31 May 2017 The delegation of the European Integration Committee at the 57th COSAC
Wednesday, 31 May 2017
European Integration Committee Delegation Takes Part in 57th Meeting of COSAC Chairpersons
The meeting of the Chairpersons of the Conference Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union - COSAC took place on 28 – 30 May 2017 in Valletta, Malta, under the auspices of the parliamentary dimension of the Maltese presidency of the European Union Council.
The topics of the 57th COSAC were as follows: Reflection on the Malta’s EU Presidency, The role of national Parliaments in the EU, Outcome of the UK Referendum – State of play, Towards an Integrated EU Maritime Policy, and Migration – Combating human smuggling and trafficking and establishing a humane and effective return and readmission policy.
The meeting was opened by Angelo Farrugia, Speaker of the Maltese House of Representatives, who listed the many challenges the European Union is faced with, highlighting the importance of dialogue, while Foreign Minister George Vella presented the results achieved in the five months of the Maltese Presidency of the European Union, in six key areas: single market, security, migration, social inclusion, Europe’s neighbourhood and maritime policy. Vella also underlined the need to respect the Western Balkan’s European path, without which Europe cannot be complete, urging for a holistic approach to all issues.
Speaking on the first topic - Reflection on the Malta’s EU Presidency, Elvira Kovacs, Head of the delegation of the European Integration Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, commended the Maltese Presidency which shows that Malta believes in the European project and unity of the Union, endorses the European integration of the Western Balkan states and has proved most supportive by sharing EU negotiation experience and expert guidance. She informed the attending on how Serbia’s talks with the EU are progressing, saying that the values of democratic society, stable institutions, human and minority rights, rule of law, etc. have been recognized as essential for making Serbia a modern, stable, developed society, and all future efforts would be aimed toward EU accession even though the enlargement policy is unfortunately not a priority at this time due to current challenges.
Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, Mairead McGuinness, First Vice President of the European Parliament, and Marina Berlinghieri, member of the EU Policy Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, spoke about the role of national parliaments in the EU. They focused on the European Commission’s White Paper as a reference for the analysis of the situation in one’s own country, promoting the flow of information between the national parliaments and EU institutions, transparency as the very basis of cooperation, strengthening the role of national parliaments in decision-making at the European level via the so-called yellow and green cards because only these can adequately address the dangers of fragmentation and disintegration of the institutions and renew public trust in the EU.
Representing the delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Gordana Comic spoke about the role of national parliaments in the EU, stressing that politics should be about the people and for the people, and the national parliaments should follow suit. She said that the citizens are dissatisfied by the different definitions of the system, they feel that the future is uncertain and are unwilling to change their perception of parliamentarians and politics in general. The paradigm of the European idea and national parliaments no longer exists, as if the beauty of the European idea and what it means has been forgotten. She concluded that we need a new paradigm which cannot be established without the national parliaments and without defining politics as a job that puts people first.
Migration was the topic that garnered most interest, and some of the most dominant issues which drew different, sometimes even contradictory views were: combating human smuggling and trafficking, the rising number of unattended children and women migrants, which are a vulnerable and often victimized category, implementation of an effective and humane return and readmission policy, keeping the migrants better informed, ascertaining identity, border security, etc.
Dusica Stojkovic spoke on the topic reminding the attending that Serbia is one of the countries that suffered most under the refugee and migrant crisis in the course of which it has played an active and constructive role and cooperated by the neighbouring and EU member states, at the same time regulating the mixed migration flows, and is investing vast efforts into securing refuge and humanitarian aid, with the help of the EU and international assistance, for third country citizens. She also informed the attending about the measures undertaken by the Serbian Government, including organizing the military and police joint forces, and the significant results these achieved, with a special focus on assistance and support for underage migrants in the system of social and family law protection.