The meeting of the Chairpersons of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) started Sunday at the Romanian Parliament, being the first event organised by the Senate and the Deputies Chamber as part of the parliamentary dimension of the first rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union held by Romania.
The meeting which took place Sunday through Monday, brings together the chairpersons of the European Affairs Committees of the member states and of the candidate countries for EU membership, as well as representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission.
The conference presented and clarified the priorities of the Romanian Presidency, debated the BI-annual Report of COSAC, prepared the plenary session of COSAC and hosted a panel that on European convergence and cohesion.
The meeting of COSAC Chairpersons was preceded by a meeting of the presidential troika composed of the delegations representing the national parliaments of the acting president (Romania), the former president (Austria) and the future president (Finland) as well as the European Parliament. The purpose of the meeting iwas to discuss and agree on the agenda, participants, topics and other important aspects pertaining to the meeting.
COSAC was established in Paris, on the 16-17 November 1989 by the President of the French National Assembly. It has brought together, once every six months starting from 1989, the specialized bodies of national parliaments which deal with European affairs as well as representatives of the European Parliament and of the European Commission. Each conference is convened by the parliament of the country which holds the office of President of the Council of the European Union and is prepared in cooperation with the European Parliament and the other troika parliaments.
COSAC is not a decision-making body, rather, its role is one of consultation and parliamentary coordination, shaping its position through consensus.
Senate’s Tariceanu: We must support convergence and strengthen cohesion at the level of the entire EU
President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu pleaded on Monday for the defence and strengthening of cohesion at the level of the entire European Union, and underscored the European Parliament’s (EP) role in the cooperation at the level of the EU and its institutions.
“The EU is at a turning point. The members of Parliament should be in solidarity to support convergence and defence, and strengthen cohesion at the level of the entire EU (…). These things are fundamental because they prevent the gaps already existing between the East and the West, and between the South and the North. We want these to be transformed in an irreversible manner, because otherwise, we have to face the risk of a confrontation with populist and extremist forces. (…) Because the EP became a key-partner in the cooperation at the EU level and its institutions, and we won in Parliament an increasingly important role in the Union’s functioning, we believe that the COSAC [the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union] is the suitable forum for the exchange of information and for the exchange of good practices. In the next moths, we have many challenges that will need everyone’s experience – the unfolding of Brexit, elections to the EP, adopting a multiannual financial framework. (…) In view of strengthening the European project, we must protect the entire synergy have feasible objectives, so that the citizens see tangible results in respect to the economic and social aspects of their existence,” Tariceanu stated on Monday at the meeting of the chairs of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union, which took place in Bucharest these days.
He stated that Romania took over the rotating Presidency of the EU Council in its 12th year since becoming a member of the community space and the next six months “will represent intense work and determination from the Government and Parliament to responsibly fulfill all the duties.”
“For the EU members it will be an opportunity to learn more about our work style, about communication and relations in Romania and more about Romania,” Tariceanu added.
According to him, “migration, terrorism, armed conflicts developing in our vicinity are imposing a strengthening of the borders.”
“The dialogue with the third countries of origin and transit should be strengthened so that we can fight illegal migration, this being one of the priorities of Romania’s Presidency [at the EU Council],” Calin Popescu-Tariceanu pointed out.
In respect to the energy union, he explained that, also important is for “the principle of diversification to be strengthened, both in terms of transport routes and supply sources, in view of having a higher degree of energy security.”
“A constructive approach is necessary during the Romanian Presidency at the EU Council that will entail constructive efforts for the progress of negotiations, taking into account the political will of the legislators, in view of reaching a clear and comprehensive regulatory framework in the EU,” Tariceanu explained.
In respect to Brexit, Tariceanu said that “there must be an open prospect.” “Let us see what the United Kingdom wants, so that we break the deadlock,” he added.
“The Romanian Presidency at the EU Council will focus on the citizens and will promote cohesion as a common value. We will carry out and continue the EU activity in view of ensuring that the European project catches roots all over the continent, so that citizens are more aware of how important it is to belong to this marvelous family,” Tariceanu conveyed.
Deputies’ Chamber’s Iordache, on EU Council Presidency: We want concrete results for the citizens
Deputy Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber Florin Iordache on Monday stated that Romania’s main objective, to be achieved through debates and the documents adopted on the parliamentary dimension of the presidency of the Council of European Union, is to obtain concrete results for the citizens.
Iordache participates in the meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) Chairs, which takes places in Bucharest these days.
“The Romanian Presidency at the Council of the EU is being exercised in a complex context at European level, considering only the elections to the European Parliament, which mark the end of term of the European Commission and the European Parliament and the beginning of a new legislative cycle. This is a moment for political assessments and the European citizens are going to look at the EU from a more critical angle, for they are going to assess first of all what the EU actually did for them, in concrete terms. In what concerns the parliamentary dimension of the Romanian Presidency at the Council of the EU, the topics proposed are meant both to support the priorities established at the level of the Executive, which are closely related to the current legislative agenda of the EU, and to meet the needs and expectations of the European citizens. We are going to closely monitor the topics for debate and the documents adopted on the parliamentary dimension of the Romanian Presidency at the Council of the EU, to obtain concrete results for our citizens and capitalize on the benefits that a solidary, strong and cohesive Union can bring to our citizens,” said Iordache.
He also said that he believed the European officials will find in Romania “a credible and dedicated partner, one capable of supporting the consolidation of the European project and also the policies with tradition that bring concrete benefits to the citizens’ everyday life.”
