Interparliamentary cooperation in the European Union

EUInterparliamentary cooperation in the European Union is an important instrument for coordinating and achieving the influence of national parliaments on the decision-making process at European level. 

The Lisbon Treaty has given national parliaments new powers in the field of European affairs, thus increasing the importance of interparliamentary cooperation, which provides for exchange of information and best practices between national parliaments and the European Parliament. Mutual cooperation between national parliaments of the European Union Member States and their cooperation with the European Parliament is also important for bringing the European Union closer to the citizens. 

Various forms of interparliamentary cooperation are available to national parliaments, including the Croatian Parliament, and involve conferences and meetings as well as information exchange platforms (IPEX i ECPRD).

Conferences and meetings

Conference of Speakers of European Union Parliaments

Control body of the interparliamentary cooperation in the European Union that meets each year in spring in the country that held Presidency of the Council during the second semester of the previous year. The Conference gathers speakers of parliaments of EU Member States and the President of the European Parliament. Speakers of parliaments of candidate countries are also invited to participate, as observers. The Conference is preceded by a preparatory meeting of the secretaries general of the parliaments of EU Member States. 

Conference of the Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC)

In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, COSAC is the only institutionalized framework for interparliamentary cooperation at working body level. COSAC allows the possibility for regular exchange of opinions between committees. Under the Lisbon Treaty, COSAC may submit any contribution it deems appropriate for the attention of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission and promote the exchange of information and best practices between national parliaments and the European Parliament. The decision on establishing COSAC was adopted on 16 November 1989 in Paris at the Conference of Speakers of the Parliaments of the EU Member States. COSAC’s main objective is to strengthen the role of the committees for EU affairs of national Parliaments through regular meetings of their members with the Members of the European Parliament.

In line with the COSAC Rules of Procedure, COSAC meetings take place twice during each six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union in the Member State holding the Presidency – once in the format of the meeting of the chairpersons of the committees for Union affairs, where the committee of each EU Member State is represented by one or two members, generally at chairman or vice chairman level, and once in the plenary meeting, where the committees of all Member States are represented by a maximum of 6 members. The meetings of chairpersons last for two days and their main purpose is the preparation of the plenary meeting, while the plenary meetings, lasting three days, gather delegations to discuss the topics agreed upon at the meetings of chairpersons of the COSAC committees. The European Parliament also participates in the work of COSAC. The committees for European Affairs/Integration of candidate countries are invited to participate as observers. 

The European Affairs Committee of the Croatian Parliament is a full member of COSAC, which implies, inter alia, that it is entitled to take part in passing decisions and that simultaneous interpretation into Croatian is provided during the COSAC plenary meetings.

Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union

This Conference was established under Article 13 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (so-called Fiscal Compact), which provides that the European Parliament and national parliaments will together determine the organisation and promotion of a conference of representatives of the relevant committees of national parliaments in order to discuss budgetary policies and other issues covered by the Treaty. In accordance with the Rules of Procedure in the first semester of each year, it shall be held in Brussels and will be co-hosted and co-presided over by the Presidency Parliament and the European Parliament. In the second semester of each year, it shall be held in the Member State holding the EU Presidency and presided over by the Presidency Parliament. The Conference is convened before the presentation of the Annual Growth Survey and adoption of the national reform programmes. The Interparliamentary Conference on SECG is composed of delegations from the relevant committees of the national parliaments of EU Member States and the European Parliament. 

Interparliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy

The Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), in line with the Rules of Procedure, brings together delegations of the European Parliament (16 members) and national parliaments (6 members from each parliament). Candidate countries and European member countries of NATO can be represented by a delegation represented of four observers each. The Conference is presided over by the Presidency Parliament, in close cooperation with the European Parliament and is held every six months in the country holding Presidency of the Council or in the European Parliament. 

Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) for Europol

The JPSG politically monitors the activities of Europol (European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) in fulfilling its mission of preventing and combatting organized crime, terrorism and other forms of serious criminal offences. The JPSG was established pursuant to the Conclusions of the Conference of Speakers of the EU Parliaments of 24 April 2017, in line with Article 51 of the Europol Regulation (EU) 2016/794 and Article 9 of the Protocol No 1 to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 

The first constituent meeting of the JPSG was held on October 9-10, 2017 in the European Parliament in Brussels. The JPSG Rules of Procedure were adopted at its second meeting held on March 18-19, 2018 in Sofia. Pursuant to the Rules of Procedure, each national Parliament and the European Parliament shall be represented in the JPSG by a maximum of four and 16 members, respectively. The JPSG shall be presided jointly by the parliament of the member state holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, the latter represented by the chair of the competent committee. The head of the EP delegation and the heads of delegations of the parliaments of the three successive presidencies of the Council shall constitute the JPSG Presidency Trio. The JPSG shall meet twice a year: in the first half of the year, in the member state holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and in the European Parliament in Brussels in the second half of the year. In principle, the JSPG shall adopt its decisions by consensus.

Interparliamentary Committee Meetings

Thematic meetings initiated by one or more committees of the European Parliament with the support of the Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments. Occasionally, national parliaments are invited to participate in the discussion on a specific item from the agenda of the regular meetings of the EP committees. 

Information exchange platform

Interparliamentary EU Information Exchange (IPEX)

IPEX, the Interparliamentary EU information exchange, is an online platform for the national parliaments and the European Parliament to exchange information concerning the European Union. IPEX was established following a recommendation given by the Conference of Speakers of the Parliaments of the European Union held in 2000. 

Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, IPEX’s main task consists in monitoring the implementation of the control mechanisms of the respect of the principle of subsidiarity in draft legislative acts of the European Union. If national parliaments consider that a Commission’s draft proposal breaches the subsidiarity principle, they may express their objections formulating them in reasoned opinions. 

The main part of IPEX is its database which contains draft legislative proposals, consultation and information documents coming from the European Commission, parliamentary documents and information concerning the European Union. In addition, IPEX web pages contain information on parliamentary scrutiny over the actions of member states’ governments related to EU affairs as well as information on the ways of parliamentary participation in EU legislative process. 

The parliamentary documents are uploaded individually by IPEX correspondents of each national parliament. The Croatian Parliament uploads and updates the information regarding parliamentary involvement in European Affairs on IPEX's national page, along with information on scrutiny of individual EU documents. 

IPEX Correspondents: 
Ms Jelena Špiljak 
Adviser in the European Affairs Committee 
Phone: +385 1 45 69 618 
Fax: +385 1 63 03 078 
e-mail: jspiljak@sabor.hr

Mr Mario Straka
Adviser in the Office for International and European Affairs
Phone: +385 1 63 03 539
Fax: +385 1 63 03 856
e-mail: mario.straka@sabor.hr