The President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (centre), accompanied by the Secretary of State for the European Union, Diego López Garrido (left), and the President of the Congress of Deputies, José Bono (right), at the opening of the 43rd plenary session of COSAC. EFE
The President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has called on all EU institutions, including "the old and the new, executive and parliamentary bodies, truly European ones and national ones, to become more involved in the process of building Europe”.
The President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, opened the 43rd plenary session of COSAC, a body made up of MEPs and MPs from the 27 national parliaments of the EU, in the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on Monday.
After reviewing the priority areas on which the Spanish Presidency of the EU has focused its efforts, Zapatero underscored the role of national parliaments, which must “contribute to laying the foundations for the Europe of the future, helping it to become rooted among the people, providing supplementary monitoring of the specific issues of subsidiarity and proportionality and driving forward major European policies”.
Speaking on the need to “confront the consequences of the most serious crisis ever to have been suffered by the European Union”, Zapatero said “there are no national paths”, only “national contributions, efforts and duties to a single European path”.
Zapatero said the current Spanish Presidency of the EU “had called for a coordinated response right from the very start of the international crisis” and set out “the priority need to have stronger and more efficient economic governance in Europe”.
Among the decisive steps taken on the future of the Monetary Union and the single currency, Zapatero highlighted the financial support package for Greece; the creation of the European Stabilisation Mechanism, with the capacity to mobilise up to €750 billion, and exceptional liquidity provision measures.
The President announced that the working party headed by the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, is preparing specific measures to strengthen economic governance of the Eurozone, which will be ready in the next few months. He also said there is an agreement to strengthen “both the preventive and the corrective arms” of the Stability and Growth Pact.
The President added that the finishing touches are being made to the design of the European Systemic Risk Board and the European banking, insurance and stock market supervision authorities, as well as an EU directive to regulate hedge funds.
Another responsibility taken on by the Spanish Presidency has been to help launch the 2020 Strategy, to “move towards a new model of economic growth, which will enable us to confront the challenges shared by all Europeans: globalisation, climate change and the ageing of the population”.
During the European Council in June, which will bring the Spanish Presidency to an end, Zapatero added that “we will approve the so-called integrated guidelines (on economic policy and employment), the formal vehicle of the Strategy”, which he said will introduce a new governance framework to overcome the shortcomings of the previous Lisbon strategy.
Warning against growing bureaucratisation
The President of the Spanish Congress, José Bono, warned members of the European Parliament and the European national parliaments of the increasing bureaucratisation that is threatening to turn the EU “into a giant bureaucratic machine".
José Bono stressed that in light of the "complexity of the decision making procedures" at the heart of the EU, there is a risk of "turning our common project into an administrative colossus".
According to Bono, the "first" obligation of the institutions is to "be efficient" and "accountable" to citizens. He also stated that "the percentage of non-participation in European elections is a clear message that we cannot overlook time and time again".
Furthermore, he said that these obligations are now even greater because "we are living in difficult times" and he pointed out that European citizens demand efficiency and that they are "the ones that pay all the costs, including our salaries".
He emphasised that "maintaining trust means putting results before discourse, efficiency before bureaucracy and diligence before red tape", as the Union "must not get caught up in its own administrative nets".
The Vice-president of the European Commission and Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration, Maroš Šef?ovi?, will make a speech on Tuesday during the second day of the COSAC meeting.