dialogue, representing all political factions and groups, most of them new to the Rada, adopted the Jean Monnet Dialogue methodology and confirmed their commitment to drive forward the institutional reform of the Verkhovna Rada, in line with the "Report and roadmap on internal reform and capacity buildingfor the Rada".
They decided to establish a 'Jean Monnet Working Group' composed of one representative per faction or group and involving also the Rules Committee.
They also expressed a strong interest in renewing and extending the Memorandum of Understanding between the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the European Parliament and continuity of the cooperation between the two institutions.
The Jean Monet Dialogue process was established with the parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia, the Sobranie, with the support of the European Parliament, represented by MEPs Eduard Kukan, Knut Fleckenstein and Ivo Vajgl, who had been instrumental in mediating in the Pržino Agreement.
The Dialogue is therefore an important element of the EU's overall engagement in support of the country's membership process.
The first Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Sobranie took place on 18-19 May 2018 in Ohrid with two further rounds of dialogue on 22-23 June 2019 and on 31 January-1 February 2020 in Skopje.
The added value of the Jean Monnet Dialogues to the EU's overall Enlargement Strategy and efforts in the Western Balkans was recognised in the Strategy for the Western Balkans (2019 Communication on EU Enlargement Policy (COM(2019)260)), as well as in the European Parliament's Resolution of 24 October 2019 on 'Opening accession negotiation with North Macedonia and Albania'.
On 26 March 2020, the European Council finally endorsed the recommendation of the Council of Ministers and decided to open the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.This decision was welcome by the President of the European Parliament and the EP Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, David McAllister.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the Republic of North Macedonia and the EU entered into force in April 2004.
Since 2009, the European Commission has recommended to the Council that negotiations with the country, which has been a candidate since 2005, be opened.
The recommendation was made conditional, in 2015 and 2016, on the continued implementation of the "Pržino Agreement". This agreement had been facilitated by European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, and by three Members of the European Parliament - Eduard Kukan, Richard Howitt and Ivo Vajgl - in 2015.
The European Commission's progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that was presented on 18 April 2018 backed launching EU accession talks. The Commission recommended that the Council take a positive decision and encouraged the country to continue to "work on reforms and modernisation [...] in the interest of the partners and the European Union."
In handing the Commission's annual report to Sobranie Speaker Talat Xhaferi, Commissioner Hahn noted that the Parliament is an essential forum and driver of reforms on the path to joining the EU. Commissioner Hahn stressed that the Jean Monnet Dialogue is key to fostering the spirit of dialogue and compromise.
Following the first Jean Monnet Dialogue that took place on 18-19 May 2018 in Ohrid, two more Dialogues were held, 22-23 June 2019 and on 31 January-1 February 2020 in Skopje.
The topics addressed during these Dialogues included among others the Code of Ethics and an overhaul of the Rules of Procedure.
The first Jean Monnet Dialogue with the leaders and political parties of the Sobranie, the parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia, took place on 17-18 May 2018 in Ohrid.
Following two days of facilitated dialogue, co-chaired by Sobranie Speaker Talat Xhaferi and three MEPs (Eduard Kukan, Knut Fleckenstein and Ivo Vajgl), the political parties reconfirmed their willingness to work together to advance the country's bid for EU membership and integration in the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
The dialogue set out key operational targets, which led to an immediate outcome: the broadly supported adoption of a new Code of Ethics by the Sobranie. The text of the document had been negotiated during the Jean Monnet Dialogue and was a priority of the European Commission's Country report for 2018.
Significant progress was also achieved on another EU accession priority: amendments to the rules of procedure. Political group leaders established a list of amendments on which they would negotiate and agree before the next Jean Monnet Dialogue.
The leaders also agreed to create a follow-up mechanism in the form of a "Working Group on Reforms and Functioning of the Sobranie", composed of representatives of the political parties participating in the dialogue and assisted by parliamentary staff. Under the authority of the Sobranie, the working group would prepare the implementation of the agreed conclusions, as well as the topics for future Jean Monnet Dialogues.
