Political parties, relations with national parliaments and ECI on AFCO agenda
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič attended the constitutional affairs committee of the European Parliament on Wednesday for a 'structured dialogue' with MEPs on European political parties, relations with national parliaments and the European Citizens' Initiative.
Opening the debate, Vice-President Šefčovič underlined that the debate about European political parties was ongoing but that the Commission would most likely propose a new legal status in this area later this year, with clear rules on funding for parties, transparency and accountability.
He also addressed concerns from some European Parliament members about the relations between the Commission and national parliaments, stressing that regular discussion with national parliaments was a vital part of the broader EU debate, not least because it is national parliaments who hold their governments to account concerning their European commitments and ensure that agreements reached at the EU level become a reality on the ground in each Member State.
He added that the Commission's regular discussions with national parliaments should be viewed as complementing those of the European Parliament, and that both institutions had an interest in pursuing this joint approach to communicating about Europe with national parliamentarians.
Finally, on the issue of the newly launched ECI, V-P Šefčovič thanked Parliament for its support for this new form of participatory democracy, and in particular the role it will play in holding public hearings on initiatives that manage to collect a million signatures. He stressed that the Commission would do its utmost to ensure that the relevant Commissioners were able to attend those hearings. In response to MEP questions, he also underlined that the Commission would continue to talk to the two countries (UK and Czech Republic) that have yet to complete the preparations for the ECI in order to make sure that it is ready and open for citizens from every EU Member State as soon as possible.