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Statement delivered in the Parliamentary Committee for Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) by State Secretary for European Affairs Janez Lenarčič on behalf of the EU Council

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Review of the Slovenian Presidency Activities1


Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

In these last days of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council it is my great pleasure to present work which Slovenia carried out in the field of institutional affairs.


First, allow me to touch upon the most echoed topic in recent days – the Lisbon Treaty. Following a negative result of the Irish referendum – which we regret, but of course respect – last week the European Council lent their ears to the President of the Irish Government, Mr Brian Cowen. Heads of State and Government agreed that more time is needed for an analysis of the situation. In the following weeks the Irish Government will hold active consultations at home, as well as with other Member States, in order to outline a common way forward. At the Summit in Brussels the leaders agreed to discuss the possible ways out of the current situation at the next meeting of the European Council to be held on 15 October. They stressed that 19 Member States have already ratified the Treaty and which is of particular importance – the ratification procedures in the remaining Member States have been continued.

We are also pleased that in a debate on the preparation of the June European Council, which was held at the plenary session last week, the majority of political groups and Members of the European Parliament decided in favour of continuing the ratification procedures.  I believe that your Committee, as well as the entire Parliament share the opinion of the Council that the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty would provide for more transparent, democratic and efficient functioning of the Union and contribute to a better response of the Union to every-day problems of its citizens. Without doubt, the Treaty is a well-prepared document – much time and effort has been invested therein. In Presidency’s opinion it provides a solid foundation for further development of the Union.

Although the central attention is focused on continuation of the ratification process at the moment, allow me to remind that the Slovenian Presidency started preparations for the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty as early as January. Due to the ratification procedures, the work was obviously of preliminary nature. I should underline a close and active cooperation with the Parliament throughout this time. For that reason I would like to pay tribute to a positive and constructive way in which the Parliament has become engaged in these, often sensitive issues regarding the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty.  I am certain that activities of your Committee will contribute an important share to further action in this area in months to follow. 

I also believe that our work on the implementation of the Treaty was not in vain. The Slovenian Presidency is positive that in October we will find a way forward, while considering the frameworks laid down by the Lisbon Treaty. 


Throughout the last six months, a close cooperation between the Presidency and your Committee was carried out also as regards other important dossiers. Among them, I would like to highlight first the amendments to the Statute of the European Ombudsman, which the European Parliament voted at its last plenary session in June. It is the first time that the European Parliament and the Council have reached an agreement on a substantial modification of the Statute since its entry into force. This voting followed two informal meetings between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission which resulted in the compromise package. 

The Council has accepted the majority of the amendments voted by your Committee, with some minor changes. The Council has thus accepted the amendments aimed at giving the Ombudsman access to all documents of institutions, including classified documents. On the other hand, I would like to point out that the European Parliament had taken into consideration the expectations expressed by the Council as regards the necessity for the Ombudsman to respect the security rules of each institution concerned. In practice, the new text is a step forward particularly for the Ombudsman, who from now on will be able to receive all documents needed for the purpose of his inquiries. On the other hand, the institutions received assurance that the Ombudsman would give these documents the same degree of protection as ensured by the institutions.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank Mrs Anneli Jäättenmaaki, Rapporteur, Mr Jo Leinen, Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, and Mr Mendéz de Vigo, MEP, for their constructive cooperation during discussions regarding the amendments to the Statute of the European Ombudsman. We believe that these modifications of the Statute will enhance citizens' confidence in the good functioning of the European institutions and, more generally, in the European Union.


Today, I would like to update you on the progress made by the Slovenian Presidency in reviewing the Commission's implementing powers through a new instrument, the Comitology regulatory procedure with scrutiny. Further 156 instruments were to be adapted to the regulatory procedure with scrutiny, among them the four so-called 'Omnibus' amending regulations. (Omnibus I–IV).

I am pleased to inform you of the very encouraging results in this field of work. Despite their very technical content and considerable volume, a first package of 26 priority instruments was adopted as early as March. Procedures for Omnibus I and Omnibus III were launched at the same time and went through plenary votes at the European Parliament on 17 June. These two Omnibus instruments allowed the alignment of 63 acts.

As regards Omnibus II and Omnibus IV, the consultations started under the Slovenian Presidency, and the current situation is, as follows:

  • Omnibus II is currently being discussed by the 'Friends of the Presidency' Working Party and in the EP committees;
  • Omnibus IV is in the pipeline to be launched for discussion by the Council Working Parties.

We expect to have all these acts adopted in the next months.

Allow me to underline the extremely cooperative atmosphere among all three institutions.  I would like to thank the European Parliament, in particular Mr Joszef Szajer, for good cooperation, which gave these positive results. We do hope that this good inter-institutional collaboration will be possible in the future as well.


As regards the activities of lobbyists in the EU institutions, I would like to thank the Committee and the European Parliament in general for the accomplished work and the proposed Resolution. The Council has received the proposal by the European Parliament to set up an inter-institutional working group, with a view to considering the possibilities of introducing a common register for all lobbyists and drawing up a Common Code of Conduct. The examination of the Resolution of the European Parliament and individual proposals therein is still taking place in the relevant Council bodies. Once this work has been completed, the Council will inform the Parliament of the results of the examination. 


Similarly, in the area of Regulatory Agencies, the discussion is still taking place in the Council. The Council has taken note of the Commission's Communication on guidelines for future work in this area. As already mentioned in the Council letter to the European Parliament of 22 June 2007, the Council is open to examining, with the Parliament and the Commission, problems arising from the establishment and functioning of Regulatory Agencies. The Council will of course fully inform both the European Parliament and the Commission of the results of this examination, once it has been completed.


Finally, I would like to touch briefly on Communicating Europe in Partnership. The Council shares the Parliament's willingness to enhance cooperation in the field of communication and is ready to agree on the necessary arrangements, with full respect for the Treaties. As you know, the Member States do not agree on the support to the proposed Inter-institutional Agreement (IIA) in this field. Therefore, the Council mandated the Presidency to explore possibilities for reaching a firm political commitment with the European Parliament and the Commission in the field of communication. The importance of the issue has been proved by the fact that it was discussed by the Inter-institutional Group on Information on two occasions.  The latter pleaded for achieving progress in this field as soon as possible. The talks which are deemed to be constructive are currently in a technical phase.  I hope that we will be able to reach a compromise soon, at the latest before the next elections to the European Parliament.

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

I believe that we can be satisfied with the work accomplished together in the past six months. It was a pleasure and satisfaction to cooperate with you and I am convinced that we will also be able to cope with the challenges lying ahead in the coming months and to find right answers and solutions.

Thank you.


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Date: 24.06.2008