Cancellation of the LXIII COSAC Plenary meeting in Zagreb, 24-26 May 2020

On 27 March 2020, the Croatian Parliament announced the cancellation of the LXIII COSAC Plenary meeting that was scheduled to take place in Zagreb, on 24-26 May 2020.

Letters were sent by both the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Mr Gordan Jandroković, and the Chairman of the European Affairs Committee, Mr Domagoj Ivan Milošević. They both explained the unprecedented circumstances that led to this decision: on one hand, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation in many European countries; on the other hand, the strong earthquake that hit Zagreb on the 22nd of March and which provoked serious damages at the premises of the Croatian Parliament as well as in many other buildings in the historic city centre.

The EU Affairs Committee of the Croatian Parliament is examining ways for an electronic exchange of views and for the publication of the 33rd Bi-Annual Report.

The next COSAC meeting will be held under the German Presidency of the EU Council. The COSAC Chairpersons' meeting is scheduled to take place on 19-20 July 2020, in Berlin.

COSAC Chairpersons' meeting in Zagreb, 20-21 January 2020

Family photo of the COSAC Chairpersons' meeting - Copyright Croatian Parliament

The COSAC Chairpersons' meeting took place in Zagreb on 20-21 January 2020. It was the first interparliamentary event of the Croatian Presidency and brought together the Chairs of the EU Affairs Committees of the EU Parliaments and Chambers, the European Parliament, and candidate and guest countries. The European Parliament was represented by the First Vice-President, Mrs Mairead McGuinness, in charge of relations with national Parliaments and the Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Mr Antonio Tajani. The Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments of DG PRES prepared this meeting and provided support and advice to the Members of the European Parliament.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr Domagoj Ivan Milošević, Chairman of the European Affairs Committee of the Croatian Parliament, gave the floor to Lord Kinnoull, Chair of the EU Committee of the House of Lords. Lord Kinnoull expressed his sadness to participate in the last COSAC meeting as a Member of the EU and hoped for the continuation of fruitful relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Most participants regretted the departure of the UK and hoped that the close cooperation would continue.

The first session started with an address by Mr Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, who presented the Priorities of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, namely a Europe that develops, connects, protects & an influential Europe. His speech raised a lot of interest and resulted in an intensive debate with more than 25 interventions on various issues, mainly enlargement, migration and the Multiannual Financial Framework.

The second session was dedicated to the Conference on the Future of Europe. Ms Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of democracy and demography and VP McGuinness were the keynote speakers. Ms Šuica emphasized the importance of national Parliaments' involvement in the Conference and communicated the next steps to come. VP McGuinness informed about the debate in the EP Plenary and the adoption of an EP resolution. She insisted on the importance to put "citizens first" and that both the European and national Parliaments should work together in that direction. With more than 15 interventions, there was an overall call by all national Parliaments to be involved as much as possible. The Croatian Chair assured that the Conference on the Future of Europe would be part of the agenda of the COSAC Plenary.

The LXIII COSAC Plenary meeting will take place in Zagreb,on 24-26 May 2020.

LXII COSAC Plenary meeting in Helsinki, 1-3 December 2019

Family photo of the LXII COSAC Plenary meeting ©Finnish Eduskunta

The LXII (62nd) COSAC Plenary meeting took place in Helsinki, on 1-3 December 2019. Delegations from the EU national Parliaments and the European Parliament had the possibility to debate on the Conference on the Future of Europe, the Rule of Law in the EU and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the future Commission, a Winning Climate Strategy for Europe and the developments on Brexit.

The delegation of the European Parliament was chaired by the First Vice-President, Mrs Mairead McGUINNESS, and also comprised of Mr Georgios KYRTSOS, Mr Daniel FREUND, Mr Jaak MADISON and Mr Jorge BUXADÉ VILLALBA. The Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments of DG PRES prepared this meeting and provided support and advice to our Members.

The debate on the Conference on the Future of Europe was not on the official agenda of the LXII COSAC Plenary meeting but was proposed as a last minute change by the Finnish Presidency. With more than 35 interventions, it created a vast and frank exchange of opinions between members of the national Parliaments and the European Parliament and showed that it will remain an interesting topic for the period to come. All topics chosen by the Finnish Presidency produced vivid discussions among the participants and concluded with the unanimous adoption of the COSAC contribution (see below).

The First Vice-President of the European Parliament chaired the debate with Mr Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission on Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, where the engagements of the new European Commission were presented.  Mrs McGuinness also had the opportunity to talk to the press service of the Finnish Eduskunta about the value of interparliamentary cooperation (see the link below). 

