European Integration Committee Deputy Chairperson Dusica Stojkovic took part in the meeting of the Chairpersons of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), held under the auspices of the parliamentary dimension of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on 13 and 14 January 2022 in Paris.
The meeting was opened by the President of the French Senate, Gerard Larcher, and the chairs of the French Senate and National Assembly European affairs committees, Jean-Francois Rapin and Sabine Thillaye. At the beginning of the meeting, the participants paid their respects to the late President of the European Parliament David Sassoli with a minute of silence.
Three sessions followed the presentation of the results and agreements reached at the COSAC Troika meeting, focusing on the priorities of the French Presidency of the EU Council, new working methods within COSAC and the 20th anniversary of the euro, achievements and future of the European currency. In addition to members of the parliaments of the EU member states, the meeting was attended by representatives of the European integration committees of the parliaments of the candidate countries Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro as observers, and representatives of the parliaments of the UK, Switzerland, Norway and Georgia as special guests
In the first part, the participants emphasised the importance of the unity of the EU, which is facing a growing democratic deficit, and the motto of the French Presidency of the EU Council - "Recovery, Strength and a Sense of Belonging". They pointed out that, despite the pandemic, we are trying to return to normal life, as evidenced by the organisation of the Conference. The participants also emphasised the growing role and importance of national parliaments at the EU level, strengthening of trust and fundamental rights. French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune presented the priorities of the French Presidency of the EU Council, such as a sovereign Europe, a new model of growth through a digital, greener and more social and humane Europe that meets the expectations of its citizens. He reminded the attending of the capacities of the European Union to tackle the migrant crisis, strengthen the Union’s outer borders and continue to more robustly coordinate the EU foreign and security policy, also announcing a conference on the Western Balkans in June 2022.
At the beginning of her speech, Stojkovic thanked the French Parliament for organising the COSAC meeting and wished the country success in the coming six months of EU Presidency. She pointed out that security and cooperation of all actors at the EU level are important for the stability of democracy, and should therefore not be neglected and must be strengthened through the negotiation methodology that is currently being conducted within clusters and which France is one of the biggest advocates of. She pointed out that the Republic of Serbia and its National Assembly continue to work consistently on the implementation of reforms, while respecting all the differences and problems the EU is faced with. Stojkovic pointed out that the decision to open cluster 4 is a good one and would enable Serbia to additionally apply for important environmental projects concerning renewal of diversity, improvement of air, water and soil quality, as well as circular economy. Serbia has made visible progress in terms of legislative and institutional reform in several areas, including national minorities, prevention of money laundering, human trafficking, asylum, combating corruption and organised crime, and there are also constitutional reforms which the citizens are to vote on in a referendum called for 16 January 2022. Stojkovic stressed that she believes the accession process is defined by numerous obligations, decisions that we have to make, which require strong political will, implementation of legal reforms and resolving disputes with the neighbours. Also, the European Union has to be a credible partner which would, through various mechanisms of engagement and presence in the region, including financial support, enable the EU candidate countries to fulfil their obligations faster and more efficiently, Stojkovic concluded.