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VISEGRAD BULLETIN 4 (1/2017)

March 15th, 2017


I. Review of the most important events in between November 28, 2016 and March 5, 2017


Informal meeting of the speakers of V4 parliaments, December 3–4, 2016, Przemyśl
The discussions centered around the topics of the future of the European Union, strengthening the role of the national parliaments within the EU and the challenges facing the EU. The practical possibilities of cooperation in the V4 format, which would influence a better understanding of the societies of the V4 countries, were also discussed. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the V4 a square in the center of Przemyśl was given the name of Visegrad.

V4 and Benelux Political Directors’ consultations, December 11, 2016, Warsaw
The following issues were discussed: Russia, both in the context of the conflict in Ukraine as well as Russia's policy in the Middle East; EU–Turkey relations; illegal migration; implementation of the Global Strategy of the EU.

V4 + Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia Experts’ Meeting on Cohesion Policy after 2020
, December 12, 2016, Warsaw
The meeting was focused on the following issues: drafting of the joint V4+4 non-paper on cohesion policy after 2020; possible common V4+ strategic projects; discussion on common brochure on the impact of cohesion policy in V4+ countries; benefits of V4 cohesion policy to EU15.

Meeting of ministers for public administration in the V4+ format, December 12–13, 2016, Warsaw
The "V4 Good Government Forum" meeting was attended by deputy ministers and representatives of V4 countries, Bulgaria and Romania. Cooperation with the self-government administration, reforms of the administration procedures and creating a citizen-friendly administration were among the topics discussed.

The meeting of the International Olympic Hopes Steering Committee, December 15–16, 2016, Warsaw
Mr. Jan Widera, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Sport and Tourism of Poland was the host of this annual V4 meeting. Participants discussed the tournament competitions accomplished in a given year, as well as competitions planned for the following year. The participants were also informed about the new program, specifically dedicated to Polish organizers and participants of the tournament, which will commence in 2017.

Meeting of Foreign Ministers of V4 countries and Arab Republic of Egypt, December 20, 2016, Cairo
In the margins of the EU–League of Arab States Ministerial Meeting, Foreign Minister Waszczykowski presided over consultations between V4 foreign ministers and Egypt, which reaffirmed the huge potential of economic, political, cultural and tourism cooperation. V4 states noted Egypt’s stabilising role and significance as a partner in countering illegal migration, terrorism and Islamic radicalism in the Middle East and Africa.

Expert meeting on Interreg 2020+, January 11, 2017, Zakopane
The Ministry of Economic Development organized a meeting of V4 experts from institutions involved in Interreg programmes implementation, with the participation of European Commission (EC) representatives. The meeting was devoted to the issue of the future of territorial cooperation in Europe beyond 2020. Participants discussed the goal and extent of the Interreg cross-border cooperation programmes, with particular emphasis on the question of strategic approach to the programming of future cooperation. The meeting in Zakopane was a chance for the V4 and the EC representatives to make their views known on strengthening and expanding the scope of cross-border cooperation in Europe. Participants focused also on possibilities of increasing the visibility of its results and better coordination with other programmes, i.a. regional and national ones. One part of the discussion concerned the mechanism of financial means allocation to Interreg programmes, the possibility of creating a single set of rules for territorial cooperation and therefore a separate set of indicators for Interreg. Experts had an informal exchange of views and opinions, particularly useful at the early stage of internal preparation of EC’s and each V4 country’s position on the future of Interreg beyond 2020.

V4 coordination meeting of Foreign Ministers, January 16, 2017, Brussels
Prior to the Foreign Affairs Council session, Minister Waszczykowski met with his V4 counterparts. “We have taken stock of the first six months of Poland’s presidency, and discussed plans for the second half-year,” said the chief of Polish diplomacy. He pointed to further concentration on the European agenda and closer socio-economic ties as some of the most important fields of cooperation.

Political Directors at MFA’s of V4 countries and Lebanon consultations, January 26, Beirut
The discussion focused on the issues of the EU–Lebanon relations, terrorism, the situation in the Middle East region, with particular emphasis on Syria and the situation in Ukraine. During a visit to Beirut, V4 Political Directors also met with Wojciech Wilk - the President of the Polish Centre for International Aid, responsible for, projects supporting in Lebanon refugees from Syria, and with the head of the UNHCR branch, M. Girard.

Expert meeting on simplification of management and control procedures of the operational programmes co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF), January 26, 2017, Cracow
The purpose of the seminar, organized by the Polish Ministry of Development, was to exchange experience on financial management and control within the ESF Programmes. Procedures used in different Member States were compared. Different attitudes of MSs in relation to verification of payment claims and on-the-spot controls were discussed. It was noticed that used solutions depend on many factors, especially the value of allocation of ESF in operational programmes and Member States and number of implemented projects. In conclusion it was stated that it is crucial to find a golden balance between quantity of verifications and controls and their quality, mainly their accuracy and specificity.

