Related Articles

Briefing – The financial management of visitor groups to the national parliaments – 08-07-2021

In most Member States, visitor’ groups are not sponsored to visit the national parliament. A visit to the national parliament is free of charge, and all the costs related to the visit, for example travel costs, accommodation and local minor expenses, need to be paid by the visitors themselves.
Germany is the only country which has various kinds of programmes where visitors can be reimbursed. Members of Parliament can invite up to 200 people a year of which the travel costs are partially covered by the German Bundestag. There is also a programme which consists of more days for which all the costs related to travel and accommodation are covered by the German government. The German Bundesrat has a programme in which the 16 federal states can invite people for a visit of multiple days to Berlin. In this case the travel costs and accommodation are paid for by the Bundesrat. For all reimbursements, the rules apply that the receipts and underlying documents need to be provided to the Bundestag and Bundesrat after the visit. All documents and receipts are checked through an ex-post control.
The United Kingdom has a programme in which costs are reimbursed, and this programme is funded by the commercial tours of the parliament. In this case, it can be MPs, Peers or the House of Commons or Lords who can invite visitors who are eligible for reimbursement.
In Hungary, only schools can get reimbursement for their travel costs and the entry fee for the national parliament. All the receipts need to be provided to the visitor service of the parliament.
Some countries do have other schemes in which they provide coverage for schools or costs are covered by the MPs’ own funds.
The Council of the EU does not sponsor visitor groups. All visits are requested by visitors themselves and they need to cover all the costs related to the visit themselves. The questions were also sent to the European Commission but no answer was received.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – EU-UK relations: Difficulties in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol – 09-07-2021

On 3 March 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, announced in a written statement to the UK Parliament, and without consulting the European Union (EU) in advance, that the grace period on border controls on a series of food and live products shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be extended. This meant that products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants and plant products could continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without the official certification, such as health and phytosanitary certificates, required by the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland (the Protocol) of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA). In response to the UK’s decision, the EU launched legal action against the UK for breaching the provisions of the Protocol, as well as the good faith obligation under the WA. According to the Protocol, the UK must establish border controls on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland according to EU law. The application of EU law to Northern Ireland, together with the conduct of border controls within the UK, was designed to prevent the establishment of physical border controls (a ‘hard border’) on the island of Ireland, so as to safeguard the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement which brought peace in Northern Ireland, while preserving the integrity of the EU’s single market. The grace period on border controls was agreed by the EU and the UK in December 2020 as a temporary solution to problems raised by the UK. The UK government has reiterated that it intends to implement the Protocol, but that the border controls are causing trade disruption between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and require time to be resolved. It has also mentioned other issues involving areas as diverse as medicinal supplies and parcel shipments, as well as the complexity of customs systems and implementation of exchange of information between the EU and the UK. On 30 June 2021, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on some solutions, including the extension of the grace period on meat products, conditional on tight controls.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Measures to advance the realisation of the trans-European transport network: Integrated and faster project procedures – 02-07-2021

With the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) policy, the European Union seeks to develop a modern, efficient and climate-friendly network covering all transport modes. Despite the TEN-T’s importance for the economy and society, and despite the binding timelines and targeted financial support, it risks not being completed as planned. This is partly due to complex administrative procedures linked to permit-granting for cross-border projects as well as broader regulatory uncertainty, often resulting in delays and increased cost. To speed up the network’s completion, the Commission has proposed regulatory measures to integrate and shorten permit-granting for projects, and facilitate public consultations and the involvement of private investors. On 8 June 2020, the Parliament and the Council agreed on a ‘smart TEN-T directive’, with this legal form giving Member States more flexibility. The text could not however be adopted before the finalisation of the new Connecting Europe Facility programme, as the annexes of both texts are interlinked. The Council adopted its first-reading position on the ‘smart TEN-T directive’ on 14 June 2021 and the Parliament is due to vote on it during the July plenary session. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – European Defence Fund: Multiannual financial framework 2021-2027 – 02-07-2021

In June 2018, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal on a European Defence Fund, including a budget allocation of €11.5 billion in constant 2018 prices for the 2021-2027 period. The proposal aimed to streamline and simplify the set-up in place at the time by integrating the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (research window) and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (as one part of the capability window) into a single Fund. The main aims of the Fund would be to foster the competitiveness and innovativeness of European defence and to contribute to the EU’s strategic autonomy. In this regard, the Fund would inter alia support collaborative industrial projects; co finance the costs of prototype development; encourage the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises; and promote projects in the framework of permanent structured cooperation. Synergies were expected with other EU initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, maritime transport, border management, Horizon Europe, the space programme and the European Peace Facility. In April 2019, after several trilogue meetings, Parliament and Council reached a partial agreement on the Fund, covering the content, but not, among other things, budgetary issues. Parliament adopted its position at first reading in April 2019. A provisional political agreement on the outstanding issues was reached in December 2020. The Council adopted its first-reading position in March 2021 and the Parliament adopted the text at second reading on 29 April. The final act was published in the Official Journal on 12 May.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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