PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Debate on the Commission Work Programme for 2017 during the meeting of the Chairpersons of COSAC

During the second session of the Meeting of the Chairpersons of COSAC, the discussions focused on the Commission Work Programme for 2017.

The keynote speaker for the session, First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans presented the ten priorities identified by the Commission for 2017. Mr Timmermans highlighted that in the coming months, three cardinal issues will be shaping the future of the EU: the outcome of the UK referendum and the imminent exit of the country from the Union, the general disenchantment in the EU by European citizens, and migration. The Vice President explained that the Union needs to be present and effective for all European citizens alike, and ensure that democracy is not a dictatorship of the majority. Mr Timmermans concluded that this is where parliamentary diplomacy comes in, and called on members present to cultivate further their diplomatic tools and enhance dialogue, not only between national parliaments, but also with the European Commission.

The second speaker, Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament Danuta Maria Hubner, spoke at length on the importance of sustaining inter-institutional cooperation and ensuring that the Commission Work Programme is analysed and endorsed also by the Committees of the European Parliament. Hubner reiterated the need to address concerns in a joint and inclusive way, and to identify solutions at European level. Addressing the role of national parliaments, Hubner reiterated the importance of reaffirming the centrality of national parliaments, and the need to encourage greater participation and level of engagement. Concluding, Hubner encouraged members present to sustain closer cooperation with the European Parliament, and to visit the institution on a more regular basis.

The final speaker, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Dutch Senate Bastiaan van Apeldoorn, gave an interesting insight into practices and procedures of the Dutch House of Representatives and Senate regarding the Commission Work Porgramme. Mr van Apeldoorn explained that the Dutch initiative of inviting national Parliaments to draft a table with the priorities based on the Commission Work Programme is an excellent and very useful exercise. Mr van Apeldoorn highlighted that this exercise provides national Parliaments with an early warning system, saves time, and provides citizens and stakeholders with additional time to provide input and observations. The Chairman said that national Parliaments should enhance dialogue and exchange information on parliamentary practices. Concluding, Mr van Apeldoorn reiterated the importance of strengthening the role of national Parliaments, which in turn strengthens democratic legitimacy in the EU, and promotes a more transparent and efficient system.

Source: Government of Malta