V4 meeting of experts on the Migration Crisis Mechanism January 31, 2017
The meeting served as a follow-up to the decision of V4 ministers of interior adopted on November 21, 2016, establishing the Mechanism.

V4 inland navigation conference, January 31, 2017, Warsaw
The conference was organised by the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation of Poland. The V4 ministers responsible for water transport, experts and European Commission representatives discussed the significance of the inland navigation for the international transport and economy. The Polish, Czech and Slovak ministers took this opportunity to sign the Memorandum of Understanding related to the cooperation on developing inland navigation, including Danube–Oder–Elbe waterway project.

Meeting of Directors General responsible for cohesion policy of the Visegrad Group and Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia, February 2, 2017, Warsaw
The main aim of the meeting organized by the Ministry of Economic Development of Poland was to finalise the drafting of the common V4+4 document regarding Cohesion Policy after 2020 and to discuss the agenda and topics for ministerial debate during the ministerial meeting planned for March 1–2, 2017.

Coordination meeting of V4 Prime Ministers, February 3, 2017, La Valleta
During their coordination meeting organized before the informal EU-27 summit the V4 heads of governments discussed the following topics: migration, EU reform, Brexit, energy and climate.

Meeting of V4 ministers for digital issues, February 6, 2017, Warsaw
Ministers for digital issues and heads of regulatory agencies (bodies) for telecommunication sector from V4 states signed the declaration of cooperation in the area of revision of the legal framework for telecommunication sector ("Common paper of the Visegrad Group on the Commission Proposal for the European Electronic Communication code"). The document indicates and describes aspects of the review, which will be covered by intensified cooperation of the V4 countries.

V4 coordination meeting of Foreign Ministers, February 6, 2017, Brussels
Before the start of the meeting, the head of Polish diplomacy met with his counterparts from the Visegrad Group countries. The topics discussed by the ministers included the current agenda and the planned meetings within the V4+ formats. The discussions also focused on the European Union Advisory Mission to Ukraine (EUAM), whose objective it is to support the civilian aspects of security reform in Ukraine. Minister Waszczykowski expressed his hope that the EUAM would be expanded, including through the opening of two new offices (in Odessa, Dnipro) and the extension of the mandate of the Mission by two years.


V4 consultations of MFA planning Departments, February 6, 2017, Warsaw
Heads of MFA planning and strategy department held consultations together with experts from the Think Visegrad (V4 think tanks) platform. The meeting focused on the situation in the V4 neighborhood.

Consultations of MFA planning Departments of V4 countries and Turkey, February 7, 2017, Warsaw
The discussion concentrated on security in Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea regions, security in the Middle East, foreign policy of the USA, Russia and China and European Global Strategy and regional cooperation.

High-level V4 meeting of Tourism Ministers and Presidents of the National Tourist Organizations of the Visegrad Group countries, February 14–15, 2017 Warsaw
The meeting was chaired by Dawid Lasek, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Sport and Tourism of Poland. Participants exchanged information on the situation in the tourism sector and presented their views on development of tourism in the Visegrad Group countries, the impact of the “sharing economy” on tourism and the implementation of Directive (EU) 2015/2302. The first day was concluded with the signing, by representatives of the national tourism organizations and other relevant entities, of the Joint Marketing Plan for 2017. The cost of activities planned to be implemented this year is expected to amount €315,000. The accumulation of funds will be of benefit to all V4 countries. The marketing plan covers USA, Russia, India, Latin America, Belarus, Kazakhstan, South Korea and China.

Consultations of Political Directors at MFA’s of V4 countries and Turkey, February 22, 2017, Ankara
The participants discussed the issues of the European Neighborhood Policy, the Western Balkans, Russia and the conflict in Ukraine, relations Turkey–EU and NATO, as well as the situation in the region (Syria, Iraq, Iran) and terrorism.

V4+ Eastern Partnership working seminar “The Young People for Human Rights”, February 22–23, 2017, Warsaw
The representatives of youth ministries from V4 and EaP countries, as well as National Youth Council representatives, young activists, National Agency for Erasmus+, representatives and national coordinators of the Council of Europe youth campaign for human rights “No Hate Speech”, as well as other experts in this field were invited to the meeting. The activities and projects to be carried out by young people in the context of promoting human rights and activities carried out in the framework of the “No Hate Speech” campaign of the Council of Europe were among main topics.

Foreign Affairs Committees of the V4 Parliaments meeting, February 27–28, 2017, Warsaw
The members of V4 parliaments discussed, with participation of representatives of think-tanks and academia the following topics: “Implication of Donald Trump’s presidency for the EU eastern policy. Challenges for security policy in Europe” and “Southern neighbourhood: migrations, problem of terrorism, conflict in Syria, relations with Turkey”.

