Newsletter 7/2010 - Our South East Europe
OVERVIEW by Mimika Loshi, Expert on Parliamentary Cooperation, RCC Secretariat
Parliamentary cooperation in 2011-2013, through the prism of Regional Cooperation Council’s activities
Functioning and efficient democratic institutions are a requirement for political stability, economic development, and social cohesion. In South East Europe, parliaments, as legislators, play a central role in promoting and implementing reforms, notably within the framework of the countries’ European agenda, as well as in increasing the efficiency and transparency of governing structures.
Parliamentary cooperation in South East Europe contributes to reconciliation and good neighbourly relations. It is also useful in the context of common efforts for harmonisation and alignment of legislation with the European Union (EU) acquis as well as in launching and nourishing public debate and strengthening political cooperation towards joining the EU.
There are currently three regional initiatives in the field of parliamentary cooperation: Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South East Europe (RSPC SEE) in Bulgaria, created under the auspices of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP); Cetinje Parliamentary Forum (CPF), in Montenegro; and Conference of the European Integration Parliamentary Committees of States participating to the Stabilization and Association Process (Western Balkans COSAP).
The first initiative covers a wider regional parliamentary dimension (SEECP Participating States), whereas the latter two include only Western Balkans countries. The agendas of all three initiatives are closely linked to fulfilling legislative requirements leading to the EU accession, whilst COSAP functions effectively as a network with its six-month rotating chairmanship among parliaments of Western Balkans states.
Based on the current state of parliamentary cooperation in the region, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) has identified the following two priorities for its work in the next three years, which should be seen as complementary, covering the broader South East Europe and Western Balkans dimension of collaboration, respectively:
· Strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the SEECP work through supporting the SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office, national parliaments and enhanced cooperation with the existing regional mechanisms;
· Developing the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum into a hub for enhanced coordination of parliamentary activities related to the EU acquis in Western Balkans, through its institutionalisation and establishment of a sustainable Secretariat.
Parliamentary cooperation is an overarching topic within the RCC and an element of all its priorities. The RCC Secretariat will work to provide endorsement and assistance in exchanging best practices and adopting documents, strategies, declarations and joint positions of national parliaments from the region in different areas of cooperation (e.g. energy, infrastructure, transport, trade, environment, culture, education).
The RCC Secretariat has maintained close cooperation with all three initiatives mentioned above as well as with the European Parliament, as they will all play an important role in pursuing the objectives of the RCC Strategy and Work Programme 2011-13.
Mimika Loshi is an expert on parliamentary cooperation at the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat. She is an Ancien of the College of Europe in