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European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
Remarks following the Informal Council of Ministers for European Affairs with the Irish Presidency
Informal Meeting of Ministers and State Secretaries for European Affairs with the Irish Presidency in Dublin
21 January 2013
European Monetary Union
In our discussions over the last two days, we have been focusing on how to strengthen democratic legitimacy and accountability as the European Union moves forward with far reaching changes in the field of economic and monetary union.
Some of the ideas under consideration had been set out in the blueprint presented by the Commission and today was an excellent opportunity offered by Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton and the Irish Presidency to deepen at the beginning of a broad debate our discussion with Member States, representatives of the national parliaments and the European parliament.
There was broad consensus that the deepening of Economic and Monetary Union will require parallel steps towards a European union that is more accountable and democratically reinforced.
One of the points we touched on were the respective roles of the European Parliament and national parliaments where we all agreed that both had an important and complementary role to play. National parliaments play an important role through ensuring the legitimacy of Member States' actions in the European Council and Council, as well as in the conduct of national fiscal and economic policies, even if more closely coordinated within the EU. And at the European level, democratic accountability and scrutiny is ensured by the European Parliament. It is quite clear that as we move to further economic integration, we will also see a greater involvement from the European Parliament.
The discussion was in many areas very concrete: not just concentrating on future long term initiatives requiring Treaty change but concrete ideas that can already be implemented now, examples being the willingness of the Commission to engage with national parliaments in discussions on both the Annual Growth Strategy and country specific recommendations.
Another example is the ''Economic Dialogue" providing for discussions between the EP, the Member States, the Commission, the European Council and the Eurogroup.
There was also a feeling that we needed to intensify inter-parliamentary exchanges to make sure all parliaments were properly informed and aware of the interdependencies of their decisions.
We also have had good informal exchanges with our partners from candidate and aspirant countries on a wide range of issues.
These took place against the background of the quite ambitious December Council conclusions that will keep us and Lucinda and her team rather busy in the coming months
They were also a rather important reminder that enlargement remains a key European policy and that aspirant and candidate countries can rely on our commitment and also creativity to keep up the momentum of enlargement.
The discussions this morning showed clearly that the EU that the aspirant countries will join one day, will look quite different from the EU as we know it today.
On our side we are already finding ways how to further associate enlargement countries to the EU's emerging economic governance, as well as implementing measures to support their economic recovery.
But one point we made strongly to our partners is that the key to success is very much in their hands now. It is crucial that the momentum of enlargement is maintained and that the reforms necessary for progress on the EU path in the enlargement countries are pursued with vigour and commitment.