European Integration Committee Chairperson Elvira Kovacs and Deputy Chairperson Dusica Stojkovic took part in the virtual 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 Portugal’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on 11 January 2021.
The meeting brought together the chairs of the European affairs committees of the parliaments of the EU member states, the parliaments of the candidate countries and the representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The meeting was chaired by the Chair of the Portuguese Parliament’s European Affairs Committee Luis Capoulas Santos, and the participants were addressed by the Speaker of the Portuguese Parliament Eduardo Ferro Rodriguez, who spoke about the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine procurement in the EU, mentioning EU’s solidarity with Croatia which had recently suffered a series of devastating earthquakes. The agenda also included topics such as the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council and the EU’s recovery and resilience after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first session on the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council the participants were addressed by the Portuguese Minister of State and Foreign Affairs Augusto Santos Silva who spoke about the economic recovery of the EU, pointing to the much needed digital and green transition in the coming period and stressing that the focus of the Portuguese Presidency would be to strengthen the EU's economic and social model.
In her address, European Integration Committee Chairperson Elvira Kovacs said that one of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency is to strengthen Europe's global role in the world, based on openness, efficient multilateralism and strengthening international partnerships. In light of it, she called on the Portuguese Presidency to speed up the dynamics of Serbia's EU negotiations. "Although we are facing the consequences of a global pandemic, we are working diligently and consistently to achieve the reforms needed to become an equal member of the European Union, at the same time respecting all the differences and problems facing the European Union itself", said Elvira Kovacs. She also expressed the expectation that the new negotiation methodology would contribute to a faster valorization of the activities carried out by the Serbian Government, and within its competencies, the National Assembly. Elvira Kovacs said she hoped the new methodology would add to the credibility of the enlargement policy, which has proven to be one of the most successful EU policies.
In the second session on the European Union’s recovery and resilience, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira spoke about the European Commission's efforts to provide sufficient doses of vaccines for every individual in the EU. She emphasized the importance of the green and digital transition, which will be based on economic and social recovery and respect for basic human rights. The main mission is to strengthen Europe's resilience and confidence in the European social model, to promote an EU that is innovative and forward-looking, based on the shared values of solidarity, convergence and cohesion. The EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility requires the member states to prepare a recovery reform plan. The EU will work on promoting the European Green Deal and the implementation of the Climate Law and the decarbonisation law, sustainable use of ocean resources, as well as the development of transport and energy strategies that support environmental sustainability.
In her address, Deputy Chairperson Dusica Stojkovic pointed out that, in the context of strengthening the EU’s recovery and resilience, it is important to focus on the digital agenda to accelerate recovery, especially since the digital industry is one of the fastest growing economic branches in Serbia which could be a catalyst for further growth. The Republic of Serbia has firmly embraced the digital economy, which it sees as a singular type of resource to take advantage of the opportunities generated by the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, especially through digital connectivity and commitment to the creation of a Common Regional Market. "We would like to remind you here of the achievements of the Digital Summit held in April 2019 in Belgrade, where the Regional Roaming Agreement was signed. We believe that the measures undertaken by the Serbian Government in agreement with the Serbian President were adequate, that the banking system maintained its stability and that the progress of the IT sector helped in the implementation of said measures. The transition to contactless business transactions will certainly be one of the priorities in the coming period, because it proved to be the future. On that path, the Republic of Serbia remains a credible partner, one you can have full confidence in, and on the other hand, we expect the EU to provide additional impetus and encourage Serbia's efforts in the EU negotiations process", Dusica Stojkovic concluded.