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International activities of the National Council

The National Council participates in multiple networks in the international sphere. In accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the National Council, it cooperates and as part of its work maintains contacts with representative bodies of other countries, both European and global, international parliamentary institutions, and international organisations. The National Council regularly participates at inter-parliamentary meetings which take place as part of the so-called parliamentary dimension of the presidency of EU Member States to the Council of the EU. It also associates with other upper chambers of parliaments through various bilateral contacts in the form of informal meetings and official visits. The purpose of these meetings is to strengthen and elevate relations of the Republic of Slovenia with other countries, exchange experiences, as well as promote and strengthen the role of upper chambers. Additionally, the President of the National Council participates at the Conference of Speakers of European Parliaments and meetings of presidents of parliaments of Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia as part of a regional partnership. Members of the National Council attend conferences and meetings, whereby representatives of the National Council at these events are typically members of working bodies the competences and fields of expertise of which fit those of a specific event. Because members of the National Council represent particular interests in the National Council, membership in its delegations is based on the interests and professional background of each member of the National Council, which often contributes to a higher quality of discussions. Due to the numerous official visits of representatives of upper chambers to the National Council and of representatives of the National Council to other countries, as well as because of the vast and active international cooperation as part of international conferences and associations, the National Council is known as an important and renowned institution on the international level.

 

The National Council of the Republic of Slovenia is a founding member of the Association of European Senates, which was founded on 8 November 2000. The Association, whose spiritual father was the former president of the French Senate Christian Poncelet, connects upper chambers of parliaments of European states and the Russian Federation. As such, it promotes the experiences and benefits of bicameralism. The Association has fifteen member states and one observer. In addition to the National Council, members of the Association are also the upper chambers of Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as Luxembourg as an observer. Presidents of upper chambers meet annually and discuss various topics related to democracy and the role of bicameralism.

In 2002, the National Council chaired the Association. In the same year, it organised the 3rd meeting of the Association of European Senates with the topic “Bicameralism – democracy and the role of civil society.” Additionally, in 2017, the National Council organised the 18th meeting of the Association of European Senates with the topic of a closer integration with EU citizens – the facing of upper chambers with contemporary challenges.

 



Previous meetings of the Association of European Senates:
  • Paris, 6 June 2001: Senates and Representation of Local Authorities
  • Brussels, 12 - 14 November 2001: The Senates and the Quality of Legislation
  • Ljubljana, 28 June 2002: Bicameralism Ś Democracy and Role of Civil Society
  • Madrid, 28 February 2003: Government Control by Upper Chambers
  • Prague, 7 October 2003: A Different Composition of the Chambers in Bicameral Parliaments as a Precondition of Their Efficiency?
  • Warsaw, 25 May 2004: The Role of Upper Chambers of National Parliaments in the European Union and in the Process of European Integration
  • Berlin, 2 September 2005: Bicameralism and federalism in the Process of Change - Current Developments and Reform Projects
  • Bern, 20 - 22 April 2006: Upper Chambers of Parliaments and Civil Society
  • Prague, 28 - 29 September 2006: Upper Chambers of Parliaments and Their Functions in the 21st Century
  • Bucharest, 12 October 2007: Ensuring a transparent and accountable governance – the contribution of the Senates.
  • Vienna, 18 April 2008: The contribution of the information and communication technologies to the legislative process
  • Saint-Petersburg, 14 November 2008: The role of the parliaments’ Upper Houses in cultural and intercivilizational dialogue development
  • The Hague, 17 April 2009:The role of the Senates on the European Continent
  • Gdansk, 23 October 2009: Democracy in Europe twenty years after the first free elections east of the Berlin Wall – Europe and the World twenty years after the Cold War
  • Rome, 16 April 2010: The Evolution of Parliamentary Diplomacy in the 21st Century. The Role of Senates – The Role of Senates between Local Government and the European Union
  • Madrid, 17 June 2011: The Senate and its mechanisms for collaboration with the regions and the local entities
  • Paris, 16 March 2012: The fight against the international economic and financial crisis: what role for parliaments and in particular for the second European chambers?
  • London, 14 June 2013: Relationships between upper and lower chambers - Senates and the use of social media 
  • The Hague, 21 – 22 May 2015: Spotlight on the Senate - Modern Concepts of Senate Functioning in the Bicameral Parliamentary System
  • Bern, 20 – 21 October 2016: The fight against terrorism in Europe - Extension of the powers of the Intelligence and Exceptional Rights of the Government: What is the role of the Parliament? The weight of the Senate in parliamentary decision-making
  • Ljubljana, 1 – 2 June 2017: The European Senate – The road towards a closer link with EU citizens? - Second chambers facing the challenges of time
  • Bucharest, 14 – 15 June 2018:  Current challenges to the economic, social and territorial cohesion in Europe: what role for the Senates?

