The meeting was opened by the Chairman of the European Affairs Committee Domagoj Ivan Milošević, who as the chair of the COSAC and with the support of the Presidential Troika convened an extraordinary videoconference meeting, at which representatives of European affairs committees of the Member States, the European Parliament, candidate countries and guests had the opportunity to discuss key issues related to addressing the economic consequences of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and adoption of the new Multiannual Financial Framework, as well as the preparations for the Conference on the Future of Europe.
In the introductory part of the meeting, Committee Chairman Milošević reported on the extraordinary videoconference meeting of the COSAC Presidential Troika held on 20 May, and presented the letter by the chair with the main points of today's meeting, which will be sent to the presidents of the EU institutions, inviting the members of the COSAC to co-sign the letter. The participants of the meeting were also presented with the 33rd Bi-annual Report of COSAC.
The first part of the meeting was dedicated to the common European response to the coronavirus outbreak and repercussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
In his address, the European Commission Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčović presented the recovery package announced by the Commission in May, stressing that the Next Generation EU instrument, equipped with €750 billion and targeted reinforcements to the long-term EU budget for 2021-2027, should bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to €1.85 trillion. He underlined that solidarity is needed to overcome the crisis and achieve recovery, and called on national Parliaments and governments to engage in adopting the new budget and to discuss recovery plans and future direction of investment that will lead not only to recovery but also to further development and modernization of the Union.
Jan Olbrycht, Vice-Chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament and EP's Co-Rapporteur on the Multiannual Financial Framework, presented the Parliament's position on the new proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework. He emphasized that the adoption of the future budget was a demanding process requiring political agreement in view of the urgency of its adoption, preceded by demanding Member States' coordination procedures and the codecision procedure of the Parliament and the Council.
The discussion highlighted that solidarity and a joint European effort to overcome the crisis is the only way to recovery and that it is therefore necessary to reach a swift political agreement in order for the Multiannual Financial Framework to be adopted in time. In conclusion, it was said that the creation of the future financial framework is also the way how the EU will develop in the future.
The second topic discussed at the meeting was the Conference on the Future of Europe. In her introductory address via video message, the Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica emphasized the importance of the participation of national Parliaments in the Conference on the Future of Europe and added that the contribution and support of national Parliaments, as the representative bodies of the citizens, was crucial for the success of the Conference. She also called on national Parliaments to inform their respective governments of the importance of finding an agreement on the Conference in the Council, and stressed the need for an agreement between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission on a joint declaration on the launch of the Conference.
Vice-President Šuica presented the Conference as a new public space where citizens, either physically or digitally, can engage with others on subjects of common interest, underlining that the need to create a common European space for discussion and exchange of views between citizens and European institutions is now more important than ever, in order to include the citizens in the decision-making process on the future of Europe. In conclusion, Vice-President Šuica emphasized that European solidarity and togetherness are necessary in overcoming the crisis caused by the pandemic and achieving economic recovery, and reiterated the important role of national Parliaments in jointly responding to the crisis and adopting the new Multiannual Financial Framework.
First Vice-President of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness reiterated that the Recovery Plan and the Conference on the Future of Europe are strongly linked as they provide a platform for the long-term well-being of citizens and the European Union. She emphasized that she was convinced of the strong involvement of citizens in the implementation of the Conference and the adoption of joint decisions on the future of Europe.
The discussion of the participants confirmed the importance of ensuring adequate representation of national Parliaments in the Conference on the Future of Europe, as well as the urgent need of reaching an agreement and launching the Conference.
The extraordinary meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees for Union Affairs rounded off the activities organized within the parliamentary dimension of the Croatian Presidency of the Council. The participants thanked the chair Domagoj Ivan Milošević for the initiative and organisation of the meeting, as well as for the overall contribution of the parliamentary dimension of the Croatian Presidency.