Meeting of Ministers responsible for cohesion policy of the Visegrad Group and Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia, March 1–2, 2017, Warsaw
On March 1–2, 2017 in Warsaw, Ministry of Economic Development of Poland organized the meeting of V4+4 ministers responsible for cohesion policy. The main aim of the meeting was to adopt the V4+4 joint paper on cohesion policy after 2020 and to present a promotional brochure on results of cohesion policy. The participants also exchanged views on the shape and structure of the cohesion policy post 2020. The ministers participated in a joint session with Commission for Territorial Cohesion and EU Budget (COTER) of the European Committee of Regions, to discuss the most pending issues related to cohesion policy.

Meeting of V4 Heads of Government, March 3, 2017, Warsaw
Heads of governments of the Visegrad Group countries adopted a declaration on the future of Europe, which will be presented at the EU summit in Rome. Among the most important postulates it includes: the need for reform of the EU, preserving the unity of the Union, to strengthen the democratic control. The V4 agriculture ministers met in Warsaw in the margins of the PM summit to discuss food safety and quality within the Single Market. The serious problem that arises with the different quality of food sold in the European Union and the inequality of treatment of the various markets was recognized and a working group to deal with this issue was established.

Informal Meeting of Health Ministers of the Visegrad Group (V4) plus Croatia and Lithuania, March 3, 2017, Warsaw
The Ministers of 6 countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the area of ​​fair and affordable medical products. As a political declaration it is a starting point for further work at the level of experts from signatory states. Another issue discussed during the meeting was devoted to the challenges arising from migration of medical personnel from the countries of Central Europe.

National Visegrad Coordinators Meeting, March 3, 2017,Warsaw
Discussion was devoted to the overview of current and future activities of the Polish Presidency (especially in V4+ format), as well as the preparations to the Hungarian Presidency. The participants also discussed issues related to
the International Visegrad Fund and its activities in 2017.

Consultations of the V4 Directors for security policy, March 3, 2017, Warsaw
The MFA’s Directors for Security Policy discussed further prospects for relevant V4 cooperation at NATO, OSCE and the EU.

Meeting of foreign ministers of V4 and Benelux countries, March 5, 2017, Brussels
The ministers discussed current issues relating to the functioning of the European Union, security and defence, including in the context of Russia’s actions, and relations with the United States. The future of the EU was also an important topic of discussion. Both the V4 and the Benelux countries have prepared joint regional proposals for the Rome Declaration which is to be adopted on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaties. Minister Witold Waszczykowski also urged the foreign ministers to support the candidacy of Jacek Saryusz-Wolski for the position of European Council President. The foreign minister of the Netherlands, the country currently holding the presidency of the Benelux Union, was the host of the Brussels meeting.

Meeting of the speakers of V4 parliaments, March 6–7, 2017, Warsaw
The agenda of the meeting included following topics: strengthening of the Visegrad dimension of parliamentary cooperation, prospects of expansion of parliamentary cooperation in the region, intensification of economic cooperation, promotion of the Visegrad Group.

II. Calendar of upcoming events


HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL MEETINGS:

  • The meeting of deputy foreign ministers of V4 and Eastern Partnership countries, March 15, 2017, Minsk
    The participants plan to discuss the issues of regional and transnational cooperation, the cooperation in the area of ​​education, as well as the political situation and the future of the Eastern Partnership in the context of the Partnership Summit scheduled for November 2017.
  • The meeting of foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group and Eastern Partnership April 12, 2017, Warsaw
    The infrastructural connections between the EU and EaP countries and the political situation and the future of the Eastern Partnership are planned to be discussed.
  • V4 Prime Ministers meeting, March 28, 2017, Warsaw
    The V4 Heads of Government will take part in the opening of the Central & Eastern Europe Innovators Summit, during which they will sign a Joint declaration of intent on mutual co-operation in innovation and digital affairs.


HIGH LEVEL SECTORIAL MEETINGS:

  • V4 ministers of agriculture working meeting with EC, March 11, 2017, Jasionka near Rzeszów
    During the conference on the future of agriculture in the EU and the planned changes of the Common Agricultural Policy, a working consultations between the V4 ministers of agriculture and Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place.
  • Meeting of V4 ministers for science and higher education, May 30–31 2017, Cracow
    The meeting is to be organized in the frame of the Impact’17 conference. Consultations will focus on the exchange of views about the European Research Area (in particular on H2020+) and European Higher Education Area.


OTHER MEETINGS:

  • V4 experts meeting on financial services issues, March 23–24 2017, Warsaw
    V4 experts working group meeting for assessing the legal status of trade in agricultural, March 2017
  • First meeting of the expert working group for assessing the legal status of trade in agricultural land in the EU Member States, set up during the meeting of the V4+ Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia Ministers of Agriculture on October 25–26, 2016 in Warsaw.


Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland



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