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VISEGRAD BULLETIN 5 (2/2017)

July 4th, 2017


Review of the most important V4 events between 1 March – 11 May

 

Meeting of Ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy of the Visegrad Group and Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia, 1-2 March 2017, Warsaw

The main aim of the meeting was to exchange views on the shape and structure of the Cohesion Policy post 2020 and to sign the common V4+4 paper on Cohesion Policy after 2020 - Joint Paper of the Visegrad Group, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia on Cohesion Policy after 2020. The ministerial meeting was combined with the parallel meeting of Commission for Territorial Cohesion and EU Budget (COTER) of the European Committee of Regions, which was held in Warsaw. The joint session of V4+4 ministers and COTER allowed to conduct a deepened debate on the issues concerning cohesion policy post 2020 and served as an opportunity to present the voice of national and regional level on the matter.

 

Meeting of V4 Prime Ministers, March 2, Warsaw

Heads of Government of Visegrad Group countries adopted a declaration on the future of Europe, which was presented at the EU summit in Rome. Among the most important postulates were: the need for EU reform, preservation of the unity of the Union, strengthening of democratic control. In addition, during the V4 summit, there was a working consultation of V4 agriculture ministers on food safety and quality within the Single Market. Prime Ministers of V4 perceive the serious problem that comes with the quality of food sold in the EU and the unequal treatment of individual markets, and decided to set up a working group dealing with this issue.

 

Informal meeting of V4, Croatian and Lithuanian ministers of health, March 3, Warsaw

The main point of the meeting was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the area of fair and affordable medical products. The document is a political declaration and is the starting point for further work. The initiative to ensure fair pricing, one of the three priorities of the Polish Presidency in V4 in the area of health, has already been discussed at several expert meetings held in Warsaw. The Memorandum will be the basis for commencement of work of the Coordination Committee - a specially appointed committee of experts from countries which have signed the document. At the meeting also discussed the issue of migration of medical personnel from the Central European countries, which will be one of the topics of the informal meeting of EU health ministers in Malta.

 

Meeting of National Visegrad Coordinators, 3 March, Warsaw

A regular meeting between coordinators was devoted to exchange of information regarding current V4 activities, carried out at the level of Prime Ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

 

Meeting of the Speakers of the V4 Parliaments, 6-7 March, Warsaw

The Speakers of the V4 Parliaments discussed the strengthening of parliamentary cooperation between the V4 countries and in the region. The other topics were devoted to the intensification of economic cooperation and the image of the Visegrad Group in V4 and non-V4 countries. The meeting was dominated by issue of the future of the EU after the publication of the “White Paper” by the the European Commission.


The working meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of V4 and Lithuania with Member of the European Commission for Agriculture and Rural Development,11 March, Jasionka n. Rzeszów

The meeting was held within the framework of the conference devoted to the future of agriculture in the European Union, particularly with regard to the planned changes in the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). Ministers of Agriculture discussed about assumptions and planned changes within the framework of the CAP after 2020, and trade in agricultural properties. During the discussions on trade in agricultural land in the European Union the ministers from V4 and Lithuania expressed their consensus that land is a limited resource and the most important means of food production. They emphasized that the EU agricultural market should not be subject to normal market rules and that individual Member States should have exclusive competence.

 

V4 and Moldova MFA Political Directors’ Consultations, 21 March 2017, Chisinau

The talks focused on EU-Moldova relations, the Eastern Partnership in the context of the EaP Summit in 2017, Russia, including conflict in Ukraine as well as Russia-Moldova relations and situation in Transnistria. The V4 Political Directors met with Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Parliament Speaker Adrian Candu.

 

The meeting of the Ministers for Water Management of the Visegrad Group and Bulgaria and Romania, 22 March

The meeting took place on the occasion of the World Water Day and the Year of the Vistula River. The most important issues discussed included the revision of the Water Framework Directive planned for 2019, the application of the derogation from art. 4.7 Water Framework Directive and water management plans. The meeting was followed by the adoption of the joint statement, in which the Ministers responsible for water management of the Visegrad Group countries and Bulgaria and Romania declared their cooperation in shaping the water policy on the European Union forum.

 

Meeting of the international expert working group for assessing the legal status of trade in agricultural land in the EU, 23 March, Warsaw

It was a first meeting of the international expert working group for assessing the legal status of trade in agricultural land in EU Member States, established by the Ministers of Agriculture of Visegrad Group, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia on 26 October 2016. The discussion was concentrated on provisions concerning trade in agricultural land applicable in EU countries. Experts from the ministries of agriculture of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Czechia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary took part in the work of the international expert working group.

 

An expert meeting on financial market issues, 23-24 March, Warsaw

Participants from V4 countries exchanged views on ongoing EU works concerning new regulations related to capital markets, banking sector, financial supervision and prudential requirements.

