The proceedings of the 19th summit of the Association of European Senates (AES) took place on Friday at the Palace of Parliament, the event taking place at the invitation of Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu.
Taking part in the event were the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the Superior Chambers of Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and Spain, the Secretary General of the German Federal Council, as well as the Speaker of the Irish Senate, as special guest.
At Romania’s proposal, the general debate of the Bucharest summit focused on the following topic: “The role of the Senates in a Europe facing challenges to its economic, social and territorial cohesion.”
The Association of European Senates was established in the year 2000, at the initiative of Christian Poncelet, Speaker of the French Senate, as a platform of parliamentary cooperation at the highest level, its purpose being the promotion of bicameralism and the consolidation of European identity and consciousness. The Romanian Senate is a founding member of the Association and previously hosted an AES summit in 2007.
Tariceanu: Now, more than ever, we need to consolidate Association of European Senates’ role
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu believes that the role of the Association of European Senates, whose 19th meeting took place on Friday at the Parliament Palace, should be strengthened in order to respond to challenges “in a cohesive manner.”
“I am glad to express my feelings of joy and friendship because we are today the hosts of the 19th meeting of the Association of European Senates. It’s the second meeting that we organise in Bucharest in the history of this forum, whose main goal is to promote bicameralism and a strengthen identity. Now, more than ever, we need to consolidate the role of this association. In today’s world we are aware that the challenges, which we and our partners need to address, must be approached in a cohesive manner at European level and only this way we can fight the level of disparities that are affecting our communities and regions. If there is no solid European identity based on common values – cultural diversity, tolerance, solidarity, cohesion, equal opportunities, then the European standard of civilisation could diminish. According to the most pessimistic scenarios, we will end up with a dysfunctional, split and divided Europe,” Tariceanu said in the opening of the meeting.
He underscored that Romania, by taking over the Presidency of the Council of the EU in January-June 2019 will have to “pass an exam,” “a decisive test” in front of millions of Europeans.
“Diversifying cooperation within the AES will boost the representativity of the Senate in each of the member states”
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu stated on Friday that the diversification of cooperation within the Association of European Senates (AES) will boost the Senate’s representativity in each of the member states.
“The simple belonging to the EU or to any other structure of institutionalised cooperation will not be able to solve any problem, (…) whether we are talking about security, the environment etc. The actions that can make the difference are the improvement of the functionality and transparency of the juridical framework of cooperation between the Senate and the other institutions of the state, the civil society, in line with constitutional provisions. (…) The expansion and diversification of cooperation within the framework of the AES will boost the representativity of the institution of the Senate in each of our countries,” Tariceanu pointed out on Friday, at the end of the proceedings of the 19th summit of the Association of European Senates, a summit hosted by Bucharest.
According to Tariceanu, the topic of this year’s summit referred to the multiple aspects of cohesion in a Europe facing the risk of the deepening of existing cleavages and of the appearance of new cleavages in the economic order, in the “social fabric” and in the organisation of territorial structures.
On the margins of the 19th AES Summit, Tariceanu had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from France, Ireland, Italy, United Kingdom, Poland, Netherlands.
The schedule of the summit also included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Arch of Triumph, in the honour of the soldiers killed in World War I.
At the Bucharest Summit, the Senate of Ireland became full-fledged member of the AES on Friday. Ireland’s overtures were finalised during the Romanian presidency of the Association, this being the first time since the establishment of the organisation, in 2000, that a new full-fledged member becomes affiliated.
The Senate of Ireland is the 16th member of the AES, alongside the similar legislative bodies of Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.
The next Association of European Senates summit will be hosted by the Senate of France in 2019.
“Drafting of CVM progress, based on distorted image provided by coercive bodies”
Romania’s Senate President said that in drafting the numerous reports of the last 11 years on the progress under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), the European Commission relied almost exclusively on the distorted image provided by coercive bodies of the Romanian state.
“In drawing up the numerous reports of the last eleven years on [progress under] the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, the commission relied almost exclusively on the distorted image provided to it by the state’s coercive bodies and on the perceptions expressed in certain media quarters, pressure groups and vested interests. We are still waiting for the commission to position itself on the awkward truths that have come to light in Bucharest and to explain why it has systematically disregarded and ignored the alarm signals sent to it by certain people about the serious abuses committed by some institutions and persons of the judiciary. Because of biased, sometimes partisan policy of the commission, the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism was held captive by a meta-legal system of occult influence coordinated by the Romanian Intelligence Service and the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, becoming pure and simple just another instrument for nationwide pressure on opponents of this system [illegally operating] at the same time with the rule of law,” Popescu-Tariceanu said at the opening of the proceedings of the 19th meeting of the Association of European Senates.
He argued that in Romania, after its accession to the European Union, “a repressive system similar to the model of the 1950s political police” was created and the signs of the existence of this system “with Stalinist roots” are indisputable: “abusive arrests, walking handcuffed people before television cameras, leaking to the media information from pending court cases.”
“The presumption of innocence was in practice abolished and judges were constantly pressed, including through direct and public threats, to hand the convictions required by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate to the dictation of the Romanian Intelligence Service. Where those methods did not work, the criminal prosecution would start of magistrates who would obstinately try to judge in line with law and equity and prove immune to abuses. Arrests were made and indictments of judges from the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court – ultimately proved wrong. Until recently, encouraged by the European Commission, the system believed itself to be invincible,” said Popescu-Tariceanu.
He mentioned that the existence and tolerance of a shady system of anti-corruption management in Romania, “including by some of our European partners,” had two results with very difficult to correct effects: it promoted Romania’s image as a country where the incidence corruption is measured by the number of arrests and indictments built by bodies that today have been proved to have themselves been corrupted by the exercise of unlimited power and it has induced a generalised and “profoundly unfair” perception of Romania as a country whose destinies are ruled politically by corrupt and criminal lawmakers and governors.
Popescu-Tariceanu added that one cannot talk about the credibility and solidity of the European design while at the same time demanding that the Central and Eastern European states “should be re-legitimised” after almost two decades of “honest deepening of their integration.”
France’s President of the Senate Gerard Larcher: The European construct never looked so fragile
Gerard Larcher, the President of the Senate of the French Republic, proposed Friday, during the works of the 19th reunion of the Association of European Senates, which takes place in Bucharest, the continuity of promoting the bicameral system, not as a nostalgia, but as a necessity for democracy, in the context in which the European construct never looked as fragile as it is now.
“The two chambers (parliamentary bicameralism, ed. n.) are useful for constructing tranquil democracies. Tranquility is a way of going back towards dialogue and cohesion. I propose we continue promoting bicameralism not as a nostalgia, but as a necessity for democracy. (…) While in Europe I am detecting an increase in populism, I am certain that bicameralism has an essential role in parliamentary democracy. (…) Never has the European construct seemed so fragile as it is today and never has the doubt of the citizens concerning Europe been so intense. A deconstruction process seems to threaten Europe (…) Everywhere in Europe we are witnesses to a rise of orientation currents. (…). We are witnessing, actually, to territorial ruptures. Facing this crisis I am convinced that we need to strengthen cohesion and our unity externally, as well as internally,” Gerard Larcher said.
He reminded that “Brexit was a shock and at the same time, a signal” and expressed hope in finalizing an agreement concerning the keeping of the integrity of the single market and maintaining a strong cooperation with the British.
Concerning the migration phenomenon, Larcher pleaded for partnerships with the migrants’ countries of origin and transit and for solidarity among the European countries.
France’s Senate will host in 2019 the works of the 20th reunion of the Association of European Senates.