30 November 2021 The delegation of the National Assembly’s European Integration Committee Delegation at the COSAC plenary meeting
Tuesday, 30 November 2021
European Integration Committee Delegation at COSAC Plenary Meeting
A delegation of the European Integration Committee took part in the plenary meeting of the 66th Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), held in videoconference format.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the committees for European affairs of the parliaments of the EU member states and candidate countries, as well as special guests and representatives of EU institutions.
Igor Zorcic, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, Alojz Kovsca, President of the National Council, Marko Pogacnik, Chair of the Committee on EU Affairs of the National Assembly and Bojan Kekec, Chair of the Commission for International Relations and European Affairs of the State Council spoke at the opening of the meeting.
The keynote speaker in session 1 – Achievements of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the
EU, was Gasper Dovzan, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia. Dovzan said that, during Slovenia’s Presidency of the EU Council, a lot of work has been invested in strengthening the resilience of the single market and economic recovery, as well as into the European Health Union, including the signing of cross-border health programmes. The European future of the Western Balkans and the EU enlargement policy is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency. Special attention was paid to the green agenda and cyber security in the European Union. He pointed out that the work on digital transformation was especially important for Slovenia, emphasising that the Conference on the Future of Europe especially came to life during the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council.
The Chairperson of the National Assembly’s European Integration Committee Elvira Kovacs pointed out that Slovenia pays special attention to the Western Balkans region, its future in Europe and the continuation of the EU enlargement process, and has managed to keep the enlargement issue high on the agenda during its Presidency. She said that, during the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council, expectations have been met to confirm the readiness of EU member states to accelerate the enlargement process. She added that one of the key events of the Presidency was the EU-Western Balkans Summit, held on 6 October 2021. In the light of the Summit and the Brdo Declaration, in the light of the last European Commission Report on the Republic of Serbia and the 2021 Enlargement Package, as well as in the context of two decades of European integration processes, Elvira Kovacs concluded that it is definitely time to redefine the EU enlargement policy, as well as strengthen the credibility of the European integration process. "Just as there is no future for Serbia without the European Union, it is difficult to imagine the future of the European Union without Serbia," said Elvira Kovacs.
In the course of the debate, the participants talked about climate change and the Fit for 55 package, post-pandemic recovery and the migration crisis.
The keynote speakers in session 2 – Working Towards a European Perspective for the Western Balkans were Oliver Varhelyi, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement (via video message), Gasper Dovzan, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, Branimir Gvozdenovic, Chair of the Committee on European Integration of the Parliament of Montenegro, and Slavjanka Petrovska, member of the Committee on EU Affairs of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia.
The Chairperson of the National Assembly’s European Integration Committee Elvira Kovacs said that the EU-Western Balkans Summit was part of the European Union's strategic engagement with this region. She reminded the attending that in the Declaration adopted at the Summit the EU confirmed its commitment to the enlargement process. The accession process will be evaluated on the basis of strict but fair conditions, and on individual merit. The conditions must be objective, precise, detailed, strict and have to be verified. She said that the Declaration stresses that it is important for the EU to be able to maintain and deepen its development, thus securing its own capacity for the integration of new members. It was underlined how important the Western Balkans' commitment to European values and principles is and that the EU was the region's closest partner. Elvira Kovacs pointed out that Serbia expects every recorded individual progress of an acceding state would be verified by an acceleration of the accession process. She expressed hope that by the end of the year, Serbia would see formal progress in the negotiations, especially in terms of opening the two clusters for which Serbia is fully ready.
The keynote speakers in session 3 - The Future Role of Young People in EU Decision-Making Processes and Beyond, were Roberta Metsola, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Damir Orehovec, State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Slovenia and Biliana Sirakova, EU Youth Coordinator, with contributions by Nick Prebil, Deputy Chair of the Committee on EU Affairs of the National Assembly, and Anja Fortuna, Vice-President of the European Youth Forum.
European Integration Committee Member Nemanja Joksimovic reacted to the allegations of the representatives of Pristina institutions that Belgrade does not fulfil the obligations from the Dialogue, saying that Belgrade is committed to the Dialogue on normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and the obligations of the Brussels Agreement. He mentioned that it was, in fact, the Pristina side that did not fulfil the key obligation from the Brussels Agreement - establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities. In the course of the debate, Joksimovic stated that the Republic of Serbia recognises young people and their important role in society, which is why it is vital to invest in youth development and establish a partnership between young people and the state, in order to increase their active participation in society and secure their involvement in youth policy development. He stressed that Serbia has been regularly taken part in EU youth conferences since 2014, including the Conference within the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council. He pointed out that the active participation of young people is one of the strategic goals of the Republic of Serbia’s 2015-2025 National Youth Strategy. Opportunities for youth mobility in Serbia have been significantly improved through the European Union's youth programs, as well as the Erasmus+ programme, and young people recognise the fact that Serbia's membership in the European Union would increase education and mobility opportunities even further. He underlined that Serbia is the first country outside the European Union to establish the institutional mechanism existing in the EU member states by forming a Permanent Expert Team on EU Youth Dialogue within the Youth Council of the Government of the Republic of Serbia. Finally, Joksimovic stressed that Serbia is committed to securing conditions that would enable young people to reach their potentials, take active part in society and contribute not only to their own by the progress of the society as a whole.
The keynote speakers in session 4 - Conference on the Future of Europe, were Guy Verhofstadt, Member of the European Parliament, Gasper Dovzan, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, Dubravka Suica, Vice-President of the European Commission, Sabine Thillaye, Chair of the Committee on European Affairs of the National Assembly of the French Republic, JeanFrancois Rapin, Chair of the Committee on European Affairs of the Senate of the French Republic.
European Integration Committee Deputy Chairperson Dusica Stojkovic said that the Conference on the Future of Europe is an important platform for the Republic of Serbia. All of today’s priority policies in the EU are also a priority for the citizens of the Western Balkans - the green agenda, energy transition, digitalisation, economic recovery, migration and more. She stressed that by providing an opportunity for the Western Balkans to participate in the Conference on the Future of Europe sent an important political signal, because Serbia believes that the inclusion of candidate countries is good both for the Conference and future planning of activities and vision of the European Union. She stressed that Serbia, as a reliable partner in the dialogue with the European Union, can significantly contribute to the debate on the future of Europe and that Serbian citizens have the right and obligation to participate in this dialogue, according to the principles of participatory democracy, because the future of Europe is their future as well. She informed the attending that the representatives of the Serbian Ministry of European Integration and the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue have made a decision on the formation of monitoring and participation of Serbia in the Conference on the Future of Europe. At the end of her presentation, she stated that the results of the Conference on the Future of Europe depend on the proposals of the participants in the talks - citizens, representatives of the civil sector, the business community, local governments and state institutions. "We see the Conference on the Future of Europe as an important milestone in considering and determining the direction of the development of the EU and Europe itself, because all the crises we have faced in recent years have shown the need to cooperate and seek common answers," Stojkovic concluded.
13.00 - meeting of the Inter-Party Dialogue Control Body (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 1)
17.00 - National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic meets with Inter-Party Dialogue co-facilitators (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 1)