European Integration Committee Chairperson Elvira Kovacs and Deputy Chairperson Dubravka Filipovski took part in the meeting of the Chairpersons of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), held under the auspices of the parliamentary dimension of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on 29 and 30 January 2023 in Stockholm, Kingdom of Sweden.
In his welcome speech, Swedish Parliament Speaker Andras Norlen stressed that National parliaments are a pillar of the EU and that Sweden's commitment to the principles of the rule of law and strengthening the role of national parliaments would remain high on the agenda during Sweden's presidency.
Following the adoption of the agenda, the Chair of the Swedish Parliament’s Committee on European Union Affairs Hans Wallmark presented the results of the Troika meeting and the programme for the COSAC plenary meeting, scheduled for 14 to 16 May 2023 in Stockholm.
Commissioner for Home Affairs at the European Commission Ylva Johansson spoke at session one, entitled "What can the EU do in the area of organised crime?", pointing out that organised crime is a serious threat to security, both within the EU and outside of its borders.
In the course of session one, European Integration Committee Deputy Chairperson Dubravka Filipovski said that this meeting is another opportunity to jointly review the key aspects of the development of our cooperation, in the light of new events and challenges in Europe and beyond, as well as the development opportunities that lie ahead. She stressed that we are well aware that organised crime is a big problem in all countries which damages the mutual trust of their citizens and the trust in public institutions. Speaking of Serbia, the number of new investigations and final verdicts has increased considerably, as has the cooperation and exchange of intelligence in the region, Filipovski pointed out. The fight against organised crime, which falls under EU negotiating Chapter 24, is very important and Serbia’s proactive attitude in this matter remains of key importance for combating the encroachment of crime into the political, legal and economic system, Filipovski concluded in her speech.
In session two, the priorities of the Swedish EU presidency were presented by Christian Danielsson, State Secretary in the Ministry for EU Affairs, and Othmar Karas, Vice-President of the European Parliament.
European Integration Committee Chairperson Elvira Kovacs pointed out that the priorities of the Swedish Presidency reflect the positions that the country has been advocating within the EU for a long time, which also respond to the current geopolitical and economic challenges the EU is facing. Sweden's long-standing commitment to the Western Balkans’ European path is reflected in the development of cooperation with most of the countries in the region. Sweden is the third largest donor in Serbia, certainly the largest in the area of environmental protection. Kovacs pointed out that we are aware of Sweden's position that countries that want to join the EU should have the opportunity to do so, but they should first meet the strict criteria for membership. Serbia is aware of the changed circumstances and that after 24 February and the start of the war in Ukraine, the EU's emphasis on foreign policy and compliance with EU sanctions against Russia would be a measure of progress in the negotiation process. Kovacs said that there is no controversy over whether Serbia shares a common security vision for Europe, that it has shown support and solidarity with Ukraine. In her address, she pointed out that Serbia not only condemned Russian aggression and did not support the referendums in the four regions, but also aids Ukraine economically and humanitarianly, has condemned the Russian aggression in international organisations and given full support to Ukraine's territorial integrity. "Serbia believes that full membership in the EU is attainable and that the promise from Thessaloniki is a realistic and achievable goal," said Kovacs. Fulfilling the criteria on the path to full membership remains one of the key foreign policy priorities, which has also been the strategic goal of all Serbian governments in the past 20 years. At a time when the EU is also being put to a kind of a test and when views on the need for internal re-composition are getting stronger, our message is that the reform of the EU must be parallel to the enlargement process”, concluded Kovacs.