Speaker Marian LUPU's address to the SEECP Conference ("New South - East Europe: Role of the Parliaments"), Zagreb, Croatia, April 15 - 17, 2007
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me traditionally thank our honorable Croatian hosts for the kindly offered possibility to share with you, at this important regional forum, my visions and thoughts concerning the role of the national Parliaments in the New South - East Europe.
Speaking about the role of our countries legislative bodies in the New South - East Europe, I would like to adhere to the idea that the EU's recent enlargements in 2004 and 2007 brought in the first plan the importance of the "Europeanization" concept that can be described, with certainty:
- as an historical process (spread of European norms and traditions);
- as a matter of cultural diffusion;
- as a process of institutional adaptation (of the domestic institutions to common European institutional requirements);
- as the adaptation of policy and policy processes (synchronization of the domestic policy processes with the European ones)
The European integration prospective is one of the milestones that, unconditionally, guide to better standards all the SEECP countries, including Moldova. In these conditions, I fully agree that the Parliaments of the countries that are striving to obtain the EU membership play a triple role:
- to show to the EU that represented countries are willing and able to play a full part as member - states;
- to show to their domestic electorate that they are recognized by the EU as a full-fledged partner to legitimate their policy programme by reference to EU policies;
- to raise public awareness, providing public support on the EU integration process and explaining to the electorate the benefits of the Europeanization.
Thus, the national Parliaments of the SEECP member-states have had to undergo deep changes during the EU integration process in making their countries more Euro-conform.
So, this situation directs us to the importance of seeking answers for the following questions: how can national parliaments institutionally adjust themselves to Europeanization challenges? Under which conditions national parliaments may play an effective role during the EU integration process? Therefore, the identification of these explanatory conditions and factors of smooth and effective parliamentary involvement in the EU matters during the European integration process is of a crucial importance, in particular for SEECP countries that are actually striving for the EU membership.
From Moldovan Parliament's point of view, domestic legislators have to react institutionally to Europeanization process, trying to cope with new challenges. It is a conventional wisdom that all enlargements have introduced different variations of institutional adaptations to Europeanization pressures and it is an open question whether SEECP countries on their way to Europe will or should imitate one of the incumbent's styles or develop a new pattern of their own in an enlarged Europe. None of previous cases of enlargement involved such a deep projection of the EU's political and economic power upon the applicant states. The Central and Eastern European states were and are effectively set a much higher threshold than had ever been set for prospective members. Moreover, in the current EU enlargement scenario "pre-accession" and "accession" policies play a much more dominant role than in previous enlargements of the European Union, as the requirements on accession-countries for adaptation and policy convergence are considerably greater than those on previous applicants, owing to the EU much more advanced state of policy development.
Therefore, parliaments as national representative institutions will have to play more prominent role in any future EU enlargements because of the following "minimal" tasks:
- detailed legal and political harmonization of national legislation with the "acquis communitaire";
- national parliaments have a decisive role in formulating national interests for the pre-accession, accession and post-accession periods;
- a "communicative function", since the parliaments are perceived as the windows to the EU for the populations able to provide active public support in the EU integration process;
- "scrutiny function" of the national institutions in the EU accession process that can efficiently influence on the structural adjustment of the whole national administration system to the EU requirements;
In this context, we can presume that the national parliaments' active role as "promoters" of the European integration concept, depends on two different aspects of Europeanization:
- Institutional Europeanization with regard to the establishment of new rules and procedures as well as new institutional provisions in national parliaments to cope with the increasing impact of the European level.
- Behavioral Europeanization with regard to attitudes, self-definitions of roles and behavior of political actors, namely parliamentarians.
Ladies and gentlemen,
An active position has been chosen by Moldovan Parliament in fulfilling the abovementioned European integration's objectives. For example, one of the main tasks of our Parliament is to bring the national legislation in line with the Acquis Communitaire, and I am confident that this concept will soon become a guideline for everyone at all the stages of the legislative process in Moldova. Being an active supporter of a systemic approach, I initiated, as a first step of that process, the drafting of a Legislative Programme for 2005 - 2009, aiming at elaboration of new laws and gradual review of the current legislation in view of adjusting the Moldovan legal framework to the Acquis Communautaire.
Moreover, Moldova as a member of the Council of Europe committed itself to honour the Council of Europe's standards on democracy and rule of law, human rights and basic freedoms. In this context, we have assumed the task to ensure the implementation of the remaining commitments in the nearest future, to determine the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to end the monitoring period for Moldova, and move on to new, post-monitoring stage relations. In that context, the adopted Programme, encompassing all of the remaining commitments, has been envisaged to serve both as a coordination tool for the incoming Council of Europe expertise for our laws, and for self-monitoring and self-discipline in the related areas.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am confident that, in spite of all enlargement concerns, the European Union will not delay a revision of its relations with the neighbour countries.
After Romania has acceded to the Union, the new EU border must not become a new delimitation line for Moldova, as the new context will place us in a very sensitive situation.
I believe the time is appropriate to discuss with our European colleagues the following issues that have become imperative and require immediate resolution through involvement of the Parliament, namely:
- the provisions of a new contractual arrangement, other than the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which is superseded both in form and content. The EU-Moldova Action Plan, signed in February 2005, in my view, does not go beyond the vague and general PCA provisions regarding the political prospects of the country;
- new European assistance instruments - to replace the current TACIS program, which does not meet the new realities;
- facilitation of the visa and readmission regime between the Republic of Moldova and the EU as the Romania's accession to the European Union has, unfortunately, limited the Moldovan citizen's right and possibilities to circulate in the EU's common space;
- granting Autonomous Trade Preferences to Moldova, which would not prejudice the enormous Common Market, given our limited export capacity;
- granting different approach to the states participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy and distinguishing Moldova from other states in order to endow my country with clearer European integration prospective.
I am confident that the European Union will benefit along with Moldova from these measures. Moldova will benefit not only by boosting its socio-economic and political development, but also by consolidating its statehood and internal stability. And this fact fully corresponds to the Union's declared goal of having prosperous and politically stable neighbours. The pro-European choice has become an axiom for domestic politics, a direction-setting factor for the new political elite of Moldova. Moldovan Parliament perceives the process of European integration first of all as a domestic task of modernizing its governing structure. This is not a "cover up" statement for the event that Moldova's EU membership prospects are postponed until further notice. The choice of Moldovan authorities is not to wait passively when future will come. We have adopted an active and pragmatic stance to make good use of every opportunity of integration. Internal to our country political, legislative and socio-economic reforms conducted today are, in essence, European, and are based on taking over, adapting to the local realities and applying to the national systems of European legislative quanta and socio-economic models.
That is how I see our short-term and mid-term priorities. And I base my judgment on the conclusive reasons described above.
In this framework, the SEECP national Parliaments appear as an efficient tool to contribute to creation of the New South - Eastern Europe, aiming at a sustainable economic growth, promoting democracy and respect for human rights, transforming the South-East European Cooperation process into a forum for dialogue, for political and economic consultations on the common values and concerns of the region.
Thank you for your attention.