Newsletter 10/2011 - Activities in brief

Strengthening the parliaments of Western Balkan countries in focus of Sarajevo seminar

A two-day seminar on the role of parliaments in legislative processes and in oversight of the government was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 23-24 February 2011.

The event, co–organized by the European Parliament (EP) and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat, gathered members of parliament and parliamentary staff from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, along with members of the EP.

The parliamentary seminar was opened by Anna Ibrisagic, Member of the EP’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Jelica Minic, Deputy RCC Secretary General and Head of Expert Pool.

MEP Ibrisagic recalled that all important legislative acts in the EP are built upon broad political negotiations and arrangements between its groups.

“Parliamentary cooperation gives an important impetus to harmonizing and aligning legislation with the EU acquis, launching and nourishing public debate, and strengthening wider political cooperation towards joining the EU”, said Deputy RCC Secretary General Minic, while referring to the role of regional cooperation in strengthening national parliaments in Western Balkans.

The discussions have focused on differences and similarities between legislative powers of national parliaments and the legislation process in the European Parliament, new powers of national parliaments in the EU, oversight of budget implementation, relations between a parliament and independent bodies, role of parliaments in the oversight of independent bodies and governments and the use of parliamentary powers.

The seminar is a part of a series of EP-initiated events aimed at strengthening the capacity of parliaments in the enlargement countries of Western Balkans.

As announced during the event, a regional meeting on the role of national parliaments in negotiations for the EU accession is to be organized by the European Commission and the RCC Secretariat in Sarajevo on 17-18 March 2011, under the framework of the Multi-Beneficiary Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) Working Group on Public Administration and Governance.

Regional Cooperation Council marks 3rd anniversary

The Regional Cooperation Council marked its third anniversary by organising a panel discussion titled South East Europe in 2011 and Beyond: Sharing the Same Vision that was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 7 March 2011.

The panelists included Hido Biscevic, RCC Secretary General; Andris Kesteris, Principal Advisor, Directorate General for Enlargement, European Commission; Jasminka Kronja, co-author, Regional Initiatives and Multilateral Cooperation in the Balkans; and Visnja Samardzija, co-editor, From the Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020.

Referring to RCC activities over the past three years, Secretary General Biscevic said that RCC contributed to the dynamics of cooperation in the region over the period that was marked by significant challenges to the overall security and stability in South East Europe.

“In my mind, this proves the maturity of the region. This political maturity, in line with EU and Euro-Atlantic aspirations that we all share, must help us overcome the remaining bilateral issues, marginalize the effects of other issues that occasionally still burden relations, and enable us to deal with different domestic agendas and interests that may want to hamper the strategic goals.”

When talking about the future of regional cooperation in 2011 and beyond, Andris Kesteris stressed that open issues had to be further discussed and worked on, respecting the fact that citizens of each individual country want to live in a peaceful and stable environment. Kasteris added that anything less would be regression and insecurity.

Jasminka Kronja pointed out that it was of crucial importance to improve role of non-governmental sector and include it into planning and monitoring of various activities in regional cooperation.

“Regional Cooperation Council is an important factor in the region but also in Europe. It was not easy to establish cooperation, especially considering the global economic crisis and Kosovo issues.”

Participants concluded that regional cooperation needs to be one of the instruments for resolving open and other cross-border issues in South East Europe by way of everybody’s contribution to pluralism and dialogue. 

The event gathered around 100 key partners and supporters of the Regional Cooperation Council from South East Europe and Brussels, as well as representatives of the media.