23 January 2017 The delegation of the European Integration Committee at the meeting of COSAC Chairpersons
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
European Integration Committee Delegation Took Part in 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 22 and 23 January 2017 in Malta, under the auspices of the parliamentary dimension of the Maltese presidency of the European Union Council.
The meeting tackled the priorities of the Maltese presidency, European Commission Work Programme 2017, and the agenda proposal for the 57th COSAC Conference, to be held in May, in Bratislava.
The meeting was opened by Angelo Farrugia, Speaker of the Maltese House of Representatives, and Luciano Busuttil, Chairman of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee.
Maltese Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech and Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis presented the priorities of the Maltese presidency of the EU Council. In her address, European Integration Committee Deputy Chairperson Elvira Kovacs said that the enlargement policy which was the basis of the EU as we know it today and one of the Union’s most successful policies, has lately slowed down. It is imperative for the enlargement countries to maintain the stability of their European path and to recognize their efforts. She added that the role of the country presiding over the EU Council is very important for the candidate countries, that during the Slovak presidency four negotiation chapters were opened and Serbia expects that the Maltese presidency would be marked by a continued positive stance on the enlargement process. She informed the participants that she hopes chapters 26 (Education and culture), 20 (Enterprise and industrial policy) and 29 (Customs union) would be opened as well. Finally, she thanked the EU officials who encourage the candidate countries to fulfil the membership criteria, which will be the only standard for relations with the countries of the Western Balkans on the path to EU membership.
Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said that though the enlargement policy is not one of the priorities of the Maltese presidency, it does not mean that it would not endorse the efforts the candidate countries, especially Serbia and Montenegro, invest into expediting reform and continuing their EU accession process.
Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, Danuta Maria Hübner, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs, and Bastiaan van Apeldoorn, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Dutch Senate, presented the European Commission Work Programme 2017. In his address, Zarko Micin said that, since the onset of the migration crisis, the Serbian Government has taken a pro-active stance to ensure adequate assistance and protection to those in trouble and shown itself ready to face the immense influx of migrants, within its capacities. He said that Serbia meets all the standards as regards the protection of migrants and has invested enormous efforts into securing adequate assistance for the migrants during their stay in Serbia, adequate reception, temporary housing, medical assistance, food and medicines and pertinent information on asylum procedures, with full respect of their human rights. At the same time, Serbia has invested efforts into boosting control at the borders and preventing criminal activities of smugglers and human traffickers.
He added that Serbia cannot receive too many migrants. Financially, the influx of migrants is a huge burden on Serbia, and requires coordination and due exchange of information among all the countries on the Balkan route regarding all border control measures and activities, so as to duly prepare and employ adequate measures. Combating human trafficking should also be intensified, as should eradicating the cause of the crisis, strengthening cooperation with the countries of origin for the purpose of prospective reintegration, as well as with the first asylum countries.
He said he was sure that everybody is interested in defining a comprehensive solution at the level of the Union which would also cover the issue of migrant relocation. Serbia closely follows the efforts the Union countries and institutions invest into establishing better control over and management of the refugee crisis, and is ready to take on part of the responsibility, including temporary housing of a number of migrants, though it is not a member state. Finally, he said that Serbia has so far shown itself to be a credible and solid partner and would continue to cooperate with the European Union and its member states.
11.30 - the National Assembly Speaker takes part in the on-line meeting of the EP facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, library)