Support of European party families
This first Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Sobranie was supported by the two largest pan-European political parties, represented by the Secretary General of the European People's Party, Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White, and the President of the Party of European Socialists, Sergei Stanishev.
The Sobranie is the first Parliament in the Western Balkans to adopt the Jean Monnet Dialogue.
The second Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Sobranie took place only a day after the postponement of the decision for opening of accession negotiations by the Council and thus sent a positive message on the support for the enlargement of the country by the European Parliament.
The Dialogue, held on 22-23 June 2019 in Skopje, was co-chaired by Sobranie Speaker Talat Xhaferi and three MEPs (Eduard Kukan, Knut Fleckenstein and Ivo Vajgl) and focused on reforms of the Rules of Procedure, including inter alia on constitutive sessions, setting up of political groups, the budgetary procedure and civil society access to oversight debates.The two-day Dialogue resulted not only in a consensus on all debated topics, but also in a full commitment of the Party Leaders, including Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, to help foster agreement on the remaining open issues.
Following the decision of the Council in October 2019 to delay opening of the accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia, by convening the third Jean Monnet Dialogue with the Sobranie, the European Parliament sent an important and encouraging message of its support to the country in the EU integration process.
Held in Skopje, only weeks before the dissolution of the Parliament ahead of the early parliamentary elections foreseen in the Spring 2020, the Jean Monnet Dialogue took place on 31 January -1 February 2020.
The Dialogue was chaired by Talat Xhaferi, the Sobranie's Speaker, and facilitated by a new team of MEPs: Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Andreas Schieder and Marion Walsmann who replaced MEPs Eduard Kukan, Knut Fleckenstein and Ivo Vajgl after the elections to the European Parliament in June 2019.
With the general consensus of all party leaders, an agreement was reached on the overhaul of the parliamentary Rules of Procedure and on a continuity of the Sobranie's engagement in the Jean Monnet Dialogue process after the elections foreseen in April 2020.
Following an August 2019 fact-finding mission by former MEPs Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein to Belgrade, the Speaker of the Serbian National Assembly wrote to David McAllister, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, to ask for the European Parliament to mediate between the political parties inside the National Assembly. With the set-up of the new office holders in the European Parliament, MEPs Vladimír Bilčík (AFET Rapporteur) and Tanja Fajon (Delegation Chair) represented the EP in the mediation from November 2019.
The request came as a response to the deteriorating political atmosphere inside the Skupština, which was threatening to spill-over into greater instability and the boycott by the opposition of the 2020 Parliamentary Elections.
In line with the principles of the Jean Monnet Dialogue for Peace and Democracy, the European Parliament adapted the methodology to the specific conditions, political environment and needs of the Serbian Skupština and proposed an EP facilitated process of Inter-Party Dialogue to improve the parliamentary culture of dialogue.
The Inter-Party Dialogue includes two phases:
The Inter-Party Dialogue was Chaired by Skupština's Speaker Maja Gojković, and facilitated by MEPs Vladimír Bilčík and Tanja Fajon together with former MEPs Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein.Three rounds of the Inter-Party Dialogue were held in Belgrade between October and December 2019.
The first Inter-Party Dialogue with the Serbian Narodna Skupština, co-chaired by Speaker Maja Gojković and former Member of the European Parliament Knut Fleckenstein took place on 9-10 October 2019 in Belgrade.
During the Dialogue, the parliamentary leadership together with the majority of political parties in the Skupstina and keynon-parliamentary political parties engaged in a constructive debate on measures to be taken to implement the EC Report and OSCE/ODIHR Recommendations for improving the conditions ahead of the parliamentary elections, foreseen for April 2020.
In parallel to this Dialogue, the Government's "Working Group on cooperation with Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) and Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)" issued its first recommendations, including for holding of an open consultation on the role and conduct ofthe Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media (REM).
The participants to the Inter-Party Dialogue welcome this initiative, but called for further steps and measures to be addressed before the next round of the Inter-Party Dialogue.
Facilitated by MEPs Vladimír Bilčík and Tanja Fajon together with former MEPs Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein, the second Inter-Party Dialogue with the Narodna Skupština, was held on 14-15 November 2019 in Belgrade.