The LXII COSAC Plenary meeting was the last interparliamentary event organised by the Finnish Presidency in 2019. In 2020, the Finnish Presidency will still organise the Meeting of the Secretaries General of EU Parliaments (26-27 January 2020), as well as the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments (17-19 May 2020).  The Finnish COSAC Plenary meeting paved the way for the Croatian Presidency, which opens its meetings with the COSAC Chairpersons' meeting in Zagreb, on 19-20 January 2020.

LX COSAC Plenary meeting in Vienna, 18-20 November 2018

The LX (60th) COSAC Plenary meeting took place in Vienna, on18-20 November 2018. It offered Members from the EU National Parliaments and the European Parliament the possibility to debate the State of play of the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council, Brexit, Climate Policy and Energy Union and a transparent European Union closer to its citizens in light of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. The five-person delegation of MEPs, chaired by the First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mrs Mairead McGUINNESS, and AFCO Chair Mrs Danuta HÜBNER, comprised also of Mrs Maria João RODRIGUES, Mr Othmar KARAS and Mr Lukas MANDL.  The Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments of DG PRES prepared this meeting and provided support and advice to our Members.

The EP keynote speakers were the AFCO Chair, Mrs Danuta Hübner, on Brexit, and the First Vice-President, Mrs McGuinness, on the session dedicated to transparency in view of the upcoming EP Elections. These sessions were the ones with the biggest number of interventions and with the highest participation. In addition, the debate on Austrian Presidency priorities, notably on migration policy, sparked an animated debate. All the topics on the agenda of the meeting also saw the participation of, at least, one of the members of the EP delegation.

Debates with national Parliaments represent not only different national points of view, but also the political plurality of the member States, in all colours and shades. After an intensive debate, COSAC adopted its contribution (find link below) unanimously in the end.

The meeting concluded a series of interparliamentary events organised by the two Chambers of the Austrian Parliament during the Austrian Presidency, to be completed still with the EU Speakers Conference, in April 2019. The Austrian COSAC paved the way for the Romanian Presidency, the last Presidency before the 2019 Elections to the EP.



Photo credits : Austrian Parliament - Parlamentsdirektion /Johannes Zinner

LIX COSAC Plenary meeting in Sofia, 17-19 June 2018

The LIX (59th) COSAC Plenary meeting in Sofia on 17-19 June gathered Members from the EU national parliaments and the EP to discuss the integration of the Western Balkans and the enlargement policy, the Pillar of Social Rights, the future of the Cohesion Policy, and the future of interparliamentary cooperation, in the framework of the current debate on subsidiarity and proportionality and Timmermans Task Force. The EP delegation was chaired by the First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mrs Mairead McGUINNESS and AFCO Chair, Mrs Danuta HÜBNER. REGI Chair, Mrs Iskra MIHAYLOVA was also a member of the delegation. The Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments of DG PRES prepared this meeting and provided support and advice to our Members.

Vice-President Mrs McGuinness addressed the COSAC plenary meeting during the welcoming session together with the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr Rumen Radev. AFCO Chair, Mrs Danuta Hübner, and REGI Chair, Mrs Iskra Mihaylova, were respectively keynote speakers during the sessions on EU Interparliamentary cooperation and the future of the Cohesion Policy. Vivid debates took place at the discussions on the integration and connectivity of the Western Balkans, as well as the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The meeting, which was the final interparliamentary event of the Bulgarian National Assembly during the Bulgarian Presidency, was attended by the highest institutional representatives of the Republic of Bulgaria, including Prime Minister Borissov, two deputy Prime Ministers and several members of the government. It allowed delegations from the Parliaments of the EU Member States, candidate and observer countries, representatives of the European Commission and academics to meet each other, debate on various issues, and exchange ideas, sometimes quite tensely. At the side of the meeting, the Bulgarian Presidency completed its term with their warm hospitality.  

Photo credits: The National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria

The Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC) brings together the EU affairs committees of national Parliaments, as well as Members of the European Parliament.

COSAC plenary meetings take place twice a year. At these meetings, each Parliament is represented by six Members. Each plenary meeting is prepared for by holding a meeting of the EU Affairs Committee Chairpersons.

The European Parliament delegation to COSAC is co-chaired by one of the Vice-Presidents responsible for Relations with national Parliaments and the Chair of the EP Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO).

The national Parliaments of the EU candidate countries are also invited to participate with three observers each. COSAC meetings usually take place in the capital of the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.