The conference of the Presidents of the COSAC will take place on 7 and 8 February 2016. COSAC is a partnership between different European Affairs committees of the national parliaments of the EU member states and members of the European Parliament. The participants in the Presidents’ COSAC are therefore the presidents of the European Affairs committees of the national EU parliaments.
The agenda of the Presidents’ COSAC contains fixed items, such as the establishment of the agenda of the plenary COSAC (on 12–14 June 2016) and the outline of the Bi-Annual Report. The latter is a summary of an inventory of working methods for EU matters among all national parliaments. There are also two sessions on specific topics.
The first session, ‘Working together to ensure parliamentary control’, will focus on the role and position of the Committees for European Affairs in the chambers/parliaments. This session concerns an exchange on the organisation of the European Affairs committees.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the current president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker will be invited for the second session – ‘Parliamentary control over the current Council agendas and the new Commission work programme’.
The Article 13 conference will take place on 17 February 2016. The full title of this conference is the ‘Inter-parliamentary Conference on Stability, Coordination and Administration in the Economic and Monetary Union’ (also referred to as: the Fiscal Compact). Article 13 of the Fiscal Compact focuses on this inter-parliamentary conference, which is held biannually: in Brussels in the spring, and in the country holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the autumn.
The Article 13 conference is prepared and presided over by the host country’s national parliament in cooperation with the European Parliament. The agenda of the meeting held on 17 February 2016 in Brussels will be established in consultation with the European Parliament. The goal of the conference is to exchange positive experiences (‘best practices’) on the following themes: the budget policy, investments and competitiveness.
On 13 and 14 March, the States General will organise a thematic conference on human trafficking. The central theme of the conference is Human Trafficking and the Internet. The parliamentary preparation group (PPG), consisting of members of the Senate and House of Representatives, will prepare a programme that examines this subject from different perspectives. During the preparation of the conference, the PPG will regularly seek the advice of the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence against Children.
On 3 and 4 April, the States General will organise a thematic conference on energy entitled ‘Energy, including some aspects of innovation, paying special attention to the circular economy’ . The main question of this conference is: How do we accelerate a cost-efficient transition to a clean, competitive and safe energy future?
The minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, and European Commissioner Karmenu Vella will speak in turn in the plenary morning programme.
This will be followed by a panel discussion with several international guest speakers. In the afternoon, the group will split up into four sub-sessions:
• Energy infrastructure and security of supply
• Energy savings: Energy-saving cities
• Sustainable energy sources
• Circular economy
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will open the Plenary COSAC with a speech looking back at the Dutch EU Presidency. Three sessions concerning specific topics are also on the agenda. The first session will focus on the exchange of national parliaments’ best practices in relation to EU deliberations; the discussion will also cover the yellow and green cards. European Commissioner and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans has been invited to attend this session. The two final sessions will examine the internal EU rule of law and parliamentary diplomacy in the neighbourhood policy, respectively. In addition to Mr Timmermans, the minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders has also been invited to attend these two sessions.
On Tuesday 14 June, Alex Brenninkmeijer will speak on behalf of the European Court of Auditors about the manner in which parliaments in the European Union examine reports from the Court of Auditors. Time has also been reserved for topical issues; for example, the migration issue will be discussed. The Presidents’ COSAC will end with the acceptance of contributions and conclusions, as is customary.