Headlines April 2012
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.
The two main policies funded by the EU budget – agriculture and regional policy – were the main topics of debate at the General Affairs Council on Tuesday. Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič joined his fellow Commissioners Janusz Lewandowski and Johannes Hahn in Luxembourg to discuss the key proposals with ministers.
The discussion on agriculture and cohesion (or regional) policy funding is part of the ongoing debate between national governments and the Commission on the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), the five-year programme for funding the EU's policies from 2014.
The April Plenary session of the European Parliament is taking place in Strasbourg, and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič was there on Wednesday for a series of discussions with MEPs on important inter-institutional issues.
V-P Šefčovič started the day with his regular meeting with Denmark's Europe Minister Nicolai Wammen, representing the current EU Presidency, to discuss a range of common issues, notably ongoing discussions over the reforms of EU agencies.
On 1 April 2012, registration was opened for the new European Citizens' Initiative, beginning a new era in participatory, citizen-led democracy in the EU.
Such was the level of anticipation surrounding the ECI that European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, who is responsible for the ECI, said he expected to see the first initiatives registered within the first few days of the official launch.
"I've already been approached informally by several potential initiatives, and I know that citizens have been organising themselves in advance of the official launch in order to be ready on or around 1 April," he said.
The ECI offers citizens from across the EU a chance to put a particular issue onto the EU policy agenda if they can gather sufficient support from their fellow Europeans.