 

Since 1975, the Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of European Union Member States and the European Parliament (EUSC) facilitates regular meetings of presidents of national parliaments of EU Member States and president of the European Parliament. Presidents of parliaments of Candidate States are also invited to participate as observers. The purpose of the conference is to facilitate exchanges of opinion, information and experience regarding topics related to the role of parliaments and the organisation of parliamentary functions. Among the goals of the conference is also encouraging research activities and joint measures regarding the forms and instruments of inter-parliamentary cooperation, as well as nurturing dialogue about current issues of European policies, whereby the conference also allows the adoption of joint final conclusions.

The conference takes place every spring in the EU Member State which held the presidency of the Council of the EU in the second semester of the previous year. Before the conference, a preparatory meeting of Secretaries General of involved national parliaments also takes place.
 

Annual meetings of the Secretaries General of the European Union Parliaments (EUSG) facilitate regular interactions of Secretaries General of national parliaments of EU Member States and Candidate States, as well as Secretary General of the European Parliament. The purpose of such meetings is exchange of opinion, information and experiences on topics, related to the role of Secretaries General of parliaments and the organisation of parliamentary functions, as well as discussion about the agenda of the upcoming Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of European Union Member States and the European Parliament (EUSC).

The conference takes place every spring in the EU Member State which held the presidency of the Council of the EU in the second semester of the previous year, prior to the meeting of the Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of European Union Member States and the European Parliament.
 

The Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) was founded at the May 1989 meeting in Madrid, where presidents of parliaments of EU Member States agreed to strengthen the role of national parliaments in relation to common processes that are the subject of committees for EU affairs. The first meeting of the COSAC was in Paris in November 1989. COSAC received formal recognition in a Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam, which was agreed on by heads of states or governments in June 1997. The Protocol was ratified on 1 May 1999. COSAC connects national parliaments’ committees for European affairs and representatives of the European parliament. The Conference is explicitly mentioned in Protocol No. 1 of the Lisbon Treaty, which deals with the role of national parliaments.

The Conference meets twice annually. It consists of six representatives of each national parliament of EU Member States and six representatives of the European Parliament, including the vice president, who is responsible for relations with national parliaments. Parliaments of Candidate States and Associated Members are invited to participate as observers with three observers each. The COSAC is typically hosted by the country that holds the presidency of the Council of the EU.

Members of the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia regularly attend meetings of the COSAC alongside the National Assembly and actively participate in discussions. 
 

In April 2012, the Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of European Union Member States and the European Parliament (EUSC) in Warsaw decided to found the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy (IPC CFSP/CSDP). The conference was founded with the intention to strengthen the role of national parliaments of EU Member States and the European Parliament. It provides a framework for the exchange of information and good practice in the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy. 

The Conference first took place in Cyprus in September 2012. It takes place every six months in the country which holds the presidency of the Council of the EU or in the European Parliament in Brussels. Each delegation consists of at most six members of a national parliament of an EU Member State, at most sixteen representatives of the European Parliament, at most four observers from national parliaments of Candidate States and at most four observers from European members of NATO who are not EU Member States. The key elements of the Conference are discussions with the EU High Representative for External Affairs and Security Policy, as well as with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the host country.
 

In accordance with Article 88 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as it was established with the Lisbon Treaty, the Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), joint parliamentary scrutiny of the Agency’s activities by the European Parliament and national parliaments was established.