The Deputy Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber underscored that while Romania is holding the Presidency at the Council of the EU, the Romanian Parliament will actively participate in the dialogue regarding the cohesion policies and it will support through actions at parliamentary level the Government’s efforts in identifying the best mechanism to define the future architecture of the cohesion policy.
“In this respect, for the period March 18-19, 2019, we are preparing a inter-parliamentary conference on the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy topics (…),” said Iordache.
Birchall: During our Council of EU presidency we will have the objective of a stronger, more cohesive Europe
Deputy PM Ana Birchall on Monday relayed, at the meeting of the chairs of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), the message of Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, underscoring Romania’s intention to strengthen, while holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, a Union of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance and solidarity.
“During our presidency we will be permanently guided by the objective of a stronger, more cohesive Union, closer to its citizens and we are going to make all efforts to contribute to the definition of the actions of the European Union in the next years. I wish that Romania’s mandate at the helm of the Council of the EU means the consolidation of a European Union of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance and solidarity. I believe that only united we will be stronger and able to overcome the challenges we face today,” she said.
Birchall added that in its activity, Romania will maintain an impartial, pragmatic approach, to identify “consensual” solutions, meant to advance the European agenda.
“First of all, we feel the need to strengthen cohesion in political actions, which will help us to reconnect the member states, the European institutions and citizens. (…) Moreover, the economic dimension of cohesion represents a catalyst factor in reducing the development gaps between the member states and between the regions and strengthen the single market. We considered thus, the valence of economic cohesion also from the perspective of new member states, such as Romania, for which the full integration into the single market is essential, so that its benefits be felt by all citizens. Not last, cohesion must be understood and promoted in its social dimension as well, understood also through the imperative of ensuring social convergence and preservation of the four fundamental liberties of the EU internal market,” she said.
The Deputy PM showed that the priorities of the Romanian presidency were declined around four main pillars of action: Europe of convergence, Europe of safety, Europe – global player, Europe of common values.
EU needs pragmatic approach, with visible objectives and tangible results, ahead of elections to EP
The European Union needs a pragmatic approach, with visible objectives and tangible results, ahead of the elections to the European Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Ana Birchall said on Monday.
“From our point of view, the Union needs a pragmatic approach with visible objectives and tangible results, showing added value that can not be denied for the European project. This approach is important therefore as we prepare for the elections to the European Parliament, the result will have an important impact on our institutions and, of course, on European policies as a consequence. As Euro-skepticism discourages and gains ground in many member states, it will be important to secure a majority in the European Parliament to support the project of advancement within the EU and, in this context, the elections to the European Parliament must be used to promote the EU’s consolidation goals based on fundamental principles,” Ana Birchall specified at the end of the meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union.
The Romanian Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that another important aspect in view of the elections to the European Parliament is the increase in the number of voters, especially among younger generations, by raising the awareness of the relevance of the European elections.
“We have to influence the future of the EU, the policies, and here I welcome the initiative to have a debate of the citizens, among the citizens. We have debates in Romania and I am convinced that these debates are taking place in several member states and these debates will be very important for the Summit in Sibiu. Building resilience and fighting against influence campaigns, fighting cyber attacks, ensuring greater transparency are very important issues We need to address all these issues effectively, all these aspects in the context of the European values. I am convinced that, during the Presidency, we will work closely with everyone – with the European Parliament, with the member states – to carry out the joint actions. I assure you that our Presidency [of the EU Council – ed.n.] is sending a message focused on strengthening the EU, our approach brings the support of the European citizens within the European project and for the European values,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
Ana Birchall mentioned that Romania is one of the pro-European countries with a pro-EU orientation of 52 percent as compared to an average of 43 percent at the level of the Union, according to the barometer of December 2018.
“Confidence in the European Union is stable and most respondents consider that they are European citizens and this should be promoted at the next elections as well. (…) Although it is difficult to predict how the elections will take place, one thing is clear – we must use the period left until the election to the European Parliament to implement decisions and to create measures so as to demonstrate to the citizens that there is a clear perspective for the future of our Union, these goals and this commitment must be at the political level for us all. For Romania the next six months represent an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to this project, which remains the framework for sustainable development for citizens and for the member states … (…) Please join in this confidence in important moments not only for the member states but also for the future of the EU. Thus, I think our actions at European level involve staying together, staying united, together we will become more powerful after these elections,” Birchall stressed.
Commissioner Cretu: I am glad that cohesion policy represents a priority for the Romanian Presidency at EU Council
The cohesion policy represents a priority for the Romanian Presidency at the Council of the EU, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu stated on Monday, adding that she wants, as soon as possible, the conclusion of the agreement on the multiannual financial framework.
“During the Austrian Presidency at the EU Council substantial progresses were recorded, but they must be continued and materialised in the framework of the new Romanian Presidency. I am glad that the cohesion policy represents a priority for the Romanian Presidency at the EU Council and I want for it to complete the agreement over the multiannual financial framework as soon as possible, so that the scheduled investments start as of 1 January 2021,” Corina Cretu stated at the meeting of the members of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC).
She stated that this thing implies team work and an efficient coordination, in order to ensure coherence between the various negotiation structures. From this point of view, the Commission services are fully committed and ready to support the Romanian Presidency at the EU Council.
“The European Union is confronted today with multiple challenges, such as the management of Brexit, migration, cross-border security, defence, etc, that put pressure on the authorities in Brussels and on the member states, and which stimulate centrifugal tendencies. In this context, the cohesion policy is one of the most powerful anchors of the Union. This has been and remains one of the most flexible and innovative policies, providing answers to the problems and tensions existing at the European Union level,” Corina Cretu stated.
According to the European Commissioner, in order for the European Union to be strong, each of its components should be strong.