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EP Vice-President Othmar Karas (EPP, Austria) called at the weekend for parliaments to be involved in global decision-making and strengthening the global financial system. At a meeting of parliamentary speakers of the Group of Twenty countries in Riyadh, he said the G20 is dominated by governments but bringing parliamentarians into the mix can add a new dimension. Parliaments must have their say in the run-up to the G20 Summit in June, which will focus on the international financial system.

The European Parliament speaks for 500 million citizens in the EU, which plays a key role in the world economy and in implementing global agreements and stands to gain from engaging with the emerging economies, which must also shoulder their responsibilities.

Othmar Karas, who represented EP President Martin Schulz at the G20 Speakers Consultation, said: "Today is the third time that we speakers have met. We can be proud of our achievements. But now it is time to raise the stakes."  He pointed to the engagement of the parliaments of the emerging countries in the G20, particularly the BRICS (Brazil. Russia, India and China):  "The speaker of the Brazilian congress told me that he considers participation in the global dialogue as a condition for the continuation of growth in his country. But it is not different for the EU and its Member States! I am more than ever convinced that we should engage more with emerging countries. It is vital for the future of Europe."

Mr Karas chaired a panel discussion on the sovereign debt crisis and its impact on the world economy. He presented the EU's response to the crisis, outlining the economic governance legislation passed by the EP and the Council last year and the work of the EP's special committee on the financial, economic and social crisis, which he chaired.

He stressed that: ”Only cooperation on a global scale and real economic governance will prevent further economic recessions and their potentially disastrous effects. It is not only the well-being of developed countries that is at stake. The risks are also real for poorer populations – in developing and industrialised countries. New emerging economies will have to realize that their new position will come with new burdens. The two go hand-in-hand. Refusing to resolve global imbalances will prove a dangerous choice, because it assumes that the crisis cannot go any further than it has”.

The European Parliament has proposed that the joint communiqué of the third G20 Speakers Consultation should be presented to the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico in June. ”For the first time, there will be a direct interaction between the parliamentary meeting and the meeting of the heads of States and Government”, said Mr Karas.

Vice-President Karas held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the conference with Mr Noel A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Canadian Senate, Mr Marco Maia, President of the Brazilian Congress, Dr Marzuki Alie Speaker of the House of Representatives of Indonesia and Dr Abdullah Al-Sheik, Speaker of the Shura Council of Saudi Arabia.