Parliamentarians urged to keep pressure on governments over reforms
Europe has set itself ambitious goals for job creation and economic development by the end of the decade, and parliamentarians will play a key role in keeping the pressure on national governments to ensure that these goals are met. This was the message of Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on 28 October at the 50th plenary session of COSAC, which brings together all the European affairs committees of the 28 national parliaments as well as the European Parliament.
After welcoming the increasing importance of national parliaments in the EU policy-making field since the first COSAC meeting in 1989, VP Šefčovič stressed the continued necessity of closer cooperation between parliaments and the other EU institutions.
"The simple fact remains that the EU would simply not function effectively without the work national parliaments do – from holding your national governments to account over EU promises to adopting implementing measures for EU directives, from checking proposals in relation to subsidiarity to commenting on them under the political dialogue...In short, the role of national Parliaments in the European project is hugely important," he said.
This was particularly true in times of crisis, he stressed. Europe's strategy for generating economic growth and jobs – the Europe 2020 strategy – will require major efforts on the part of all 28 Member States if the ambitious goals are to be reached. The first three years of the 10-year plan have shown some limited results, and governments must continue with their reforms to build on this momentum, he told the meeting in the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas.
Parliamentarians – both national and European – will be involved in this process in several ways, from helping to tailor the annual reform programmes set out by their respective governments to ensuring that the promises made in those programmes are kept and the reforms carried out.
And, VP Šefčovič stressed, they would need to increase cooperation with each other, to ensure that reforms remain coherent and effective across the whole EU.
"The Europe 2020 strategy sets the framework for action on a timescale that transcends political short-termism and that commits all 28 Member States to act regardless of who is in power. That's why the involvement of national parliaments and the European Parliament in this process is so important…" he said.
"Parliaments reflect the views of all political parties, they remain even as governments and leaders come and go. And perhaps more importantly, they represent the people of Europe and provide that unique link between policy makers and public. It is parliaments, both national and European, that must ensure that the decisions taken at EU level have a real and positive impact on citizens."