 

Meeting of the V4 Prime Ministers, March 28, Warsaw

The main topics covered issues related to Brexit negotiations and the future of the Community after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal. The Prime Ministers stressed the need to develop comprehensive migration policy, including the European asylum system. Regarding the situation in Russia and Belarus, the V4 Prime Ministers expressed - in their joint statement - their concern at the repressions of the Russian and Belarusian governments over peaceful and legal protests in recent days. They call on both governments to refrain from violating the right to assembly.

The Prime Minister also announced the adoption of a joint Warsaw Declaration on Innovation by the Visegrad Group countries during the special Visegrad panel at the Congress of Innovators in Central and Eastern Europe - "Warsaw Declaration".

 

The meeting of V4 and Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers, 12 April, Warsaw

The traditional V4-EaP ministerial meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Croatia, Estonia, Romania and Sweden, the secretaries of state in the Bulgarian and Slovenian MFA and the EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and the accession negotiations. The main topic of the meeting were the issues of connectivity, which is one of the main priorities of the EaP. V4 representatives and other EU Member States from the region, together with representatives from the European Commission and the EEAS, expressed their hope that, thanks to the newly created European External Investment Plan, the partner countries would also be able to benefit from the infrastructure investment. However, they noted that there is a need to invest in other European and international financial institutions as well. At the end of the meeting, the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group adopted a joint statement on the future of the Eastern Partnership, which called for the intensification of sectoral cooperation, mainly in terms of connectivity.

During the coordination meeting of foreign ministers of the V4, W. Waszczykowski Minister presented the current activities of the Polish presidency of the V4, while Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto sketched out the preliminary assumptions of Hungary's V4 leadership beginning on July 1st. The ministers also agreed on further steps to strengthen the International Visegrad Fund.

 

V4 and Egypt MFA Political Directors’ Consultations, 20 April 2017, Cairo

Discussion centered on Middle East Peace Process, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Turkey. Other topics such as counterterrorism, EU-Egypt relations, situation in the EU Eastern Neighborhood as well as preparations for the upcoming V4-Egypt Summit were also addressed.

 

Meeting of Presidents of V4 Parliaments, April 23-24 in Bratislava

The meeting took place at the margins of the Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of the EU Member States. They main topic of discussion were the strengthening the role of national parliaments in the EU and the so- Yellow card (eg. extension of 8 to 16 weeks' time to submit a reasoned opinion by the national parliament).

 

The Conference of the Visegrad Group Paying Agencies + Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia, 24-26 April 2017, Rzeszów

The meeting discussed and issues related to the simplifications of the EU Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020.

 

The meeting of Ministers for employment and social policies of V4, 27 April, Warsaw

One of the topics discussed by the Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs of the V4 countries was lessons learned and good practice in raising social standards. Ministers talked about action taken to meet the demographic challenge. Ministers discussed also the current EU issues, including draft proposal of Directive amending the Directive 96/71/EC. Ministers expressed their deep concerns about national legal solutions adopted by some Member States in the field of posting of workers, which are very problematic especially in the context of international transport services.


The first meeting of the Coordination Committee on cooperation in the field of fair and affordable medicinal products, 27-28 April, Warsaw

During the meeting, established under the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of fair and affordable medicinal products, experts discussed the current situation on the European medicines market and the legal regulations in V4 countries.

 

Meeting on the „Connecting Europe Facility” (CEF) in transport sector, 10 May, Warsaw

The purpose of the meeting was to exchange experience and best practice about the up to date experience in implementation of „Connecting Europe Facility” (CEF) in transport sector. Participants presented the CEF project management models adopted in each country. The meeting was also an opportunity to exchange views on the financing of transport CEF investments in the next financial perspective.

 

Meeting of National Visegrad Coordinators, 11 May, Prague

A regular meeting between coordinators was devoted to exchange of information regarding current V4 activities, carried out at the level of Prime Ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The agenda included also a current issues related to the activities of the International Visegrad Fund.

 

Regional Workshop for V4 Financial Intelligence Units, 10-11 May

Meeting was aimed at sharing experience in the field of combating money laundering and terrorist financing. In particular, discussions focused on the issues related to creation of a central registry of bank and payment accounts, the effectiveness of legal solutions in the fight against VAT evasion and the role of the financial intelligence units in counteracting tax fraud.

 

Joint statement of the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group regarding the Posting of Workers Directive, 12 May

Heads of the V4 Governments adopted a joint statement by the Visegrad Group Prime Ministers on the revision of the Staff Posting Directive, which points out that the proposed legislation weakens price competition and raises the cost of providing services in the EU. They point to the lack of consensus among all Member States and the need for in-depth dialogue by advocating protectionist practices that undermine the core principles of the EU internal market.

 


Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland

 


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