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Austria's Parliament Hosts the Parliaments of the European Union

Austrian Parliament, 28 January 2019

Meeting of the Secretaries General as preparation for the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments in April

Vienna (PK) - The Secretaries General of the European Union Parliaments are currently meeting in Vienna for talks. The conference will focus on preparations for the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments to be held at the Hofburg on 8 and 9 April.

Within the Parliamentary Dimension of the EU Council Presidency and in interparliamentary cooperation at EU level it is customary for the country holding the Council Presidency in the second half of the year to host the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments and the preparatory meeting of the Secretaries General the following year. For this reason, Secretary General of the Austrian Parliament Harald Dossi invited the Secretaries General of the European Union Parliaments to a meeting at the Hofburg. In addition to the programme for the April conference, this morning’s agenda also included the Parliamentary Dimension programme for the Romanian EU Council Presidency, the European elections and the IPEX information platform.

Preview of the programme for the Speakers of the European Union Parliaments

In his capacity as Secretary General of the Austrian Parliament, Harald Dossi presented a preview of the programme of the Speakers Conference to be held in Vienna at the beginning of April. He pointed out two significant additions to the agenda. A number of relevant issues involving the EU's external relations will be discussed under the heading “The EU and its Neighbours”. Relations with the candidate countries in the Western Balkans and those European countries that are not currently seeking EU membership, such as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, will play an important role. Particular emphasis will also be placed on the Eastern Partnership. The agenda will include a discussion on the EU in light of the upcoming European elections. The main aim will be to further develop and deepen cooperation between national parliaments and EU institutions.

The Parliamentary Dimension of the Romanian Council Presidency

The Secretaries General of Romania’s two parliamentary chambers presented the events planned within the framework of the Parliamentary Dimension during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Secretary General of Romania’s Camerei Deputaţilor Silvia Mihalcea underlined that Romania sees the Council Presidency as an opportunity to underscore its commitment to the European idea. The Romanian Council Presidency has set ambitious goals for itself and is seeking to set priorities in four areas: European convergence and cohesion policy, a Europe of enhanced security, the EU as a strong global player and a Europe of shared values. These objectives will also be strengthened at parliamentary level and will be reflected in a total of seven interparliamentary conferences to take place during the Council Presidency.

Secretary General of Romania’s Senate Izabela Chencian stressed that the Parliamentary Dimension of the Romanian Presidency would address the most pressing issues concerning the future and ongoing development of the EU. A particular concern is the fight to promote common European values, including taking action against anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination. Romania is also particularly concerned about developing the EU's Eastern Partnership further.

European elections in 2019 against the backdrop of Brexit

Secretary General of the European Parliament Klaus Welle addressed the challenges facing parliamentary cooperation between EU Member States against the backdrop of Brexit. In all probability, only 27 Member States will participate in the upcoming European elections. Mr. Welle emphasised that approval of the EU among its citizens has once again risen significantly in recent years. The European Parliament elections are an important opportunity to further bolster public approval. It was already apparent during the last European elections that enhancing the visibility of the “Spitzenkandidat” of each of the European Parliament’s party families during the election campaign contributed to increasing voter turnout. In addition, technological progress allows citizens to participate more directly in EU activities.

Mr. Welle underlined the European Parliament’s great responsibility in communicating information to EU citizens. Here it is important to show the people what the EU has to offer. Surveys show that people not only take a great interest in the opportunities the EU provides, but also that they have high expectations for the EU in terms of security, services of general interest and social security. This should be kept in mind, as after all, Europe is not only made up of European institutions, but also of all of us, said Mr. Welle.

The EU information platform IPEX continues to evolve

Secretary General of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) Peep Jahilo presented the IPEX Annual Report and its conclusions. After Estonia, Austria will take over the chairmanship of IPEX (InterParliamentary EU information eXchange) in April, as Secretary General of the Austrian Parliament Harald Dossi announced. It is a digital platform and a network of the competent contacts for the EU-related exchange of information between national parliaments and the European Parliament. IPEX was created to implement the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty.

According to Peep Jahilo, IPEX has dynamically evolved to ensure greater usability and is well on its way to becoming a one-stop shop for parliamentary administrations. Moreover, the process has not yet been completed. Mr. Jahilo stressed that further efforts were needed to transform the site into more than just a simple website. The aim is to expand IPEX and make it a comprehensive source for EU-related parliamentary activities. (Continuation Preparatory Meeting)

PLEASE NOTE: Photos of the conference can be found at the website of the Austrian Parliament at www.parlament.gv.at/SERV/FOTO/ARCHIV.

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