Newsletter 17/2011 - Our South East Europe
Support to Cetinje Parliamentary Forum to give regional parliaments a greater voice in preparing for EU accession
Advancement of South East European (SEE) countries on their EU accession road is marked with demanding requirements for introduction of European standards, legislative reforms, transposition of directives, etc. All these changes in a society ask for efficient democratic institutions, such as national parliaments.
National parliaments play a central role in promoting and implementing reforms, notably within the framework of each of SEE countries’ European agenda. In this regard, regional parliamentary cooperation is significant for fostering the realisation of common efforts focused on harmonisation of national legislation with the EU acquis, launching and promoting public debate as well as strengthening political cooperation towards joining the EU.
The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) pays a great importance to the parliamentary cooperation in the Western Balkans and more generally in South East Europe, with a full support from the countries’ parliaments.
In its Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013, the RCC identified three existing initiatives in South East Europe: the Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe (RSPC SEE), the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum (CPF) and the Conference of the European Integration Parliamentary Committees of States participating to the Stabilisation and Association Process (COSAP).
The organization’s regional priorities for action, for the given period, stipulate complementary work in supporting RSPC SEE and CPF, the former being mandated to cover broader cooperation between all South East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) participants, while the latter would support parliaments of candidate and potential candidate countries on issues related to the EU.
Joining the RCC in its efforts and recognizing the potential of the parliamentary cooperation in the region, the European Commission (EC) identified Cetinje Parliamentary Forum as a potential driver of parliamentary development and cooperation in the Western Balkans and Turkey. To that end, the EC is in the process of approving a project worth 1,5 million euro from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) Multi-Beneficiary Programme as a support to the Forum.
Goals of this RCC-initiated project include developing the CPF into a hub for enhanced cooperation of parliamentary activities related to the EU acquis in the Western Balkans, through regional institutionalisation and establishment of a sustainable Secretariat.
The project is the output of a High Level Meeting of Parliaments of the Western Balkans, hosted by the RCC Secretariat in Sarajevo in March 2011, as well as a technical meeting organised within the framework of the IPA Multi-Beneficiary Working Group on Public Administration and Governance held in April 2011 in Danilovgrad, Montenegro.
Mladen Dragasevic, Head of Building Human Capital and Parliamentary Cooperation Unit at the RCC Secretariat, says that the overall objective of the project is to strengthen the role, presence and effectiveness of parliaments in the Western Balkans and Turkey in the EU integration process, while specific objective is directed towards improved regional parliamentary cooperation with a view to accelerating the dynamics of accession.
RCC Secretariat’s Expert in Parliamentary Cooperation, Gjergj Murra, further explains that the project is to focus on the following areas:
- Capacity building of the European Integration Parliamentary Committees;
- Improving effectiveness of parliamentary oversight of governments;
- Strengthening capacities of parliaments in legislative processes;
- Electoral law reform;
- Fostering communication between parliaments and media, as well as the public;
- Increasing involvement of National Parliaments in topics of common interest, including fight against corruption and organized crime; environmental protection; protection of rights of ethnic and sexual minorities; improving freedom of media.
Murra adds that the project will not aim at initiating new networks for parliamentary cooperation, but rather at improving coordination of support to the existing one, thus enabling a regionally-owned and well-organized Forum to give a greater voice to parliaments in dealing with the EU.
Mariana Vitanova, Head of the Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe says that the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum is one of the main partners of the SEECP Parliamentary Dimension in enhancing cooperation and exchange of information among the parliaments in SEE.
“Having in mind that the SEECP Parliamentary Dimension is also in the course of its institutionalization which includes defining clear and achievable mission and vision of the parliamentary cooperation among the SEECP states, it seems to be the right moment to adjust common priorities and to find new ways to create synergy between different regional formats.”
“Key for effective EU integration are the parliaments“, said Ambassador Peter Sorensen, Head of EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU Special Representative at the latest Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) Multi-Beneficiary Programme Coordination Meeting on regional cooperation that took place at the RCC Secretariat in Sarajevo, on 15-16 November 2011.
“They need to deal efficiently with the EU related demands and have a proper capacity to adopt EU related legislation. This is necessary not only to become a member of the EU but to function as a member of the EU.“
Sorensen stressed that the importance of the RCC’s role so far in facilitating parliamentary exchanges, sharing legislative know-how and common agenda-building cannot be understated.“It goes to the heart of regional ownership, and it greatly helps national acquis adoption plans and Stabilisation and Association process overall. I therefore welcome the Multi-beneficiary 2012 project on Parliamentary cooperation which is spot on.“