Taking stock of achievements made following the first Inter-Party Dialogue, the second Dialogue, reflecting the chronic political polarisation and boycotts focused in a greater detail on further measures aiming at improving conditions for holding parliamentary elections in 2020.
The two-day Dialogue resulted in an agreement to deliver on a number of reforms, underlined in the OSCE/ODIHR Recommendations and Commission's reports, including the role and conduct of the Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media (REM), adoption of a new regulation for public broadcasters to unsure fair access and coverage during the electoral campaign, and training of officials on the Single Electoral Roll.
The third Inter-Party Dialogue that took place on 12-13 December 2019 adopted a multi-format process design in order to reflect the political realities and engage with the all political actors, including political parties inside and outside the Skupština, government and parties boycotting the Parliament.
Chaired by Speaker Maja Gojković, and facilitated by MEPs Vladimír Bilčík and Tanja Fajon and former MEP Knut Fleckenstein, the last Inter-Party Dialogue scheduled before the elections, was building up on the commitments agreed in the Conclusions during the previous two rounds and their implementation.
Participants engaged in discussions on a wide range of deliverables necessary for improving electoral conditions, and reached a consensus on 17 concrete commitments.
The most consequential commitments, included in the agreed Conclusions, related to measures concerning the work of the Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media (REM), creation of a Supervisory Board for the oversight of the election campaign and conduct ofelection-related bodies, amendments to laws relevant for improving conditions for holding elections, and postponement of the election-date, initially announced for March 2020.
Following the first phase of the Inter-Party Dialogue, the European Parliament sent an assessment mission to the Belgrade on 6-7 February 2020. The mission was carried out jointly by MEPs Vladimír Bilčík and Tanja Fajon with the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi who was on his first official visit to the Republic of Serbia on 6 February 2020.
The mission focussed on the need for concrete implementation of the commitments made in the framework of the Inter-Party Dialogue in order to deliver tangible improvements on the ground, particularly in the area of freedom of the media and on the regulation of the public broadcasters.
The MEPs underlined the key responsibility for the bodies responsible for the management and organisation of the elections to carry out their roles proactively and in full transparency.
They underlined that although time is running out before the beginning of the electoral campaign, more can still be done to improve the overall trust and conditions for holding elections, especially in the area of the media.The European Parliament as well as the European Commission continue monitoring the implementation of commitments made during the first phase of the Inter-Party Dialogue and, if requested, are ready to provide further support to the country.
A second phase of the Inter-Party Dialogue is foreseen after the elections, with the new composition of the Serbian Parliament.
The European Parliament will continue to facilitate the Inter-Party Dialogue with the Serbian Parliament and all relevant pro-European forces.
Joint Statement of Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI) and Vladimír Bilčík (EPP, SK), facilitators of the Inter-Party Dialogue with Serbian Parliament on the presentation of the 2020 Enlargement Package
On 6 October 2020, the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement OlivérVárhelyi presented to AFET members the 2020 Enlargement Package and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which takes stock of progress in the implementation of the EU's enlargement policy and recommendations on the next steps for each of the countries.
This year's country report on Serbia is particularly important as itemphasises the need to improve political engagement and democratic dialogue as essential goals for achieving EU-related reforms and making progress on the country's European integration path.
"We believe that there is a need to close the gap between the progress on economic reforms and the lack lustre performance on crucial reforms related to democracy and rule of law, with a particular focus on the electoral framework and the functioning of the Parliament. Addressing these shortcomings is essential to Serbia's European perspective and can only be addressed through wide cross-party dialogue and engagement of all pro-European political forces." underlined MEPs Tanja Fajon and Vladimír Bilčík.
In that regard, the European Parliament remains committed to work with the Serbian Parliament and all relevant pro-European political forces in the framework of the well-established Inter-Party Dialogue. We are ready to continue to facilitate the Dialogue in order to create a space for wide cross-party engagement in improving democratic institutions, implementing reforms and in building an active societal consensus on the European future of Serbia.