The duties and responsibilities of Europol are set out in Article 51 of the Europol Regulation. In accordance with the first paragraph of Article 51 of the Europol Regulation and Article 9 of Protocol 1 to the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom treaty), the Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of European Union Member States and the European Parliament (EUSC) on 24 April 2017 adopted a decision to establish a Joint parliamentary scrutiny group for Europol.

JPSG has the competence to:

  • politically monitor the activities of Europol in fulfilling its mission (including regarding the influence of these activities on the fundamental rights and freedoms of physical persons),
  • scrutinise of budgetary aspects of the activities of Europol,
  • structure the organisation of Europol and the potential establishment of new units and specialised centres,
  • discuss basic matters related to the activities of Europol (such as protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of physical persons, especially protection of personal information).

The Group can prepare a summary of conclusions about the political monitoring of Europol’s activities on its own accord and submit it to the European Parliament and national parliaments.

JPSG consists of representatives of the European Parliament and national parliaments of EU Member States. Each national parliament of an EU Member state may be represented by the maximum of four members; in case of bicameral parliaments each chamber may be represented by a maximum of two members. The European Parliament may be represented by a maximum of sixteen members. JPSG may invite observers from EU Member States, international organisations and third countries to attend its meetings; however they do not have the right to participate in decision-making. Regular meetings take place twice annually: in the first half of the year in the EU Member State which holds the presidency of the Council of the EU and in the second half of the year in the European Parliament in Brussels. 

At its 10th regular plenary session on 12 September 2018, the National Council adopted a decision to appoint members of the National Council Ms Bojana Potočan and Mr Samer Khalil as members of JPSG.
 

The principal goal of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFE), which lasted one year beginning on 9 May 2021, was to lead a discussion about the key challenges, priority tasks and the future of Europe, in which the participation of European citizens was of particular significance. In addition to the citizens, public discussions included also EU institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, and the Council of the EU), national parliaments, and other stakeholders. Presidents of the three central EU institution chaired the Conference: president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli (after his passing president of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola), and president of the state or government of the EU Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The operational leadership of the Conference was held by the Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which had the competence to lead the Conference and prepare its conclusions. It consisted of three representatives of each of the above mentioned institutions. From the European Commission - vice presidents Věra Jourová, Maroš Šefčovič, and Dubravka Šuica, from the European Parliament one member from political parties EPP (Manfred Weber, DE), S&D (Iratxe García Pérez, ES), and RE (Guy Verhofstadt, BE), and from the Council of the EU the minister or state secretary of the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU during the work of the Conference. During the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia of the Council of the EU this was Gašper Dovžan, state secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Additionally, observer status at the Executive Board was held by the presidential Troika of the Conference of Parliamentary Committee for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), whose member was member of the National Council Bojan Kekec.

Discussions took place in the framework of plenary sessions of the Conference, European citizens’ panels, and national citizens’ panels in particular EU Member States. European citizens’ panels were the central focal point of the Conference, which was focused particularly on European citizens. They discussed contributions which they submitted to plenary sessions of the Conference in the form of recommendations. The Conference included seven plenary sessions, during which nine working groups discussed nine topics selected from contributions on the Multilingual Digital Platform. The latter is the focal point for the exchange of opinion on multiple levels that allows European citizens to exchange their ideas and positions on the future of the EU. Various proposals, initiatives, reports of citizens’ discussions and announcements of events were published on it in all official languages of the EU.

Because Slovenia held the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021, the National Council as the upper chamber of the Slovene parliament had a special role in the execution of the Conference. Member of the National Council Bojan Kekec, who was as the Chair of the Commission for International Relations and European Affairs appointed the representative of the National Council in all activities related to the work of the Conference, participated in the Conference as an observer on the Executive Board. During the Slovenian presidency, he co-chaired the presidential Troika of COSAC and simultaneously co-chaired the national parliaments’ component of the Conference. He regularly attended plenary sessions of the Conference as a representative of the National Council and was particularly active in the work of the working group on climate change and the environments.

The work of the Conference concluded on 9 May 2022 with a report submitted to the Presidents of the EU institutions. The report outlines 49 proposals and more than 320 measures including concrete objectives.
 

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