New dynamics for EU institutional: Former Presidents of the European Parliament and distinguished speakers attend the Annual Events of the European Parliament Former Members Association

The European Parliament Former Members Association (FMA), under the presidency of Hans-Gert Pöttering, successfully hosted its Annual Events on 10th and 11th of December in Brussels.

On 10 December, the Former Members Association with the Kangaroo Group hosted the book presentation of “BREXIT – the Internal Market in reverse gear” by Karl Von Wogau. At the event, former members, current members and civil servants attended as public.

On the same day, the Former Members Association, the European Parliamentary Research Service and the Directorate-General for Communication organised a policy roundtable on EU institutional dynamics: Ten years after the Lisbon TreatyNumerous persons attended this event with the participation of prestigious speakers:

Othmar Karas, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Enrique Barón Crespo, Former President of the EP and the FMA; Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council from 2009 to 2014; Danuta Hübner MEP, Former Member of the Convention on Future of Europe; Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Secretary General of the Council of the EU; Ana Gomes, Former MEP; Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Former MEP; Vincenzo Grassi, Secretary-General of the European University Institute (EUI); Desmond Dinan, Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University.

To conclude the day, a cocktail reception and a dinner debate took place in the presence of Vice-President Rainer Wieland and Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Former Member Association and former President of the European Parliament. Among the participants was well-known former President of the Parliament Enrique Barón Crespo and former President of FMA; Josep Borell Fontelles, High Representative / Vice-President of the European Commission and Klaus-Heiner Lehne, President of the European Court of Auditors.

Klaus-Heiner Lehne was the keynote speaker at the Dinner Debate and focussed his speech on “Lessons to be learned from the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 and the way forward to restore trust in the EU” Amongst others he said that “the tendency needs to be changed, adding some flexibility to the system”. The guests participated eagerly during the question and answer session.

On 11 December, the FMA hosted the Annual Seminar at the European Parliament. Former Members, as well as university students from Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, the Institute for European Studies (IES), the University of Lille, the University of Ghent and Catholic University of Louvain, attended the seminar.

Hans-Gert Pöttering opened the FMA Annual Seminar on The European Union and its Parliament in a Global Context. Four experts provided the audience with their insightful presentations.

Heidi Hautala, MEP, Vice- President of the European Parliament, elaborated on the transformation towards a Global Parliament, boosting the cooperation between member states and focused on the implementation of relationship between the European Parliament and national parliaments to reach the international stage. She talked about balancing trade in human rights matters.

Elmar Brok, Former Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, went one-step further and focussed on the importance of Parliamentary Diplomacy. He said that thanks to permanent structural cooperation, we could make

many more decisions to move forward towards the Global Governance and he added that the European Parliament has to be seen as actor in this geostrategic context making use of its ratification powers in international trade policies.

Pat Cox, former president of the Parliament and FMA and President of the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe; and John Erik Fossum, member of the Academic committee of the House of European History; hosted the second panel discussion and made clear that from their perspective it is necessary preserving a democratic European Union in a new geopolitical context. They also stressed the role of the European Parliament and highlighted the necessity of political will and support towards new future challenges to get a Global European context.

Pat Cox focussed on challenges and choices for Europe and talked about the Ukrainian situation and called for “political and moral victories, not military victories”. In relation to Brexit, he talked about referendums: “ they are very difficult, precisely because there is a lot at stake” and he added, “people do not usually vote on the question asked; therefore, the referendum is always difficult, since it lends itself to manipulation”.

He concluded by referring to the phrase already mentioned above by one of the MEP members invited during the panel discussion:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” (Winston S. Churchill)

John Erik Fossum stressed that the European Union needs structured actions to compensate the lack of national democracy, for what he calls the dynamics of reconciliation, referring to Pat Cox’s speech on the dynamics of Jean Monnet. He talked about the Conditionality as a basic principle in all external relations of the European Union; as the guiding principle for all EU external relations and affiliations, including Brexit. In relation to this, he called Brexit as a reconstitution. He added that this challenge of reconstitution pertains to EU externally as well as to the EU internal make-up and he launched a question about what role for the EP in sustaining the post- Brexit European political order.

Around 50 students as well as former MEPs participated in the seminar and were able to ask questions and engage with the speakers.

Former Members Association Secretariat