A delegation of the European Integration Committee took part in the meeting of the chairpersons of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), organized under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the European Union Council in Bucharest, on 20 – 21 January 2019. The delegation comprised National Assembly Deputy Speaker and European Integration Committee member Gordana Comic and European Integration Committee deputy member Ivana Nikolic.
The meeting was opened by the President of the Romanian Senate Calin Popescu-Tareiceanu and Vice-President of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies Florin Iordache who stressed that the Romanian Presidency would strive to consolidate the problems within the EU, with a special focus on increasing cohesion and ensuring convergence through the Multiannual Financial Framework instruments.
COSAC Chair and Chairperson of the Romanian Senate’s European Affairs Committee Gabriela Cretu and the Chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies’ European Affairs Committee Angel Tilvar highlighted the national parliaments’ important role in finding common solutions to the problems inside and outside of the EU. They spoke about the results of the Troika meeting and presented the draft programme of the COSAC plenary to be held on 23-25 June 2019. The leadership showed interest in taking part in the coming COSAP meeting if it is invited as this would foster closer ties between COSAC and COSAP.
Vice Prime Minister for Romania's Strategic Partnerships' Implementation Ana Birchall presented the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the European Union Council. As the presiding country, Romania will mainly focus on advancing the Council’s talks concerning EU legislation, ensure the continuity of EU programmes and cooperation between the member states and the European institutions – the Commission, European Parliament and the EU Council. The priorities of the Romanian Presidency concern advancing sustainable economic growth in all the member states via an improved convergence, innovations, digitalisation and connections, maintaining a safe Europe, strengthening the EU’s global role and promoting solidarity as a common European value.
Ivana Nikolic, head of the National Assembly delegation, assured the attending that the Republic of Serbia and the EU would maintain the continuity of good relations, cooperation and support on Serbia’s path to EU accession. She emphasized Serbia’s firm commitment to EU accession, dedication to the reform processes and harmonization of its national legislation with the EU acquis, as well as its contribution to the EU’s initiatives, policies and missions. The association process and EU accession is the chief strategic commitment and foreign policy priority of all the countries in the region, said MP Nikolic stressing that the integration of the Western Balkans contributes to peace and security, as well as prosperity, and the principle of solidarity is crucial in the development of the enlargement policy. She reminded the attending that Serbia had opened four negotiation chapters in 2018, making that 16 all in all, and shared her firm belief that the dynamics would pick up speed in the coming period. The Republic of Serbia is actively contributing to the Union and its member states’ efforts to ensure the stability of its immediate neighbourhood, which in turn demands some firm accession prospects for the Western Balkans. She asked the EU to take more active part in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, blocked by the recent unilateral imposition of 100% customs tax on goods from central Serbia, in violation of CEFTA and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Pristina’s latest actions, the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into Kosovo Army will not contribute to regional peace and stability nor does it adhere to the values promoted by the European Union. MP Nikolic said she expected a more concrete and efficient involvement of the EU in the resolution of the problem because actions such as these erode the multi-ethnic principle of peace and stability in the region.
The parliamentarians spoke about the enlargement prospects of the Western Balkans stressing that each country’s progress on the path to the EU needs to be evaluated individually.
The second session focused on increasing cohesion and ensuring convergence through the Multiannual Financial Framework instruments. European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said that the cohesion and structural funds should not be reduced and that they contribute to a stable macroeconomic policy in the EU, job creation and improvement of the citizens’ living standards. Two basic goals were identified in the 2012-2020 programme period: investment for growth and job creation and cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation.
The COSAC meeting was attended by the parliamentary delegations of the EU member states, EU candidate states – Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Turkey, parliamentary delegations of Norway, Island, Switzerland and Georgia as special guests, and representatives of the European Commission and European Parliament.
The participants adopted the programme for the 61st COSAC plenary, to be held on 23 -25 June in Bucharest. At the margins of the meeting, the delegation of the European Integration Committee had a number of bilateral meetings with parliamentarians from the EU member states and the region.